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Church Needs Missionaries, Not 'clericalized' Laity, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 27 April 2017

pope for none clericalized missionariesThe Catholic Church needs laypeople with a missionary spirit, which means Catholics do not have to try to force members into a vocation that is the Holy Spirit's to give, Pope Francis said.

The temptation to impose a vocation on laypeople as some kind of validation of their service in the church "worries me," the pope said April 27 during a meeting with members of Catholic Action.

"What has happened many times in dioceses?" the pope asked. "A priest comes and says, 'I have a phenomenal layman who does this, this and that; he is a good organizer. What if we make him a deacon?' Stop! Don't give him a vocation that is up to the Holy Spirit to give him. Do not clericalize!"

Catholic Action's meeting with Pope Francis kicked off a three-day forum designed to reflect on the theme "Catholic Action in mission with all and for all."

Warmly greeted by some 300 participants from around the world, Pope Francis was presented with several meaningful gifts. Two members from Lampedusa, Italy, where thousands of refugees arrive each year, gave the pope an English copy of the Psalms and the New Testament found in one of the fishing boats used by migrants.

After being told that the book was found with a folded page marking Psalm 55, a song of supplication in times of need, the pope reverently took the gift and kissed it.

He was also greeted by a family from Bethlehem. The children, the pope was told, wanted to teach Pope Francis the Sign of the Cross in Arabic to prepare him for his visit to Egypt the following day.

Bending over and attentively listening to the instruction of the twin siblings, Pope Francis placed his hands above their heads and thanked them.

In his speech, the pope told members that a true missionary apostolate involves "going out" to those in need or who are far away from the church.

However, in calling others to conversion, the pope said Christians must avoid the practice of proselytism or coercion, "which goes against the Gospel."

"It makes me really sad to see people who are in ministry -- lay, consecrated, priests, bishops -- who are still playing the proselytism card. No! It is done through attraction. That is the genius phrase of Pope Benedict XVI," he said.

The pope also called on laymen and laywomen to be agents of mercy to those who are far from the church rather than acting like "border control" agents.

"You cannot be more restrictive than the church nor more papist than the pope," he said. "Please, open the doors, don't administer Christian perfection tests because you will only promote a hypocritical phariseeism."

Prayer, formation and sacrifice are also crucial in preparing laypeople to become missionaries, otherwise, "there is no fruit," the pope added.

Groups and movements like Catholic Action, he continued, must "take flesh" and be willing to serve within their dioceses while avoiding the temptation to become self-serving, which would otherwise remove them from their true calling.  

"A Catholic Action that only pretends and does not take flesh isn't Catholic. It is action, but it is not Catholic. To take flesh doesn't mean what I want, it means what the church wants," Pope Francis said.

Instead, he said, members of the international lay organization must continue to make their presence known in all areas of life, from the world of politics and business to prisons, hospitals and factories.

"Do not become an institution of exclusives that doesn't say anything to anyone nor to the church. Everyone has a right to be evangelized," the pope said.


Mercy is Key to the Life of Faith, Pope Francis Says

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 April 2017

mercy key to life of faithOn Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said mercy is essential in living the Christian life, because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better, but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.

 “Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith, and concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Jesus,” the Pope said April 23.

Mercy, he said, is understood as a true awareness of “the mystery” that the Church is living, particularly during the Easter season.

Not only is mercy understood in various ways such as through the senses, intuition and reason, but we can also become aware of it through an act of mercy that we personally experience, he said, adding that “this opens the door of the mind to better understand the mystery of God and of our personal existence.”

“It makes us understand that violence, resentment and revenge have no meaning, and the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments, because it deprives them of their own dignity,” he said.

Additionally, mercy also allows us to open the door of our hearts and draw close to those who are “alone and marginalized,” recognizing those in need and finding the right words to say to comfort them.

“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers with sharing and participation,” Francis said, explaining that in the end, mercy “commits everyone to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his Sunday Regina Coeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. The Regina Coeli is traditionally prayed instead of the Angelus throughout the liturgical Easter season.

In his brief speech, the Pope noted now the Sunday after Easter in the past was referred to as “in albis,” meaning “in white,” as a reminder of the white garments worn by those who had come into the Church on Easter Sunday.

In the time after Easter, he said, Sunday takes on “an even more illuminating” aspect, especially considering the previous traditional custom in which the garment would be worn by the person for the entire week after their baptism until the following Sunday, when they began their new life in Christ and the Church.

Francis then pointed to how the Sunday after Easter was later designated as Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope Saint John Paul II during the Jubilee year 2000.

“It was a beautiful institution!” he said, noting that his own Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy concluded just a few months ago, on the Nov. 20, 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King.

In wake of the Jubilee, Divine Mercy Sunday “invites us to take up with strength the grace that comes from the mercy of God,” he said, noting that in the day’s Gospel from John, Jesus appears to his disciples in the upper room, and gives them the message: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”

After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.”

“This is the meaning of the mercy that is presented to us on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus as forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said, explaining that the Risen Christ gave his Church as a first task “his same mission of bringing to all the concrete announcement of forgiveness.”

Francis said this commission is a visible sign of Christ’s mercy, which brings both peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.

He closed his address praying that Mary, the Mother of Mercy, would “help us to believe and live all of this with joy,” and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.

The Pope then greeted pilgrims from various countries around the world, giving a special shout-out to Spain, where yesterday the priest Fr. Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières was proclaimed a Blessed, and to all youth who had been confirmed or are currently candidates for Confirmation.

He then thanked everyone who sent him messages wishing him a happy Easter before asking for prayers and giving his blessing.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Pope Francis among Time Magazine's 100 most Influential People

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 20 April 2017

pope francis among 100 most influential time magazine peopleTime Magazine has released its 2017 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Pope Francis is among the leaders highlighted by the publication.

The nomination included a brief reflection on Pope Francis, written by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, who reflected on the Pope’s humility, saying that his powerful witness is what attracts so many people to his message.

Cardinal Cupich recalled that in his first interview after being elected to the pontificate, Pope Francis acknowledged himself as a sinner, and that when he hears confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica, he also goes to confession himself, “because one cannot accompany a suffering world without acknowledging one’s own faults.”

“The same goes for the church Francis leads,” the cardinal reflected. “Before being elected Pope, Francis gave a speech to his fellow Cardinals warning against becoming a ‘self-referential’ church, rather than one that goes out of itself to the margins of society to be with those who suffer.”

“That is where God is working in the world and where he calls us to be. This has rung especially true this year, as Francis has spoken out on the need to welcome refugees amid a global crisis,” he continued.

Other people on the Time Magazine list include U.S. President Donald Trump, actress Viola Davis, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, NBA star LeBron James, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Gives Youths Three Missions before Synod, World Youth Day

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 10 April 2017

three missions to youth for wyd 2019On the eve of Palm Sunday, Pope Francis gave young people several missions: to ask their grandparents what their dreams were; to work to make those dreams reality; and to let their bishops and the pope himself know what they need from the church.

Officially launching the youths' preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops and for World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Pope Francis gathered with youths and young adults for an evening prayer vigil April 8 at Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major.

The 80-year-old pope surprised some people with two references to his own age, first pointing out that while they are preparing for the future, "at my age we are preparing to go." The young people present objected loudly. "No?" the pope responded, "Who can guarantee life? No one."

Later, returning to his appeal that they speak to their grandparents, the pope said, "I don't know if it will be me, but the pope will be in Panama and he will ask you, 'Did you speak with your elders?'"

Pope Francis arrived at the basilica with a prepared text, but as a Franciscan sister and a young man who survived a terrible accident shared their stories, the pope took notes, eventually setting aside the text.

The theme of the world Synod of Bishops, which will meet in October 2018, is: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment."

"But let's just call it, 'the synod of young people,'" the pope said. It should be "a synod from which no young person feels excluded."

The church could hold a synod involving Catholic youths active in parish life or Catholic organizations and lay movements. But Pope Francis said that is not what the church or young people need.

"This is the synod of young people and we all want to hear them," including young people who have moved away from the church or are questioning the existence of God, he said. "Every young person has something to say to others, something to say to the adults, to the priests, sisters, bishops and the pope. We all need to hear you."

Young people must harness their energy and ideals and set out, "one alongside another, but looking to the future," he said. "The world today needs young people who go in haste," like Mary went to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.

Franciscan Sister Marialisa, 30, who shared her vocation story, is an example, the pope said. Not every path she took was the right one, but eventually she discovered God's purpose for her life and the way she was called to serve others.

The Italian nun told the young people she decided church wasn't for her after she was confirmed at the age of 13. A couple of years later, a friend asked her to join a project the parish youth group was doing, "and I accepted only because there were a bunch of boys who went, too."

Sister Marialisa said her involvement grew and she discovered a group of people who didn't care what she looked like or what she wore, but cared about her. They helped her discover Jesus and his love.

Convinced she wanted to be an actress, she went to school in Rome, but she still had a nagging feeling something was missing from her life. She met the Franciscans and decided she needed to find out if being a consecrated woman was the way she was to live "the vocation to love." Now she works with children in an area of southern Italy where the Mafia is strong. She said she tries to help them discover they are loved and have a right "to dream and dream big."

Pope Francis said too often the world treats young people as "disposable" by not providing an adequate education or job opportunities. And, he said, "many young people must flee, immigrate to other lands. It's harsh to say, but often young people are disposable material and we cannot tolerate this."

Life will be challenging and involve taking risks, the pope told the young people, but they must have the courage to change the world and to start over when they fail.

"And try to find the beauty in little things," the pope said, pointing as an example to Pompeo Barbieri, who also shared his story with the young people.

The 23-year-old Barbieri recounted how, at the age of 8, firefighters pulled him from the rubble of his school in San Giuliano di Puglia after an earthquake in 2002. His teacher and all 27 of his classmates died when the school collapsed.

Injured and needing a wheelchair, Barbieri's parents were told swimming would help and now he's a top Paralympian, he said. "That suffering, this wheelchair, have taught me the beauty of little things and remind me each day of how fortunate I am."

"I wouldn't change almost anything about my life or that tragedy except I wish my friends were still here. Just that," he said.


Global Catholic Population Tops 1.28 Billion; Half are in 10 Countries

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 06 April 2017

global catholic population topsTaken together, the 10 countries with the most Catholics account for almost 56 percent of the world's Catholic population, the Vatican reported.

The 2017 "Annuario Pontificio," or Vatican yearbook, and a new edition of the Vatican Statistical Yearbook report that the countries with the most Catholics are, in order: Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, United States, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Congo and Argentina.

The number of baptized Catholics grew 1 percent in a year to reach 1.285 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015, the date to which the statistics in both books refer.

Looking at the period 2010-2015, the global Catholic population increased by 7.4 percent, the Vatican said. Africa continued to be the continent with the largest percentage growth, increasing by 19.4 percent over the same five-year period. The increase in Africa outpaced the growth of the general population.

In Europe, the Americas and Asia, generally speaking, the statistical growth or decline of the Catholic population coincided with the growth or decline of the population as a whole over the five-year period, according to the Central Office for Church Statistics.

Of the world's 1.285 billion Catholics, it said, almost 49 percent live in North or South America, including the Caribbean. Europe is home to 22.2 percent of the global Catholic population; 17.3 percent are in Africa; 11 percent are in Asia; and just under 1 percent are in Oceania and the South Pacific.

At the end of 2015, it said, there were 670,320 professed women religious in the world, 415,656 priests, 54,229 religious brothers, 45,255 permanent deacons and 5,304 bishops.

The number of bishops and of permanent deacons were the only two of those categories to experience growth from 2014 to 2015. Potentially stalling a trend of annual growth that began in 2000, the number of priests in the world dropped by 136 during 2015. The increased number of diocesan and religious-order priests in Africa could not make up for the strong drop in Europe, which lost 2,502 priests in one year.

Looking at a statistically more relevant period, 2010-2015, the number of diocesan priests globally rose, while the number of priests belonging to religious orders fell.

The impact on Catholics in the pew is obvious, the Vatican said. In 2010 there were an average of 2,900 Catholics for every Catholic priest in the world; in 2015, the ratio had climbed to 3,091 Catholics per priest.

The number of seminarians in the world, the office said, "touched a maximum in 2011" and has since experience "a gradual contraction. The only exception remains Africa, which for the moment does not seem to be touched by the vocations crisis and can be confirmed as the geographical area with the greatest potential."


Pope to Seminarians: Using Church for Personal Ambition is a 'plague'

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 03 April 2017

pope to seminarians on using church for ambitionsDo not settle for a worry-free, comfortable life with an unhealthy attachment to money and an ambitious heart yearning for honors, Pope Francis told seminarians studying in Rome.

"I'm telling you this as a brother, father and friend. Please, shun ecclesial careerism. It is a plague. Avoid it," he said April 1 during an audience at the Vatican with students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph in Rome. The college was celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Everything hinges on loving the Lord with all of one's heart, soul, mind and strength, he said, citing the Gospel of Mark (12:30).

That is what determines whether a person will be able to say "yes" to Jesus or turn one's back on him like the rich young man did in the Gospels, he said.

"You cannot settle for leading an orderly and comfortable life that lets you live without worry unless you feel the need to cultivate a spirit of poverty rooted in the heart of Christ," the pope said.

Priests must have "an appropriate relationship with the world and earthly goods" if they are to gain authentic freedom as children of God, he said.

"Do not forget this -- the devil always comes in through the pocket, always."

Give thanks for what one possesses, he said, and "generously and willingly renounce the superfluous in order to be near the poor and weak."

While Pope Francis said he wasn't asking them to "sell their shirt" like Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol, the college founder, asked people to be willing to do, the pope said he was asking them to be witnesses to Jesus through a lifestyle based on "simplicity and austerity" so as to be "credible proponents of a true social justice."

Priestly formation cannot depend solely on academic formation, which breeds "all the ideologies that infect the church with every type of clerical academicism."

Studies must intertwine academic, spiritual, community and apostolic formation all together, and when one of these four legs is missing, he said, "formation begins to limp and the priest ends up paralyzed."


Let Go of 'false lights' that Lead Down the Wrong Path, Pope Says

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 26 March 2017

opening to light of christ at lent 2017On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a key time to open ourselves to the light of Christ and let go of all the “false lights” that lead us away from him, taking us instead down a path of darkness marked by our own selfishness.

“If now I were to ask you, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that he can change your heart? Do you think you can see reality as he sees it, not as we do? Do you believe that he is light, that he gives us the true light?” the Pope asked March 26, telling pilgrims to respond in silence.

The walk in the light of Christ means to convert, he said, explaining that this transformation means above all “abandoning false lights.”

One of these false lights, he said, is the “cold and fatuous light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and builds hate against those who we judge without mercy and condemn without an appeal.”

Gossip is an example of this, he said, noting that to speak badly of others leads away from light, and down the path of darkness.

Another false light that is particularly “seductive and ambiguous,” he said, “is personal interest.”

“If we evaluate men and things based on the criteria of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we will not live the truth in relationships and in situations,” the Pope said. “If we go down this path of seeking only personal interests, we will walk in darkness.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing on the day’s Gospel reading from John which recounts the healing of man blind from birth who, after receiving his sight, recognizes and worships Jesus as the Son of God.

“With this miracle Jesus manifests himself as the light of the world,” Francis said, explaining that the blind man represents each of us, who, blinded by sin, “need a new light, that of the faith, which Jesus has given us.”

Referring to the Gospel passage, Francis noted that it was precisely by “opening to the mystery of Christ” that the man gained his sight.  

Francis pointed to the line in the passage where Jesus asks the man “do you believe in the Son of Man?” and tells him that “you have seen him, it is he who is speaking with you.”

The man then prostrated himself and worshipped Jesus, the Pope observed, saying the episode serves as an invitation to reflect on our own faith in Christ, and to remember the moment we received it in our Baptism.

Baptism “is the first sacrament of the faith: the sacrament which make us ‘come to the light,’ through rebirth in water and in the Holy Spirit,” he said, noting how the blind man’s eyes were opened after bathing in the Pool of Siloam, upon Jesus’ request.

The man’s need for healing and rebirth is a sign of the times when we fail to recognize “that Jesus is the light of the world, when we look elsewhere, when we prefer to rely on small lights, when we fumble in the darkness.”

The fact that that blind man didn’t have a name, Pope Francis said, “helps us to see ourselves with our face and our name in his story.”

We have also been “illuminated” by Christ through our Baptism, he said, explaining that because of this, we, like the blind man, “are called to act like sons of light.”

But to do this “requires a radical change of mentality, a capacity to judge men and things according to a new scale of values, which comes from God,” the Pope said, adding that Baptism itself requires “a firm and decisive choice” to let go of the false lights, and live as children of the true light of Christ.

Francis concluded his address by praying that Mary, welcomed Jesus as the “light of the world,” would intercede for us in obtaining the grace needed to really welcome “the light of faith” into our lives during Lent.

“May this new illumination transform us in attitude and action, so that also we, starting from our poverty, may be bearers of a ray of the light of Christ.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered special thanks to the diocese of Milan for his March 25 pastoral visit.

He also gave a shout-out to Blessed José álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and his 114 martyr companions, who were beatified yesterday in Spain.

“These priests, religious and laity were heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of fraternal peace and reconciliation,” he said, and prayed that their example and intercession would “sustain the commitment of the Church in building the civilization of love.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Francis Prays for Victims of Deadly London Attack

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 March 2017

prayers for london attack by pope 2017After four people died in an apparent terrorist attack in London yesterday, Pope Francis has voiced his sorrow and solidarity for the victims and their families, entrusting them and the nation to God’s mercy.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” a March 23 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.

The Pope commended the souls of those who died “to the loving mercy of Almighty God,” and prayed for “divine strength and peace upon their grieving families,” while assuring of his prayer for the entire nation.

Francis’ letter comes the day after a deadly March 22 attack on London’s Parliament took the lives of four people.

During the attack, a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the fence surrounding the Parliament building. The assailant then attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife, stabbing one police officer before being shot by other officers on the grounds.

According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including the police officer who was stabbed and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.

Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

The incident marks the first mass-casualty terrorist attack in Britain since the 2005 bomb attack on London that claimed the lives of 52 people when four bombers blew themselves up in the city’s public transportation system.

March 22 also marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history.

The use of a vehicle as a weapon yesterday’s London attack is reminiscent of the methods used last year by terrorists in Nice and Berlin.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, issued a March 23 statement to the priests and parishes of his diocese saying yesterday’s attacks “have shocked us all.”

“The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city,” he said, and urged pastors to lead their people in prayer, particularly for the victims and their families.

He offered special prayers for victim Aysha Frade, who was killed by the car on Westminster Bridge and whose two young children attend the diocese’s St. Mary of the Angels Primary School.

He also offered special prayers for Frade’s husband and a group of French students who were injured in the attack, as well as police officer Keith Palmer, the officer who died, and his family.

“Let our voice be one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity and of calm,” the cardinal said.

“All who believe in God, Creator and Father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which we depend.”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Handwritten Speech Delivered by Pope Before 2013 Conclave is Released

Catholic Herald || By Associated Press || 17 March 2017

handwritten speech of pope francis as cardinalThe then Cardinal Bergoglio urged cardinals to elect a Pope who would go to the peripheries

The handwriting is tiny, barely legible and written in the author’s native Spanish. But the ideas are so familiar by now that they are easily understood.

They are the handwritten notes of the speech Jorge Mario Bergoglio delivered to his fellow cardinals on the eve of his election as Pope.

They make for fascinating reading now, a preview to a papacy that has been marked by Bergoglio’s wish for a church that isn’t consumed with “theological narcissism” or “spiritual worldliness” but instead goes to the “peripheries” to find wounded souls.

The man who is now Pope Francis celebrated the fourth anniversary of his March 13, 2013, election this week amid a stream of commentary about what he has and hasn’t achieved as the 266th pontiff.

What isn’t up for debate is that his 2013 speech, delivered during the closed-door “general congregations” that precede a conclave, was so inspiring to the princes of the Catholic Church that they elected him Pope a few days later.

“The church is called to go outside of itself and go to the peripheries, not just geographic but also the existential peripheries,” he said. “Those of the mystery of sin, of pain, injustice, ignorance, spiritual privation, thoughts and complete misery.”

He denounced what he called the “self-referential” tendency of the church to remain closed-in on itself, unwilling to open its doors and go out to find those who most need God’s comfort. “The evil that can afflict church institutions over time has its root in this self-referential nature, a sort of theological narcissism.”

He said the future pope should be a man who, contemplating Jesus, “helps the church go to the existential peripheries and helps it to be a fertile mother who lives from the sweet and comforting joy of evangelising.”

Havana’s then-archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, was so taken by Bergoglio’s speech that he asked for a copy.

Bergoglio didn’t have one — he often speaks off-the-cuff — but he put some notes down on paper as best as he could remember and handed them over.

Ortega asked if he could publish the text, and asked again after Bergoglio was elected Pope, knowing well the historic value of what amounted to the winning stump speech by history’s first Latin American pope.

The answer was yes.

The notes, divided into four bullet-point sections with a few key terms underlined, are kept in the Havana archdiocese.

The archdiocesan magazine “Palabra Nueva” published them originally.

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Vatican Maze: Retracing the Path of Abuse Accountability Proposals

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 16 March 2017

abuse accountability proposalsRecent exchanges in the media between the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a former member of a papal advisory commission have highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency when it comes to finding better ways to make bishops and religious superiors more accountable for how they handle allegations of sexual abuse.

The first muddying of the waters occurred in early June 2015 when a Vatican press office briefing and bulletin announced, "The Holy Father approved proposals and authorized that sufficient resources" be provided for a new "judicial section" in the doctrinal congregation in order for the congregation "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of abuse of office."

While officials told reporters that the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis approved the proposal presented by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it was not a "papal fiat," but rather just a green light for the offices involved to flesh out what procedures could uphold greater accountability, a source familiar with the situation told Catholic News Service.

However, at the time of the announcement, the media and commission members, according to Marie Collins -- the newly resigned commission member -- were led to believe it was "a done deal" that just awaited implementation. Further proof that the recommendations never carried any legislative weight is that they were never published in "Acta Apostolicae Sedis," the Vatican's official bulletin of record.

But even though the announcement was made to the public, Collins said, and media around the world reported it as having been authorized, no one stepped forward to officially clarify or correct the record that the pope's "approval" was just enthusiastic encouragement. "No one came out to say, 'No, no, it's only just a project or something that will be discussed" further, she said March 15 by phone from Ireland.

Collins told CNS that she and other commission members were told four months after the Vatican announcement that the tribunal proposal "was not happening. There was absolutely no explanation" other than that the doctrinal congregation was not going to implement it.

So when Cardinal Gerhard Muller, congregation prefect, told the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera" March 5 that the proposal for a new judicial section in the doctrinal office had never been a mandate, but only "a plan," he was correct. But that kind of clarity is only emerging officially now, nearly two years later, after Collins quit the commission and very publicly criticized "resistance" to the commission's recommendations.

The commission's proposal for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to try bishops for abuse of office was unnecessary, Cardinal Mueller said in the interview, because "the tools and juridical means" and authority for keeping bishops accountable were already in place.

However, if that really had been the case, Collins told CNS, there should have been a lot more bishops being held accountable for mishandling abuse allegations over the years. "Obviously, more was needed," she said.

In fact, while all the laws on accountability are in theory already there, the problem had been a lack of a well-developed and clear process for dealing with the reporting and judging of such claims, a canon law expert told CNS.

An indication the pope and others agreed the status quo was not enough was the pope's issuance in June 2016 of the motu proprio, "Like a Loving Mother."

"It shows that the pope wasn't giving up on accountability," she said, and that he didn't agree that further measures were not needed.

Abuse of office always has been a crime as defined in canon 1389, and canon law always has allowed removal from office "for grave reasons." The motu proprio connected those two dots, underlining that negligence in exercising one's office, particularly in cases of the sexual abuse of minors, was among the "grave reasons" that could lead to removal.

The motu proprio emphasizes that not just diocesan bishops or eparchs, but also major superiors of religious institutes could be legitimately removed if their actions or failure to act resulted in grave harm to others. It specified that when it came to negligence regarding sex abuse, a "lack of diligence" was enough to make the case "grave" and open to sanctions.

The papal instruction, however, addresses accountability without involving the doctrinal office -- unless the pope deems it necessary on a case-by-case basis.

It upholds, but fleshes out, the current practice of sending cases to the particular congregation that has jurisdiction over the accused: the congregations for Bishops, Eastern Churches, the Evangelization of Peoples or Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

It continues with the practice of dealing with the crime of negligence as an administrative process. It only becomes a judicial process that goes to trial if the case is not clear-cut or if the accused contests the accusation. At that point, the pope is at liberty to assign the trial to any tribunal, not just the Vatican's doctrinal office, but also to an ad hoc tribunal if he so chooses and gives it the necessary jurisdiction, the canonical expert told CNS.

One of the reasons why the commission insisted on having one clearly defined tribunal be charged with accusations was to rectify a potential conflict of interest in the current system where the Congregation of Bishops is charged with overseeing the investigation and suggested sanction of a brother bishop, Collins said.

"You don't put the same people in charge of administering the sanctions; they're judging their own. That in normal society is not accepted as a good idea. That would be my objection," she said.

Also, she said, the huge publicity the proposed tribunal received actually led to people sending in cases, "but it wasn't there and nobody said it's not here."

She said even though she had no authority at the time as a commission member to come out with an official statement, she began to tell people -- survivors and media -- about a year ago that the tribunal "was not happening" because "I did not believe anything like that should be kept secret."

However, she said, "it didn't cause much of a kerfuffle at the time. Maybe people didn't believe me."

Holding church leaders accountable with a tribunal and with transparently administered and publicly stated sanctions had been a major priority for Collins, and the tribunal being scrapped was just one of many reasons she quit as an adviser.

"If there are no sanctions, (all the policies and guidelines on child protection) are not worth the paper they are written on. You have to make people accountable."


Five Great Achievements of Pope Francis' First Four Years

National Catholic Reporter (NCR) || By Fr. Thomas Reese || 09 March 2017

five achievements of pope francis 4th anniversary 2017It is hard to believe but Pope Francis is coming up on the fourth anniversary of his election as pope on March 13. In four years, the pope has had a profound impact on the church. True, he has not changed the church's position on birth control, celibacy, women priests and gay marriage, but he has fundamentally changed how we see the church in five ways.

First, the pope has called for a new way of evangelizing. He tells us that the first words of evangelization must be about the compassion and mercy of God, rather than a list of dogmas and rules that must be accepted. He speaks daily of the compassion and love of God. Our response, he says, is to show compassion and love to all our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and marginalized. He not only talks about it; he does it by reaching out to refugees, the homeless, and the sick.

Previous popes wrote about the "new evangelization" in an abstract and boring way. This pope communicates in a way that grabs people's attention with his words and actions. His message is the message of the Gospel — it is about the Father's love for his people and their responsibility to love one another. He does not obsess over rules and regulations. He is more interested in orthopraxis (how we live the faith) than orthodoxy (how we explain the faith).

Second, Pope Francis is allowing open discussion and debate in the church. He is not scandalized by disagreements, even over doctrine. It is impossible to exaggerate how extraordinary this is. Only during Vatican II was such a debate possible. Ironically, conservatives who attacked progressives as dissenters under earlier papacies have now become dissenters to the teaching of Pope Francis.

During the last two papacies, dissent was roundly condemned and suppressed. The theologies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI could not be questioned. Episcopal candidates were screened on the basis of loyalty not pastoral skills. Bishops with contrary ideas were pressured into silence. An Australian bishop was removed from office for even suggesting the church might discuss women priests.

At synods of bishops, Vatican officials controlled the agenda and even instructed the bishops on what topics could not be discussed. The synods, which were supposed to advise the pope, became forums for bishops to profess their loyalty.

Under Francis, synodal participants were encouraged by the pope to speak their minds boldly and not worry about disagreeing with him. The result is a freer exchange of views, public disagreements, and even outright criticism of the pope by some conservative cardinals. All of this would never have been allowed under earlier popes.

There is also a long list of theologians who were investigated and silenced by the Vatican Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith during the last two papacies. This was especially true of moral theologians in the United States, liberation theologians in Latin America, and those interested in interreligious dialogue in Asia. Many lost their jobs in seminaries and were forbidden to publish. Even more practiced self-censorship lest they get into trouble.

This was especially true for priest theologians, who were controlled through ecclesial rather than academic channels. They were simply ordered under obedience to comply. Academic freedom for theologians was a joke, unless they were laypersons with tenure. Priest journalists were also censured and fired.

All that is gone. One no longer hears of theologians being investigated and silenced. This is extremely important if theology is to develop and deal with contemporary issues in a way that is understandable by people of the 21st century. The theological guild, if it is left alone, can be a self-correcting community of scholars.

Third, Cardinal Burke and the pope's critics are right; the pope is presenting a new way of thinking about moral issues in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia. He is moving the church away from an ethics based on rules to one based on discernment. Facts, circumstances, and motivations matter in such an ethics.  

Under this approach to moral theology, it is possible to see holiness and grace in the lives of imperfect people, even those in irregular marriages. Rather than seeing the world as divided between the good and the bad, we are all seen as wounded sinners for whom the church serves as a field hospital where the Eucharist is food for the wounded rather than a reward for the perfect. Gone is any attempt to scare people into being good.

Fourth, the pope has raised environmental issues to a central place in the Catholic faith. He recognizes that global warming may be the most important moral issue of the 21st century. In his encyclical, Laudato Si', the pope tells us that "Living our vocation to be protectors of God's handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience."

His encyclical was greeted enthusiastically by environmentalists who in the past saw the church as an enemy because of its position on birth control. Now the church is an ally because environmentalists are recognizing that religion is one of the few things that can motivate people to the kind of self-sacrifice required to save the planet. The pope's encyclical has shown the way.

Finally, the pope has moved to reform the governance structures of the church. True, reform of the Roman Curia has proceeded slowly, but it is happening. The financial reforms are spreading through the various Vatican agencies, beginning with the Vatican bank and moving through other entities. The Vatican budgetary process has been tightened up, and various offices have been consolidated. This is all for the good of the church. There is still lots to be done, but it is happening.

More importantly, he is trying to change the culture of the clergy, moving them away from clericalism to a vocation of service. He wants bishops and priests to see themselves as servants of the people of God, not princes.

Most important for the protection of his legacy, he has broken with tradition and seized control of the process for appointing cardinals. Rather than simply promoting prelates in traditional cardinalatial sees, he has reached into the college of bishops for cardinals that reflect his priorities and values. This increases the chances that his successor, elected by these cardinals, will continue his agenda and not roll back the changes that he has made.

To my progressive friends who are disappointed that the pope has not changed the church’s position on birth control, celibacy, women priests and gay marriage, I urge you to look at what he has done. It is revolutionary. Let us celebrate and give thanks for Francis.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .]

Source: National Catholic Reporter…


Pope Francis Has Some Ideas on How to Fix the Priest Shortage

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 08 March 2017

fixing priest shortage by pope francisIn a newly-released interview Pope Francis discussed the shortage of vocations to the priesthood, saying the first response must be prayer. He also mentioned working with youth, the low birthrate, and the ordination of married men.

“The first [response]  – because I speak as a believer – the Lord told us to pray. Prayer, prayer is missing,” Pope Francis said in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit published March 8.

He called the lack of priests, to the point that some parishes are cared for by female “community leaders” in Switzerland, “a problem that the Church must resolve.”

After prayer, he recommended working “with youth who are seeking orientation. And this is very difficult, the work with youth, but it must be done because they ask for this: the youth are the great discarded ones in modern society, because they have no work in many countries.”

“For vocations, there is also another problem,” he said, “the problem of the birthrate. If there are no young men there can be no priests.”

He repeated his caution against “proselytism,” saying, “You can’t gain vocations with proselytism. 'Proselytism' – as if it were a charity society that makes you a partner.”

Without priestly vocations “the Church is weakened, because a Church without the Eucharist doesn’t have strength: the Church makes the Eucharist, but the Eucharist also makes the Church. The problem of vocations is a serious problem.”

Turning to the question of relaxing permissions for the ordination of married men and the requirement of priestly celibacy, he said that “optional celibacy is discussed, above all where priests are needed. But optional celibacy is not the solution.”

His interviewer asked if the permission for the ordination of viri probati – older married men – to the diaconate could be expanded to the priesthood.

While saying making celibacy optional for priests is not the solution, Pope Francis also signalled an openness to discussing the possibility.

“We must think yes, viri probati are a possibility. But then we must also consider what tasks they could perform, for example in isolated communities.”

The interview opened with a discussion of Pope Francis' devotion to Our Lady, Untier of Knots, and also touched on faith, populism, the Roman Curia, and his international trips.

Regarding faith, he said that “one can’t grow without crisis … crisis is part of the life of faith; a faith which doesn’t enter into crisis to grow, remains juvenile.”

Turning to populism, he expressed his concern over the movement's expansion in Europe. “Populism is evil and ends badly, as the past century has shown … Behind populism there is always a messianism: always.”

He reminded people that he is imperfect, saying: “I am a sinner, I am limited. We must not forget that the idealization of a person is a subtle form of aggression, it’s a way to subtly attack a person. And when I am idealized, I feel attacked.”

Francis was also asked about recent tensions with American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who in September joined three other prelates in penning a letter to the Pope voicing five "dubia" on his Apostolic exhortation "Amoris Letitia," which was subsequently published.

Tensions spiked again in December when Burke, Patron of the Order of Malta (a quasi-liaison role between the Order and the Vatican), was reportedly involved on the ousting of Knights' Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

A public row between the Order and the Holy See eventually resulted in resignation of the Order's Grand Master, Matthew Festing, at Pope Francis' request, the reinstatement of Boeselager as Grand Chancellor and the appointment of a papal delegate to oversee the "spiritual reform" of the Order, prompting rumors that Francis had either fired Burke or sidelined him in favor of his own man.

In his response to the question, Pope Francis said Cardinal Burke "is not my enemy," and affirmed that the American prelate still has his job.

"I didn’t take his title as Patron of Malta: he continues to be the Patron of Malta. But someone must repair the Order, and to do this I named a delegate capable of repairing it, with a charisma that Cardinal Burke didn’t have."

Pope Francis also discussed international trips he hopes to take, and mentioned that he won't plan to go to Germany this year, or the next.

“I can’t go to Russia because I would also have to go to Ukraine,” he added.

“The important one would be to go to South Sudan, which I don’t think I’ll be able to do – it was in the schedule to go to the two Congos: with Kabila [president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] things aren’t going well, I don’t think I’ll be able to go; but I will go to India and Bangladesh, for sure, to Colombia, and then a day in Portugal, in Fatima, and then I think that there’s another trip being studied, to Egypt: it seems like a full calendar, no?”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Do you read the Bible as often as you check your phone? Pope Francis asks

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 05 March 2017

pope says read bible as you use phone regularlyOn the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis said if we want to fight against the temptation of sin, we must be familiar with the Word of God – treating the Bible more like how we treat our cellphone.

“During the forty days of Lent, as Christians we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and address the spiritual battle against evil with the power of the Word of God,” he said March 5. “For this you have to become familiar with the Bible, read it often, meditate on it, assimilate it.”

“Someone said: what would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cell phone? If we always carried it with us; or at least the small pocket-sized Gospel, what would happen?”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims before leading the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, drawing a stark comparison between the attention we give our cellphones and the attention we give Scripture, for example, always taking it with us, and going back if we forget it at home.

“You forget you mobile phone – oh! I do not have it, I go back to look for it; if you read the messages of God contained in the Bible as we read the messages of the phone…” he said.

The Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew, which tells about the temptation of Jesus in the desert by Satan.

The episode comes at a specific point, he said, soon after Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River but before his public prosecution.

“He has just received the solemn investiture: the Spirit of God descended upon Him, the Father from heaven declared him ‘my beloved Son’ (Matt. 3:17). Jesus is now ready to begin his mission,” he said.

But first he must go up against the Enemy, Satan, who presents him with three temptations. “By means of this triple temptation, Satan wants to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humiliation – because he knows that in this way evil will be defeated,” the Pope said.

But the Word of God is like a shield against the poisonous arrows of the devil, Francis said. Jesus doesn’t use just any words – he uses the words of God, and in this way, the Son, full of the Holy Spirit, emerges victorious from the desert.”

This is what we must do against the temptations of the devil, the Pope said. The comparison between the Bible and our cellphones “is strange, but sobering.”

“In effect, if we had the Word of God always in our heart, no temptation could turn us away from God and no obstacle could deflect us from the path of goodness,” he stressed. We would know how “to win” against the daily temptations within and around us.

“We would be better able to live a resurrected life in the Spirit, accepting and loving our brothers, especially the most vulnerable and needy, and even our enemies.”

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, “the perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust to his will,” to help us during this Lent to listen to the Word of God in the Bible and “to make a real change of heart,” he concluded.

“And, please, do not forget – do not forget! – What would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cellphone. Think about this. The Bible always with us, close to us!”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Holy Father’s Message for Lent 2017

The following is the full text of the Holy Father Francis’ message for Lent 2017 on the theme “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift”.

lenten season 2017 msg of pope francisDear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend Who never abandons us. Even when we sin, He patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, He shows us His readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.

1. The other person is a gift

The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means “God helps”. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognising their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognising in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

2. Sin blinds us

The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).

The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.

The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).

The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).

3. The Word is a gift

The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).

We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.

The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.

The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).

The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family.

Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2016,
Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist


How the Possible Vatican-China Agreement could be Problematic

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Matt Hadro || 18 February 2017

vatican china agreement problematicThe archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong expressed serious concerns about a possible agreement between the Vatican and China on the appointing of bishops.

The agreement would essentially allow the government to pick candidates for bishops and put pressure on the Pope to veto them.

“Because how can you allow the initiative of selection of bishops in the hands of an atheistic government and totalitarian government? I want it to start from the Holy See,” Cardinal Joseph Zen said.

Cardinal Zen spoke to CNA of the possible agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the ordination of bishops there. The current Archbishop of Hong Kong has expressed hope that it will come about.  

Currently, Cardinal Zen explained, “the Vatican approves certain names of people” as candidates and the government does “pay attention” to these names, approving some of them.

“The Chinese government accepts this compromise instead of having more problems,” he said.

In the new proposal, however, episcopal candidates would be elected by the clergy, with the Pope having the final say of accepting or vetoing the candidates.

The problem, Cardinal Zen insisted, is that the government will inevitably meddle in the clergy’s election. “There is no real election in China,” he said.

The pressure would then be put on the Pope if he must repeatedly veto government-appointed candidates.

Hong Kong’s current archbishop, Cardinal John Tong Hon, has defended the new proposal, noting that the Chinese government must now recognize the Pope as the supreme head of the Church and insisting that the final authority on appointing bishops rests with the Pope.

“I would prefer the other way around,” Cardinal Zen insisted. The government has not shown promise that it would accommodate the Vatican’s past concerns, but rather has proven that it wants control over the church in China.

“Even after so much dialogue,” he said of the government, “still they were so unkind to the Church.” He pointed to the recent ordination of two bishops where Lei Shiyin, an excommunicated Chinese bishop “forced his presence to the ordination” and “took part” in it.

The incident was a “slap in the face of the Holy Father,” Cardinal Zen said. “How can the government allow such things? Or even to order such thing? It’s very unkind. It’s a way to say ‘we are still the masters’.”

The state has also meddled in the internal affairs of Catholic schools in Hong Kong, he said, which could prove especially detrimental in the future.

“As church we have full freedom,” he added, “but we have suffered a heavy drawback, which is they have taken away our right of running education. They have changed the law.”

While all schools are state-subsidized, the church under the old plan would “present the management committee” for the schools to the government, usually composed of teachers, parents, and alumni. This committee would be “approved” on formality. A new law has changed that, he said.

“We have no mechanism to intervene. Because until now, until the new law, we run the schools inside the system,” he said.

Now the Church would recommend only 60 percent of the management committee and wouldn’t even “have full control” over that percentage.

“So there is no guarantee anymore the school would go on according to our vision and mission,” he said.

The “underground” Catholic church in China “enjoys a certain amount of freedom” as opposed to the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, he said, as the government “tolerates” its underground existence as whole villages may be Catholic and priests say mass in homes.

“The majority of the priests and bishops in the official church, they may, in their heart, still very much united with the universal church, but they are under tight control,” he said.

And the situation “is not changing at all, because the system is already very well established at the national level,” he added. The current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jingping is about “tightening control,” he said, and “there is really no foundation for any optimism.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Consult, respect indigenous peoples and their land, Pope Addresses Representatives Including Africans

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 15 February 2017

pope for respect for indigeneous peopleDevelopment projects involving indigenous communities must be planned in consultation with them and must respect their traditional relationship to the land, Pope Francis said.

Having the "prior and informed consent" of the native communities who could be impacted by development projects is essential for "peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict," the pope said Feb. 15 during a meeting with about three dozen representative of indigenous communities.

The representatives from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean were in Rome for continuing discussions with the U.N.-related International Fund for Agricultural Development. Their talks aim at ensuring development projects impacting native communities are carried out in consultation with them and that they respect their land, cultures and traditions.

"I believe that the central issue is how to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories," the pope said. "This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth."

While none of the representatives were from North America, several news outlets immediately connected the pope's remarks to the ongoing protests over the construction of a leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would go through indigenous land in North Dakota. Several Sioux tribes have protested the pipeline project saying it endangers the Standing Rock reservation's water supply and infringes on sacred tribal grounds.

Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis praised the indigenous communities for approaching progress "with a special care for Mother Earth. In this moment in which humanity is committing a grave sin in not caring for the earth, I urge you to continue to bear witness to this. And do not allow new technologies -- which are legitimate and good -- but do not allow those that destroy the earth, that destroy the environment and ecological balance, and which end up destroying the wisdom of peoples."


Without Women, There is No Harmony in the World, Pope Francis Says

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 10 February 2017

women bring harmony in the worldA woman’s value is not based on her material accomplishments, but simply in the beauty and harmony she brings to the world, just by her very being, Pope Francis said.

While neither man nor woman is superior to the other, they play different roles, the Pope said.

“Man does not bring harmony…It is she who brings that harmony that teaches us to caress, to love with tenderness; and who makes the world a beautiful place.”

Often we hear people say, the Pope said Feb. 9, that “it is necessary in this society, in this institution, that here there should be a woman because she does this, she does these things.”

“No, no, no, no!” he said. “Functionality is not the purpose of women. It is true that women should do things, to do things as we all do. The purpose of women is to make harmony, and without women there is no harmony in the world.”

In his homily at Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the Book of Genesis, in particular, the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib, saying that just like Adam felt that something was missing in the Garden without Eve, without women, something would be missing from the world.

“When women are not there, harmony is missing. We might say: But this is a society with a strong masculine attitude, and this is the case, no? The woman is missing.”

People might think: “yes, yes: the woman is there to wash the dishes, to do things…” Francis said, but this is wrong, he emphasized. “The woman is there to bring harmony. Without the woman there is no harmony.”

Pope Francis referenced the day’s Gospel, which tells the story of a woman whose daughter is possessed by a demon. Even though she is at first rebuked by Jesus when she asks him to heal her daughter, she does not give up, saying “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

“This is the great gift of God: He has given us woman,” the Pope said. “And in the Gospel, we have heard what a woman is capable of, eh? She is courageous, that one, eh? She went forward with courage.”

“But there is more, so much more. A woman is harmony, is poetry, is beauty. Without her the world would not be so beautiful, it would not be harmonious. And I like to think – but this is a personal thing – that God created women so that we would all have a mother,” he said.

Pope Francis also said that while all exploitation of people is a “crime of ‘lèse-humanité,’” or a crime against humanity, “exploiting a woman is even more serious,” he said, because “it is destroying the harmony that God has chosen to give to the world. It is to destroy.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Admits Corruption at the Vatican in Wide-ranging Talk to Men Religious

National Catholic Reporter (NCR) || By Joshua J. McElwee || 09 February 2017

pope admits corruption at vaticanPope Francis admitted to the leaders of the world's Catholic male religious orders in a meeting last fall that the Vatican is a corrupt place, but said he is at peace in his work reforming the church's command structures.

"There is corruption in the Vatican," the pontiff told members of the Union of Superiors General Nov. 26, according to a report of the meeting released for the first time Thursday by the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica.

The pope made the admission after being asked by one of the religious leaders how he maintains serenity in his work.

"I do not take tranquilizers!" Francis joked, before adding: "The Italians offer good advice: to live in peace you need a healthy dose of not caring."

"I am at peace," said the pontiff, explaining that he has a small statue of a sleeping St. Joseph on his desk and that he places notes identifying problems he needs Joseph to help with under the statue.

"Now he is sleeping under a mattress of notes!" he joked again. "That is why I sleep well: it is a grace of God."

Francis was speaking in November to about 140 male superior generals, who were meeting in Rome for the 88th general assembly of their umbrella group. Thursday's report of the encounter was written by Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the chief editor of Civilta Cattolica and a papal confidant.

Release of the report of the November meeting comes as the Jesuit magazine is celebrating is 4,000th issue since its founding in 1850, and as the outlet is beginning to publish editions in four additional languages: English, Spanish, French and Korean.

In Thursday's report, Spadaro says the meeting between the pope and the religious leaders lasted three full hours and was not broadcast originally because it "had to be free and fraternal, made up of unfiltered questions and answers."

Besides mentioning corruption in the Vatican, Francis also speaks at length about how he sees the work of the church, how religious leaders can prevent sexual abuse of minors, and what community life should look like.

Read More: National Catholic Reporter…


Posters Criticizing Pope Francis Appear in Rome

Catholic Herald || By Associated Press || 06 February 2017

posters criticizing pope in rome 2017The posters reference the 'decapitation' of the Order of Malta

Criticism of Pope Francis intensified on Saturday after his intervention in the Order of Malta order, with posters appearing around Rome asking: “Where’s your mercy?”

The posters appeared on the same day that Francis named a top Vatican archbishop, Angelo Becciu, to be his special delegate to the ancient aristocratic order.

Francis gave Archibshop Becciu, the second most senior official in the Vatican secretariat of state, “all necessary powers” to help lay the groundwork for a new constitution for the order, lead the spiritual renewal of its professed knights and prepare for the election of a new grand master, expected in three months.

On Saturday, dozens of posters appeared around Rome featuring Pope Francis and referencing the “decapitation” of the Order.

Within hours, the city of Rome had plastered over the posters. Police launched an investigation into the conservative circles believed responsible, aided by closed-circuit cameras, the ANSA news agency said.

The posters, written in Roman dialect, also cited the way Francis had “ignored cardinals,” a reference to the four cardinals who have publicly asked Francis to clarify whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

One of the four cardinals is Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American cardinal who the Pope removed as the Vatican’s supreme court judge in 2014 and named to be his liaison with the Order of Malta. Cardinal Burke has become Francis’s most vocal critic and was instrumental in the Order’s saga.

With the cardinal’s support, the Order’s grand master Fra’ Matthew Festing sacked the grand chancellor, Albert von Boeselager, over a condom scandal. After learning that the ousting had been done in his name, Francis effectively took over the order. He asked Fra’ Matthew to resign, restored Boeselager to his position, declared all the Order’s sovereign decisions on the matter “null and void” and appointed Archbishop Becciu to help run the order temporarily.

Archbishop Becciu’s mandate as the Pope’s “exclusive spokesman” with the order now confirms Burke’s marginalisation.

In his letter Saturday, Francis said Archbishop Becciu would work in “close collaboration” with the number two official who technically is in charge at the Order. But he stressed: “I delegate to you all the necessary powers to decide possible questions that might emerge in carrying out the mandate I have given you.”

At a press conference this week, Boeselager insisted the order’s sovereignty was never in question during the stand-off, though he acknowledged the Vatican’s strident statements had led to such misunderstanding that he planned to convene ambassadors accredited to the order to explain.

The Order are a unique organisation: an aristocratic lay religious order that traces its history to the Crusades, the order runs a vast humanitarian organisation around the world involving over 100,000 staff and volunteers. The order also enjoys sovereign status and has diplomatic relations with over 100 countries, the Holy See included.

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Facts First: Vatican Seeks Scientific Data Before Making Judgments

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 02 February 2017

vatican seeking facts firstThe Vatican believes scientific facts exist and it wants to hear about them from world-renowned scientists before it offers guidance on or criticism of related political, social or economic policies.

The facts and the practical responses to them are separate issues, but some Catholics do not understand that or object to it -- and there is no lack of evidence for that in Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo's inbox.

The bishop is chancellor of both the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The two academies are holding a workshop Feb. 27-March 1 on preserving biodiversity.

In January, the bishop began receiving messages objecting to the invitation the academies extended to Paul R. Ehrlich, president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. The letters of protest highlight Ehrlich 's controversial book, "The Population Bomb," published in 1968, and his advocacy of strong population-control measures, including through abortion.

Ehrlich, a biologist, is not a member of either pontifical academy but has been invited to speak at the workshop because of his studies in the field of conservation biology.

"Naturally, someone can say, 'Oh, look who they have invited to the Vatican,' but the positive side is that he can help us find the truth in the theme we are discussing," Bishop Sanchez told Catholic News Service. Ehrlich is one of two people asked to speak about how "consumption preferences, population numbers, technology (and) ecosystem productivity" impact biodiversity.

The Vatican has long acknowledged the fact of global population growth, has shared concern about increased poverty rates in the fastest-growing regions of the world and accepts the scientific evidence that the growing population has had a negative effect on the environment.

However, in evaluating policies to respond to the scientific fact of population growth and environmental destruction, the Vatican insists on recognition of the sacredness of every human life, respect for human dignity and trust in the human capacity to change and to innovate. Where some scientists would favor population-control policies, modern popes consistently have argued that the problem is less about the number of people living on the planet and more about human selfishness, the unfair distribution of resources and a lack of will to find creative solutions.

Before making moral evaluations of policy, the pope and bishops need to know the scientific facts. The Vatican gets those from scholars with scientific expertise, regardless of their religious beliefs or their opinions on the policy implications of the scientific facts.

The object of the upcoming workshop and Ehrlich's speech is not population control, Bishop Sanchez said. It is how to respond to the call of Pope Francis in "Laudato Si'" to protect the diversity of plants and animals God created.

Objecting to the invitation of a scientist recognized as an expert in his field "is not logical," the bishop said. "Critics are only following the logic of attack. And it's always the same people."

Combined, the two pontifical academies have about 100 members -- including two dozen Nobel laureates -- but Bishop Sanchez said he does not know how many of them are Catholic. Academicians are nominated by the pope after vetting by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Bishop Sanchez said, "I am interested only in their scientific achievements. Many of them are Nobel laureates. We look for excellence, for scientists from a variety of disciplines and, third, for those with a global reputation."

"Their private opinions are their opinions," he said. "What counts is the conclusions that we will draw," but to imagine that the conclusions will contradict church teaching on the gift and sacredness of human life "is crazy."

Losing patience with the complaints, Bishop Sanchez said it is not just that the critics seem to be afraid of scientific findings and the church's ability to respond to them reasonably, "they are afraid of their own shadows."

"Truly, I just don't understand them. Through dialogue we are able to obtain much more than they are with their policy of always criticizing others," he said.


Pope Francis Has Ordered a Review of the New Mass Translation

America Magazine || By Gerard O’Connell || 30 January 2017

new roman missal to be reviewed 2017Pope Francis has ordered a review of “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the controversial decree behind the most recent translations of liturgical texts from Latin into English and other languages. The commission, established by the pope just before Christmas, is also tasked with examining what level of decentralization is desirable in the church on matters such as this.

The mixed commission includes bishops from all the continents. Significantly, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to be its president. The English-born archbishop is the number two official at the congregation; he has more experience in the liturgical field and a more open approach to liturgical questions than its prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah.

The Vatican has not provided details on the commission, which is scheduled to hold its first meeting soon. Nor has it published the names of the commission’s members.

Francis had two main reasons for setting up the commission, according to informed sources. First, in line with the Second Vatican Council, he wants to give greater responsibility and authority to bishops’ conferences. He stated this clearly in his programmatic document, “Evangelii Gaudium,” when he wrote:

"The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position “to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit.” Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach" (No. 32).

In this context, the question that arises in terms of the liturgy is to clarify what is the role of the bishop of Rome in preserving unity in the church, given that Liturgy, the Roman rite, creates unity in the Latin church. The commission will address this issue.

Second, some bishops' conferences are unhappy with the translation of the Roman Missal required by “Liturgiam Authenticam.” They consider it too rigid and do not accept that there is such a thing as “sacral language.” They charge that “Liturgiam” seeks an almost literal translation of the Latin liturgical texts into the vernacular or local language of the different countries, often with unsatisfactory results. The Japanese, for example, had a long-running battle with the congregation over who should decide what is an acceptable Japanese translation of these texts. They and several other bishops’ conferences, are clearly unhappy with the directives of “Liturgiam” and the level of centralization involved in it.

Archbishop Roche, who was for 10 years chairman of the International Commission for English Language in the Liturgy, addressing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in September 2014, said the major difference between “Comme le Prévoit” (1969), which governed translation for the first liturgical books after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and “Liturgiam Authenticam,” which has since determined the translation of the Roman Missal in English, French and some Spanish-speaking countries, “was that the Holy See in its directives opted for a shift of the guiding principle of translation from that of ‘dynamic or functional equivalence’ in 1969 to the principle of ‘formal equivalence’ in 2001.”

He explained that “dynamic equivalence” was achieved when a translator detached the “content” of an utterance from the “form in which it was expressed.” But this approach has become “outmoded,” he said. Over the last 40 years, specialists in language “have become more aware that the form we choose for an utterance is itself expressive of our purpose in speaking.” The Holy See in “Liturgiam Authenticam” opted for “the formal equivalence,” he stated.

The new commission set up by Pope Francis will review this whole matter, together with the issue of inculturation and the question of what decentralization is desirable in matters relating to the liturgy.

Source: American Magazine… 


Pope Francis Encourages Media to Tell More “good news”

CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 26 January 2017

pope francis want media to tell good news storiesPope Francis has encouraged the media “to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure)” including “overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits.”

Instead, the Pope advocates for “an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil.” He would like that news reporters focus on solutions in view of inspiring “a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients.”

Perhaps cognizant of the contemporary media landscape characterized by citizen journalism, the Holy Father asks “everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news’.”

The Pope has expressed this in his message for the 51st World Communications Days, which he issued Tuesday, January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

Marked on the Sunday before Pentecost annually, the World Day of Social Communications is celebrated in almost all countries.

Below is the full text of Holy Father’s message whose theme is “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time”


«Fear not, for I am with you» (Is 43:5): Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time

Access to the media – thanks to technological progress – makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely. That news may be good or bad, true or false. The early Christians compared the human mind to a constantly grinding millstone; it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds. Our minds are always “grinding”, but it is up to us to choose what to feed them (cf. SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, Epistle to Leontius).

I wish to address this message to all those who, whether in their professional work or personal relationships, are like that mill, daily “grinding out” information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate. I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust.

I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on “bad news” (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure). This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil. Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits. Moreover, in a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment, there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.

I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart “good news”.

Good news

Life is not simply a bare succession of events, but a history, a story waiting to be told through the choice of an interpretative lens that can select and gather the most relevant data. In and of itself, reality has no one clear meaning. Everything depends on the way we look at things, on the lens we use to view them. If we change that lens, reality itself appears different. So how can we begin to “read” reality through the right lens?

For us Christians, that lens can only be the good news, beginning with the Good News par excellence: “the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God” (Mk 1:1). With these words, Saint Mark opens his Gospel not by relating “good news” about Jesus, but rather the good news that is Jesus himself. Indeed, reading the pages of his Gospel, we learn that its title corresponds to its content and, above all else, this content is the very person of Jesus.

This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture. It is seen as an integral part of Jesus’ love for the Father and for all mankind. In Christ, God has shown his solidarity with every human situation. He has told us that we are not alone, for we have a Father who is constantly mindful of his children. “Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5): these are the comforting words of a God who is immersed in the history of his people. In his beloved Son, this divine promise – “I am with you” – embraces all our weakness, even to dying our death. In Christ, even darkness and death become a point of encounter with Light and Life. Hope is born, a hope accessible to everyone, at the very crossroads where life meets the bitterness of failure. That hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5) and makes new life blossom, like a shoot that springs up from the fallen seed. Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew.

Confidence in the seed of the Kingdom

To introduce his disciples and the crowds to this Gospel mindset and to give them the right “lens” needed to see and embrace the love that dies and rises, Jesus uses parables. He frequently compares the Kingdom of God to a seed that releases its potential for life precisely when it falls to the earth and dies (cf. Mk 4:1-34). This use of images and metaphors to convey the quiet power of the Kingdom does not detract from its importance and urgency; rather, it is a merciful way of making space for the listener to freely accept and appropriate that power. It is also a most effective way to express the immense dignity of the Paschal mystery, leaving it to images, rather than concepts, to communicate the paradoxical beauty of new life in Christ. In that life, hardship and the cross do not obstruct, but bring about God’s salvation; weakness proves stronger than any human power; and failure can be the prelude to the fulfilment of all things in love. This is how hope in the Kingdom of God matures and deepens: it is “as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow” (Mk 4:26-27).

The Kingdom of God is already present in our midst, like a seed that is easily overlooked, yet silently takes root. Those to whom the Holy Spirit grants keen vision can see it blossoming. They do not let themselves be robbed of the joy of the Kingdom by the weeds that spring up all about.

The horizons of the Spirit

Our hope based on the good news which is Jesus himself makes us lift up our eyes to contemplate the Lord in the liturgical celebration of the Ascension. Even though the Lord may now appear more distant, the horizons of hope expand all the more. In Christ, who brings our human nature to heaven, every man and woman can now freely “enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Heb 10:19-20). By “the power of the Holy Spirit” we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7‑8).

Confidence in the seed of God’s Kingdom and in the mystery of Easter should also shape the way we communicate. This confidence enables us to carry out our work – in all the different ways that communication takes place nowadays – with the conviction that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person.

Those who, in faith, entrust themselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit come to realize how God is present and at work in every moment of our lives and history, patiently bringing to pass a history of salvation. Hope is the thread with which this sacred history is woven, and its weaver is none other than the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Hope is the humblest of virtues, for it remains hidden in the recesses of life; yet it is like the yeast that leavens all the dough. We nurture it by reading ever anew the Gospel, “reprinted” in so many editions in the lives of the saints who became icons of God’s love in this world. Today too, the Spirit continues to sow in us a desire for the Kingdom, thanks to all those who, drawing inspiration from the Good News amid the dramatic events of our time, shine like beacons in the darkness of this world, shedding light along the way and opening ever new paths of confidence and hope.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2017



On Trump Presidency, Pope Says We Must 'wait and see'

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 22 January 2017

pope for wait and see on trump presidencyIn a new interview published Saturday, Pope Francis said he will wait to see what U.S. President Donald J. Trump does before making any judgments, emphasizing God’s own patience with him and his faults.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais Jan. 20, the same day as the U.S. presidential inauguration, Pope Francis said he doesn’t like to get ahead of himself “or judge people prematurely.”

“We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that will not be either,” he said.

“We will see. We will see what he does and will judge.” The world is so upside down, that it needs a fixed point, grounded firmly in reality: “what did you do, what did you decide, how do you move. That is what I prefer to wait and see.”

Asked if he wasn’t worried about things he had heard about Trump, Francis responded again that he is waiting. “God waited so long for me, with all my sins…” he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, the Pope was questioned about issues ranging from immigration to economics to Vatican diplomacy to the Gospel, among other things.

On the issue of immigration Francis was clear about his position, that “everyone does what they can or what they want. It is a very hard judgment.”

The most important thing is that those in dire need are helped and rescued, he said. After that we should welcome migrants and refugees and help them to integrate into their new country.

In the context of 1930s Germany, where the people were “in crisis” and looking for a charismatic leader, someone who could give them a clear identity, “we all know what happened,” he said. But what is important is that people did not talk to one another, there was no conversation.

“Yes,” borders can be controlled, he said. Countries have a right to control “who comes and who goes, and those countries at risk – from terrorism or such things – have even more the right to control them more, but no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility to talk with their neighbors.”

Asked about Vatican diplomacy and its image, including the public thanks of Barack Obama and Raúl Castro on the one hand, and the parties that criticize the Vatican’s interference, on the other, the Pope said that he asks the Lord “that he give me the grace of not taking any measure for the sake of image.”

“Honesty, service, those are the criteria.” Mistakes are sometimes made, your image suffers, “but it doesn’t matter if there was goodwill. History will judge afterwards,” he said.

For him, he said, the clear, guiding principle for both pastoral action and Vatican diplomacy is that they are “mediators, rather than intermediaries.”

“We build bridges, not walls. What is the difference between a mediator and an intermediary?” he said. An intermediary is someone who enters a business agreement, renders a service and then is compensated, “and rightly so, because it is his job.”

The mediator, on the other hand, “is the one who wants to serve both parties and wants both parties to win even if he loses,” the Pope said. “Vatican diplomacy must be a mediator, not an intermediary. If, throughout history, it has sometimes maneuvered or managed a meeting that filled its pockets, that was a very serious sin.”

“The mediator builds bridges that are not for him, but rather for others to cross.”

Asked if his changes to the Vatican, sometimes criticized both by the more traditional sectors of the church and by the more progressive, are a “revolution of normalcy,” or already contained in the “Gospel’s essence,” as he has said, Pope Francis responded simply that he is a “sinner and not always successful.”

“I try – I don't know if I succeed – to do what the Gospel says. That is what I try,” he said.

“The true heroes of the Church are the saints. That is, those men and women that devoted their lives to make the Gospel a reality,” he said. “The saints are the specific examples of the Gospel in daily life!”

With the emphasis on going out to the peripheries, how would Francis respond to those Catholics that feel that he ignores the people who have remained faithful to the Church and her teachings, was also questioned.

“I know that those who feel comfortable within a Church structure that doesn't ask too much of them or who have attitudes that protect them from too much contact are going to feel uneasy with any change, with any proposal coming from the Gospel,” he said.

“The novelty of the Gospel however astonishes because it is essentially scandalous,” he continued. “Saint Paul tells us about the scandal of the cross, the scandal of the Son of God become man. But the evangelical essence is scandalous by those days’ criteria. By any worldly criteria, it is an outrageous essence.”

Once questioned by a German journalist about why he never talks about the middle class, “those who pay their taxes…” Francis said he thinks that maybe he is always talking about the middle class, just without calling it that.

“I use a term coined by the French novelist Malègue, who talks about ‘the middle class of sanctity,’” he said.

“I am always talking about parents, grandparents, nurses, the people who live to serve others, who raise their kids, who work... Those people are tremendously saintly!” he said.

“And they are also the ones who carry the Church onward: the ones that earn their living with dignity, that raise their children, that bury their dead, that care for their elders, instead of putting them into an old people's home: that is our saintly middle class.”

From an economic point of view, the middle class is vanishing more and more, he said. But “the father, the mother, who celebrate their family, with their sins and their virtues, the grandfather, the grandmother,” he continued. “The family. At the center. That is ‘the middle class of sanctity.’”

A final comment reflected that Francis seems to be a very happy Pope. “The Lord is good and hasn’t taken away my good humor,” he said.

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Francis: Martin Luther Wanted to ‘renew the Church, not divide her’

Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 19 January 2017

pope on luther for unity not divisionThe Pope told a delegation of Lutherans that this was a matter of 'sincere contrition' for Christians today

Pope Francis has told Lutheran pilgrims from Finland that Martin Luther’s intention 500 years ago “was to renew the Church, not divide Her”.

The Pope was speaking to a delegation of pilgrims led by the Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen of Turku. Their annual visit takes place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

In his address, Pope recalled his visit to Sweden last October marking 500 years since the start of the Reformation, saying it was a “significant step” that “gave us courage” for the ecumenical journey ahead.

“This joint commemoration of the Reformation was important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels,” he said.

“After 50 years of official ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, we have succeeded in clearly articulating points of view which today we agree on. For this we are grateful.”

“At the same time we keep alive in our hearts sincere contrition for our faults,” the Pope said. “In this spirit, we recalled in Lund that the intention of Martin Luther 500 years ago was to renew the Church, not divide Her.

“The gathering there gave us the courage and strength, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together,” he said.

The Pope concluded his address by thanking Archbishop Makinen for having brought his grandchildren to the audience. “We need the simplicity of children: they will show us the path that leads to Jesus Christ,” he said.

The theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs until next Wednesday, is “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us”.

The materials for the week, published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, say that, after 50 years of dialogue, “Catholics are now able to hear Luther’s challenge for the Church of today, recognising him as a ‘witness to the Gospel'”.

Germany’s Catholic bishops praised Luther as a “Gospel witness and teacher of the faith” in a document released last year.

Source: Catholic Herald…


Upcoming Synod Needs Young People's Voices, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 13 January 2017

pope writes to youth ahead of next synodPope Francis asked young people to tell him, their bishops and pastors about their hopes and struggles and even their criticisms.

In preparation for a meeting of the Synod of Bishops focused on youth, the pope wrote a letter to young people, saying the church wants "to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith, even your doubts and your criticism."

"Make your voice heard," the pope told young people. "Let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls."

The pope's letter was released Jan. 13 along with the preparatory document for the synod. The document includes a series of questions to be answered by national conferences of bishops and other church bodies. The responses, along with input from young people themselves, will form the basis of the synod's working document.

Pope Francis chose "Young people, faith and vocational discernment" as the theme for the synod gathering, which will be held in October 2018.

Young people will have an opportunity to contribute to the working document by submitting reflections "on their expectations and their lives" through a dedicated website -- www.sinodogiovani.va -- that will be launched March 1, said Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops.

In his letter, Pope Francis referred to God's call to Abraham. The Old Testament patriarch, he said, "received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this 'new land' for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?"

"A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity," Pope Francis told young people. "Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master."

The synod preparatory document offered three chapters for reflection by bishops and youths, which it defines as people roughly between the ages of 16 and 29: young people in today's world; faith, discernment and vocation; and pastoral activity.

Through the synod, the document said, "the church has decided to examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today."

The church, it said, needs to evaluate its pastoral approach to young people living in a rapidly changing world where globalization, technological dominance, as well as economic and social hardships pose significant challenges to discovering their vocational path.

"From the vantage point of faith, the situation is seen as a sign of our times, requiring greater listening, respect and dialogue," the document said.

A special focus of the synod, it said, will be "on vocational discernment, that is, the process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one's state in life."

Specifically for Christians, it said, the question is: "How does a person live the good news of the Gospel and respond to the call which the Lord addresses to all those he encounters, whether through marriage, the ordained ministry or the consecrated life?"

One of the major challenges for young people in defining their personal identity and finding their path in life is the countless options available -- particularly when it comes to their careers -- that may impede them from making a definitive life choice.

Many young people today, it said, "refuse to continue on a personal journey of life if it means giving up taking different paths in the future: 'Today I choose this, tomorrow we'll see.'"

Lack of employment and social and economic hardships, it added, also contribute to "their inability to continue in one career. Generally speaking, these obstacles are even more difficult for young women to overcome," it added.

Gender inequality and discrimination against ethnic or religious minorities, which can force people to emigrate, are other detrimental factors that the church is called to address to help young people become "agents of change."

"If society or the Christian community wants to make something new happen again, they have to leave room for new people to take action," the document said.

By accompanying young people in their personal discernment, it said, "the church accepts her call to collaborate in the joy of young people rather than be tempted to take control of their faith."

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, told journalists Jan. 13 that the presence of young men and women at the synod will help bishops understand how best to accompany youths who are searching for their vocation and path in life.  

As auditors, young people "will not only be able to take part in the meetings of the general assembly, but also the small working groups," he said.

Federica Ceci and Elvis Do Ceu, young members of Rome's St. Thomas More parish, joined the cardinal for the news conference and expressed their gratitude for Pope Francis' attention to the realities facing today's young people.

Ceci, a 24-year-old law student, said the synod was a call for young people to "get their hands dirty."

Do Ceu told reporters, "Pope Francis, in a certain way, helps us understand that that the only way forward is to offer a future -- as well as a present -- by engaging young people and giving them a leading role."

Editors: The complete text of the synod preparatory document in English can be found at: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2017/01/13/0021/00050.html#EN


Vatican Weekly Paper Gets a Facelift

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 11 January 2017

vatican weekly with faceliftOn Tuesday, the Vatican unveiled a “new and improved” weekly edition of its newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which will begin with the Jan. 19 issue, and include updates to both content and the newspaper’s look, according to the director.

The changes are intended to merge new with old, keeping the newspaper’s fundamental characteristic, that it’s an “echo of papal teaching,” Director Giovanni Maria Vian told journalists Jan. 10.

New voices, including both secular and Catholic writers, will be added to four of the main sections of the paper: Vatican information, international news, religious news, and culture.

There will also be new articles written by representatives of different Christian denominations and non-Christian religions, and a new meditation on the Sunday Gospel passage.

Some content of the weekly edition will be pulled from the daily editions of that week, which is also a change. Graphics will receive an update as well.

One thing the director emphasized is that the “fundamental” content of the paper, full papal texts, an overview of the Pope’s activities, etc. will remain as they have been. The paper will also keep its “fraternity of the tongue,” Vian said, that is, “not to wound anyone and to have good relations with all.”

The updated edition comes out on the 69th anniversary of the Italian weekly’s first publication on Jan. 19, 1948.

L’Osservatore Romano – “The Roman Observer” in English – was launched in 1861 to defend the Papal States against the Italian political radical Giuseppe Garibaldi in his bid to subsume the Pope’s territories into a newly unified Italy. The paper’s ownership was independent of the Church up until 1885 when the Vatican acquired it during the reign of Pope Leo XIII.

The main, daily edition of the newspaper is in Italian.

In 1968, a weekly edition in English was started. It now has weekly editions in German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and starting Jan. 6, Malayalam, a language spoken in India. The publication also has a monthly edition in Polish.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Pope Francis’ Message for the 50th World Day of Peace: 01 January 2017


Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace

peace message january 20171. At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders. I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity”,[1] and make active nonviolence our way of life.

This is the fiftieth Message for the World Day of Peace. In the first, Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order”. He warned of “the danger of believing that international controversies cannot be resolved by the ways of reason, that is, by negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity, but only by means of deterrent and murderous forces.” Instead, citing the encyclical Pacem in Terris of his predecessor Saint John XXIII, he extolled “the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love”. [2] In the intervening fifty years, these words have lost none of their significance or urgency.

On this occasion, I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values. May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life. When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

A broken world

2. While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The Good News

3. Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts”.[3]

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. As my predecessor Benedict XVI observed, that teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’ comes from God”.[4] He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’”.[5] The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”.[6]

More powerful than violence

4. Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: “We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world”.[7] For the force of arms is deceptive. “While weapons traffickers do their work, there are poor peacemakers who give their lives to help one person, then another and another and another”; for such peacemakers, Mother Teresa is “a symbol, an icon of our times”.[8] Last September, I had the great joy of proclaiming her a Saint. I praised her readiness to make herself available for everyone “through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”.[9] In response, her mission – and she stands for thousands, even millions of persons – was to reach out to the suffering, with generous dedication, touching and binding up every wounded body, healing every broken life.

The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Nor can we forget the eventful decade that ended with the fall of Communist regimes in Europe. The Christian communities made their own contribution by their insistent prayer and courageous action. Particularly influential were the ministry and teaching of Saint John Paul II. Reflecting on the events of 1989 in his 1991 Encyclical Centesimus Annus, my predecessor highlighted the fact that momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice”.[10] This peaceful political transition was made possible in part “by the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth”. Pope John Paul went on to say: “May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes and war in international ones”.[11]

The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.[12] I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”.[13] Violence profanes the name of God.[14] Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!”[15]

The domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence

5. If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

The Jubilee of Mercy that ended in November encouraged each one of us to look deeply within and to allow God’s mercy to enter there. The Jubilee taught us to realize how many and diverse are the individuals and social groups treated with indifference and subjected to injustice and violence. They too are part of our “family”; they too are our brothers and sisters. The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family. “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures that break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”.[19]

My invitation

6. Peacebuilding through active nonviolence is the natural and necessary complement to the Church’s continuing efforts to limit the use of force by the application of moral norms; she does so by her participation in the work of international institutions and through the competent contribution made by so many Christians to the drafting of legislation at all levels. Jesus himself offers a “manual” for this strategy of peacemaking in the Sermon on the Mount. The eight Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-10) provide a portrait of the person we could describe as blessed, good and authentic. Blessed are the meek, Jesus tells us, the merciful and the peacemakers, those who are pure in heart, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.[20] To act in this way means to choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society. Active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. Everything in the world is inter-connected.[21] Certainly differences can cause frictions. But let us face them constructively and non-violently, so that “tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity,” preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.[22]

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

In conclusion

7. As is traditional, I am signing this Message on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is the Queen of Peace. At the birth of her Son, the angels gave glory to God and wished peace on earth to men and women of good will (cf. Luke 2:14). Let us pray for her guidance.

“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]

From the Vatican, 8 December 2016


[1] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[2] PAUL VI, Message for the First World Day of Peace, 1 January 1968.

[3] “The Legend of the Three Companions”, Fonti Francescane, No. 1469.

[4] BENEDICT XVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] MOTHER TERESA, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979.

[8] Meditation, “The Road of Peace”, Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, 19 November 2015.

[9] Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 4 September 2016.

[10] No. 23.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Address to Representatives of Different Religions, 3 November 2016.

[13] Address to the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, 5 November 2016.

[14] Cf. Address at the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh of the Muslims of the Caucasus and Representatives of Different Religious Communities, Baku, 2 October 2016.

[15]Address in Assisi, 20 October 2016.

[16] Cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 90-130.

[17] Cf. ibid., 133, 194, 234.

[18] Cf. Message for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 7 December 2014.

[19] Encyclical Laudato Si’, 230.

[20] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 227.

[21] Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 16, 117, 138.

[22] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 228.

[23] Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio instituting the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 17 August 2016.

[24] Regina Coeli, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014.

[25]Appeal, Assisi, 20 September 2016.


Beyond Expectations: Pope Sees God of Surprises at Work in 2016

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 01 December 2016

pope francis on 2016 as beyond expectationsPope Francis described 2016 as a "packed year," one full of initiatives that helped Catholics "see and touch with their hands the fruits of the mercy of God."

"The Lord always surprises us and goes beyond our expectations," the pope said Nov. 28, looking back at what happened over the past 12 months, especially in events related to the Year of Mercy.

While the jubilee celebrations dominated the papal calendar, they did not halt other activities and responsibilities, nor other surprises.

After decades of work and hope and prayer, Pope Francis finally was the first pope to meet with the Russian Orthodox patriarch. He and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met briefly in Cuba in February and signed a joint declaration.

In April, after visiting with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis -- without prior announcement -- brought 12 of them back to Rome with him. The Vatican is providing the funds needed for their living expenses and the Rome-based Sant'Egidio Community is helping them with language lessons and logistics. The 12 all had the legal paperwork necessary to move to Italy.

In May, Pope Francis held a dialogue with the superiors general of women's religious orders from around the world. One of the women asked him to establish "an official commission to study the question" of the identity and role of the women described as deacons in the New Testament and early Christian writings.

The pope agreed and later named six men and six women to the commission, in addition to commission president Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The commission held its first meeting in late November.

Here's a look back at some other items from the pope's 2016 diary:

-- In January, Pope Francis became the third modern pope to visit Rome's main synagogue. He told the congregation that while the Catholic Church affirms that salvation comes through Jesus, it also recognizes that God is faithful and has not revoked his covenant with the Jewish people. He paid special tribute to a handful of Holocaust survivors present for his visit, saying, "their sufferings, anguish and tears must never be forgotten."

-- In February, his meeting with Patriarch Kirill took place during a stopover on his way to Mexico for a pastoral visit that included intense personal prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a special Mass in Ciudad Juarez at a site just a few yards from the U.S.-Mexican border. He insisted the migration crisis is not just about numbers, but "names, stories and families."

-- In March, Pope Francis continued his practice of holding a Lenten penance service in St. Peter's Basilica, going to confession and hearing confessions. The sacrament was a centerpiece of the Year of Mercy celebrations, and the pope told priests, "May every man and woman who comes to confession find a father; a father who is waiting, the Father who forgives."

-- In April, the Vatican released Pope Francis' postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia," insisting that God's plan for the family is that it be built on the lifelong union of one man and one woman open to having children. The pope called for an overhaul of marriage preparation programs and for the prayerful accompaniment of Catholic couples whose marriages have failed.

-- In May, Pope Francis received the Charlemagne Prize and delivered a major speech on his vision for a Europe that overcomes division, economic struggles and fear of immigrants. "We are asked to promote an integration that finds in solidarity a way of acting, a means of making history," he said. "Solidarity should never be confused with charitable assistance, but understood as a means of creating opportunities for all the inhabitants of our cities -- and of so many other cities -- to live with dignity."

-- In June, in a small, family-like gathering, Pope Francis helped retired Pope Benedict XVI celebrate the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Even in retirement, he said, Pope Benedict continues to serve the church and "truly contributes with vigor and wisdom to its growth" from the "little 'Mater Ecclesiae' monastery in the Vatican."

-- In July, Pope Francis joined hundreds of thousands of Catholic young people in Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day and, like many of them, he paid a silent, prayerful visit to Auschwitz, the nearby Nazi death camp. At the closing WYD Mass, he told the young people, "God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cellphone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn't care whether you are stylish or not, he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious and your value is priceless."

-- In August, the pope made a brief visit to Assisi for the 800th anniversary of the "Pardon of Assisi," a celebration of God's forgiveness. Pope Francis ended his talk by asking the Franciscan friars and bishops present to go to one of the confessionals and be available to offer the sacrament of reconciliation. He, too, put on a purple stole and heard confessions.

-- In September, Pope Francis canonized St. Teresa of Kolkata in the presence of hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, thousands of poor people assisted by the order and tens of thousands of Catholics from around the world. Mother Teresa, he said, was "a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded."

-- In October, Pope Francis flew to Sweden to join Lutheran leaders beginning a yearlong commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The pope and Lutheran leaders, focusing on a common baptism in Christ and a common call of discipleship, formally pledged their communities would work together in peacemaking and social service.

-- In November, the pope closed the Year of Mercy, but before doing so, he created 17 new cardinals, including three from the United States: Cardinals Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Joseph W. Tobin, recently appointed archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

Meeting Nov. 28 with people who had been involved in coordinating Year of Mercy events, Pope Francis said: "Something truly extraordinary happened and now it must be inserted into our daily lives so that mercy becomes a commitment and a permanent lifestyle of believers."


Synod Organizers Finalize Preparatory Document for 2018 Synod on Youth, Faith, Discernment

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 November 2016

2018 synod document preparations 2016The Synod of Bishops met in Rome this week to finalize the preparatory document and questionnaire that will form the basis of the discussion for the upcoming gathering to discuss youth, faith and discernment.

Pope Francis presided over the Nov. 21-22 meeting, which marked the second time the Ordinary Council of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops have met since the members were announced.

The Council for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is charged with preparing for the Ordinary Synod, which takes place every three years to discuss a specific theme of importance in the Church.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the synod of bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

The Synod Council is composed of a permanent Secretary General (Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri) and Undersecretary (Bishop Fabio Fabene), as well as 15 members – 3 from each continent, with Asia and Oceana (Australia) counted as one – and three appointed by the Pope.

Announced Oct. 6, the theme for the next Ordinary Synod, scheduled to take place in October 2018, will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

According to a Nov. 23 Vatican communique, before getting down to business, the Synod Council’s two-day meeting opened with a speech from the secretary-general, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who thanked Pope Francis for his presence and congratulated two council members who were made cardinals by the Pope Nov. 19: Cardinal Sergio Da Rocha of Brasilia and Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid.

Though they aren’t members of the Synod Council, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy and Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, were invited to join the meeting, given their competency surrounding the synod theme.

Discussion focused largely on the “Ordo Synodi Episcoporum,” which is basically the regulations that establish the composition of the synod and how it functions, as well as the preparatory document and questionnaire that will be sent out to bishops’ conferences around the world ahead of the 2018 gathering.

The document was elaborated on by the secretary-general, Baldisseri, with the help of “the competent experts” on the synod theme, according to the communique.

Council members then expressed their appreciation for the document before giving suggestions on how it could be made better.

The document, which includes a questionnaire, will be sent out to Episcopal Conferences and to Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches “sui iuris” (independent) so that it can be distributed to dioceses and other ecclesial institutions throughout the world in order to prepare for the 2018 Ordinary Synod.

During the meeting, members of the Synod Council split up into small groups divided by continent in order to identify specific questions regarding youth “in different geographical and cultural contexts.”

Proposals for the preparatory text and questionnaire were then collected and inserted into the document, which was then “approved unanimously.”

When it came to discussion on the “Ordo Synodi Episcoporum,” members discussed the regulations and listened to a presentation given by Bishop Fabene, undersecretary of the council, who spoke about the work already in progress regarding the revision of the synodal legislation with the help of experts.

Fabene’s presentation, the communique noted, was followed by “a fruitful exchange of views.”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Pope Calls New Cardinals to be Agents of Unity in Divided World

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 19 November 2016

new cardinals to be agents of unity 2016The Catholic Church's 17 new cardinals must dedicate their lives to being ministers of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world -- and sometimes a church -- often marked by hostility and division, Pope Francis said.

Even Catholics are not immune from "the virus of polarization and animosity," the pope told the new cardinals, and "we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts."

Creating 17 new cardinals from 14 nations Nov. 19, the pope said the College of Cardinals -- and the Catholic Church itself -- must be a sign for the world that differences of nationality, skin color, language and social class do not make people enemies, but brothers and sisters with different gifts to offer.

Three of the new cardinals created during the prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica were from the United States: Cardinals Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Joseph W. Tobin, whom the pope asked to move from being archbishop of Indianapolis to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

Only 16 of the new cardinals were present for the ceremony. The Vatican said 87-year-old Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai, the retired bishop of Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, was created a cardinal although he was unable to travel to Rome.

After reciting the Creed and taking an oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors, each cardinal went up to Pope Francis and knelt before him. The pope gave them each a cardinal's ring, a three-cornered red hat and a scroll attesting to their appointment as cardinals and containing their "titular church" in Rome. The assignment of a church is a sign they now are members of the clergy of the pope's diocese.

After the consistory, Pope Francis and the new cardinals hopped in vans for a short ride to visit retired Pope Benedict XVI in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, his residence in the Vatican gardens. The retired pope greeted each cardinal, thanked them for stopping by and assured them, "My prayers will accompany you always."

Cardinal Mario Zenari, the pope's ambassador to Syria, spoke on behalf of the new cardinals, promising Pope Francis that they and the entire church would continue to be envoys of God's mercy, bending down to help those "left half dead on the side of the road, wounded in body and spirit."

The Gospel reading at the consistory was St. Luke's version of Jesus' discourse to his disciples: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

"They are four things we can easily do for our friends and for those more or less close to us, people we like, people whose tastes and habits are similar to our own," Pope Francis said. But Jesus, not mincing his words, calls his followers to more.

"With people we consider our opponents or enemies," the pope said, "our first instinctive reaction ... is to dismiss, discredit or curse them. Often we try to 'demonize' them, so as to have a 'sacred' justification for dismissing them."

In God, he said, there are no enemies. There are only brothers and sisters to love.

All people are embraced by God's love, he said. "We are the ones who raise walls, build barriers and label people."

Just as God loves and forgives the pope and the cardinals for their sinfulness, he said, so they must love and forgive others, undergoing "the conversion of our pitiful hearts that tend to judge, divide, oppose and condemn."

Looking around the modern world, Pope Francis said, "we live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning."

"We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant or a refugee" are seen as threats, he said. They are presumed to be an enemy because they come from a different country, "because of the color of their skin, their language or their social class. An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith."

The "growing animosity between peoples" is found even "among us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings," the pope said.

"We need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals," he said. The cardinals come from different countries, "we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites. None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches."

Speaking to Catholic News Service after the consistory, Cardinal Tobin said the pope's homily was "very timely" and the cardinals, as well as all Catholics, should "examine ourselves and the church to see whether we have unconsciously appropriated this 'virus'" of polarization and animosity. It may hide under "the name of truth or the name of orthodoxy or something, when it actually serves to divide. I think probably that is resistance to the acts of the Holy Spirit."

"In this year of mercy," Cardinal Farrell told CNS, "we all need to be a little more concerned about and merciful and compassionate to each of our brothers and sisters. And I think that's the great message that the Holy Father wished to convey.

"We all need to learn how to respect each other. We can disagree on many points, but we need to enter into dialogue and conversation with each other. I believe that is what the Holy Father wanted and what the year of mercy is all about," the cardinal said. People can discuss and debate theological problems, "but if they don't do it with charity -- as St. Paul would say -- what good is it?"

Cardinal Cupich said Pope Francis "hit the nail on the head because a virus can be contagious and it can spread like wildfire, and he wanted to make sure that every individual took responsibility for making sure that whoever the person is who we disagree with, we do not make an enemy out of them, that we remember that we are all sons and daughters of the same God and that we are brothers and sisters to each other."

"We have to break that cycle of violence and hatred and bigotry, otherwise it will be contagious like a virus," Cardinal Cupich said.

As the Year of Mercy was ending, Pope Francis called on the new cardinals -- and everyone present in the basilica -- to continue to proclaim "the Gospel of mercy," going out to where people live, giving them hope and helping them become signs of reconciliation.

At the end of the consistory, the College of Cardinals had 228 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a pope.


To Be Corrupt is to follow the Devil, Pope Francis Says

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 17 November 2016

corruption leads to devilOn Thursday Pope Francis warned Catholic business leaders against the danger of worshipping money, saying corruption is to follow the lies of the devil, whereas practices aimed for the common good are always built around principals of honesty and fraternity.

“Corruption is the worst social plague. It’s the lie of seeking personal gain of that of the group itself under the guise of a service to society,” the Pope said Nov. 17.

The attitude of corruption “is the crassest selfishness, hidden behind an apparent generosity,” he said, noting that corruption stems from the worship of money and comes back warp the worshipper, making them “a prisoner of that same worship.”

Corruption, he said, “is a fraud to democracy” and opens the doors to “terrible evils” such as drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, slavery, the sale of organs and arms trafficking. Above all, “corruption is to become a follower of the devil, the father of lies.”

Pope Francis spoke to hundreds of business leaders inside the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace during a Nov. 17-18 International Conference of Associations of Catholic Businesses. Organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the gathering’s theme was: “Business leaders: agents of social and economic inclusion.”

In his lengthy speech delivered in Spanish, the Pope noted that business activity is constantly plagued by “a multitude of risks,” the first of which, according to Francis, is “the risk of using money.”

Francis has often spoken about the danger of putting money at the center of one’s life and activities, calling it “the dung of the devil.”

He told the business leaders that, as stated by the Fathers of the Church, money and riches “are good when they are put at the service of the other,” but otherwise “they are wicked.”

“Because of this, money must serve rather than govern,” he said. “Money is only a technical instrument of intermediation, of comparison of values and rights, of the fulfillment of obligations and savings.”

As with everything technical, money has no neutral value, but “acquires value according to the purpose and circumstances in which it is used,” the Pope said, explaining that when the neutrality of money is promoted, “it is falling into power.”

Businesses, he said, “must not exist to earn money, even if money serves to measure its function. Business exist to serve.”

Pope Francis stressed the need to recover the full social meaning of financial and banking activities, which must always be accompanied by the “intelligence and inventiveness” of entrepreneurs.

To do this implies taking the risk of “complicating life” and having to renounce certain economic gains, he said, insisting that credit must be accessible for housing, for small and medium-sized businesses, for farmers, educational activities, for health and for the “improvement and integration” of the poorest urban centers of society.

He cautioned that “a crematory logic of the market” makes credit cheaper and more accessible for those who are wealthier, yet more expensive and difficult for those who have less resources “to the point of leaving the poorest sections of the population in the hands of unscrupulous users.”

At an international level, the risk is that financing poorer countries can easily become “a usurious activity,” Francis said, adding that even if one accepts the creation of business procedures accessible to all and which benefit everyone, “a generous and abundant gratitude will always be needed.”

Intervention from the State will also be needed in order to “protect certain collective goods and ensure the satisfaction of fundamental human necessities,” Pope Francis said, noting how his predecessor St. John Paul II insisted that ignoring this aspect would lead to “an idolatry of the market.”

Francis also pointed to the need for honesty, because there is always a danger of corruption, which is “the destruction of the social fabric under the guise of law enforcement. It’s the law of the jungle disguised as apparent social rationality. It’s the deception and exploitation of the weakest or less informed.”

Corruption isn't a vice limited to politics, but also pervades in many businesses, in communication and in social organizations, he said.

One of the conditions necessary for social progress “is the absence of corruption,” he said, noting how some businesses might feel pressured to fall into blackmail and extortion, justifying themselves by thinking they are saving their business and their workers, or that the business will grow to the point they will be able to free themselves from the threat.

Businesses can also fall into the temptation “of thinking that this is something everyone does, and that small acts of corruption aimed at obtaining small advantages have not great importance,” Francis said, cautioning that “any intent of corruption, active or passive, is to begin to adore the god of money.”

The Pope then turned to the importance of fraternity, saying business activities must always include “the element of gratitude.”

“Relations of justice between leaders and workers must always be respected and demanded by all parties,” but it’s also true that a business is a work community in which “all merit respect and fraternal appreciation” by their superiors, colleagues and subordinates.

This respect shouldn’t be limited to just within the workplace, but must also extend to the local community where the company is physically located, Pope Francis said, adding that all legal and economic relations of the company “must be moderate, surrounded in an environment of respect and fraternity.”

Pope Francis then turned to the topic of migrants and refugees, saying this attitude of fraternity must also extend to the multitudes seeking protection and a better life.
Both the Holy See and the local churches “are making extraordinary efforts to deal effectively with the causes of this situation” by seeking to pacify the regions and countries at war while also promoting a spirit of welcome, he said.

However, the Pope acknowledged that “you do not always get everything you want,” and asked participants to help in encouraging governments to “give up any kind of war activity,” and to collaborate in creating opportunities for decent, stable work in countries of origin and of arrival, both for the local population and the immigrants.

Immigration, he said, “must continue to be an important factor of development.”

Francis concluded his speech by pointing to the Gospel passage in which Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector of Jericho, climbed a tree in order to be able to see Jesus. When he met the Lord’s gaze, this led “to a deep conversion.”

“I hope that this conference is like a sycamore of Jericho, a tree which can be climbed by all,” he said, so that, “through scientific discussion of the aspects of business activity, all may meet the gaze of Jesus and that from there result effective guidelines in order to make the activity of all their companies always and effectively promote the common good.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Four Cardinals Ask Pope to Clarify Teaching on Communion for Divorced

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 14 November 2016

four cardinals ask pope on amoris laetitiaFour cardinals said they formally asked Pope Francis to clarify his teaching on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and, not receiving a response after two months, they released their letter to the press.

"We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the church," the cardinals said. "Even within the episcopal college, there are contrasting interpretations of Chapter 8 of 'Amoris Laetitia,'" the chapter dealing with ministry to the divorced in his exhortation on the family.

The four who signed the letter are: Cardinals Walter Brandmuller, a German and former president of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Sciences; Raymond L. Burke, a U.S. cardinal and patron of the Knights of Malta; Carlo Caffarra, retired archbishop of Bologna, Italy; and Joachim Meisner, retired archbishop of Cologne, Germany.

In releasing their letter and accompanying explanations Nov. 14, the cardinals said, "The Holy Father has decided not to respond. We have interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect. And so we are informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation."

Using "Amoris Laetitia" to affirm church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, Pope Francis also wrote that because every situation is different, he would not provide new rules on ministry to the divorced and civilly remarried. However, he urged a new commitment on the part of pastors to provide spiritual guidance and assistance with discernment. A process of discernment, he has said, might eventually lead to a determination that access to the sacraments is possible.

The cardinals noted that St. John Paul II's 1981 apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," affirmed the church's practice of "not admitting to eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried" because "their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist."

Receiving absolution and Communion, St. John Paul wrote, would be possible only for couples who could not return to their sacramentally valid marriages, who promised to forego sexual relations and live as "brother and sister" and who would receive the sacraments in such a way as to not give scandal to others.

In their note, the four cardinals said that in their opinion, if Pope Francis meant to change those rules, in effect it would change church teaching about marriage, sexuality and-or the nature of the sacraments.

According to the four cardinals, a change would seem to indicate: "people who are not married can under certain circumstances legitimately engage in acts of sexual intimacy"; "the divorced and remarried are legitimate spouses and their sexual acts are lawful marital acts"; or that "the faithful can approach the Eucharistic table even with consciousness of grave sin, and receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance does not always require the purpose of amending one's life."

When pressed on the question of the variety of interpretations being given to "Amoris Laetitia," Pope Francis has pointed people to Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, whom the pope chose to present the document to the media.

No one has "a right to receive the Eucharist in an objective situation of sin," the cardinal said, which is why the pope did not grant a blanket permission and insisted that civilly remarried people go through a whole process of discernment and repentance under the guidance of a priest.

The discernment called for by Pope Francis, he said, "takes greater account of those elements that suppress or attenuate imputability," that is, moral responsibility, and seeks a path that would move a person closer to the fullness of what the Gospel demands.

Although not yet meeting the "objective ideal," such couples would be helped to move closer to perfection, which, Cardinal Schonborn said, "is no small thing in the eyes of the Good Shepherd."


Vatican Calls on President-elect Trump to Work for Peace in the World

Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 09 November 2016

vatican call trump to work for peaceCardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State, said it was 'too premature to make judgments' about Trump's stance on immigration

Congratulating Donald Trump for his victory in the US presidential election, the Vatican secretary of state expressed hope that people would work together “to change the global situation, which is a situation of serious laceration, serious conflict.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis’s top aide, spoke about the election early on November 9 during a meeting at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University. The Vatican then released a transcript of his remarks, Catholic News Service reports.

“First of all,” he said, “we respectfully must take note of the will expressed by the American people in this exercise of democracy that, they tell me, was characterised by a large turnout at the polls.”

“We send our best wishes to the new president that his administration may truly be fruitful,” the cardinal said. “And we also assure him of our prayers that the Lord would enlighten and sustain him in his service to his country naturally, but also in serving the wellbeing and peace of the world.”

Cardinal Parolin was asked about the polemics that arose earlier in the year between Trump and Pope Francis over the question of immigration, especially concerning the US-Mexico border.

“Let’s see how the president acts,” Cardinal Parolin said. “Normally, they say, it is one thing to be a candidate and another to be president, to have that responsibility.”

“It seems premature to make judgments” until Trump is inaugurated and begins making decisions, Cardinal Parolin said.

During an in-flight news conference on February 17 after a trip to Mexico, the Pope was asked about his reaction to Trump’s proposal that the United States extend a fence along the full length of the border and his comments to Fox Business Network that Pope Francis is a politician and is being used by Mexicans.

“As far as being ‘a pawn,'” the Pope said, “that’s up to you, to the people, to decide.”

But one thing Pope Francis said he did know was that “a person who thinks only of building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, isn’t Christian.”

Asked if a Catholic could vote for such a candidate in good conscience, the Pope told reporters: “I’m not going to get mixed up in that. I’ll just say, this man is not Christian if he says this” about building walls.

Trump’s triumph over Hillary Clinton, not declared until well after midnight on Tuesday, will end eight years of Democratic dominance of the White House. He’ll govern with Congress fully under Republican control and lead a country deeply divided by his rancorous campaign against Clinton. He faces fractures within his own party, too, given the numerous Republicans who either tepidly supported his nomination or never backed him at all.

At a victory party in New York City, Trump urged Americans to “come together as one united people.”

Clinton called her Republican rival to concede but did not plan to speak publicly until Wednesday morning. At the victory party, Trump said the nation owed Clinton “a major debt of gratitude” for her years of public service.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence also addressed the crowd to declare victory, saying it was “a historic night.”

Trump’s running mate said “the American people have spoken and the American people have elected their new champion.”

Trump blasted through Democrats’ longstanding firewall, carrying Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that hadn’t voted for a GOP presidential candidate since the 1980s. He needed to win nearly all of the competitive battleground states, and he did just that, claiming Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and others.

Global stock markets and US stock futures plunged deeply, reflecting investor alarm over what a Trump presidency might mean for the economy and trade.

The Republican candidate will take office with Congress expected to be fully under Republican control. GOP Senate candidates fended off Democratic challengers in key states and appeared poised to maintain the majority. Republicans also maintained their grip on the House.

Senate control means Trump will have great leeway in appointing Supreme Court justices, which could mean a major change to the right that would last for decades.

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Pope Asks Authorities to Grant Clemency for Prisoners during Jubilee

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 06 November 2016

pope for prisoners clemency 2016After celebrating Mass for prisoners in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis in his Angelus address appealed for better prison conditions and asked that as part of the Jubilee of Mercy, competent global authorities would consider granting clemency to eligible inmates.

“I would like to make an appeal for better conditions in prison life, so that the human dignity of the detained is fully respected,” the Pope said Nov. 6.

He emphasized the importance of the need for a criminal justice “which isn’t just punitive, but open to hope and the re-insertion of the offender into society.”

“In a special way, I submit to the consideration of the competent civil authorities the possibility to make, during this Holy Year of Mercy, an act of clemency toward those prisoners deemed eligible to benefit from such a measure.”

Legally speaking, clemency is a power given to a public official, such as a mayor, governor or the president, to in some way modify or lower the harshness of a punishment or sentence imposed on a prisoner.

While the crime committed is not completely forgotten as in cases of amnesty, they are forgiven and treated more leniently.

Pope Francis made his appeal after having celebrated Mass for some 4,000 people participating in a special Nov. 5-6 Jubilee for Prisoners inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, among whom were 1,000 inmates from 12 countries around the world.

Before leading pilgrims in the Angelus, the Pope pointed to the day’s readings, which speak of the essential Christian belief in the resurrection from the dead.

In his address, Francis noted that life after death “will be different from that on earth.” In responding to the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection and tried to trick him, Jesus not only reaffirms the resurrection, but shows that “it’s not possible to apply the categories of this world to the realities that go beyond and are bigger than what we see in this life.”

“Jesus intends to explain that in this world we live in a provisionary reality that ends,” he said, explaining that after our resurrection, “we will no longer have death as a horizon and we will live entirely, even human bonds, in the dimension of God, in a transfigured way.”

Pope Francis stressed that heaven isn’t reserved for just “the privileged few,” but is intended for all men and women, because in dying on the Cross, the salvation Jesus bought is for each one of us.

Our life will be similar to that of the angels, dedicated completely to the light and praise of God, he said, but cautioned against viewing the resurrection as something we experience only after death. It’s something “that we already experience today” and is the final victory we can anticipate.

“The resurrection is fundamental to the Christian faith,” he said, adding that if there were no reference to eternal life, “Christianity would be reduced to an ethic, a philosophy of life.”

Rather, the message of Christian faith comes from heaven and “is revealed by God and goes beyond this world,” the Pope continued.

“To believe in the resurrection is essential, so that each of our actions of Christian love is not ephemeral and doesn’t end in itself, but becomes a seed destined to bloom in the garden of God and produce fruit for eternal life.”

After leading pilgrims in praying the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis noted how just two days ago the Paris Climate Agreement, a fruit of the COP21 Summit in Paris last year, went into effect.

Calling the accord an “important step forward,” he said it demonstrates that “humanity has the ability to collaborate for the safeguarding of creation, to put the economy at the service of the people and to build peace and justice.”

Francis pointed to a new climate summit set to open tomorrow, in Marrakech, Morocco, which is aimed, among other things, at the implementation of the Paris agreement. He voiced his hope that the process would be “guided by the awareness of our responsibility for the care of the common home.”

Before concluding, he also noted how 38 martyrs were proclaimed Blessed in Albania Saturday, consisting of two bishops, several priests, a seminarian and some lay persons, all of whom were victims “of the strong persecution of the atheistic regime that long dominated that country in the previous century.”

“These ones preferred to undergo imprisonment, torture and in the end death, in order to remain faithful to Christ and to the Church,” he said, adding that their example “helps us to find in the Lord the strength that sustains us in difficult moments and which inspires attitudes of goodness, forgiveness and peace.”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Catholic Church Will Never Ordain Women Priests, Says Pope Francis

Catholic Herald || By Cindy Wooden || 01 November 2016

popes says no to ordaining women priestsFrancis discussed the ordination of women, refugees and the Venezuela crisis during his latest in-flight press conference

The Catholic Church’s insistence that it cannot ordain women to the priesthood and episcopacy is a teaching likely to last forever, Pope Francis said.

After being hosted by the Lutheran Church of Sweden, which is led by Archbishop Antje Jackelen of Uppsala, the nation’s first woman primate, Pope Francis was asked on November 1 if the Catholic Church might one day have women priests and bishops.

As he has done in the past, the Pope responded that the question was settled in 1994 by St John Paul II, who taught that because Jesus chose only men as his apostles, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church is not possible.

He was asked, “Really? Never?” And he responded, “If one carefully reads the declaration of St John Paul, it goes in that direction, yes.”

In one of his briefest airborne news conferences, Pope Francis spent just over 40 minutes with reporters and answered six questions ranging from Sweden’s newly restrictive immigration policy to the role of women in the church. He also was asked about his experience with charismatics and Pentecostals, the roots of his concern about human trafficking, secularisation in Europe and his meeting in late October with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Christians must never close their hearts to refugees and migrants, but governments have a duty to regulate the flux of newcomers as they allocate resources to ensure their integration into society, he said.

“It’s not human to close one’s heart,” the Pope told reporters flying with him from Sweden back to Rome.

As he has in the past, Pope Francis insisted nations live up to international agreements offering special welcome and protection to refugees fleeing war and persecution. While Catholic social teaching holds that every person has a right to migrate in search of a better life, accepting newcomers is a serious obligation when the person’s life is at risk.

Europeans should not be frightened by the latest wave of newcomers, he said. “Europe was made with a continual integration of cultures, many cultures.”

The key, he said, is to ensure a proper integration of newcomers with language lessons, a home, schools and jobs. “The danger is that when a refugee or migrant is not integrated, he or she is ‘ghetto-ised.'”

Responding to the question about President Maduro, Pope Francis said he met with him at the president’s request. “I listened to him for half an hour,” he said. “I asked a few questions. I heard his opinions. It’s always good to listen to both sides.”

Like in any conflict, he said, “either you dialogue or you scream.” The political and social tensions in Venezuela — tensions that have unleashed a major economic crisis and huge suffering for many — must be resolved with dialogue, he said.

The Vatican, he added, is supporting dialogue in Venezuela and, at the invitation of both the government and the opposition, has sent Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, the nuncio to Argentina, as an observer.

The secularisation of Europe, or of any society, the Pope said, is usually the result of one of two factors: “a weak evangelisation” caused by “lukewarm Christians” or a cultural process in which a growing number of people start thinking they are the lords of history.

A “healthy” form of separation of Church and state is not the culprit, he said.

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Catholics and Lutherans must ‘move beyond controversies of the past’, Says Pope Francis

Catholic Herald || By Associated Press || 31 October 2016

catholics lutherans to move beyond controversiesFrancis was speaking at a service to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

Pope Francis urged Catholics and Lutherans to take decisive steps toward unity and “move beyond” the controversies that have divided western Christianity.

However, the Pope nevertheless offered no new openings to the idea of sharing Communion before full unity is achieved.

“We Christians will be credible witnesses of mercy to the extent that forgiveness, renewal and reconciliation are daily experienced in our midst,” the Pope said on October 31 during an ecumenical prayer service in the Lutherans’ Lund cathedral, which was built as a Catholic cathedral in the 11th century.

With the prayer service, Pope Francis and leaders of the Lutheran World Federation launched a year of activities to mark the 500th anniversary in 2017 of Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the Church.

For Pope Francis and the Vatican, Catholics are called to commemorate the event by focusing on concrete ways to express and strengthen the doctrinal agreements reached by Catholic and Lutheran theologians over the past 50 years. The most appropriate way to mark the anniversary, they said, was with common prayer and renewed commitments to working together to help the poor and promote justice.

The Lutherans agree, but many also saw the joint commemoration as a moment to recognize that the joint agreements on issues of faith over the past 50 years mean it is appropriate now to expand occasions when eucharistic sharing is possible.

The Catholic Church has insisted that regular sharing of the Eucharist will be possible only when divided Christians have attained full unity.

In his homily at the Lund cathedral, the Rev Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, expressed his hope for shared Communion sooner.

While in the past Catholics and Lutherans sometimes carried stones to throw at each other, he said, that is no longer possible “now that we know who we are in Christ.” The stones cannot be used “to raise walls of separation and exclusion” either, he said.

“Jesus Christ calls us to be ambassadors of reconciliation,” he said, using stones for “building bridges so that we can draw closer to each other, houses where we can meet together and tables — yes, tables — where we can share the bread and the wine, the presence of Jesus Christ who has never left us and who calls us to abide in him so the world may believe.”

A joint statement signed in Lund by Pope Francis and Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, said, “Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table as the concrete expression of full unity.”

Particularly referring to Catholic-Lutheran married couples, the two leaders’ statement said, “We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ.”

However, they did not authorizse further opportunities for shared Communion, but expressed longing “for this wound in the body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavors, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.”

Pope Francis began the service praying that the Holy Spirit would “help us to rejoice in the gifts that have come to the Church through the Reformation.” In an interview released on October 28, he said those gifts were greater appreciation of the Bible as God’s word and an acknowledgement that members of the Church are called to a process of ongoing reform.

The service was punctuated with music from around the world, including a Kyrie or “Lord Have Mercy” in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Catholic and Lutheran leaders took turns asking God’s forgiveness for maintaining divisions, “bearing false witness” against each other and allowing political and economic interests to exacerbate the wounds in the body of Christ.

Lutheran Archbishop Antje Jackelen of Uppsala, the first woman to serve as primate of Sweden, read the Gospel at the service.

In his homily, Pope Francis insisted that Catholics and Lutherans must “look with love and honesty at our past, recognising error and seeking forgiveness.”

The division among Christians, he said, goes against Christ’s will for his disciples, weakens their ability to serve the world and often makes it difficult for others to believe Christianity is a religion of peace and fraternity.

The Gospel reading at the service, from John 15, was about Jesus being the vine and his disciples being the branches. In his homily, Rev Junge said that too often over the past 499 years, Catholics and Lutherans saw each other “as branches separated from the true vine, Christ.”

Yet, he said, “Jesus never forgot us, even when we seemed to have forgotten him, losing ourselves in violent and hateful actions.”

After 50 years of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue, Rev Junge said, “we acknowledge that there is much more that unites us than that which separates us. We are branches of the same vine. We are one in baptism.”

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Vatican Issues New Document on Christian Burial and Cremation

Vatican Radio || 25 October 2016

new vatican document on burial 2016The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday published a new instruction on the burial of the dead and on the conservation of the ashes in cases of cremation.

The instruction reiterates the long held view that the Church is not opposed to the practice of cremation, though it continues to recommend that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.

However the new document insists that ashes should not be kept in private houses and that the scattering of ashes on land or at sea is not permitted.

Please see below the full English text of the new instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation

1.         To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). With the Instruction Piam et Constantem of 5 July 1963, the then Holy Office established that “all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed”, adding however that cremation is not “opposed per se to the Christian religion” and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through “a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church”.  Later this change in ecclesiastical discipline was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (1990).

            During the intervening years, the practice of cremation has notably increased in many countries, but simultaneously new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith have also become widespread. Having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and numerous Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has deemed opportune the publication of a new Instruction, with the intention of underlining the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.

2.         The resurrection of Jesus is the culminating truth of the Christian faith, preached as an essential part of the Paschal Mystery from the very beginnings of Christianity: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” (1 Cor 15:3-5).

Through his death and resurrection, Christ freed us from sin and gave us access to a new life, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6:4). Furthermore, the risen Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep […] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20-22).

It is true that Christ will raise us up on the last day; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. In Baptism, actually, we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Christ and sacramentally assimilated to him: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12). United with Christ by Baptism, we already truly participate in the life of the risen Christ (cf. Eph 2:6).

Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”.  By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live”.

3.         Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.

In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.

The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.

By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity. She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the “prison” of the body.

Furthermore, burial in a cemetery or another sacred place adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit and in which “as instruments and vessels the Spirit has carried out so many good works”.

Tobias, the just, was praised for the merits he acquired in the sight of God for having buried the dead,  and the Church considers the burial of dead one of the corporal works of mercy.

Finally, the burial of the faithful departed in cemeteries or other sacred places encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead, while at the same time fostering the veneration of martyrs and saints.

Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in churches or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimize, or relegate to the purely private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians.

4.         In circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly-stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased’s body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life. Thus cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul’s immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body.

The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine”.

In the absence of motives contrary to Christian doctrine, the Church, after the celebration of the funeral rite, accompanies the choice of cremation, providing the relevant liturgical and pastoral directives, and taking particular care to avoid every form of scandal or the appearance of religious indifferentism.

5.         When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.

            From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community’s prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The faithful departed remain part of the Church who believes “in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church”.

            The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away. Also it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.

6.         For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.

7.         In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.

8.         When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 18 March 2016, approved the present Instruction, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on 2 March 2016, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 15 August 2016, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Gerhard Card. Müller, Prefect

Luis F. Ladaria, S.I., Titular Archbishop of Thibica, Secretary

Source: Vatican Radio… 


Holy See Signs Framework Agreement with the Republic of Benin

Vatican Radio 23 October 2016

holy see and benin sign relationsThe Holy See and the Republic of Benin signed an accord on Friday 22 October that sets forth the legal outline for relations between the Catholic Church and the State in the West African country.

The formal signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Benin’s administrative capital, Cotonou.

The framework agreement, which includes a preamble and 19 articles, gives guarantees  to the Church to carry out its mission in Benin.

In particular, “it recognises the juridical status of the Catholic Church and its institutions.”

A statement from the Holy See said the two Parties, “while safeguarding their independence and autonomy, undertake to work together for the moral, spiritual and material development of the human person and the promotion of the common good”.

Archbishop Brian Udiagwe, the Apostolic Nuncio to Benin and the county’s foreign minister Aurélien Agbenonci signed the accord, which will enter into force upon the exchange of instruments of ratification.

Source: Vatican Radio…


Pope Francis Canonizes Seven New Saints

Vatican Radio || 16 October 2016

pope francis canonizes 7 news saints 2016Pope Francis on Sunday canonized seven new Saints including Argentina's “gaucho priest'' Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero.

Known as “Cura Brochero”, the Argentinian who made it his mission to take the Gospel message of salvation to the peripheries, was proclaimed a Saint together with six others in a Mass in St. Peter's Square.

During his homily the Pope said “saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them.”

The others to be canonized were two Italians, two from France, a Spaniard and a young Mexican martyr, José Sanchez del Rio who died during the Cristero struggle upholding his faith. 

Some 80,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square for the occasion, including many flag-waving Argentinians who had made the journey to Rome to see Brochero elevated to sainthood.

Amongst them was also Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his family.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the Canonization Mass:

At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect). 

By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart.  Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation”.  In this way, we come to the theme of prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints.  The Saints attained the goal.  Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart.  They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious. 

So pray!  Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer.  We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised.  From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people.  So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won. 

This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace! 

There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another.  Weariness is inevitable.  Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work. 

Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (cf. 2 Tim 3:14).  But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer.  Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel:  “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1).  This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony.  Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary?  We are human… even Moses grew weary...!”  True, each of us grows weary.  Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body!  We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit.  Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.  

We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (cf. Lk 18:7).  This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised.  This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit.  To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm.  On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us.  For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray.  He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.  

The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer.  Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them.  They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them.  The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers.  That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart.   Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer.  May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart.  May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.

Source: Vatican Radio…


Cardinal Turkson at the 3rd German-African Healthcare Symposium

Vatican Radio || Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson || 12 October 2016

cardinal turkson on german african healthcare 2016The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, on Wednesday spoke to the 3rd German-African Healthcare Symposium about the role of the Catholic Church in healthcare in Africa.

The Symposium, taking place in Berlin, followed the three-day World Health Summit (WHS), which concluded on Tuesday.

The 3rd German-African Healthcare Symposium was organized to introduce business opportunities on the healthcare sector in addition to creating a platform for exchange, networking and for fostering new partnerships between African and German actors.

The full text of Cardinal Turkson’s Address is below

The German-African Healthcare Symposium (GAHS)

Berlin, Germany, 12 October 2016

With warm greetings from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to all the participants in today’s Symposium, I wish to thank the organizers for their kind invitation to address this gathering today and for their concern to promote and ensure access to high quality health care to the people of Africa.[1] Indeed, too many Africans have been deprived of such access for too long a period of time, despite the significant progress in the fields of technology, treatment, and prevention that has become commonplace in many high- and middle-income parts of the world.

You are probably already well aware of the significant engagement in health care and in the formation of health professionals by the Catholic Church, at national and local levels, in Africa. The 2014 Statistical Directory of Catholic Church-inspired Programs indicate that our Church maintains 1,298 hospitals; 5,256 dispensaries; 29 leprosy centres; and 632 homes for the elderly, chronically ill, and disabled. Pope Francis has pointed out, on numerous occasions, that the Catholic health care ministry does not limit its attention only to Catholics but rather, “on the basis of this ‘loving attentiveness’, the Church cooperates with all institutions concerned for the good of individuals and communities.”[2]

These and other faith-based organizations often assume significant responsibility for the burden of health care delivery, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and most especially among the poorest sectors of the population and in rural areas. Too often, however, these same service providers are not allowed a “place at the table” during the formulation of health care plans on the national or local levels. They are also denied an equitable share in the resources – both from the national or local budgets and from international donors. Such funding is essential to facilitate the maintenance of ongoing health systems; the training, recruitment, and retention of professional staff; as well as the scaling up necessary to address the ever-increasing burden of global pandemics such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and other infections, of anti-microbial resistance, and of non-communicable diseases that disproportionately affect the poorest sectors of society.

I will situate my comments today within the context of the Catholic Church’s teaching and tradition of service and ministry to all persons in need, but with particular regard to the most needy and most marginalized and without any limitation based on religious, ethnic, national, or socio-economic status. I propose that Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, could serve as a very significant resource for our reflection and dialogue on the theme of this conference. Many people incorrectly assume that this letter dealt only with climate change and the environment. As crucial as those issues are in today’s world, Pope Francis did not restrict his teaching to these themes alone. In fact, his principal objective was to propose a social teaching of the Church that creates awareness about the immensity and urgency of the challenge of the present situation of the world and its poor, the two fragilities which lie at the heart of Pope Francis’ integral ecology. He issued an urgent appeal for a new dialogue about how to shape the future of our planet, and he encouraged a response of the entire human family with profound faith and trust in humanity’s ability to work together to build a common home.

The Pope does not mince words in his teaching. He insists that, now more than ever, the world needs leadership in all its fields of endeavour, and the various fields need to work together in pursuit of the common good of humanity. Pope Francis speaks to everyone; everyone must play a role. He exhorts those in high station in politics, business and science, and he encourages those who live and work in very humble circumstances—all must commit to meeting the needs of all who live on this planet and of the planet itself. We are all in this together, each of us responsible for the other.

The major focus of this Third German-African Healthcare Symposium is the urgent need for investing in much stronger health systems and on the special role of new multi- and cross-sectoral strategies and approaches. In this connection, let us keep in mind the powerful messages delivered by Pope Francis. During his visit to Bolivia, in July 2015, he said: “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment. It is about giving to the poor and to peoples what is theirs by right. The universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech found in the Church’s Social Teaching. It is a reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of peoples.”[3]

Pope Francis urges us to think of our relationship with the world and with all people. Caring for our common home, and for all people who live on this earth, requires not just an economic and technological revolution, but also a cultural and spiritual revolution—a profoundly different way of living the relationship between people and the environment, a new way of ordering the global economy. He insists on the urgency of changing our sense of progress, our management of the economy, and our style of life.

He forcefully maintains that dialogue is “the only way to confront the problems of our world and to seek solutions that are truly effective". Authentic dialogue is honest and transparent. It does not permit the particular interests of individual countries or specific interest groups to dominate discussions. The Holy Father offered this ideal in his remarks in Nairobi last November: "What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society. Positive examples are not lacking; they demonstrate that a genuine cooperation between politics, science and business can achieve significant results."[4]

Catholic Social Teaching contains important principles for true dialogue. How can we promote and sustain positive dialogue that results in positive actions? Three helpful principles for such dialogue are solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good. Solidarity means we care about the concerns of others as much as our own. Subsidiarity means we accept others as equals; they speak for themselves, we listen; and we help them to participate if they need such help. As for the “what” of dialogue, Catholic Social Teaching tells us to always focus on the common good and to show special concern for the poor and for the earth.

During the discussions today, I sincerely hope that it will be possible to identify and to develop action-oriented strategies to overcome the public health challenges that still plague our global human family. Let us confront them honestly and transparently, and try to search for more effective and efficient solutions. Despite the tremendous progress that has been made, we still find tragic health deficits in low- and some middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and even among the poor and marginalized populations in high-income countries. We find significantly higher rates of maternal and under-5 mortality, lack of strong health infrastructures, higher prevalence of infectious as well as non-communicable diseases, and lack of access to even basic but life-saving medicines that are taken for granted by the “privileged few” in the global human family. We must all be part of the solution to accessible, affordable care for these vulnerable brothers and sisters. In this regard, let us be inspired and motivated by this imperative offered by Pope Francis: “There is no human life that is more sacred than another, as there is no human life that is qualitatively more significant than another.”[5]

Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson


[1] With gratitude to Mons. Robert Vitillo, Attaché for Health, Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, for advice and help in drafting this address, and to Mr. Robert Czerny, Ottawa, for final editing.

[2] Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, Vatican City, 13 January 2014.

[3] Address to the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, 9.7.2015, § 3.1

[4] Address at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, 26 November 2015.

[5] Address to the Participants in the Meeting Organized by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Clementine Hall, 20 September 2013


The Church Should Be an ‘open house’, Pope Tells Missionary Order

Catholic Herald || By Cindy Wooden || 10 October 2016

church to be open doorsThe Pope encouraged missionaries to keep mercy at the heart of their mission

Catholic missionary orders must make the Church an “open house” which is  “for all, ready to welcome and accompany” everyone, Pope Francis has told a missionary order.

“Today, every land is a ‘mission land,’ every dimension of human life is mission territory awaiting the proclamation of the Gospel,” the Pope said on October 7 during a meeting with delegates to the general congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The delegates were led by Fr Louis Lougen, a native of Buffalo, New York, whom they had re-elected superior general on October 1. After 17 years in Brazil, Fr Lougen returned to the United States as a pastor and novice master, and he was named provincial in 2005. He was elected superior general of the order in 2010 for his first six-year term.

Pope Francis told the Oblates that the number of those needing to hear the good news of God’s love, mercy and offer of salvation is expanding, embracing the “new poor, men and women with Christ’s face who ask for help, consolation and hope in the most desperate life situations.”

Noting the coincidence of the Year of Mercy and the Oblates’ celebration of the 200th anniversary of their founding by St Eugene de Mazenod, the Pope told the missionaries, “May mercy always be the heart of your mission, of your evangelising commitment in the world today.”

Sharing their founder’s love for the Church, Oblates must reach out to the “new poor” and “bring them with you to encounter Christ the redeemer,” the Pope told the missionaries. “It is necessary to seek appropriate, evangelical and courageous responses to the questions of the men and women of our time. To do this, one must look to the past with gratitude, live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope without letting yourself be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in your mission.”

Source: Catholic Herald…


Next Synod of Bishops to Focus on Youth and Vocations

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 06 October 2016

next synod focus youth and vocationsThe theme for the 2018 Synod of Bishops has been released, and will focus on how to best teach the faith to young people and help them to discern God's will for their lives.

Set to take place in October 2018, the 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation,” an Oct. 6 Vatican communique said.

The theme, it explained, is in continuity with topics that emerged from the 2014-2015 Synod on the Family, as well as with the contents of Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” which was written largely on the basis of the synod’s concluding document.

According to the communique, the theme “aims to accompany young people on their way of life towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life's plan and realize it with joy.”

By doing so, youth will not only be able to open themselves to an encounter with God and with others, but they will be able to actively participate “in the building up of the Church and society.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an Extraordinary Synod in 2014, which was followed by the Ordinary Synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.

The Council for the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is charged with preparing for the Ordinary Synod, which takes place every three years to discuss a specific theme of importance in the Church.

Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists Thursday that the topic of the upcoming synod is not about celibacy or the priesthood in particular, but is “wider than vocations.”

Vocations “certainly will be part of that but it's wider, much wider.” In addition to vocational discernment, it's about “the formation and transmission of faith,” he said.

Asked to explain “discernment,” Burke described it as “spiritual decision making,” not only about whether or not to become a priest, but about “what you do in life.”

Ahead of each Synod a theme is selected by the Pope, and the council prepares for the synod according to the topic chosen. The Pope can also call an Extraordinary Synod if he feels that the theme needs further discussion, as was the case with the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the family.

Following the conclusion of the 2015 encounter, Pope Francis named 15 cardinals and bishops to prepare for the 2018 gathering, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia being among them.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel...and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod Council is composed of a permanent Secretary General (Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri) and Undersecretary (Bishop Fabio Fabene), as well as 15 members – 3 from each continent, with Asia and Oceana (Australia) counted as one – and three appointed by the Pope.

Of the 15 members 12 are nominated by the cardinals and bishops at the end of the Ordinary synod meeting, and serve a three year term. Once their term finishes with the close of the Ordinary Synod, a new council is elected to prepare for the next one.

In addition to Archbishop Chaput, other members elected to prepare for the 2018 synod are: Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops; Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Cardinal Christoph Shoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; Cardinal George Pell, Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy; Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; Archbishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila, Gabon, and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto.

The three members appointed by Pope Francis himself are: Archbishop Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon; Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid and Archbishop Sergio Da Rocha Archbishop of Brazil and president of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference.

Source: Catholic news Agency… 


Pope Francis: Love those who Struggle, But Don't Push Gender Theory on Kids

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 02 October 2016

pope for love of the strugglingOn his way back from Georgia and Azerbaijan Pope Francis criticized what he called the “wicked” push of gender theory in schools, but stressed that individuals who struggle with their sexual identity ought to be treated with mercy, as Jesus would do. 

“In my life as a priest and bishop, even as Pope, I have accompanied people with homosexual tendencies, I have also met homosexual persons, accompanied them, brought them closer to the Lord...and I have never abandoned them,” the Pope said Oct. 2.

These people must be accompanied in the same way that Jesus would accompany them, he said, noting that Jesus would never tell a person “go away because you are homosexual.”

However, while these people must be shown love, there is a “wickedness which today is done in the indoctrination of gender theory.”

Gender theory or ideology is the idea that one's 'gender' is chosen and need not correspond with one's biological sex.

Francis recounted how a Catholic father had once told him that as he was sitting at the table with his children, he asked his 10-year-old son what he wanted to be when he grew up. When the son replied “a girl,” he realized his son was being taught gender theory in school.

“This is against the natural things,” he said. “One thing is that a person has this tendency, this condition and even changes their sex, but it's another thing to teach this in line in schools in order to change the mentality. This is what I call ideological colonization.”

Pope Francis spoke to journalists while on board his Oct. 2 flight from Baku to Rome, bringing an end to his three-day visit to the Caucasus nations of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The 11 questions asked during the inflight news conference covered a variety of topics in addition to gender theory, such as Vatican relations with China, future trips and topics related to each of the countries he visited.

The question on gender theory was prompted by comments the Pope made in an Oct. 1 audience with priests, religious and pastoral workers, during which he called gender theory “a great enemy of marriage today.”

“Today the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage,” he said, noting that this war isn’t being fought with arms “but with ideas.” There are “certain ideologies that destroy marriage,” he said. “So we need to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.”

In his answer to the question, which asked how he would accompany a person who genuinely struggled with their sexuality, Francis said people in this condition must never be sent away, but treated with mercy and love. 

He recounted the story of youth he met that had been born as a girl, but “suffered so much because he felt he felt like a boy, but was physically a girl.”

After having a surgery to change their sex, the youth met with a bishop “accompanied (this person) a lot. Good bishop,” Francis said, explaining that he had also accompanied this person.

Francis recalled how eventually the man changed his civil identity, got married and asked to meet with him, saying “it would be a consolation to come with his wife, he who was she, but him! I received them: they were happy.”

“Life is life and things must be taken as they come. Sin is sin. And tendencies or hormonal imbalances have many problems and we must be careful not to say that everything is the same,” he said.

The Pope clarified that he’s not saying to go out and "party" with someone struggling in that way, but rather to take each case and accept it, accompany it, study it, discern it and integrate it. 

“This is what Jesus would do today,” he said, and asked the journalists not to say that “'the Pope sanctifies transgenders.’ Please, eh! Because I see the covers of the papers.”

The struggle with one’s sexuality is “a human problem and it must be resolved always can be with the mercy of God,” and with the truth, he said. 

Alan Holdren and Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Next World Communications Day Focuses on Spreading Hope, Trust

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 29 September 2016

toward world communications day 2017Announced Thursday, this year's World Day of Social Communications will focus on the theme of spreading hope and trust in the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and salvation.

“'Fear not, for I am with you' (Is 43:5) Communicating hope and trust in our time,” was announced as the theme for 2017 by the Pontifical Council of Social Communication in a communique from the Vatican Sept. 29.

When those in the field of communication are far from the scene of where things are happening, frequently they can “ignore the complexity of the dramas faced by men and women,” and fall into “desperation” over “looming fears,” the communique says.

The push to “fear not,” on the other hand, “is an invitation to tell the history of the world and the histories of men and women in accordance with the logic of the 'good news,'” reminding us that “God never ceases to be a Father in any situation or with regard to any man.”

World Communications Day takes place each year on the Sunday before Pentecost, and is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council in the 1963 document “Inter Mirifica” on the media of social communications.

This year the day falls on May 28, 2017. The Pope traditionally releases a message for the day on Jan. 24, observing the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, journalists and the Catholic press.

The current communication system, the announcement continued, can cause a “numbness of conscience” or overwhelm us with fear. “Desperation is possible,” it said, when “communication is emphasized and transformed into spectacle.”

“But in the midst of this tumult a whisper is heard: 'Fear not, for I am with you.'”

Shortly before the announcement of the theme, Pope Francis had a Sept. 22 audience with journalists, during which he reflected on the importance of respect for human dignity, telling them that their profession can never be used as a destructive weapon, nor should it be used to nourish fear.

“Certainly criticism is legitimate, and, I would add, necessary, just as is the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life and his affect. Journalism cannot become a 'weapon of destruction' of persons or even nations,” the Pope said at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

“Neither must it nourish fear in front of changes or phenomena such as migration forced by war or by hunger,” he said.

In 2016, the theme for World Communications Day was “Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter,” and was intended to complement the Jubilee Year of Mercy happening in the Church this year. In 2015, the theme centered on the family and communication.

In the communique for the 2016 theme, it was stressed that through our Christian faith, we know that even in death and darkness, light and life can be brought forward.

“We Christians have 'good news' to tell, because we contemplate trustfully the prospect of the Kingdom. Let us learn to communicate trust and hope for history.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


On Communion Debate, Pope Francis Opts for Decentralization

Crux By || John L. Allen Jr. || 25 September 2016

decentralization on communion debateWhether Pope Francis intended it or not, by saying that the implementation of his document "Amoris Laetitia" depended on the guidelines of local bishops, he has decentralized resolution of the debate over Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Towards the end of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s document on the family, the pontiff writes that when priests have to make judgments in concrete cases such as pastoral care of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, they are to do so “according to the teaching of the Church and the guidelines of the bishop.”

One wonders if he knew at the time just what a conflicting welter of responses that injunction would elicit.

Since the document appeared in early April, various bishops and groups of bishops around the world have issued guidelines for its implementation, and surveying the landscape, it’s abundantly clear they’re not all saying the same thing.

Some have stipulated that although divorced and civilly remarried Catholics remain a part of the Church and should be welcomed into its life, the traditional bar on giving them Communion remains fully in force.

Others, with varying degrees of caution, have suggested that Amoris does in fact create the possibility of receiving Communion after a process of discernment in some cases.

Reacting to that spread of reaction, some may object that while bishops are free to decide how to implement a papal decision, they’re not free to interpret it away. Others will conclude that until and unless Francis changes Church law, bishops have every right to apply the current norms as they see fit.

Whatever one makes of the merits of the dispute, one conclusion seems ineluctable: Whether by design or not, what Pope Francis effectively has done is to opt for decentralization on one of the most contentious issues in Catholic life today.

Barring some further clarification or decree from Rome, what we now have is individual bishops, or regional groupings of bishops, determining whether the answer is “yes” or “no” in the territory under their jurisdiction.

In July, Archbishop Charles Chaput issued a set of guidelines for implementing Amoris in Philadelphia which held that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, if they wish to receive Communion, are called to live as brother and sister and refrain from sexual intimacy.

Recently Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix penned an article for his diocesan newspaper saying that nothing about Amoris opens the door to Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Earlier this month, bishops from Alberta and the Northwest Territories in Canada put out guidelines that appeared to take a dim view of readmission to Communion, warning that it can’t be just a simple matter of having a quick chat with a priest, and that any serious rupture of one’s marriage vows “must be healed prior to the reception of Holy Communion.”

Yet when the bishops of Pope Francis’s own Buenos Aires region earlier this month issued a draft set of guidelines saying that in some cases, “Amoris laetitia offers the possibility of having access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist” for the divorced and remarried, Francis swiftly wrote back to congratulate them and to say that “there are no further interpretations.”

In early July, Italian Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, former president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said that Francis “is opening an outlet even for admission to sacramental reconciliation and Eucharistic Communion“, and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria, a key papal ally, has said repeatedly that Amoris does indeed create the possibility of divorced and remarried believers returning to the sacraments in some cases.

So what does this mean? Are the rules now different in say, Buenos Aires and Vienna from Phoenix, Philadelphia and Alberta?

Experts can debate what the rules really are, or should be, until the cows come home, but certainly it would appear that the practice is likely to vary from place to place, depending on the disposition of the bishop or bishops who are in charge.

Alongside a furor over the content of Amoris, therefore, we’re entering a new one over its impact, pivoting on whether opting de facto for local control on something like this is really a wise move.

Many will argue that because the Communion debate touches on such critical topics as Catholic theology of marriage and the Church’s understanding of the Eucharist, allowing a diversity of responses on the ground risks dissolving the unity of the faith.

When I asked retired Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria about the decentralization option during the last Synod of Bishops on the family, for instance, he was distinctly critical.

“Are you going to tell me that we can have a national bishops’ conference in one country that would approve something which, in another conference, would be seen as sin? Is sin going to change according to national borders? We’d become national churches,” he said.

“It looks dangerously like nationalizing right and wrong,” Arinze said.

Others, however, will likely say that because cultural realities are different in various parts of the world, allowing pastors and bishops some latitude to make judgments is wise, not to mention in keeping with the emphasis on collegiality at the Second Vatican Council.

That seemed to be the gist of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s now-infamous remark to a reporter during the first Synod of Bishops in October 2014, when he said the African bishops “should not tell us too much what we have to do.” What he appeared to mean is that the situation in Germany is different from much of Africa, and one-size-fits-all solutions don’t always work in a global Church.

Since his election three and a half years ago, Pope Francis has said more than once that he sees the need for a “healthy decentralization” of the Catholic Church.

Whether it’s healthy or not may be in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to Communion for the divorced and remarried, there’s little doubt that as things stand, decentralization is in fact just what he’s delivered.

Source: Crux… 


Don't Use Media to Lie, Hurt, Frighten, Pope Tells Journalists

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 22 September 2016

pope cautions journalists on media lyingJournalists must not foment fear when covering issues or events such as forced migration due to war or famine, Pope Francis said.

While criticism and exposing wrongdoing is "legitimate and, I would add, necessary," reporters must never let their words become "a weapon of destruction" against people or nations, he told representatives of Italy's national association of journalists. About 400 people attended the audience in the Apostolic Palace Sept. 22.

Despite the major shifts in how news is produced and distributed, journalists who follow professional standards "remain the mainstay, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralist society," the pope said.

Journalists have a great responsibility in writing what is in some ways "the first draft of history," in deciding what news goes out, he said, and, "this is very important," in spreading an interpretation of events to people.

Being honest, respectful and professional is especially crucial for journalists because "their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon," he said.

If a person is unjustly slandered, "he can be destroyed forever," the pope said. Criticism is certainly legitimate and needed, for example when "denouncing wrongdoing, but this must always be done respecting others, their life and loved ones."

All journalists must be honest with themselves and others, he said, even though with today's 24/7 news cycle "it is not always easy to get to the truth or at least come close to it."

"Life is not all black and white," he said, and journalists need to be able to distinguish and discuss the gray areas.

"Political debates and even many conflicts are rarely the result of distinctly clear dynamics that tell unequivocally who is wrong and who is right," Pope Francis said. "Discussion and sometimes disputes stem, deep down, precisely from that difficulty in synthesizing different positions."

That is why journalism must seek the difficult and necessary task of getting as close to the truth as possible and to never say or write anything one knows in good conscience is not true, he said.

Professionalism in journalism requires not succumbing to special interests, be they political or economic. Truth and fostering a healthy democracy entail not just addressing the legitimate concerns of one segment of society, but having the well-being of the whole polity at heart.

Instead of fanning the flames of division, he said, journalists should foster a culture of encounter and hope, reminding people "that there is no conflict that cannot be resolved by men and women of goodwill."

The pope said he hoped journalism would be a tool that builds, a player in contributing to the common good and a facilitator in the process of reconciliation.

The association's president, Enzo Iacopino, gave Pope Francis a volume of writings by a young Italian reporter who was killed by the Camorra in 1985 at the age of 26 as he investigated the criminal organization in Naples.

Reporting at the service of the truth can be very dangerous, he said, and sometimes requires round-the-clock police protection or great sacrifices in family life.

Iacopino also pointed out the problem of extremely low pay for some reporters, particularly freelancers, who would consider a month's pay of $600 "a mirage."


Corruption is Worst Form of Criminality, Pope Tells Vatican Police

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 18 September 2016

corruption criminal pope to vat policeOn Sunday Pope Francis celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Vatican Gendarme by thanking the security force for their tireless service, and warned against modern crimes linked to exploitation and corruption.

“Crooks love the scam and hate honesty. Crooks love bribes, agreements done in the dark. This is worse than anything, because he believes he's being honest,” the Pope told members of the Vatican Gendarme Sept. 18.

The crook “loves money, loves wealth,” he said, and, calling wealth an “idol,” noted that crooks “trample on the poor” with no concern or second thought.

He noted how there are many people throughout the world today who have large, large industries of slave labor. In the world today slave labor is a management style.”

The responsibility of the Vatican Gendarme, then, is to serve by fighting against “scams, against crooks, against exploiters…Your responsibility is to deal with those who do bad things, like the exploiter and the crook. Your responsibility is to defend honesty,” he said, and thanked them for their tireless service.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Corps of the Vatican Gendarmes, a civilian police and security force overseen by Vatican City, on the occasion of their 200th anniversary.

In his homily, the Pope pointed to the day’s readings, noting how they present three different types of people, which he named “the exploiter, the crook and the faithful man.”

The exploiter, described by the Prophet Amos in the First Reading, is someone “taken in by a manic form of gain” to the point they become annoyed and impatient by liturgical days of rest, because “they break the fast pace of business,” he said.

For the person who exploits, “his only God is money, and his way of acting is dominated by fraud and exploitation at the expense are above all the poor and destitute,” Francis said, noting that this type of person still exists today.

On the other hand, the crook, as seen in the parable of the dishonest steward from the day’s Gospel from Luke, is someone who lacks fidelity and uses scams and deception as his business method, the Pope continued.

Asking how the steward got to the point of cheating and stealing from his master, Pope Francis said it wasn’t from one day to the next, but “little by little. Maybe one day a tip here, another day a bribe there, and so little by little he arrives to corruption.”

While the master praises the steward for his “cleverness” in making up the funds after realizing his steward had been stealing from him, “it’s a completely worldly and strongly sinful cleverness, which does a lot of bad,” Francis observed.

However, he noted that there is a type of Christian cleverness that knows how to do things in a wise and honest way, rather than a worldly one. To be as wise as serpents but as pure as doves, he said, is a grace from the Holy Spirit that we must ask for.

Turning to the figure of the faithful man, the Pope said this is the one who follows Jesus and is “a man of prayer, in the double sense that he prays for others and trusts in the prayer of others for him.”

This type of person knows how to be faithful in the small things and in the big, he said, noting that unfortunately the world today is still full of crooks and corrupt people.

“It strikes me how corruption pervades everywhere,” he said, and noted how the day’s Gospel passage leads to the final choice that no one can serve two masters, “because either he will hate one and love the other, or will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

Francis thanked the Vatican Gendarme Corps for their “vocation,” often times being poorly paid. He recognize that “many times you must fight against temptations of those who want to buy you,” and said he is proud that the Gendarme style is one of saying “'no, I have nothing to do with this.”

“I thank you for these two centuries of service, and I wish for all of you that the society of Vatican City, that the Holy See, from the lowest to the highest, recognize your service.”

This is a service “which guards, a service which seeks not only to do things justly, but also with charity, with tenderness and even risking your own lives,” he said, and asked for God to bless them.

Shortly after celebrating Mass Pope Francis led faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square in praying the Angelus.

Reflecting on similar themes, he told pilgrims before the prayer that as Christians, we must respond to worldly cleverness with Christian astuteness, which is "a gift of the Holy Spirit."

While worldliness is manifested in attitudes of corruption, deception and abuse of power that lead down the path of sin, Christian cunning is "a serious, but full of joy, and commited lifestyle marked by honesty, correctness, respect for others and for their dignity, and by the sense of duty."

Francis stressed that it's important "to decide which direction to take," but that when we seek to follow the logic of the Gospel and of fraternity, "we become artisans of justice and open horizons of hope for humanity."

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Changing Canon Law, Pope Brings Latin and Eastern Practices Closer

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 15 September 2016

canon law changing 2016In a change to church law, Latin-rite Catholic deacons may not preside at a wedding when one or both of the new spouses are members of an Eastern Catholic church.

The new rule is one of the changes to 11 canons in the Latin-rite Code of Canon law that Pope Francis approved in order to harmonize the laws of the Latin and Eastern Catholic churches on several issues involving the sacraments of baptism and marriage.

After more than 15 years of study and worldwide consultation, the conflicting rules were resolved by adopting the Eastern code's formulations for the Latin church as well, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

The bishop spoke to journalists Sept. 15 after the publication of an apostolic letter published "motu proprio" (on his own initiative) in which Pope Francis ordered the changes to the Latin Code of Canon Law, the 1983 text governing the majority of the world's Catholics.

In the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions, the blessing of a priest is necessary for the validity of a marriage. In the Latin-rite church, a deacon can preside over the sacrament. The new law specifies, "Only a priest can validly assist at the matrimony of two Eastern parties or between a Latin and Eastern Catholic or non-Catholic," meaning a member of an Orthodox Church.

Bishop Arrieta said that in most cases the changes made by Pope Francis involve rules for situations that the Latin code never envisioned, but that the Code of Canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches, published in 1990, did. With the large number of Eastern Christians -- both Catholic and Orthodox -- who have migrated to predominantly Latin territories since 1989, Latin-rite pastors need guidance, he said.

The changes regard practices for ministering not only to Eastern-rite Catholics, but also to members of the Orthodox churches when a priest of their church is not available, Bishop Arrieta said. Such ministry was foreseen in the canons of the Eastern Catholic churches, which often minister in places with a strong Orthodox presence.

"The Eastern code had a greater sensitivity in its ecumenical aspects," the bishop said. For example, one of the Eastern canons adopted for the Latin church says that when an Orthodox priest is not available, a Catholic priest can baptize a baby whose parents are members of an Orthodox Church and plan to raise the child Orthodox.

In such a situation, Bishop Arrieta said, the baptism would not be recorded in the Catholic parish's baptismal registry; the parents would receive a formal certificate and would register their child's baptism later at an Orthodox parish.

The additions to the Latin Code of Canon Law also specify that Latin-rite bishops may give priests "the faculties to bless the marriage of Christian faithful from an Eastern church not in full communion with the Catholic Church if they spontaneously request it."

The changes to the Latin code also decree that a Latin-Eastern couple are free to decide in which church to enroll their child; if they cannot agree, the child becomes a member of the father's church. If both parents are Eastern Catholics, even if the baby is baptized in a Latin-rite parish, the baptismal registry must note that the child is an Eastern Catholic and specify the church to which it belongs.

The Eastern Catholic churches include, among others, the Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, Romanian, Maronite, Armenian, Chaldean, Syriac, Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar churches.

The Latin and Eastern codes "respect, as they must, different juridical traditions, although obviously they give the same response to essential questions regarding the faith of the church," Bishop Arrieta wrote in an article for the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

Conflicting rules in the two codes were evident from the time of the publication of the Eastern canons, he said. And as more Eastern Catholics migrated to predominantly Latin Catholic lands, a need to clarify the practical matters involving baptism and marriage became clear.

The changes approved by Pope Francis, Bishop Arrieta wrote, "respond to a desire to facilitate the pastoral care of the faithful especially in the so-called diaspora where thousands of Eastern Christians who have left their homelands live amidst a Latin majority."


Retired Pope Says Governance Wasn't His Gift, but Francis is Good at it

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 08 September 2016

pope benedict lauds francis on governanceWhile retired Pope Benedict XVI said organization and governance are not his strong suits, he also said, "I am unable to see myself as a failure."

In a book-length interview with the German author Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict said that when he resigned he had the "peace of someone who had overcome difficulty" and "could tranquilly pass the helm to the one who came next."

The new book, "Last Testament," will be released in English by Bloomsbury in November. The German and Italian editions were set for release Sept. 9, but some excerpts were published Sept. 8 by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Pope Benedict insisted once again that he was not pressured by anyone or any event to resign and he did not feel he was running away from any problem.

"My weak point perhaps is a lack of resolve in governing and making decisions," he said. "Here, in reality, I am more a professor, one who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions. Practical governance was not my forte and this certainly was a weakness."

Pope Francis, on the other hand, "is a man of practical reform," the retired pope said. His personality and experience as a Jesuit provincial and archbishop have enabled him to take practical organizational steps.

The retired pope, who is 89, said he had no inkling that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be elected his successor; "no one expected him."

"When I first heard his name, I was unsure," he said. "But when I saw how he spoke with God and with people, I truly was content. And happy."

Pope Benedict said it made no impression on him that the brand new pope chose to appear on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica without wearing the ermine-lined red mozzetta or cape. "What did touch me, though, was that even before going out onto the loggia, he tried to phone me."

Electing the first Jesuit pope and the first Latin American pope, the College of Cardinals showed that "the church is moving, dynamic, open, with the prospect of new developments before it," he said. "What is beautiful and encouraging is that even in our day things that no one expected happen and they demonstrate that the church is alive and brimming with new possibilities."

Seewald also asked Pope Benedict about reports that during his pontificate there was a so-called "gay lobby" in the Curia and the group protected certain priests by threatening to blackmail others.

The retired pope replied that a commission of three cardinals he had named to investigate a major leak of reserved documents and conduct an administrative review of Vatican offices and procedures identified "a small group of four, perhaps five persons," which a few Vatican officials and the media later would refer to as the "gay lobby."

"We dissolved it," Pope Benedict said.

The retired pope, who has had a pacemaker since 1997 and can no longer see out of his left eye, told Seewald that preparing for death is part of his daily routine. It's not a matter of getting his earthly affairs in order, he said, "but of preparing to pass the ultimate examination before God."


St. Teresa of Kolkata will always be 'Mother' Teresa, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves & Cindy Wooden || 04 September 2016

st teresa always mother teresaWith a large tapestry bearing the portrait of the woman known as the "Saint of the Gutters" suspended above him, Pope Francis proclaimed the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, hailing her courage and love for the poor.

Despite the formality of the occasion though, "her sanctity is so close to us, so tender and fruitful, that spontaneously we will continue to call her 'Mother Teresa,'" Pope Francis said to applause at the canonization Mass Sept. 4.

"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded," the pope said in his homily during the Mass in St. Peter's Square.

An estimated 120,000 people packed the square, many holding umbrellas or waving fans to keep cool under the sweltering heat of the Roman sun. However, upon hearing Pope Francis "declare and define Blessed Teresa of Kolkata to be a saint," the crowds could not contain their joy, breaking out in cheers and thunderous applause before he finished speaking.

The moment was especially sweet for more than 300 Albanians who live in Switzerland, but came to Rome for the canonization. "We are very proud," said Violet Barisha, a member of the Albanian Catholic Mission in St. Gallen.

Daughter of Divine Charity Sister Valdete, a Kosovar and one of the Albanian group's chaplains, said, "We are so happy and honored. We are a small people, but have had so many martyrs."

Born in 1910 to an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, in what is now part of Macedonia, Mother Teresa went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

Mother Teresa, Sister Valdete said, is a shining example of how "Albanian women are strong and our people are hardworking."

In his homily, Pope Francis said God's will is explained in the words of the prophets: "I want mercy, not sacrifice."

"God is pleased by every act of mercy because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see," he said. "Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help and we visit the Son of God."

Like Mother Teresa, he said, Christians are called not simply to perform acts of charity, but to live charity as a vocation and "to grow each day in love."

"Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence -- and the presence of the church which sustains and offers hope -- must be," the pope said.

Mother Teresa, he said, lived out this vocation to charity through her commitment to defending the unborn and bowing down "before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road."

She also "made her voice heard before the powers of this world so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created," Pope Francis said. "For Mother Teresa, mercy was the 'salt' which gave flavor to her work, it was the 'light' which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering."

For all Christians, especially volunteers engaged in works of mercy, the life of the saintly nun remains an example and witness to God's closeness to the poorest of the poor, he said.

"Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of holiness!" Pope Francis said. "May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion."

As she made her way through the tight security and past several closed streets to St. Peter's Square, Maria Demuru said, "I couldn't miss this. Even if there's no place left for me to sit."

The small Italian woman said, "Mother Teresa is a sign of the times. In her smallness, she revealed the calling we all have. She said we are all saints by our baptism and we must recover our original holiness. She lived in humility and simplicity like the poor of the earth and was never ashamed of that."

Mother Teresa's simplicity did not keep the powerful away from the Mass, though. Some 20 nations sent official delegations to the Vatican for the canonization. Queen Sofia of Spain led a delegation. The president and prime minister of Albania attended, as did the presidents of Macedonia and Kosovo and the foreign minister of India.

President Barack Obama sent a delegation led by Lisa Monaco, his assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism. The U.S. delegation also included Ken Hackett, ambassador to the Holy See; Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services; and Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

The first reading at the Mass was read by Jim Towey, who served as Mother Teresa's legal counsel in the United States and Canada from 1985 to 1997, and as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2002-2006.

After the Mass, 250 Missionaries of Charity Sisters and 50 Missionaries of Charity brothers served pizza to about 1,500 poor people who had come to the Mass from shelters, dormitories and soup kitchens the order runs throughout Italy.

Pope Francis, through the office of the papal almoner, funded the lunch, which was prepared by a team of 20 pizza makers, who brought three ovens with them from Naples and cooked behind the Vatican audience hall.


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


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