Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:51:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church needs courageous men and women like Italian Bishop Antonio Bello of Molfetta, who imitated Jesus' closeness to the poor and the downtrodden, Pope Francis said. Visiting the birthplace of the beloved bishop affectionately known as "Don Tonino," the pope said Bishop Bello's life and ministry "remind us to not theorize closeness to the poor but to be close to them as Jesus did." "Don Tonino did not do this because it was convenient or because he was seeking approval, but because he was moved by the Lord's example. Out of love for him, we find the strength to rid ourselves of the garments that get in the way so that we can dress ourselves in service, to be 'the church of the apron, which is the only priestly vestment recorded in the Gospel,'" he said April 20. Pope Francis arrived in the morning by helicopter in the town of Alessano, located in the southern Italian province of Lecce, where Bishop Bello was born and buried. Landing near the town's cemetery, the pope carried a bouquet of white lilies and yellow sunflowers and laid them in front of the bishop's tomb. Surrounded by palm trees and an olive tree adorned with rosaries and multicolored peace flags, Pope Francis spent nearly five minutes praying silently. He also prayed in front of the tomb of the bishop's parents, who were buried nearby. Born in 1935, Don Tonino spent his first years of priestly ministry as vice rector of a seminary while collaborating with the Catholic charitable organization, Caritas. After he was named bishop of Molfetta in 1982 by St. John Paul II, Bishop Bello not only served the poor of his diocese but also worked to promote peace, often rallying against wars in the Persian Gulf and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He served as president of Pax Christi Italy, an international peace movement, until his death of stomach cancer in 1993. The Vatican approved the opening of Bishop Bello's sainthood cause in 2007. After visiting Bishop Bello's tomb, Pope Francis rode in a small white golf cart and greeted thousands of men, women and children gathered nearby. Standing in front of an image of the bishop, the pope said Bishop Bello did not remain "with his hands in his pockets" but worked tirelessly to promote peace "with the conviction that the best way to prevent violence and every kind of war meant taking care of the needy and promoting justice." "If war generates poverty, poverty also generates war. Peace, therefore, is built starting from the home, the streets, the shops where communion is handcrafted," he said. Despite Don Tonino's rank of bishop, the pope said, he had a "healthy allergy toward titles and honors" and instead chose to free himself "from the signs of power to make way for the power of signs." "Let us imitate Don Tonino, let us allow ourselves to be transported by his youthful Christian zeal, let us listen to his urgent invitation to live the Gospel without concession. It is a strong invitation given to each one of us, individually and as a church," he said. After speaking to the people of Alessano, Pope Francis boarded a helicopter to Molfetta, where he celebrated an outdoor Mass in the diocese Bishop Bello served for nearly 10 years. In his homily, Pope Francis recalled the bishop's devotion to the Eucharist and the word of God. Christians who are nourished by the Eucharist "also share the Lord's mentality and, upon leaving Mass, are called to "no longer live for themselves but for others." Bishop Bello, he said, "dreamed of a church hungry for Jesus and intolerant of all worldliness, a church that 'knows how to perceive the body of Christ in the uncomfortable tabernacles of misery, suffering, loneliness.'"
Fri, 20 Apr 2018 07:52:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has asked the president of the German bishops' conference to come to Rome to discuss pastoral guidelines for possibly allowing some non-Catholics married to Catholics to receive the Eucharist, the conference spokesman said. Reports that "the document was rejected in the Vatican by the Holy Father or by the dicasteries are false," said Matthias Kopp, the conference spokesman. For one thing, Kopp said April 19, the guidelines still have not been finalized and, therefore, they have not been reviewed by the Vatican. Members of the German bishops' conference were asked to submit proposed amendments to the draft document by Easter; the heads of the conference's doctrinal and ecumenical committees and the president of the conference were to formulate a final draft and present it to the conference's permanent council April 23. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, conference president, had announced Feb. 22 at the end of their plenary meeting that three-quarters of the German bishops approved the development of pastoral guidelines for determining situations in which a non-Catholic spouse married to a Catholic could receive Communion. The cardinal said that "the background is the high proportion of mixed marriages and families in Germany, where we recognize a challenging and urgent pastoral task" to determine if and under what circumstances couples of different denominations who regularly go to church together can receive the Eucharist together. The possibility, he had said, would require a discussion with the pastor or a designated member of the parish staff to ensure that the non-Catholic receiving Communion "could confess the eucharistic faith of the Catholic Church." "This assistance will give help in concrete cases of mixed-denomination marriages and create a greater clarity and security for pastors and married people," the cardinal had said. About a month later, however, seven German bishops, including Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, sent a letter to Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, asking for confirmation of their belief that a bishops' conference does not have the authority to expand permissions for non-Catholics to receive Communion. In general, Catholic teaching insists that sharing the sacrament of Communion will be a sign that Christian churches have reconciled fully with one another, although in some pastoral situations, guests may be invited to the Eucharist. During Pope Francis' visit to Sweden in 2016, Cardinal Koch, the Vatican's chief ecumenist, was asked about the situations in which such sharing would be permitted. In reply, he said a distinction must be made between "eucharistic hospitality for individual people and eucharistic communion." The term hospitality is used to refer to welcoming guests to the Eucharist on special occasions or under special circumstances, as long as they recognize the sacrament as the real presence of Christ. Eucharistic communion, on the other hand, refers to a more regular situation of the reception of Communion by people recognized as belonging to the same church family, he had said.
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:27:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians must be willing to move where the Spirit leads them and not be benchwarmers on the sidelines of efforts to evangelize, Pope Francis said. Evangelization "isn't a well-thought-out plan of proselytism" but rather an occasion in which the Holy Spirit "tells you how you should go to bring the word of God, to carry Jesus' name," the pope said in his homily April 19 during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "A 'couch potato' evangelization doesn't exist. Get up and go! Be always on the move. Go to the place where you must speak the word (of God)," he said. The pope reflected on the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which the apostle Philip, after being commanded by an angel, preaches the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him. Comparing the event to a wind that carries seedlings and plants them, Pope Francis said it was a beautiful account of how God works in evangelization. "This is how the Lord evangelizes, this is how the Lord proclaims, this is how the Lord wants us to evangelize," the pope said. The great wind carrying the seed of God's word, he added, was the Christian persecution which caused the disciples to spread out and preach the Gospel. Christians, he said, "cannot evangelize theoretically" but must get up, approach others and proclaim God's word beginning from a person's concrete situation. But even the best, most active plan of evangelization will not work without the Holy Spirit's gifts and guidance, he said. "It is the Spirit that pushes us to get up, to approach others and to begin from their situations."
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 07:59:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Naming a child is an important task for parents, because it gives children a sense of identity and belonging to their family and to God, Pope Francis said. "Without a name, we remain unknown, without rights and duties. God calls each one of us by name, loving us individually in the concreteness of our history," the pope said April 18 during his weekly general audience. "Therefore, the name is important. Parents think of the name to give to their child already before birth," he said. "This, too, is part of the expectation of a child who, in his or her name, will have an original identity, including for the Christian life linked to God." Continuing his series of Easter-season talks on baptism, the pope said that a person's name, asked during the welcoming rite of the sacrament, "takes us out of anonymity" and is the first step in a person's journey as a Christian. "Baptism ignites the personal vocation to live as Christians, which will develop throughout one's life. It implies a personal response and not a borrowed answer that is 'copied and pasted,'" he said. Another important designation given to children and adults who receive baptism is the sign of the cross, the pope said. Making the sign of the cross, he added, "is the badge that shows who we are: Our way of speaking, thinking, looking and working is under the sign of the cross, that is, the love of Jesus until the end." Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis once again asked parents and grandparents to teach their children how to properly make the sign of the cross, which at times "is not done well." "To make the sign of the cross when we wake up, before eating, when facing danger, to defend against evil and at night before going to sleep means telling ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to become," the pope said.
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400
Mark Spyropoulos spends three hours a day in music school, practicing with a choir composed of 20 men and 35 boys. The 32-year-old professional baritone from England said the choir leader sometimes has to reprove the children for not paying attention during a rehearsal: “Stop looking at the art, concentrate on the music!” But their wandering gazes are rather understandable, given that the world’s oldest active choir is standing in the Sistine Chapel. “God creating Adam, it is a bit distracting,” Spyropoulos said, laughing. “To me, the chapel is the most beautiful artificial thing on the planet. It’s quite intoxicating.” Music like architecture The Sistine Chapel Choir from Rome boasts a 1,500-year-old tradition and is set to embark on their first-ever coast-to-coast national tour in the United States this July. Appearances include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Miami, Detroit and St. Louis. The choir toured the U.S. in 2017, but only visited New York, Washington, D.C., and Detroit. Commonly recognized as “the Pope’s Choir,” Spyropoulos said their primary duty is to sing for papal celebrations, which can average two or three a month. A papal Mass is a worldwide affair, with thousands of people present in a broadcast celebration that requires a free ticket for someone to attend. “We’re all full-time professional singers, so when we’re not rehearsing, we’re touring, we’re recording,” Spyropoulos told Our Sunday Visitor. They’ve traveled around the world, including Moscow, China, England, Germany, Poland and, of course, a substantial amount in Italy. 2018 U.S. Tour of the Papal Sistine Chapel Choir Spyropoulos The Sistine Chapel Choir will perform in eight U.S. cities over three weeks in July. For more details go to sistinechapelchoirtour.com . ◗ Tuesday, July 3 — Fox Theatre, Atlanta ◗ Saturday, July 7 — Radio City Music Hall, New York ◗ Monday, July 9 — The Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis ◗ Wednesday, July 11 — Detroit Opera House, Detroit ◗ Friday, July 13 — James L. Knight Center, Miami ◗ Tuesday, July 17 — Boch Center, Boston ◗ Saturday, July 21 — Arie Crown Theater, Chicago ◗ Monday, July 23 — Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles As they tour this summer, the group will join local choirs. “We love America. We always get an incredibly warm reception,” he told OSV. “It’s wonderful for us to be taking our music to lots of different types of choirs in America.” But the music that makes up the bulk of their repertoire is very special, indeed, “a three-dimensional form of music, called polyphony,” explained Spyropoulos. It dates back to the 16th century — the Renaissance period. “Modern music is generally one big melody,” he said. “This music has four, five, six, seven or eight independent melodic lines that are all sung at the same time and all fit together. It’s very much like architecture. We have to get all those parts to be independent of each other and independently expressive, but at the same time they have to work together to make the whole.” Unheard for centuries Maestro Msgr. Massimo Palombella is responsible for bringing back a revival of Renaissance singing to the choir, and he is the only person to have full access to the Vatican’s archives, which date back to the sixth century. “He has been finding, reviving and studying manuscripts. They’ve been collecting dust in the Vatican archives. We’ve been performing and recording works which have not been heard for centuries,” Spyropoulos said. The ancient songs were not just written for any choir, however; they were written specifically for the Sistine Chapel Choir, by people who sang in it. “You’re singing the music that was written specifically for the building at a time when those frescos were, in historical terms, ‘still wet.’ And an experience like that — you kind of have to hold it together, because you have a job to do,” Spyropoulos said. “There’s this perfect connection between the music and the art. If Michelangelo’s frescos could be heard, this is ...
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 07:53:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Begging Pope Francis to help his son, Alfie, Tom Evans met with the pontiff, pleading for "asylum" in Italy so his seriously ill son may receive care and not be euthanized in England. "If Your Holiness helps our child, Your Holiness will be potentially saving the future for our children in the U.K., especially the disabled. We pray the problem we are facing is solved peacefully and respectfully as no child deserves this," Evans said in a statement he personally delivered to the pope April 18. The private meeting came before the pope appealed publicly yet again for appropriate care and respect for 23-month-old Alfie Evans. "I would like to affirm and vigorously uphold that the only master of life — from its beginning to natural end — is God," the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience April 18. "Our duty is to do everything to safeguard life," he said before leading the thousands of people in the square in a moment of prayer and reflection. He asked those at the audience to pray that the lives of all people, especially Alfie, be respected. The pope's appeal -- the third he has made publicly-- came after he met with Alfie's father, who also attended the general audience with VIP seating in the square. Evans flew to Rome overnight from England to meet with the pope. He posted photos and commentaries about the encounter on the Facebook page, "Alfie's Army Official." The encounter lasted 20 minutes, according to the Italian Catholic news site, "La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana," which had one of its reporters accompany Evans at the meeting. The news site said the last-minute meeting was made possible by Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, whom the site said was designated by the pope to act as a conduit between the Evans family and the Vatican Secretariat of State. Gently rubbing a small green rosary between his fingers, Evans, who is Catholic, told reporters that his son is being "held hostage" at the hospital, and he and his wife are "being treated like criminals and prisoners." The family has been fighting to remove Alfie from a Liverpool hospital to be transferred elsewhere. Evans said he thought the meeting with the pope went very well. "I've seen the love and the care and the emotion in his eyes. I'm so fortunate to have had that opportunity" to meet the pope and talk about saving his son, he told Catholic News Service. "I've prayed every day," he said, and though "God hasn't come through yet," he thought the next step should be the pope, because he understands that no one has the right over Alfie's life, but God. He also asked the pope to speak out publicly again during the general audience in support of Alfie, and the pope did. Evans asked the pope to help him bring the baby to Italy to the Vatican-run Bambino Gesu hospital, and the pope said, "Yes" and immediately turned and spoke to Bishop Cavina, according to Patricia Gooding-Williams, who was at the papal meeting acting as the translator. Bishop Cavina worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State for a number of years before being ordained a bishop in 2012. The pope blessed Evans and told him he really respected his courage, saying he had "the same courage as God has for his children," Gooding-Williams told CNS. In a statement then posted on Facebook, Evans thanked the pope for meeting with him and begged him for his help. "I am now here in front of Your Holiness to plea for asylum. Our hospitals in the U.K. do not want to give disabled children the chance of life and instead the hospitals in the U.K. are now assisting death in children," the statement read. "We have fought for Alfie for one and a half years and we now have realized our son's life does not mean much to the NHS," the national health service in the U.K., he wrote. "We plea with you to help our son!" Evans said in the written statement, "We see life and potential in our son and we want to bring him here to Italy at Bambino Gesu where we know he is safe and he will not be ...
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 13:36:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI had a "peaceful and familial" 91st birthday April 16, celebrating with his 94-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, who was visiting from Germany, the Vatican said. Pope Francis offered his early morning Mass for his predecessor and then sent his personal best wishes to the retired pope, who lives on the other side of St. Peter's Basilica in a refurbished monastery. The birthday evening plans, the Vatican press office said, included a visit and performance by the Swiss Guard band. Pope Benedict was elected in April 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II. He stepped down Feb. 28, 2013.
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:53:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sharply criticizing a failure to find nonviolent means of bringing peace to Syria and other parts of the world, Pope Francis appealed to world leaders to work for justice and peace. "I am deeply disturbed by the current world situation, in which, despite the instruments available to international community, it struggles to agree on joint action in favor of peace in Syria and other regions of the world," he said after praying the "Regina Coeli" with people gathered in St. Peter's Square April 15. "While I unceasingly pray for peace and invite all people of good will to keep doing the same, I appeal once again to all political leaders so that justice and peace may prevail," he said. The pope's appeal came after the United States, France and the United Kingdom launched missiles on Syria April 13, targeting sites intended to weaken the nation's chemical weapons capability. The missile strikes came one week after an alleged chemical attack in the Ghouta region, outside Damascus. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow telephoned Pope Francis after the missile attack, he told reporters April 15 at his residence outside of Moscow. "We shared the common concern about the situation in Syria, and we talked about how Christians should influence this situation to stop violence, war and so many tragic victims as we have seen in these days," he said, according to AsiaNews. The patriarchate launched an initiative to unite Christian leaders from the East and West to promote peace and prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria, said Father Aleksandr Volkov, spokesman for the Russian patriarchate. Christians "cannot be silent when things like those of these days are taking place in Syria," Patriarch Kirill said. Other patriarchs taking part included Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X of Antioch and all the East, according to Patriarch Kirill. "Each of them has expressed a willingness to continue consultations to find a way to stop the bloodshed," he added. The Syrian Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of Syria also publicly condemned the "brutal aggression" of the U.S.-led allied missile attack and called upon all churches in the countries that participated to likewise condemn the attack and urge their governments to work toward international peace. In a statement issued April 14 from the Syrian capital of Damascus -- the patriarchal seats of their respective churches -- the patriarchs said they "condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the U.S.A., France and the U.K., under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons." The statement was signed by Melkite Catholic Patriarch Joseph Absi; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch John. The brother of Patriarch John X -- Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazii -- is one of two bishops who were kidnapped near the Syrian city of Aleppo April 22, 2013, and whose fate is still unknown. Referring to the April 14 air strikes, the Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs said the timing of "this unjustified aggression against Syria" undermines the work of the independent International Commission for Inquiry, which was about to carry out its investigation in Syria into the alleged chemical attack. "The allegations of the U.S.A. and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence," the Christian leaders said. "This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the U.N. Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country," the patriarchs said of the April 14 air strikes, emphasizing that Syria is a member ...
Fri, 13 Apr 2018 09:27:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christian freedom is being free from worldly ambition, fashion and passion and being open to God's will, Pope Francis said. The world today "is a bit schizoid, schizophrenic, right? It shouts, 'Freedom, freedom, freedom!' but it is more slave, slave, slave," he said in his homily April 13 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. People need to think about what kind of freedom they seek in the world, he said. Is it Christian, he asked, or "am I slave to my passions, my ambitions, to many things, to wealth, to fashion. It seems like a joke, but so many people are slaves to fashion!" Pope Francis' homily looked at three examples of Christian freedom that were depicted in the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (5:34-42) and the Gospel reading (Jn 6:1-15). The first reading told how the Pharisee, Gamaliel, convinces the Sanhedrin to free Peter and John from prison. He made the decision, the pope said, based on a trust that God would eventually let the truth be known about the apostles and by using his power of reason without letting it be warped by quick ambition. "A free man is not afraid of time -- he leaves it to God. He leaves room for God to act in time. The free man is patient," the pope said. Pontius Pilate, for example, was a man who was intelligent and could think reasonably, however, he wasn't free, the pope said. "He lacked the courage of freedom because he was a slave to careerism, ambition and success." Even though Peter and John were innocent and were punished unjustly after they were freed from prison, they did not go to a judge to complain or demand reparation, the pope said. They freely chose to rejoice and suffer in Christ's name just as Christ suffered for them, he said. "Even today there are so many Christians, in prison, tortured who carry forward this freedom to proclaim Jesus Christ," he said. Finally, Jesus himself gives an example of freedom when he escapes to the mountain alone after he realizes the people were going to carry him off to make him king after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. "He detached himself from triumphalism. He does not let himself be deceived" by this attitude of superiority, and makes sure he remains free, the pope said. True freedom, he said, is making room for God in one's life and following him with joy, even if it brings hardship and suffering.
Fri, 13 Apr 2018 07:36:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Allowing for the development and use of fully automated lethal weapons systems would make warfare even more inhumane and undermine efforts to achieve peace through dialogue, not an arms race, a Vatican representative said. "A world in which autonomous systems are left to manage, rigidly or randomly, fundamental questions related to the lives of human beings and nations, would lead us imperceptibly to dehumanization and to a weakening of the bonds of a true and lasting fraternity of the human family," Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic told a group of experts at the United Nations in Geneva. The archbishop, who is the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva, spoke April 9 at a session for the "Group of Governmental Experts" on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). States that are party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons agreed in 2016 to establish the group to address the legal and ethical implications concerning such autonomous technologies, which are also referred to as robotic weapons or "killer robots." The International Committee of the Red Cross has defined LAWS as being "any weapon system with autonomy in its critical functions. That is, a weapon system that can select -- i.e. search for or detect, identify, track, select -- and attack -- i.e. use force against, neutralize, damage or destroy -- targets without human intervention." The first such autonomous weapon was the landmine, but rapid advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have broadened the potential for weapons with extensive autonomy from human decision-making. Archbishop Jurkovic told the group, which was meeting April 9-13, that "the development of LAWS will provide the capacity of altering irreversibly the nature of warfare, becoming even more inhumane, putting in question the humanity of our societies." "Any armed intervention must be carefully weighed and must at all times verify its legitimacy, legality and conformity with its purposes, which must also be both ethically and legally legitimate," he said. "Confronted with today's challenges, these tasks are growing ever more complex and too nuanced to be entrusted to a machine, which, for example, would be ineffective when facing moral dilemmas or questions raised by the application of the so-called principle of 'double effect,'" he said. The Catholic principle teaches it is morally acceptable to pursue a good goal that could have an unintended evil effect if and when there is a proportionate or adequate reason for allowing the evil. The archbishop said the robotization and dehumanization of warfare present several serious ethical and legal problems. For example, increased automation will blur or erase accountability and the "traceability of the use of force with an accurate identification of those responsible," he said. "Such loss or dilution of responsibility induces a total lack of accountability for violations of both international humanitarian law and international human rights law and could progressively incite to war," he added. Autonomous weapons systems, he said, also lack the "unique human capacity for moral judgment and ethical decision-making," which involves input much more complex than a "collection of algorithms." The needed capacity to understand a situation or context and apply the appropriate rule or principles can never be replaced by or programmed into a machine, he said, since such discernment or judgment "entails going well beyond the potentialities of algorithms." And finally, he said, "the idea of a war waged by non-conscious and non-responsible autonomous weapons systems appears to hide a lure for dominance that conceals desperation and a dangerous lack of confidence in the human person." "International security and peace are best achieved through the promotion of a culture of dialogue and cooperation, not through an arms race," Archbishop Jurkovic said.
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:38:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a letter to the bishops of Chile, Pope Francis apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis in the country following a recent investigation into allegations concerning Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno. The pope said he made "serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information." "I ask forgiveness of all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks," the pope said in the letter, which was released by the Vatican April 11. Several survivors apparently have been invited to the Vatican to meet the pope. Abuse victims alleged that Bishop Barros -- then a priest -- had witnessed their abuse by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. In 2011, Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys. Father Karadima denied the charges; he was not prosecuted civilly because the statute of limitations had run out. Protesters and victims said Bishop Barros is guilty of protecting Father Karadima and was physically present while some of the abuse was going on. During his visit to Chile in January, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for the sexual abuses committed by some priests in Chile. "I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some of the ministers of the church," he said. However, speaking to reporters, he pledged his support for Bishop Barros and said: "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny." He later apologized to the victims and admitted that his choice of words wounded many. A short time later, the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending a trusted investigator to Chile to listen to people with information about Bishop Barros. The investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, is president of a board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the board handles appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse or other serious crimes. The archbishop also had 10 years of experience as the Vatican's chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse cases at the doctrinal congregation. Pope Francis said Archbishop Scicluna and his aide, Father Jordi Bertomeu Farnos, heard the testimony of 64 people and presented him with more than 2,300 pages of documentation. Not all of the witnesses spoke about Father Karadima and Bishop Barros; several of them gave testimony about abuse alleged to have occurred at a Marist Brothers' school. After a "careful reading" of the testimonies, the pope said, "I believe I can affirm that all the testimonies collected speak in a brutal way, without additives or sweeteners, of many crucified lives and, I confess, it has caused me pain and shame." The pope said he was convening a meeting in Rome with the 34 Chilean bishops to discuss the findings of the investigations and his own conclusions "without prejudices nor preconceived ideas, with the single objective of making the truth shine in our lives." Pope Francis said he wanted to meet with the bishops to discern immediate and long-term steps to "re-establish ecclesial communion in Chile in order to repair the scandal as much as possible and re-establish justice." Archbishop Scicluna and Father Bertomeu, the pope said, had been overwhelmed by the "maturity, respect and kindness" of the victims who testified. "As pastors," the pope told the bishops, "we must express the same feeling and cordial gratitude to those who, with honesty (and) courage" requested to meet with the envoys and "showed them the wounds of their soul." Following the release of Pope Francis' letter, Bishop Santiago Silva Retamales, president of the bishops' conference and head of the military ordinariate, said the bishops of Chile would travel to the Vatican in the third week of May. The bishops, he said, shared in the ...
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:20:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church in Latin America must recognize and appreciate the role of women and end the practice of using them solely as submissive laborers in the parish, said members of a pontifical commission. In addition, at the end of their plenary meeting March 6-9 at the Vatican, members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposed that the church hold a Synod of Bishops "on the theme of the woman in the life and mission of the church." "There still exist 'macho,' bossy clerics who try to use women as servants within their parish, almost like submissive clients of worship and manual labor for what is needed. All of this has to end," said the final document from the meeting. L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, reported April 11 that the theme of the four-day meeting, "The woman: pillar in building the church and society in Latin America," was chosen by Pope Francis. In addition to 17 cardinals and seven bishops who are members of the commission, the pope asked that some leading Latin American women also be invited; eight laywomen and six women religious participated in the four-day meeting and in drafting its pastoral recommendations, the newspaper said. While the assembly expressed appreciation for and based many of its proposals on the Latin American bishops' Aparecida document, participants said more needed to be done to implement concrete solutions to the problems facing women in Latin America. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio headed the drafting committee for the final document of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil. The Aparecida document's call to renew the church's commitment to mission and discipleship in Latin America must be followed through by local churches, especially "in denouncing every form of discrimination and oppression, violence and exploitation that women suffer in various situations," the Pontifical Commission for Latin America's final document stated. Expressing appreciation for the Christian witness given by women in consecrated life, mothers who are "authentic 'martyrs' giving their lives for their families" and widows who serve their communities in charity, the commission document said women can and should play a greater role in church life, including in the formation of future priests. In order for priests to benefit from the "feminine genius," it said, it is important for married women and consecrated women "to participate in the formation process." Women should be a part "of the formation teams, giving them authority to teach and accompany seminarians, as well as the opportunity to intervene in the vocational discernment and balanced development of candidates to the priestly ministry," the document said. The commission also warned of the negative influence "telenovelas" (soap operas) have on Latin American women because the programs undermine marriages and families that are labeled "traditional" while advocating a variety of other forms of cohabitation. In addition, the document said, "they attempt to undermine motherhood, which is depicted as a prison that reduces the possibilities of a woman's well-being and progress." In Latin America, meeting participants warned, poor women are subjected to "undignified and horrible forms" of exploitation by "renting out their wombs" for surrogacy and influenced by foreign organizations. "Feminist lobbies that are well-funded and orchestrated by international agencies" play a role in diminishing the dignity of women, the document added. The figure of Mary as "a free and strong woman, obedient to the will of God," can be crucial in "recovering the identity of the woman and her value in the church," the document said. Like Mary proclaiming the "Magnificat," women can have a prophetic voice and demonstrate "the feminine and maternal dimension of the church," the document stated. "The Catholic Church, ...
Wed, 11 Apr 2018 07:31:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Priests must give hope to men and women seeking forgiveness, encouraging them in their struggle away from the slippery slope of sin, Pope Francis said. Being merciful in the confessional helps penitents return to God without fear, even if they repeatedly stumble or slip on a path that "is filled with stones and banana peels," the pope told 550 priests he designated as "missionaries of mercy." "In short, mercy restores dignity," the pope said April 10. "The penitent does not indulge in self-pity for the sin committed, and the priest does not blame him for the evil from which he repented. Rather, he encourages him to look to the future with new eyes, leading him to 'springs of water.'" The missionaries of mercy, religious-order and diocesan priests from around the world, were among more than 1,000 who received a special papal mandate to preach and teach about God's mercy during the 2015-16 Holy Year of Mercy. After listening to "many testimonies of conversion," Pope Francis said he felt the need to prolong their mission. "We must truly recognize that God's mercy has no limits," the pope said, "and with your ministry, you are a concrete sign that the church cannot, should not and does not want to create any barrier or difficulty that impedes access to the Father's forgiveness." To be effective heralds of mercy, the pope continued, priests must recognize the merciful love they first received from God in their own lives. Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis said he often reflects on St. Paul's words to the community of Ephesus in which he praises God for "having treated me with mercy." "This does so much good to me, it gives me courage," the pope said. "That is to say, I feel the Father's embrace, the Father's caress. Repeating this, personally speaking, gives me so much strength because it is the truth. I, too, can say, 'I have been treated with mercy.'" Pope Francis also warned the priests to avoid acting in a way that instead of bringing penitent sinners closer, "pushes them away." That can happen, he said, when, "by defending the integrity of the Gospel, they overlook the steps that a person is taking day by day" to move closer to God's way. "God's grace isn't nourished in this way," he said. "To recognize the sinner's repentance is the same as welcoming him with arms wide open, to imitate the father in the parable who welcomes his son when he returns home." Like the father of the prodigal son, who did not even let his son finish his apology when he returned, priests must not be inquisitors, concerning themselves with the gritty details which causes "shame to one who has already recognized his sin and knows he has made a mistake," he said. As missionaries of mercy, Pope Francis said, priests are called to be "interpreters and witnesses" of God's mercy which "welcomes everyone and always without any distinction." "Mercy takes the hand and instills the certainty that the love with which God loves defeats every form of solitude and abandonment," the pope said. After his speech, Pope Francis celebrated Mass with the missionaries of mercy at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica. In his homily, the pope reminded them of their duty to serve individuals and communities and not be "fanatical priests" who carry out some extraordinary ministry. "No," he said. "Be normal priests: simple, meek, balanced yet able to let yourselves be constantly regenerated by the Spirit, docile to its strength, interiorly free -- especially free from yourselves -- so that you are moved by the 'wind' of the Spirit that blows where it wants."
Tue, 10 Apr 2018 07:49:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' new document, "Gaudete et Exsultate," shows that holiness is not an impossible task nor is it something to be pursued far removed from today's world, said the papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome. "The pope wants to tell us that holiness is not something else apart from our everyday life, but it is exactly our ordinary existence lived in an extraordinary way," said Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar. The archbishop was one of several guests invited to attend a Vatican news conference April 9 for the presentation of Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today's world, titled in English, "Rejoice and Be Glad." Order your copy of Pope Francis’ Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and Be Glad”) today — a pre-order discount is available for a limited time! Many people in today's secularized world may think holiness is "antiquated," but the new document seeks to demonstrate its timeless relevance for everyone, the archbishop said. Pope Francis is reminding Christians that the desired goal of their journey is true life, joy, meaning and fullness found in Jesus with the help of divine grace and the action of the Holy Spirit received in baptism, he said. "To be Christians means to receive from God the gift of a beautiful life, a life rich in meaning and flavor," he said. Officials of the Vatican press office invited individuals from different nations who reside in Rome to offer their impressions of the document. Deacon Adam Hincks, a Canadian Jesuit continuing his theological studies for the priesthood in Rome, told Catholic News Service that some features of Ignatian spirituality -- referring to St. Ignatius, the Jesuit founder -- shine through in the document. "For example, there's the idea of being contemplatives in action, which is very Jesuit, finding God in the midst of your daily life, making your daily activity a place of sanctification," he said, as well as a call to do a "daily examen" to reflect at the end of each day to see "where was God and how did I respond?" "It's something that's very simple that any Christian can do and that really helps you to grow in holiness," he said. Hincks, who is an astrophysicist specializing in the history of the universe, said he finds "Gaudete et Exsultate" to be "very inspiring because this isn't just for people wearing a collar or a habit, it's for scientists, too, it's for people who are doing whatever job, anyone can be holy" by doing what they do with love: love for the truth, for God and one's neighbor. Sister Josepha, a sister of the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem, told CNS that the document seeks to show people holiness is attainable and satisfies that hunger many people, especially young people, feel "to live a relevant life, to give themselves, to improve the world." She said the document says, "Go on! You can. You will! Start today with the small things around you. Holiness is not perfection," but building the kingdom of God with joy and in communion with others. Mohammad Jawad Haidari, a Muslim and ethnic Hazara who fled from Afghanistan because of violent persecution and discrimination against this minority group, said holiness is common to both Muslims and Christians. Holiness is "as a path toward God" with saints and prophets acting as signposts indicating the right way for the faithful to go, said Haidari, who earned a master's degree in religion and cultural mediation while in Rome. The pope's document, he said, shows people that the path toward holiness is wide -- meant for all people to journey, not just scholars or clerics.
Mon, 09 Apr 2018 07:50:00 -0400
Pope Francis released the newest contribution to his magisterium April 9: a document on the call to holiness in today’s world. The text, called “ Gaudete et Exsultate ” (“Rejoice and be glad”), was signed on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph. “ Gaudete et Exsultate ” is published in the form of an apostolic exhortation, a form of papal document that has been used most frequently in the current pontificate and has become known for its more subjective style. Before “ Gaudete et Exsultate ,” the most recent apostolic exhortation released was the controversial “ Amoris Laetitia ” (“The Joy of Love”), which was published in 2016 as the result of the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. Related Reading With new document, pope shows holiness is for everyone, speakers say The goal of the new apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis writes, is not to be “a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions helpful for understanding this important subject, or a discussion of the various means of sanctification.” Rather, the Holy Father seeks “to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities” (No. 2). The first chapter reiterates the teaching of the Second Vatican Council — more specifically in “ Lumen Gentium ,” the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church — on the universal call to holiness. The ‘middle-class of holiness’ While the Church has long held up models of Christian life in beatified and canonized persons, the pope reiterates that these extraordinary models of holiness do not alone constitute the communion of saints. To emphasize the universal call to holiness, the pope makes a sincere, pastoral and personal effort to reiterate that holiness is found in the ordinary circumstances of life. In this regard, the pope draws attention to what he calls “the middle class of holiness,” where he finds “daily perseverance” and “patience” as manifestations of the one call to holiness. Ultimately, these and the many other manifestations of holiness in the communion of saints are grounded in the call to love, “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do: wherever we find ourselves” (No. 14). Or as Pope Benedict XVI said (as quoted by Pope Francis) “holiness is nothing other than charity lived to the full.” The pope focuses on a line from “ Lumen Gentium ” that speaks about how the saints answer this call “each in his or her own way.” He cautions against merely trying to copy the saints, but urges us rather to fulfill the unique call that the Lord has given us. Characteristics of holiness ‘While the pope acknowledges that holiness comes in all shapes and sizes, he proposes some basic characteristics that form its foundation: growth in holiness through consistency and dedication in small gestures in daily human life and relations (No. 16); imitating the self-sacrificial love of Christ (No. 20); and reflecting Christ to the world by living our lives as a mission (Nos. 19-24). In answering our own call to be holy, we must employ discernment, the pope says. He describes discernment as “a gift which we must implore” and “seek to develop it through prayer, reflection, reading and good counsel” (No. 166). The pope says that discernment especially is needed today more than ever because “contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good” (No. 167). Discernment also will help us to know when we are truly following the will of God, as opposed to the ways of the world or falling prey to the devil — against whom the pope strongly cautions and urges vigilance. (This section is particular noteworthy given the uproar during Holy Week when the editor of an Italian newspaper claimed that the Holy Father, in a personal conversation, denied the existence of hell.) Ultimately, the pope does not want the faithful to find the call to holiness to be daunting ...
Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During a brief ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, Pope Francis blessed a new statue of a 10th-century Armenian monk he had declared a "doctor of the church" in 2015. Blessing the bronze statue of St. Gregory of Narek April 5 capped off a series of morning meetings with Armenian political and religious dignitaries, beginning with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. As the sun peered through gray clouds, the sounds of Armenian hymns echoed throughout Vatican City as Sargsyan, Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II and Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram of Cilicia arrived at the statue's new home, nestled within the gardens behind St. Peter's Basilica. Arriving shortly after them in a blue Fiat, Pope Francis began the ceremony, which included a Gospel reading as well as a recitation of a prayer composed by St. Gregory. Also present for the blessing was Armenian Catholic Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia, who prayed that, through the intercession of holy ascetics like St. Gregory, "the Lord have mercy on us and raise us to life." Catholicos Karekin prayed that Christians would become examples of holiness like the saintly Armenian monk. "Lord, grant us to live according to their example and to the very end secure us in the true and right faith, in the hope of eternal life," he prayed. Earlier, in the library of the apostolic palace, Pope Francis and Sargsyan met privately for about 25 minutes, discussing the regional political situation, local conflicts and "the condition of Christians and religious minorities, especially in theaters of war," the Vatican said in a written statement. Sargsyan gave Pope Francis a model of the 7th-century Church of St. Gayane. Built in 631, the ancient church is located in Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. For his part, the pope gave the Armenian head of state a statue depicting Jesus' healing of the paralyzed man and a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017. He also gave Sargsyan copies of three of his documents: "The Joy of the Gospel"; "Amoris Laetitia," on the family; and "Laudato Si,'" on the environment. Immediately after his meeting with the president, the pope met with Catholicos Karekin, warmly embracing the patriarch upon his arrival. After their nearly 40-minute meeting, Pope Francis gave him an etched stone cross. Catholicos Karekin gave the pope a book on the ancient monastery of Narek, telling him that "at the end of the book, there are pictures of the monastery which today doesn't exist; it was destroyed." Next, the pope welcomed Catholicos Aram, the Lebanon-based Armenian Orthodox patriarch, jokingly saying, "It's Armenian Day!" After a 25-minute private meeting, the patriarch asked Pope Francis about his health, to which the pope replied, "Great, great." He then gave Pope Francis a gold-plated, traditional Armenian cross known as a khachkar. Pope Francis kissed the cross, while Catholicos Aram kissed a stone cross given to him by the pope. Pope Francis then made his way to the Vatican Gardens for the blessing and unveiling of the statue of St. Gregory of Narek, one of the leading figures of Armenian theology and thought. Born in 950 in the Armenian town of Andzevatsik, located in present-day Turkey, Gregory entered a monastery at a young age and was ordained a priest at 25. He lived at the monastery at Narek his whole priestly life and taught at the monastic school. His best-known writings include a commentary on the Song of Songs and his "Book of Lamentations," now commonly known as "Narek," which includes 95 prayers. Many of the prayers are included in the Armenian Divine Liturgy and have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Thu, 05 Apr 2018 08:15:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "Rejoice and Be Glad," Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation on "the call to holiness in the modern world" will be released April 9, the Vatican announced. The document, called "Gaudete et Exsultate" in Latin, will be presented at a Vatican news conference by Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome. Joining the archbishop will be Gianni Valente, an Italian journalist working for Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Paola Bignardi, an educator and past president of Italian Catholic Action. The title of the apostolic exhortation is the phrase used in Matthew 5:12, the end of the Beatitudes, which reads: "Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven." Pope Francis, 81, has published two previous apostolic exhortations, both of which offered reflections on meetings of the Synod of Bishops. "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), published in 2013, focused on proclaiming the Gospel in the modern world and included proposals from the 2012 synod on new evangelization. "Amoris Laetitia," ("The Joy of Love"), was released in 2016 and focused on ministry to and with families. It included proposals discussed during sessions of the Synod of Bishops in 2014 and 2015.
Wed, 04 Apr 2018 08:35:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While millions of tourists throw a coin over their shoulder into Rome's Trevi Fountain hoping to return to Rome one day, the money scooped out of the fountain each week offers more concrete hope to the city's poor. Rome's city council extended an agreement March 29 with Caritas Rome to entrust it with the tourists' coins to provide food and shelter to the city's poor and needy. Each day countless tourists from around the world squint their eyes, make a wish and toss thousands of dollars' worth of coins into the fountain; the money is then collected by city workers using high-powered vacuums. According to Caritas Roma, an estimated 1.4 million euros ($1.7 million) worth of coins were tossed into the famed fountain in 2016. Although the Catholic charitable organization has been entrusted with the fountain's profits for 20 years, the city council was considering canceling its agreement and instead using the money to help fund various projects in the financially strapped city. However, the city council delayed its decision and the charity will continue receiving the fountain's revenue stream at least until Dec. 31, Caritas Roma said in an April 3 press release. The decision was welcomed by Msgr. Enrico Feroci, director of Caritas Rome, saying it "concretely expresses the solidarity of the whole city of Rome toward those who suffer and are disadvantaged." By trusting Caritas Rome with the money collected from the Trevi Fountain, he added, the Rome city council has recognized that the Catholic charity has a special and unique history in the city in "reaching out and encountering the most diverse forms of poverty," particularly in serving the homeless, the elderly, migrants and struggling families. "Responsibility, transparency, a spirit of service and witness: These are the attitudes that have guided us in these years in which the city of Rome has entrusted the proceeds of the Trevi Fountain coins to Caritas," Msgr. Feroci said. While many tourists make a wish to return to the Eternal City one day, Msgr. Feroci said the funds they unknowingly contribute allow them to join the Catholic charity in becoming "protagonists of change" for the city's poor. "This is the spirit with which Caritas will continue the management of the Trevi Fountain coins," he said.
Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400
On April 1, Pope Francis delivered his “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world) Easter message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The full English translation of his message follows. Dear brothers and sisters, happy Easter! Jesus is risen from the dead! This message resounds in the Church the world over, along with the singing of the Alleluia: Jesus is Lord; the Father has raised him, and he lives forever in our midst. Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. He remained two days in the tomb; but his death contained God’s love in all its power, released and made manifest on the third day, the day we celebrate today: the Easter of Christ the Lord. We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today’s culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery. Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war. This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course, that humanitarian law may be respected and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed by our brothers and sisters, while also ensuring fitting conditions for the return of the displaced. Pope Francis delivers his Easter blessing. CNS photo via Paul Haring We beseech fruits of reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenceless, for Yemen and for the entire Middle East, so that dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence. May our brothers and sisters in Christ, who not infrequently put up with injustices and persecution, be radiant witnesses of the risen Lord and of the victory of good over evil. We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life, above all in those areas of the African continent deeply affected by hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism. May the peace of the risen Lord heal wounds in South Sudan and open hearts to dialogue and mutual understanding. Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living. We implore fruits of dialogue for the Korean peninsula, that the discussions under way may advance harmony and peace within the region. May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community. We also beseech fruits of peace for Ukraine, that the steps taken to favour harmony may be consolidated, and facilitated by the humanitarian initiatives needed by its people. We also invoke fruits of consolation for the Venezuelan people, who, as their bishops have written, are living in a kind of “foreign land” within their own country. May that nation, by ...
Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400
The Vatican’s pre-synodal gathering of young people was yet another event in preparation for this fall’s 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will discuss the theme “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” But the March 19-25 meeting in Rome took the novel step of essentially running the discussion model for the Synod of Bishops, but with young adults taking the place of the bishops. The 300 attendees broke into small discussion groups by language and set about the drafting of a final document, which then will be used to guide the bishops’ discussions at the actual synod in October. Among the many observations and recommendations in the document is the note that promoting the dignity of women in the Church and society can help young people to be less marginalized. “Today, there is a general problem in society in that women are still not given an equal place,” the document said. “This is also true in the Church. There are great examples of women serving in consecrated religious communities and in lay leadership roles. However, for some young women, these examples are not always visible. One key question arises from these reflections; what are the places where women can flourish within the Church and society? The Church can approach these problems with real discussion and open-mindedness to different ideas and experiences.” Our Sunday Visitor collected the stories of women — from those who have been working in the Church for decades to those who are newer to ministry — and used these approaches to explore where these women saw opportunities for the Church to become a stronger ally to them and their peers through all stages of life. Real discussions Osman Having discussions means first that the Church must be willing to hear and amplify the voices of women. “This might come across as simplistic, but I think it’s essential,” said Helen Osman, the first woman to be elected president of Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, where she’s currently serving a four-year term. She previously has worked in official Church posts within the Diocese of Austin, Texas, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We have to do a better job of listening to women. That means whatever stage of life they’re in.” Glowski Mary Glowaski, victim’s assistance coordinator in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, where there are women serving in the bishop’s cabinet, noted the importance of having women “in places where there are real decision-making venues, where there are substantive, meaningful conversations about the life of the Church that women aren’t just present, but they have a voice that is valued and considered.” Glowaski, whose work in the Church has spanned more than 25 years, added: “It’s important that we realize that it is not just having a voice — it’s having a voice that matters.” “To me that seems like the beginning place that there are these places that women can have an impact and make decisions for the diocese,” said Providence Sister Tracey Horan, 30, community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network and the 2017 recipient of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. “Having women in leadership positions is a really concrete step the Church can take,” Sister Tracey added, “and something that would be worthwhile and fruitful.” Of three high-ranking jobs open to laypeople in dioceses across the county — chancellor, chief financial officer and superintendent of schools — just less than one-third are filled by women, according to a 2015 analysis of the Official Catholic Directory conducted by the Catholic news outlet Crux. In addition, about 35 percent of U.S. dioceses have no women filling those positions. Open-mindedness Involving and listening to women in the life of the Church also means being open to and mindful of them. A recent survey of more than 1,500 American Catholic women, commissioned by ...