Tue, 23 May 2017
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Pope Francis decried the "barbaric attack" on concertgoers in Manchester, adding his voice to Catholic leaders dismayed at what British officials said was the deadliest case of terrorism since 2005. In a telegram sent to English church officials on Pope Francis' behalf, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the pope "was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life" after a suicide bomb killed at least 22 people and injured another 59 at Manchester Arena May 22. Many concertgoers at the Ariana Grande concert were teenagers, young adults and families. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The pope "expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence," the telegram said, as "he commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died." "Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God's blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation." In Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and other Catholic leaders offered prayers for the victims of the attacks and their families. "My shock and dismay at the horrendous killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena last night is, I know, shared by all people of goodwill," Cardinal Nichols said in a May 23 statement posted on the Westminster archdiocesan website. "I know, too, that Catholics and many others will be praying earnestly for those who have been killed, for the bereaved and for grieving loved ones. "We pray in support of all those working so hard in response to this tragedy: the police and security forces, hospital staff, neighbors and friends and for all the people of Manchester. May God, in his mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil." The terrorist attack took place within the Diocese of Salford , which incorporates most of Manchester and much of northwest England. Bishop John Arnold of Salford offered a lunchtime Mass May 23 at St. Mary's, a popular city-center church close to Manchester Arena. In a statement the same day, he said: "The citizens of Manchester and the members of the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the Manchester Arena. "Such an attack can have no justification. I thank the emergency services for their prompt and speedy response which saved lives," he continued. "We join in prayer for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy. We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity." Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, whose diocese covers southern parts of Manchester, wrote to his clergy, urging them to pray for the victims and their families. "Let us also keep in our prayer the police and emergency services, together with all hospital staff and chaplains," he said in his letter. The bishop added: "Together with church and religious leaders in Greater Manchester, I ask the prayers of your parishioners for peace and solidarity in all our communities that the hate which inspires such indiscriminate violence may be overcome by that love which faith and prayer inspires in our hearts. I hope the days ahead, overshadowed by this atrocity, will lead us all to such prayer and active charity." Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote Bishop Arnold to assure him of the prayers of Catholics in the United States. "Words are not enough to convey the deep shock and sadness with which Catholics and all people of goodwill in the United States learned of the horrible ...
Mon, 22 May 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As he prepared to meet Pope Francis for the first time, President Donald Trump formally nominated Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. The White House announced the nomination late May 19 as Trump was beginning his first overseas trip, a trip that would include a meeting with Pope Francis May 24 at the Vatican. The nomination of Gingrich, 51, a former congressional aide, had been rumored for months. If confirmed by the Senate, she would succeed Ambassador Ken Hackett, who retired in January. She would be the third woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See after Lindy Boggs, who held the post in 1997-2001, and Mary Ann Glendon, who served in 2008-2009. Gingrich is president of Gingrich Productions, which produces documentaries as well as other materials related to her husband, Republican Newt Gingrich, who served from 1995 until 1999 as the 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2010, the company released the film "Nine Days That Changed the World" about Pope John Paul II's nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 and how it played a part in the fall of communism in Europe. Callista Gingrich graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1988, majoring in music, a passion that has remained with her throughout life. She is a longtime member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Some like John Schlageter, executive director of the Bethlehem University Foundation in Washington, hailed the choice. "It might make me biased, but I think that her years of singing in the choir at the national shrine has given her a backstage pass to some of the most important events in the life in the church in the United States, including two papal visits," said Schlageter, who is a friend of the couple. The Gingriches are patrons of Bethlehem University, the first Catholic university in the Holy Land founded by the Vatican and the De La Salle Christian Brothers, he said. Schlageter said Callista Gingrich's time producing the documentary about Pope John Paul helped her create professional relationships and friendships in the U.S. and Rome that will serve her well should she be confirmed to the post. "She also loves the church and the United States," he told Catholic News Service May 15. "I think she's a wonderful choice." Others criticized the choice online because she admitted to having an affair for years with Newt Gingrich while he was married to his second wife. After his 1999 divorce, the two married the following year and he became a Catholic in 2009, saying Callista, a lifelong Catholic, was instrumental in making that choice.
Mon, 22 May 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis announced he will create five new cardinals June 28; the new cardinals-designate come from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos and El Salvador. Unusually, the group of prelates announced by the pope May 21 includes an auxiliary bishop whose archbishop is not a cardinal; he is Cardinal-designate Gregorio Rosa Chavez, 74, the current auxiliary bishop of San Salvador. The other churchmen who will receive red hats are: Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, 73; Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain, 71; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, 67; and Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, 73. After briefly talking about the day's Gospel reading, leading the crowd in St. Peter's Square in reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer and greeting various groups present, instead of wishing everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch -- the normal procedure at the noon prayer -- Pope Francis made his announcement. The five new cardinals coming from "different parts of the world demonstrates the catholicity of the church spread across the globe," Pope Francis said. And the practice of assigning to each of them a church in Rome "expresses that the cardinals belong to the Diocese of Rome," which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch explained, "presides in charity over all the churches." Pope Francis said that June 29, the day after the consistory and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals would concelebrate a Mass with him, the entire College of Cardinals and new archbishops from around the world. "We entrust the new cardinals to the protection of Sts. Peter and Paul," Pope Francis said, praying that with St. Peter they would be "authentic servants" of communion in the church and that with St. Paul they would be "joyful proclaimers of the Gospel." The pope also prayed that "with their witness and their counsel," the new cardinals would "support me more intensely in my service as bishop of Rome, pastor of the universal church." With five new cardinals, the College of Cardinals will have 227 members, 121 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. The number of electors exceeds by one the limit of 120 set by Blessed Paul VI. The next cardinal to turn 80 will be Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, who will celebrate his birthday Feb. 3. The Vatican released brief biographical notes about the five who will be inducted into the college in June: -- Cardinal-designate Zerbo was born Dec. 27, 1943, in Segou and was ordained to the priesthood there in 1971. He earned a license in Scripture studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and then returned to Mali as a pastor and professor at the seminary in Bamako. Ordained a bishop in 1988, he served first as auxiliary bishop of Bamako and then was named bishop of Mopti. He has led the Archdiocese of Bamako since 1998. According to the Vatican, "he played an active role in the Mali peace negotiations" and has worked for solidarity and reconciliation among the nation's citizens. -- Cardinal-designate Omella was born in the small town of Cretas April 21, 1946, and did his seminary studies in Zaragoza as well as Louvain, Belgium, and Jerusalem. He was ordained in 1970. In addition to parish work in Spain, he spent a year as a missionary in then-Zaire, now Congo. Ordained a bishop in 1996, he served as auxiliary bishop of Zaragoza and later as bishop of Barbastro-Monzon, then bishop of Calahorra and La Calzada-Logrorio. Pope Francis named him archbishop of Barcelona in 2015. He has long been a member of the Spanish bishops' commission for social questions and served two terms as commission president. He is a member of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. -- Cardinal-designate Arborelius hosted Pope Francis' visit to Sweden in October as part of an ecumenical commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. ...
Mon, 15 May 2017
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PORTUGAL (CNS) -- While the investigations into the very first alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in must continue, Pope Francis said he has doubts about claims that Mary continues to appear in the village of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Asked May 13 about the authenticity of the Marian apparitions, which reportedly began in 1981, the pope referred to the findings of a commission chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the retired papal vicar of Rome. "The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse," the pope told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal. "I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time." "This isn't Jesus' mother," he said. "And these alleged apparitions don't have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, 'Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?' No!" Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now. A diocesan commission studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and the then-Yugoslavian bishops' conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that they could not affirm that a supernatural event was occurring in the town. Despite his personal doubts, the pope said that the "spiritual and pastoral facts cannot be denied: People go there and convert, people who find God, who change their lives. There isn't magic there," he said. In February, Pope Francis appointed Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year. He told reporters those people deserve spiritual care and support. Also during the in-flight news conference, the pope was asked about his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who will visit the Vatican May 24 as part of his first foreign trip as president. Specifically asked how he would speak to a head of state with clearly opposing views on issues such as immigration, the pope said he would never "make a judgment about a person without listening to him first." "There are always doors that aren't closed. Look for the doors that at least are a little bit open, enter and speak about things held in common and go forward, step by step," the pope said. "Peace is artisanal; it is made every day. Even friendship among people, mutual knowledge and esteem are made every day," he said. Pope Francis also was asked about the resignation of Marie Collins, one of the founding members and the last remaining abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She left the commission March 1, citing the reluctance of members of the Roman Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the commission's work. The pope praised Collins' work on the commission and her continuing role in training bishops to deal with abuse allegations. As for her reasons for leaving the commission, Pope Francis said, "she is a little bit right because there are so many cases that are delayed." However, the pope said the delays in handling cases are due to the need to draft new legislation and to the fact that there are few people capable of handling cases of sexual abuse. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, he added, are looking "for new people." "We are going forward, but Marie Collins was right about some things," he said. "We also are moving forward, but there are least 2,000 cases piled up." Asked about continuing discussions to fully reconcile the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X with the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said he is patient. "I don't like to rush things." He ...
Mon, 15 May 2017
On Saturday, May 13, Pope Francis became the fourth pope to visit Fatima — marking the centennial year of the Marian apparitions that occurred in the rural Portuguese town in 1917 and canonizing two of the visionary children, now Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The latest visit of Pope Francis is just the latest papal event that underscores the Church’s embrace and promotion of the messages of the Fatima apparitions. Pope Paul VI became the first sitting pope to visit Fatima in 1967. John Paul II visited Fatima twice, and Benedict XVI visited in 2010. Centenary pilgrimage Pope Francis’ visit to Portugal was brief, lasting just under 24 hours. In that short time the pope had meetings with a variety of dignitaries, including the Portuguese president and the country’s episcopate. On the centenary of the day Mary first appeared at Fatima, the pope celebrated an outdoor Mass in the square of the shrine’s basilica church. He recalled Mary’s maternal role in the life of the Church, reiterating many of the themes of Mary’s apparitions there. He reminded the Church of the dangers of a world that has abandoned God — the worst of which is the risk that leads to hell. “We have gathered here to give thanks for the countless graces bestowed over these past hundred years,” the pope said. Many of the pope’s prepared remarks reiterated the theme of pilgrimage. In a prayer he offered in Fatima’s chapel built on the site of the apparitions, Pope Francis spoke of his own pilgrimage there as aimed toward the light, peace and hope made available to the Church through the messages delivered there by the Virgin Mary. He sought Mary’s intercession to guide the Church on the pilgrimage to heaven, as she was a pilgrim herself. Historic canonization Also at the Mass on May 13, the pope canonized Francisco and Jacinta Marto — siblings who were ages 10 and 9, respectively, at the time of their deaths. While the Church’s canon of saints includes many children throughout the ages, various decrees and reforms to the process of canonization made it nearly impossible for non-martyr children to be individually canonized since the Middle Ages. It had not been the practice to canonize children who were thought unable to live the Faith to the necessarily heroic degree. This began to change slowly, first with Pope St. Pius X, who placed great importance on nurturing the Faith of young people. Pius X had lowered the age of first Communion to the age of reason (typically considered around the age of 7), but he also cleared the way for the eventual canonization of St. Dominic Savio. Pius X was insistent that Savio, who died at the age of 14, offered a heroic witness to the Faith despite not being a martyr. Eventually, he was canonized in 1954, the same year Pius X was also canonized. Savio was the youngest non-martyr to ever be canonized until Pope Francis’ canonization of the two Fatima seers. Their canonization solidifies the opinion that young people can offer a path to holiness from which all the Church can learn and seek to emulate. In many ways, this is fulfilling the vision of the Second Vatican Council’s theological principle of the universal call to holiness: “all Christ’s faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives—and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness” ( Lumen Gentium , No. 41). Saintly siblings In addition to their historic status and their impact on the canonization process, Francisco and Jacinta are models of holiness for all people. In canonizing them, the Church promotes their holiness as an example to Catholics throughout the world. What do these young saints teach us all? A variety of individuals have been recipients of supernatural visions throughout history. Many, but not all of these have been beatified or canonized eventually. But this is not because of the visions the received. The Church has raised up saints like Bernadette Soubirous, Catherine Labouré or Juan Diego because they ...
Wed, 10 May 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a video message to the people of Portugal, Pope Francis said he would visit Fatima as a pilgrim of peace and to entrust the world to Mary's immaculate heart. "I come to you in the joy of sharing with you the Gospel of hope and peace," the pope said in the message released by the Vatican May 10. Pope Francis was to embark on a two-day visit to Fatima May 12-13 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which began May 13, 1917, when three shepherd children reported seeing the Virgin Mary. During the visit, the pope was to preside over the canonization ceremony of two of the young seers, Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto. In his message, the pope thanked the Portuguese people and authorities for understanding his "decision to limit the visit to the moments and acts proper to a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Fatima" at "the feet of the Virgin Mother." "I know that you wanted me to come to your houses and communities, your villages and cities," he said. "Needless to say, I would have liked to accept, but it isn't possible for me." At the site of the apparitions, the pope said he intends to present Mary with a "bouquet of the most beautiful 'flowers' that Jesus entrusted to my care: that is, my brothers and sisters from all over the world who were redeemed by his blood." "I will give you all to Our Lady, asking her to whisper to each one of you: 'My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God,'" the pope said. Pope Francis said he was grateful to know that the people of Portugal are preparing to accompany him on the pilgrimage through prayer, which "makes our hearts grow and prepares us to receive God's gifts." "Prayer illuminates one's eyes to know how to see others as God sees them, to love them as he loves them," the pope said.
Wed, 10 May 2017
What do you call it when two world leaders, each with his own populist streak, meet? That’s easy. If the world leaders are Pope Francis and President Donald Trump, and the meeting is held at the Vatican, you call it a papal audience. At 8:30 Rome time on the morning of May 24, Pope Francis will receive the president of the United States in audience — the 30th time a sitting pope has granted an audience to an incumbent U.S. president. Following the audience, Trump will meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, secretary for relations with states. Populist poles As for the pope, president and populism, in 2016 Trump campaigned as a people’s candidate, and before and since the election he has often appealed to his base over the heads of an “establishment” in which he includes more conventional politicians and the mainstream media. Pope Francis’ populism is more complicated, since he is a critic of what he calls “demagogic” populism that divides people and leads to conflict. But he also has followed the populist playbook with gestures that earn him high approval ratings while pursuing changes in the Church in the face of an ecclesiastical establishment of which much of his own curia is part. Both men also are famous for sometimes controversial off-the-cuff remarks — Trump on Twitter and the pope via in-flight press conferences and one-on-one interviews. Some speculation about the upcoming meeting between the two men suggests it might bring a semi-public clash. But papal audiences are generally decorous affairs conducted according to protocol. This one will almost certainly be no exception. The pope and the president are nonetheless likely to highlight differing priorities on issues about which they really do disagree. Francis, for example, may speak of the need to take a welcoming approach to migrants and refugees. In February 2016, with the U.S. presidential campaign in full swing, he called building walls to keep people out un-Christian. Trump, who declared that as president he would build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, took umbrage at that. Environmental policy is another issue dividing the two. Trump has called for scrapping international climate control accords, while Pope Francis stressed the importance of ecological concerns in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’. The pope repeatedly has championed diplomacy as the solution to problems like North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Trump has threatened a military response if the North Koreans don’t back off. Religious concerns One area of mutual concern — religious liberty — offers an opportunity for at least general agreement between the two. Here Trump may point to his new executive order on “promoting free speech and religious liberty” issued at the White House on May 4, at the same time his meeting with Pope Francis was announced. Declaring it the administration’s policy to “vigorously enforce federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom,” the executive order was partly a corrective to existing legislation called the Johnson Amendment that bars churches from endorsing political candidates on pain of losing their tax-exempt status. This was in fulfillment of campaign promises made by Trump to religious conservatives who provided him with much of his support last year. According to exit polls, Catholics, 23 percent of the total electorate, voted 52 percent for Trump, with 60 percent of white Catholics backing him while 67 percent of Latino Catholics voted for Hillary Clinton. Among evangelicals, the Trump vote was 81 percent. Overall, support for Trump was at 56 percent among weekly churchgoers but fell to 31 percent among people who never go to church. Trump’s order directs the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t withdraw or withhold tax exemption from religious groups for speaking on moral or political issues in a manner that “has ... not ordinarily been treated” as supporting or ...
Mon, 08 May 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Science and religion are not at odds but are united in the continuing search for truth in unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos. The scientific conference titled, "Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities," is an opportunity to show that "the church supports good science," said Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory. "We are hoping that this meeting will also be an encounter of people with very different opinions but very close friendships that come from having the same common desire to understand the truth of the universe and how we can understand that truth," he told journalists May 8. Renowned experts from around the world were to meet at Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo for the May 9-12 conference, which seeks to bring together science and religion in the continuing search for truth in understanding the mysteries of the universe, he said. The 2016 discovery of the existence of gravitational waves, predicted nearly 100 years ago by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, was to be one of the topics of discussion. The discovery could open a new chapter in understanding celestial events and black hole regions in the universe, something that previously could only be hypothesized. The conference also will celebrate the scientific legacy of Msgr. George Lemaitre, one of the fathers of the theory that the expanding universe could be traced to an origin point, also known as the "Big Bang theory." As historic as Msgr. Lemaitre's theory was, Brother Consolmagno said, the Belgian priest was also mindful that the God's creation of the universe wasn't just a one-time occurrence but an event "that occurs continually." "If you look at God as merely the thing that started the Big Bang, you reduce God to a nature god, like Jupiter throwing lightning bolts," he said. "That is not the God we as Christians believe in. We must believe in a God who is supernatural and we then recognize God is who is responsible for the existence of the universe and our science tells us how he did it." Dr. Alfio Bonanno, an Italian cosmologist at the National Institute for Astrophysics, told journalists that the conference also aims to dispel the "myth" that religion fears science, because the search for truth "will bring us to God." "We should not be afraid. Fear is not from God. Rather, we should go in search of this truth because truth -- if we have this attitude of humility which was (Msgr.) Lemaitre's attitude -- we can also change our ideological preconceptions," he said. "The search for truth is what unites us," Brother Consolmagno added. "Those of us who are religious will recognize in the truth the presence of God, but you don't have to make that theological leap to have a desire to know truth." "The first step in recognizing the truth is that you don't already have it," he said, adding that people cannot consider themselves good scientists nor good religious people "if we think that our work is done." Regarding intelligent design, Brother Consolmagno said that its original intention as a way of looking at the universe and seeing "the design of a good God" has been misused. "If you mean that you can use our scientific ignorance as a way proving the existence of God, that would not be a God I would want to believe in," he said. God, he continued, is not something one arrives to at the end of scientific research, but rather its starting point. In that way, "we then can see the hand of God in how we observe the universe." "I am afraid of a God that could be proved by science because I know my science well enough to not trust it," the director of the Vatican Observatory said. Brother Consolmagno said it was important for scientists who are believers to make their science known to their fellow parishioners and remind them that "science was an invention of the medieval universities that the church founded." "The logic of science comes out of the logic of theology and ...
Thu, 04 May 2017
Nearly six decades of hard work toward the canonization cause of Venerable Solanus Casey reached a pivotal milestone on May 4 when the Holy See announced that Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to his intercession. With the announcement comes the certainty of his beatification, at a date later to be determined. There is a great sense of pride in Detroit for Father Casey and his witness of holiness in their midst. Father Casey, who lived several decades in the city, died there in 1957. His tomb has become a frequented place of pilgrimage for those seeking his intercession, just as many did while he was alive. Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit referenced this pride at a May 4 press conference at the Solanus Casey Center in the Motor City when he said the announcement is “one more proof that God loves the city of Detroit.” Father Casey’s story embodies themes of mercy and accompaniment, both dear to the current Holy Father. “Father Solanus gave us an example of mercy,” said Capuchin provincial minister Father Michael Sullivan. Casey “taught us all to be joyful, to be loving, to open our hearts to the poor,” Father Sullivan said. Father Casey is the second American priest whose beatification has been approved by the Holy See in recent months. Venerable Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who was martyred in Guatemala, will be beatified in the Oklahoma capital on Sept. 23. Father Casey’s story began in 1870, when he was born in Wisconsin to Irish immigrants. Stories recorded of his early years indicate he was hardworking and industrious, traveling about in Wisconsin and Minnesota for work in varied positions from prison guard to street car conductor. He had a reputation to form relationships quickly and was beloved by many. Always personable, he was a valued guest at social gatherings, especially when he brought his violin. Casey once proposed marriage to a young girl, but her mother not only disapproved but sent her daughter to a boarding school to quash the relationship. Wounded from this experience, Father Casey shied away from similar feelings in the future. Father Solanus Casey, in brief Born Bernard "Barney" Casey, Jr. on Nov. 25, 1870, in Oak Grove, Wisconsin Ordained Capuchin priest on July 24, 1904, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Died July 31, 1957, in Detroit, Michigan Last words: "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." Father Solanus Guild opened, 1960 Cause of Canonization formally opened, 1976 Declared Venerable, 1995 Approval of miracle required for beatification, 2017 When beatified, Father Casey will be one of four Americans to be so designated But God had other plans for Casey. A call to the priesthood grew out of a particularly disturbing situation in which he witnessed a violent stabbing of a woman while operating a streetcar in Superior, Wisconsin in 1891. From then on, Father Casey felt the urge to do something concrete to bring about change in a broken world. After two days of prayer and reflection, he visited his parish priest and inquired about admittance to the seminary. At the time, it was a given that seminarians from Wisconsin would be assigned to St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee. The cultural and ecclesial situation of the day meant that classes were conducted in German or Latin, and Father Casey knew neither language. He had only completed eighth grade and was away from academics for years. In his early 20s at the time, he agreed to take classes with students at least five years younger. His seminary experience in Milwaukee brought many struggles, not least of which were his grades — particularly poor results in Latin studies. Father Casey was told he could not progress toward priesthood until he completed his high school studies. But the seminary officials in Milwaukee sensed Father Casey might have a vocation to the religious life. He was directed to the Capuchin Franciscans a few miles away, but he was not attracted by their way of life. He went home in 1896, and later ...
Thu, 04 May 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of Wisconsin-born Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, five religious, four laypeople and two cardinals, including Vietnamese Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van Thuan. The pope approved the decrees during an audience May 4 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes. Father Casey (1870-1957) was known for his great faith, humility and compassion and for his ministry as spiritual counselor. He gained a popular following during his lifetime, with healings attributed to his intercession both before and after his death. He was the sixth of 16 children of Irish immigrant parents. He was born on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin, and as a young man worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator and a prison guard before entering the Capuchins at age 26. He was ordained in 1904 as a "simplex priest," one who is unable to hear confessions or preach dogmatic sermons because he had not performed very well in his studies. He carried out humble tasks in the monastery and, while serving in Yonkers, New York, Father Casey was assigned to be the friary's porter, or doorkeeper, a ministry he would carry out for the rest of his life. He was known to be gentle, approachable and genuinely concerned for people as he had unique insight into people's needs and how they fit into God's plans. He was declared venerable in 1995 and Pope Francis' approval of a miracle attributed to his intercession was the next step needed for his beatification. Another miracle, after his beatification, would be needed for him to advance to sainthood. Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan CNS photo Among the other decrees May 4, Pope Francis recognized the heroic virtues of Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, who served as president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1998 to 2002 -- the year he died. Born in 1928, Vietnam's communist regime jailed him in 1975 when he was the newly named coadjutor bishop of Saigon, later renamed Ho Chi Minh City. He was never tried or sentenced and spent nine of his 13 years of detention in solitary confinement. His uncle was South Vietnam's first president, Ngo Dinh Diem, a Catholic who was assassinated in 1963. Also May 4, the pope recognized miracles that advanced the causes of three religious women toward beatification and the martyrdom of Lucien Botovasoa, a married man with eight children, who was also a Third Order Franciscan, teacher and a catechist at his parish in Vohipeno, Madagascar. As the African island went from being a colonial outpost to an independent nation, Botovasoa was blacklisted as an enemy of the cause for independence and was killed in 1947 out of hatred of the faith. Years later a village elder admitted on his deathbed to a local missionary that he ordered the murder of Botovasoa even though Botovasoa had told him he would be by his side to help him whenever he was in need. The elder told the missionary he felt Botovasoa's presence and asked to be baptized.
Mon, 01 May 2017
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM CAIRO (CNS) -- A diplomatic solution must be found to the escalating tension between North Korea and the United States, Pope Francis told journalists. "The path (to take) is the path of negotiation, the path of a diplomatic solution," he said when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to send Navy warships to the region in response to North Korea's continued missile tests and threats to launch nuclear strikes against South Korea, Japan and the United States. "What do you say to these leaders who hold responsibility for the future of humanity," the pope was asked, during a Q-and-A with journalists on the flight to Rome April 29 after a 27-hour trip to Cairo. "I will call on them. I'm going to call on them like I have called on the leaders of different places," he said. There are many facilitators and mediators around the world who are "always ready to help" with negotiations, the pope said. The situation in North Korea, he added, has been heated for a long time, "but now it seems it has heated up too much, no?" "I always call (for) resolving problems through the diplomatic path, negotiations" because the future of humanity depends on it, he said. Pope Francis said his contention that the Third World War already is underway and is being fought "piecemeal" also can be seen in places where there are internal conflicts like in the Middle East, Yemen and parts of Africa. "Let's stop. Let's look for a diplomatic solution," he said. "And there, I believe that the United Nations has a duty to regain its leadership (role) a bit because it has been watered down." When asked if he would want to meet with President Trump when the U.S. leader is in Italy in late May, the pope said, "I have not been informed yet by the (Vatican) secretary of state about a request being made." But he added, "I receive every head of state who asks for an audience." A journalist with German media asked the pope about the controversy he sparked April 22 for saying some refugee camps are like concentration camps. "For us Germans obviously that is a very, very serious term. People say it was a slip of the tongue. What did you want to say?" the reporter asked. "No, it was not a slip of the tongue," Pope Francis said, adding that there are some refugee camps in the world -- but definitely not in Germany -- that "are real concentration camps." When centers are built to lock people up, where there is nothing to do and they can't leave, that, he said, "is a lager." Another reporter asked how people should interpret his speeches to government officials when he calls on them to support peace, harmony and equality for all citizens, and whether it reflected him supporting that government. The pope said that with all 18 trips he has taken to various countries during his pontificate, he always hears the same concern. However, when it comes to local politics, "I do not get involved," he said. "I talk about values," he said, and then it is up to each individual to look and judge whether this particular government or nation or person is "delivering these values." When asked if he had had a chance to run off to see the pyramids, the pope said, "Well, you know that today at six in this morning two of my assistants went to see" them. When asked if he wished he had gone with them, too, the pope said, "Ah, yes."
Fri, 28 Apr 2017
CAIRO (CNS) -- Calling his visit to Egypt a journey of "unity and fraternity," Pope Francis launched a powerful call to the nation's religious leaders to expose violence masquerading as holy and condemn religiously inspired hatred as an idolatrous caricature of God. "Peace alone, therefore, is holy, and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his name," the pope told Muslim and Christian leaders at an international peace conference April 28. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was in attendance. Pope Francis also warned of attempts to fight violence with violence, saying "every unilateral action that does not promote constructive and shared processes is, in reality, a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence." The pope began a two-day visit to Cairo by speaking at a gathering organized by Egypt's al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's highest institute of learning. He told reporters on the papal plane from Rome that the trip was significant for the fact that he was invited by the grand imam of al-Azhar, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb; Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi; Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II; and Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria. Having these four leaders invite him for the trip shows it is "a trip of unity and fraternity" that will be "quite, quite intense" over the next two days, he said. Greeted with a standing ovation and a few scattered shouts of "viva il papa" (long live the pope), the pope later greeted conference participants saying, "Peace be with you" in Arabic. He gave a 23-minute talk highlighting Egypt's great and "glorious history" as a land of civilization, wisdom and faith in God. Small olive branches symbolizing peace were among the greenery adorning the podium. Religious leaders have a duty to respect everyone's religious identity and have "the courage to accept differences," he said in the talk that was interrupted by applause several times. Those who belong to a different culture or religion "should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travelers," he said. Religion needs to take its sacred and essential place in the world as a reminder of the "great questions about the meaning of life" and humanity's ultimate calling. "We are not meant to spend all of our energies on the uncertain and shifting affairs of this world, but to journey toward the absolute," he said. He emphasized that religion "is not a problem, but a part of the solution" because it helps people lift their hearts toward God "in order to learn how to build the city of man." Egypt is the land where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, which include "Thou shalt not kill," the pope said. God "exhorts us to reject the way of violence as the necessary condition for every earthly covenant." "Violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression," he said. "As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity and is based more on the 'absolutizing' of selfishness than on authentic openness to the absolute." "We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God." God is holy, the pope said, and "he is the God of peace." He asked everyone at the al-Azhar conference to say "once more, a firm and clear 'No!' to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God." Not only are faith and violence, belief and hatred incompatible, he said, faith that is not "born of sincere heart and authentic love toward the merciful God" is nothing more than a social construct "that does not liberate man, but crushes him." Christians, too, must treat everyone as brother and sister if they are to truly pray to God, the father of all humanity, the pope said. "It is of little ...
Wed, 26 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While searching for a connection today often means looking for Wi-Fi, Pope Francis said real connections between people are the only hope for the future. "How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion," he said in a video talk played April 25 for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages. "How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us," the pope said in the talk that TED organizers had been advertising as that of a "surprise guest." Pope Francis spoke to the international conference about combating the current "culture of waste" and "techno-economic systems" that prioritize products, money and things over people. "Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough," he said. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face." Many people in the world move along paths "riddled with suffering" with no one to care for them, the pope said. Far too many people who consider themselves "respectable" simply pass by, leaving thousands on "the side of the road." "The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people," he said, the greater the responsibility one has to act and to do so with humility. "If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other." "There is a saying in Argentina," he told his audience: "'Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.' You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don't connect your power with humility and tenderness." "The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies," he said, even though they all have power and responsibility. "The future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.'" Pope Francis said that when he visits someone who is sick or in prison or has been forced to flee war, he always asks himself, "Why them and not me?" Telling the tech-savvy crowd that he wanted to talk about "revolution," the pope asked people to join a very connected and interconnected "revolution of tenderness." Tenderness, he said, is "love that comes close and becomes real," something that begins in the heart but translates into listening and action, comforting those in pain and caring for others and for "our sick and polluted earth." "Tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women," he insisted. "Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility." Pope Francis also urged the crowd to hold on to hope, a feeling that does not mean acting "optimistically naive" or ignoring the tragedies facing humanity. Instead, he said, hope is the "virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness." "A single individual is enough for hope to exist." he added. "And that individual can be you. And then there will be another 'you,' and another 'you, and it turns into an 'us.'" TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a media organization that posts talks online for free distribution, under the slogan "ideas worth spreading." TED was founded in February 1984 as a conference, which has been held annually since 1990.
Wed, 26 Apr 2017
The immortal Yogi Berra said it best: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” That was my first reaction to the news that a new Vatican commission had been established some time back to consider — again — the question of liturgical translations. Really, you can’t help wondering if another round in the debate about the words of the Mass is exactly what disputatious Catholics — already arguing among themselves over everything from immigration policy to the eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia — need right now. On the whole, I’d say it wasn’t. The aims of this new commission, established within the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, are said to be two. First, a review of the norms established by Pope St. John Paul II in 2001 for translating the Latin texts of the Mass and the sacraments into English and other vernacular languages. Second, decentralization of the task of liturgical translation in order to give more authority to national bishops’ conferences. For a few thoughts about each of these matters, let’s begin with a bit of history. Reading what the Second Vatican Council actually said in its liturgy constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium , makes it perfectly clear that the Council Fathers, while approving some use of the vernacular, took it for granted that Latin would remain largely the language of the Mass and the sacraments. The rush to a 100 percent vernacular liturgy after the council was the bright idea of liturgical reformers rather than Vatican II. The early version of the Mass in English was clunky and pedestrian. Even worse, it was done by the principle of “dynamic equivalence,” which, whatever else it may have meant, didn’t mean strict adherence to the Latin text. The papal corrective of 2001, in a document called Liturgiam Authenticam , marked a shift from dynamic equivalence to “formal equivalence” — closer to the Latin, that is. Which brings us, roughly, to the current version of the Mass in English. Hardly perfect, it’s nevertheless an improvement over what came before it. And to people who are still fretting over “consubstantial” in the creed, I say: Live with it; it won’t do you any harm. Similarly unpersuasive is the suggestion to give more control over translations to conferences of bishops. Having sat through many hours of debate on just this subject as a staff member of the U.S. Conference and later as a reporter covering bishops’ meetings, I conclude that this isn’t something you want to leave to a committee of 200-plus people — not even earnest, well-disposed ones like these. That said, it’s undoubtedly true that there really is a problem about the liturgy today. But the problem doesn’t have a lot to do with the translations. Nor does it lie in liturgical aberrations like clown Masses and balloons, which came and went during the days of craziness half a century ago. The underlying problem instead is the decline of the sacramental sense — the fragile discernment of transcendence amid the limitations of our immanence — which has been going on in Western culture over the last several centuries (and which, one might add, is unlikely to be halted, much less reversed, by translating the Mass into the vernacular). For a serious, erudite discussion of this matter, I recommend a careful reading of “Real Presences,” (University of Chicago Press, $14.99) a difficult but illuminating volume published years ago by the critic George Steiner. Meanwhile let’s wish that new Vatican commission well. But let’s also hope the commission doesn’t see more tinkering with translations as the answer to a deeper problem. Russell Shaw is an OSV Newsweekly contributing editor.
Tue, 25 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Praying that God would protect Egypt from all evil, Pope Francis told the nation's people that a world torn apart by indiscriminate violence needs courageous builders of peace, dialogue and justice. "I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region; a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world," the pope said in a video message broadcast April 25, ahead of his April 28-29 trip to Cairo. "I hope that it may also offer a valid contribution to interreligious dialogue with the Islamic world and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerated and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church," he said. The pope thanked all those who invited him to Egypt, those who were working to make the trip possible and those "who make space for me in your hearts." He said he was "truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the country that gave, more than 2,000 years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod." "Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land, needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices; it needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity," he said. Honored to visit the land visited by the Holy Family, the pope asked everyone for their prayers as he assured every one of his. "Dear Egyptian brothers and sisters, young and elderly, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor ... I embrace you warmly and ask God almighty to bless you and protect your country from every evil." He said it was "with a joyful and grateful heart" that he was heading to Egypt -- the "cradle of civilization, gift of the Nile, land of sun and hospitality, where patriarchs and prophets lived" and where God -- benevolent, merciful, and the one and almighty -- made his voice heard. The day the video was released, April 25, was also the feast day of St. Mark, who evangelized the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, Egypt, before being martyred there. Pope Francis dedicated his morning Mass to "my brother Tawadros II, patriarch of Alexandria" of the Coptic Orthodox church, asking that God abundantly "bless our two churches." In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Egypt would welcome the pope and "looks forward to this significant visit to strengthen peace, tolerance and interfaith dialogue as well as to reject the abhorrent acts of terrorism and extremism." Christians in Egypt, Syria and Iraq struggle with mounting pressures from extremists challenging their religious identity and the right to practice their faith and continue to exist in their ancestral homelands. Pope Francis has urged an end to what he called a "genocide" against Christians in the Middle East, but he also has said it was wrong to equate Islam with violence. Christians are among the oldest religious communities in the Middle East, but their numbers are dwindling in the face of conflict and persecution. Egypt's Christian community makes up about 10 percent of the country's 92 million people. A high point in the pope's schedule is an international peace conference at Cairo's al-Azhar University, the world's highest authority on Sunni Islam, hosted by Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of the educational institution. Pope Tawadros and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the Eastern Orthodox churches, are also expected to participate. The pope will also meet separately with el-Sissi and other officials. Observers will be watching whether the pope will take on thorny issues with his hosts, such as the detention of thousands of Egyptians, without due process, simply held ...
Tue, 25 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite the ongoing risk of terrorism, Pope Francis planned to travel to Egypt as a sign of being close to the people there, said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman. Heightened security is part of the "new normal" in many countries, but even in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt, it is the pope's desire "to go ahead, to also be a sign of his closeness" to those affected by violence and all the people of Egypt, Burke told journalists April 24. At a Vatican briefing outlining some details of the pope's trip to Cairo April 28-29, a reporter asked if there were any worries or concerns about the pope's security. Burke, speaking in Italian, said he wouldn't use the word "worries" or concerns, but would say that "we live in a world where it is now something that is part of life." He added, "However, we move ahead with serenity." Additional reading Pope to Egyptians: Let papal visit be sign of friendship, peace The pope has requested that a "normal car" -- not an armored vehicle -- be used when he is driven from one venue to another, Burke said. It will not be an open-topped vehicle, he added. The pope will use a "golf cart," however, rather than the open-air popemobile when he makes the rounds through the crowds at the air defense stadium, where Mass will be celebrated April 29. He also will use the golf cart for circulating among the more than 1,000 seminarians, religious and clergy expected to attend an outdoor prayer service at the Coptic Catholic Church's St. Leo's Patriarchal Seminary in the Cairo suburb of Maadi April 28. Burke said that after Pope Francis' private meeting with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, at the patriarch's residence April 28, the two leaders will go together to the nearby church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a Sunday Mass in December 2016, killing 24 people and injuring at least 45 others. They will pray "for all the victims from these past years and months, pray for Christians killed," Burke said. The two will leave flowers outside the church, light a candle and then have a moment of prayer for the victims from the December attack, the Vatican spokesman said. Soon afterward, the pope will go to the apostolic nunciature, where he will be staying, and will greet a group of children who attend a Comboni-run school in Cairo and later will greet more than 300 young people who made a pilgrimage to Cairo to see the pope, he added.
Mon, 24 Apr 2017
ROME (CNS) -- The Christian church today needs believers who witness each day to the power of God's love, but it also needs the heroic witness of those who stand up to hatred even when it means giving up their lives, Pope Francis said. At Rome's Basilica of St. Bartholomew, a shrine to modern martyrs, Pope Francis presided over an evening prayer service April 22, honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism. "These teach us that with the force of love and with meekness one can fight arrogance, violence and war, and that with patience peace is possible," the pope said in his homily in the small basilica on Rome's Tiber Island. Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis said he wanted to add to the martyrs remembered at St. Bartholomew by including "a woman -- I don't know her name -- but she watches from heaven." The pope said he'd met the woman's husband, a Muslim, in Lesbos, Greece, when he visited a refugee camp there in 2016. The man told the pope that one day, terrorists came to their home. They saw his wife's crucifix and ordered her to throw it on the ground. She refused and they slit her throat. "I don't know if that man is still at Lesbos or if he has been able to leave that 'concentration camp,'" the pope said, explaining that despite the good will of local communities many refugee camps are overcrowded and are little more than prisons "because it seems international agreements are more important than human rights." But, getting back to the story of the Muslim man who watched his wife be murdered, the pope said, "Now it's that man, a Muslim, who carries this cross of pain." "So many Christian communities are the object of persecution today! Why? Because of the hatred of the spirit of this world," the pope said. Jesus has "rescued us from the power of this world, from the power of the devil," who hates Jesus' saving power and "creates the persecution, which from the time of Jesus and the early church continues up to our day." "What does the church need today?" the pope asked. "Martyrs and witnesses, those everyday saints, those saints of an ordinary life lived with coherence. But it also needs those who have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses to the end, to the point of death. All of those are the living blood of the church," those who "witness that Jesus is risen, that Jesus lives." Under a large icon depicting modern martyrs of the gulag and concentration camp, Pope Francis prayed: "O Lord, make us worthy witnesses of your Gospel and your love; pour out your mercy on humanity; renew your church; protect persecuted Christians; and quickly grant the whole world peace." During the prayer service, Pope Francis wore a stole that had belonged to Chaldean Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, who was murdered in Mosul, Iraq, in 2007. Father Ganni's stole along with dozens of other items that belonged to men and women martyred in the 20th and 21st centuries are on display on the side altars at the basilica, which is cared for by the lay Sant'Egidio Community. During the prayer service, at which Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox clergy were involved, people who had been close to those honored as martyrs at the shrine spoke. Karl A. Schneider's father, the Rev. Paul Schneider, was the first Protestant pastor martyred by the Nazis for opposing their hate-filled doctrine. He was married and the father of six children. "My father was assassinated in 1939 in the Buchenwald concentration camp because he believed the objectives of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible," Schneider told the congregation. "All of us, still today, make too many compromises, but my father remained faithful only to the Lord and to the faith." The next to speak was Roselyne Hamel, the sister of French Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered as he celebrated Mass July 26, 2016. The Archdiocese of Rouen has begun his sainthood cause with Pope Francis' approval. Father Hamel's breviary is ...
Thu, 20 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions May 13. The date was announced April 20 during an "ordinary public consistory," a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, addressing the assembly noted that of the future saints considered at the consistory, five were children or young teenagers. "In our time, where young people often become objects of exploitation and commerce, these young people excel as witnesses of truth and freedom, messengers of peace (and) of a new humanity reconciled in love," the cardinal said. At the same consistory, the pope set Oct. 15 as the date for the canonizations of two priests and two groups of martyrs, including Blessed Cristobal, Blessed Antonio and Blessed Juan -- also known as the "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala" -- who were among the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people's ancient traditions. Pope Francis will preside over the canonization ceremony of the Fatima visionaries during his visit to Fatima May 12-13. The pilgrimage will mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church. A year after the apparitions, both of the Marto children became ill during an influenza epidemic that plagued Europe. Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9. Francisco and Jacinta's cause for canonization was stalled for decades due to a debate on whether non-martyred children have the capacity to understand heroic virtues at a young age. However, in 1979, St. John Paul II allowed their cause to proceed; he declared them venerable in 1989 and beatified them in 2000. The children's cousin entered the Carmelites. Sister Lucia died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican. The other canonizations set to take place Oct. 15 include: -- The "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, including: Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others. They were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists. -- Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest and member Piarist Fathers born in 1831. He started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys. While he taught a variety of subjects and wrote numerous textbooks, he also honed an interest in botany, which led him to find a cure for a professor so ill that he was thought to be beyond hope. People then came to him from all parts of the country seeking relief from their sicknesses. -- Blessed Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. A famed preacher, he was known for his defense of the poor. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825.
Mon, 17 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus is the risen shepherd who takes upon his shoulders "our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms," Pope Francis said before giving his solemn Easter blessing. With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square April 16, the pope called on Christians to be instruments of Christ's outreach to refugees and migrants, victims of war and exploitation, famine and loneliness. For the 30th year in a row, Dutch farmers and florists blanketed the area around the altar with grass and 35,000 flowers and plants: lilies, roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, birch and linden. Preaching without a prepared text, Pope Francis began -- as he did the night before at the Easter Vigil -- imagining the disciples desolate because "the one they loved so much was executed. He died." While they are huddling in fear, the angel tells them, "He is risen." And, the pope said, the church continues to proclaim that message always and everywhere, including to those whose lives are truly, unfairly difficult. "It is the mystery of the cornerstone that was discarded, but has become the foundation of our existence," he said. And those who follow Jesus, "we pebbles," find meaning even in the midst of suffering because of sure hope in the resurrection. Pope Francis suggested everyone find a quiet place on Easter to reflect on their problems and the problems of the world and then tell God, "I don't know how this will end, but I know Christ has risen." Almost immediately after the homily, a brief but intense rain began to fall on the crowd, leading people to scramble to find umbrellas, jackets or plastic bags to keep themselves dry. After celebrating the morning Easter Mass, Pope Francis gave his blessing "urbi et orbi," to the city of Rome and the world. Before reciting the blessing, he told the crowd that "in every age the risen shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion -- the wounds of his merciful love -- he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life." Christ seeks out all those in need, he said. "He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God." Pope Francis mentioned a long list of those for whom the Lord gives special attention, including victims of human trafficking, abused children, victims of terrorism and people forced to flee their homes because of war, famine and poverty. "In the complex and often dramatic situations of today's world, may the risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace," Pope Francis said. "May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade." The pope also offered special prayers for peace in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo and Ukraine, and for a peaceful resolution of political tensions in Latin America. The pope's celebration of Easter got underway the night before in a packed St. Peter's Basilica. The Easter Vigil began with the lighting of the fire and Easter candle in the atrium of the basilica. Walking behind the Easter candle and carrying a candle of his own, Pope Francis entered the basilica in darkness. The basilica was gently illuminated only by candlelight and the low light emanating from cellphones capturing the solemn procession. The bells of St. Peter's pealed in the night, the sound echoing through nearby Roman streets, announcing the joy of the Resurrection. During the vigil, Pope Francis baptized 11 people: five women and six men from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China. One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, "Yes, I do," they lowered their heads as the pope poured water over their ...
Thu, 13 Apr 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a gesture of service toward marginalized people, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates, including three women and a man who is converting from Islam to Catholicism. Although in Jesus' time, washing the feet of one's guests was performed by slaves, Jesus "reverses" this role, the pope said during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper April 13 at a prison 45 miles from Rome. "He came into this world to serve, to serve us. He came to make himself a slave for us, to give his life for us and to love us to the end," he said. Pope Francis made his way by car to a penitentiary in Paliano, which houses 70 men and women who testified as a witness for the state against associates or accomplices. To protect the safety and security of the prisoners, only a live audio feed of the pope's homily was provided by Vatican Radio as well as selected photographs released by the Vatican. The Vatican said April 13 that among the 12 inmates who participated in the foot washing ceremony, "two are sentenced to life imprisonment and all the others should finish their sentences between 2019 and 2073." In his brief homily, which he delivered off-the-cuff, the pope said that upon his arrival, people greeted him saying, "'Here comes the pope, the head of the church.'" "Jesus is the head of the church. The pope is merely the image of Jesus, and I want to do the same as he did. In this ceremony, the pastor washes the feet of the faithful. (The role) reverses: The one who seems to be the greatest must do the work of a slave," he said. This gesture, he continued, is meant to "sow love among us" and that the faithful, even those in prison, can imitate Christ in the same manner. "I ask that if you can perform a help or a service for your companion here in prison, do it. This is love, this is like washing the feet. It means being the servant of the other," the pope said. Recalling another Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples that the greatest among them must be at the service of others, Pope Francis said Christ put his words into action by washing his disciple's feet and "it is what Jesus does with us." "For this reason, during this ceremony, let us think about Jesus. This isn't a folkloric ceremony. It is a gesture to remind us of what Jesus gave us. After this, he took bread and gave us his body; he took wine and gave us his blood. This is the love of God," the pope said. Vatican Radio reported that several other inmates took an active role in the liturgy, including four who served as altar servers. Other inmates prepared homemade gifts for the pope, among them were two dessert cakes, a handcrafted wooden cross and fresh vegetables grown in the prison garden. The evening Mass was the second of two Holy Thursday liturgies for Pope Francis. The first was a morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.