Mon, 15 Oct 2018 07:25:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Carrying Pope Paul VI's pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church. Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints' home countries -- Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany -- were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints. Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was "super happy" to be in Rome. "I don't think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the 'official' canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive." Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism -- including from within the church -- but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily. The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19. "All these saints, in different contexts," put the Gospel "into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind," Pope Francis said in his homily. The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints' examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others. And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside "structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world." Among those in St. Peter's Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. "I'm really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old," she told Catholic News Service. "He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started," Bonilla said. "The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!" Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy -- St. Paul VI's hometown. Her local saint, she said, "brought great fresh air" to the church with the Second Vatican Council and "has something to say to us today," particularly with his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on human life and married love, especially its teaching about "the conception of life, the protection of life always." In his homily, Pope Francis said that "Jesus is radical." "He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart," the pope said. "Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?" Jesus, he said, "is not content with a 'percentage of love.' We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing" because "our heart is like a magnet -- it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world's treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself." "A leap forward in love," he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape "complacency ...
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 10:22:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Hundreds of thousands of people around the world will celebrate when Pope Francis formally declares that Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, are saints. But smaller groups of pilgrims intend to travel to the Vatican Oct. 14 for the same Mass to celebrate the canonizations of five other holy men and women from Italy, Spain and Germany. The following are short biographies of the other five: -- Blessed Vincenzo Romano Called "the workers' priest," Vincenzo Romano was born, served and died in Torre del Greco, Italy, a town in the smoking shadow of Vesuvius. Born in June 3, 1751, in the town near Naples, he was heavily influenced by the teachings of his Neapolitan contemporary, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and was ordained a priest in 1775. He labored with his fellow townspeople in rebuilding the city after Vesuvius erupted in 1794 and was particularly concerned about the spiritual and physical health of seafarers, requesting there be a priest and a doctor on every boat leaving the city's port for Tunis or Sardinia; his ministry was the precursor to the church's seafarer's chaplaincy. Known for his phrase, "Do the good well," Father Romano also produced two booklets to help parishioners understand and participate more fully in the Mass, which was only celebrated in Latin, and to pray the rosary. He died of pneumonia Dec. 20, 1831. Beatifying the priest in 1963, Blessed Paul VI said, "this simple country priest" should be a model of holiness for all priests because of how he was driven by love in his service and sacrifice for others and for the way he shunned all honors, ambition and wealth. -- Blessed Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa was born Jan. 10, 1889, in Madrid and said she first felt the call to religious life when she received her First Communion. Hearing a voice say, "You, Nazaria, follow me," she replied, "I will follow you Jesus, as close as a human creature can." Due to economic hardship, her family moved to Mexico where she went on to join the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly despite her parents' objections, dedicating 12 years of her life to caring for the elderly in Oruro, Bolivia. After taking part in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in 1920, she felt a strong desire to form a group that would be "a crusade of love around the church." Encouraged by Archbishop Filippo Cortesi, then-apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, Sister Nazaria left her congregation in 1925 and founded a new order initially called the religious Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Pontifical Crusade. The congregation's mission, she said, was "in loving, obeying and cooperating with the church in its work of preaching the Gospel to every creature. That is our life, that is who we are." Three years after receiving diocesan approval, Sister Nazaria was elected as the congregation's first superior general in 1930. Despite her ill health, she traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she lived until her death in 1943. Several years after her death, her congregation's constitution was approved by the Vatican and the order was renamed the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church. She was beatified Sept. 27, 1992 by St. John Paul II. -- Blessed Catherine Kasper Born May 26, 1820, in Dernbach, Germany, Catherine Kasper was one of four children. She also had four step-sisters from her father's first marriage. Tragedy struck her family when Catherine was 21 years old and her father died. Due to a law dictating that all property belonged to her father's first wife, Catherine -- along with her mother and siblings -- had to move out, and she worked as a farm hand to earn money for her family. Throughout her life, she had a devotion to helping the poor and the abandoned in her village. Her care for the poor inspired other women to help her and with the encouragement of her spiritual director, she formed a religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. ...
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:13:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor. When the pope's decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support for Cardinal Wuerl's ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal for putting the good of the church first. "You have sufficient elements to 'justify' your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," the pope wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you." The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named. Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006. The 77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not been accepted until now. After his resignation was announced Oct. 12, Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the church of Washington." The cardinal also thanked Pope Francis for what he had expressed in his letter, saying, "I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the well-being of the archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding." In early September, Cardinal Wuerl told priests of the archdiocese that he would meet with Pope Francis and ask him to accept his resignation "so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward" and can experience "a new beginning." The Vatican announcement that the pope accepted his resignation came more than two months after the announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. Archbishop McCarrick faces credible allegations of sexual abuse, including two that involved minors; Pope Francis ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" while awaiting a trial or other canonical process on the charges. Cardinal Wuerl has said until the Archdiocese of New York began investigating the claims that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor, he was never informed of such accusations or even the rumors of Archbishop McCarrick's sexual harassment of seminarians. In a letter Aug. 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the wake of all the abuse-related scandals. Cardinal Wuerl asked the priests "for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness." "Would you please," he told the priests, "let the faithful you serve know of my love, my commitment to do whatever is necessary to right what is wrong and my sincere solidarity with you and them." Cardinal Wuerl has been archbishop of Washington for the past 12 years. He earlier served as an auxiliary bishop of Seattle from 1986 until 1988, when he was named bishop of Pittsburgh, where he served for 18 years. The Archdiocese of Washington is home to more than 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in the District of Columbia and in the five surrounding Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and St. Mary's.
Fri, 12 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., on Friday, Oct. 12. The 77-year-old embattled traveled to Rome in September to ask Pope Francis to accept the resignation letter that he submitted almost three years ago upon reaching the customary retirement age of 75. “It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect so that this archdiocesan Church we all love can move forward,” Cardinal Wuerl wrote in a Sept. 11 letter to the priests of his archdiocese. Cardinal Wuerl has been the subject of withering criticism since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in mid-August accused him in some cases of reassigning priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors during his time as bishop of his hometown of Pittsburgh (1988-2006). The Archdiocese of Washington shared a letter from Pope Francis the morning of Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation. In it, the pope praised the cardinal’s “nobility” in choosing to resign, saying “you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.” Abuse controversy The cardinal’s supporters have argued that he was an early leader on the issue of clergy sex abuse, and that he did as much as he could to remove dangerous individuals from ministry before the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Dallas Charter instituted new norms and canonical tools. “There are distortions and serious omissions in the grand jury report so that it incorrectly portrayed his record here. People who saw and were aware of what he did at the time understand that,” Ann Rodgers, director of communications for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, told Our Sunday Visitor. Rodgers formerly worked as a local newspaper reporter in Pittsburgh who covered the religion beat and Bishop Wuerl’s 18-year tenure in the Steel City. But other observers counter that the question of whether Cardinal Wuerl should step down goes beyond his individual guilt or innocence in Pittsburgh. They argue he should resign because he was part of an episcopal establishment that failed to protect the Church’s most vulnerable members. “I think about the damage that has occurred to the Church, so this is bigger than any specific case or reference in that grand jury report,” said Patricia McGuire, the president of Trinity Washington University, a Catholic university in Washington D.C.On her blog and in a recent interview with OSV, McGuire said Cardinal Wuerl should resign because his credibility as an archbishop has been compromised. By resigning, McGuire suggested that the cardinal would be displaying “a very serious and elegant act of leadership.” “I think as the leader of the archdiocese and as an important leader in Church, he can play a very serious leadership role in expressing atonement for what’s happening and also to move the discussion to a different place by taking himself out of the picture and not making it about him,” McGuire said. Before the Pennsylvania grand jury report, Cardinal Wuerl had built a reputation for being one of the few bishops who early on acted on the scourge of clergy sexual abuse. He removed some accused priests from ministry, and lobbied for some of the changes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted in 2002. In one well-known case, then-Bishop Wuerl flew to Rome in 1993 to appeal a Vatican ruling that ordered him to reinstate Father Anthony J. Cipolla. The Vatican court later sided with then-Bishop Wuerl and Father Cipolla, who has since died, was kept out of ministry. However, the grand jury documented other cases where accused priests in Pittsburgh were allowed to return to parish work. In one case, the report says then-Bishop Wuerl permitted one accused priest to be transferred to another diocese. A considerable portion of arguments for and ...
Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:38:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- His voice, his outstretched hands, his boarding an airplane to meet the world -- those are some of the most striking things about Blessed Paul VI that moved and inspired a young man discerning the priesthood. "I still remember his voice when we would hear him on television," Bishop Pierantonio Tremolada of Brescia told Catholic News Service by telephone Oct. 8. "It was such a unique voice, very heartfelt, authoritative, the voice of a good man," said the 62-year-old bishop who grew up and was ordained in Milan -- the archdiocese Pope Paul led before he was elected pope in 1963. Once again crossing the pope's path, Bishop Tremolada has -- since 2017 -- been leading the Diocese of Brescia where the pope was born. The bishop will be among those concelebrating Mass and attending the canonization of Blessed Paul and six other men and women in Rome Oct. 14. More than 5,000 Catholics from Brescia signed up to travel with the bishop for the ceremony. The saint-to-be is a particularly suited example for young people, Bishop Tremolada said from his office in Brescia, because he exemplified a youthful optimism, hope, curiosity and openness to the world and the future. "He offers us an example with his esteem, his love for the world," the bishop said. That love was especially evident at the Second Vatican Council and in its pastoral constitution, "Gaudium et Spes" (Joy and Hope), revealing a church eager to engage with everyone and share the good news. The document "explains Paul VI's approach very well -- not to run away, not be defensive, but wanting to know and dialogue with the world, offering it the Gospel for the good of the world," the bishop said. This desire to contribute and speak sincerely with others "is very much in line with young people," he said. The pope's love for the world was rooted in Christ, "being in communion with him, the conviction he is the savior," which is still "very timely" today in reaching out and responding to young people, he said. When asked what it was about the pope that struck or impressed him most as a young person growing up, Bishop Tremolada said it was his voice and the way he spoke "with words that were not his, but were important" and aimed at everyone. "It was a voice that proposed, not imposed, meek but authoritative," he said. He said, "What also struck me very much were the images of him getting on an airplane," something that had never been seen before -- not only because he was the first pope to use an airplane in 1964, but he was the first pope since 1812 to venture outside Italy. "And his hands. The way he reached out toward people" is another image that still remains with him, he said. "Now as a bishop, the things I would like to emulate about him are his ability to dialogue," his ability to "read" and understand the world, his great humility and the reserved, inner strength that inspired him to offer "the gift of the Gospel," he said.
Wed, 10 Oct 2018 08:03:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their first formal reports to the entire Synod of Bishops, many of the gathering's working groups reported that they had discussed the clerical sexual abuse crisis and, especially, its impact on young Catholics. The theme of the synod is "young people, the faith and vocational discernment," but the working group English-A, which includes bishops from the United States, Australia, Ireland and England, said, "the context for vocational discernment has changed utterly. Our group suggests that the issue of child sexual abuse in the church cannot be skimmed over tangentially in a few short sentences." "The shattered trust, the trauma and lifelong suffering of survivors; the catastrophic failures in case management; the continued silence and denial by some of these awful crimes and sins -- these issues cry out to be named openly by the synod," the group said. As one of the group reports released Oct. 9, the English speakers said bishops "should not be afraid" to share how they "feel about this shocking betrayal of our youth and of all the faithful." "As one member of our group reminded us: 'Trust arrives slowly, on foot, but Trust leaves on horseback! Trust must be rebuilt, one person at a time.'" Abuse and the lack of trust also were mentioned by the English-D group, which said, "A church that cannot be trusted is simply incapable of reaching out to young people in an effective way." "As is obvious to everyone, this scandal has undermined the work of the church in practically every way, precisely because it has compromised our credibility," said the group, which included bishops from Canada and the United States, as well as Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, a leading investigator of abuse claims. Members of the group thought, however, that "even as we acknowledge our sorrow and guilt in this regard, mention should be made of the very positive and effective steps the church has taken since 2002 to address this matter concretely." The Italian-A group also discussed the abuse scandal in the context of the "obstacles" the church has put in the way of its evangelizing young people. "Several times there was mention of the damage provoked by the growth of scandals in the area of sexuality, wealth and the abuse of authority. The whole church urgently must adopt an attitude of conversion in order to accompany young people in their growth." Abuse seemed to be an especially strong theme of speeches offered in the synod's general sessions, said the Spanish-A group, and its members urged the bishops to remember that "the abuses not only damage the church, they go against being disciples of Jesus." The Italian-B group said young people want "a more authentic and relational church, concretely committed to justice and to serving the poor." The working groups offered suggestions to the synod based only on the first part of the working document and speeches in the synod hall referring to it. Most of the groups requested that the synod issue a direct message to young people; some of the groups also suggested that it be brief, use plain language and be accompanied by a short video. The groups were unanimous in calling for a final document that is more biblically based, often complaining that the synod working document was too "sociological" in its approach to the reality young people are living today and ways the church must respond. Another thing missing from the working document, several groups said, was an exploration of a concept keenly important to young people: friendship. "The feeling was very strong in our group that the reality of friendship and its importance for young people needs to be recognized in the document that this synod produces," English-B group said. "Friendship is yearned for by our young people. They find community through this and they find family in this way." The Spanish-A group said, "In the formation of seminarians and religious (men and women), they must be formed in and for friendships, for ...
Wed, 10 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400
While there are many reasons Catholics must hold onto faith in the future of the Church, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia highlights one reason. In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, the archbishop — who is in Rome as member of the permanent committee of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” from Oct. 3-28 — acknowledged that the Church faces tough times but that, “One of the things we all need to recover is an accurate sense of history. It’s a great antidote to despair.” The U.S. prelate also shared direct pastoral experience with young people, what their greatest challenges are and how sometimes contemporary American cultural values exacerbate this, and episodes which gave him hope. He also gives practical advice on young people living their faith. Our Sunday Visitor: What do you see as the biggest challenges young people face today? And what do you think matters most to them? Archbishop Charles J. Chaput: One of the biggest challenges, at least in the so-called “developed” countries, is noise. Young people live in an envelope of distractions. Many have never been outside that envelope, so the Church and her message seem irrelevant to them. We can’t know God, we can’t even really know ourselves, without some measure of silence in our lives. Silence allows us to rest, and think, and ask questions. But everything in American culture is designed to do the opposite; to create restlessness, a constant appetite for things that are new and “loud” in the sense of demanding our attention. I hear all the time that young people crave “authenticity.” I think their real need is meaning. Without God, man doesn’t have a purpose. Only very strong and privileged people can sustain the illusion of creating their own meaning. The rest of us are stuck with a longing for something more than the consumer junk and narcotics our culture offers. We have a daily life that’s packed with material stuff, but that lacks beauty. This is why so many young persons are sad. It’s why they’re so angry. Life seems to make no sense. OSV: Could you share some episodes with young people that left an impression, especially those which give you hope? Archbishop Chaput: The hundreds of thousands of young adults, children and families at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia were astonishing for their faith and enthusiasm. That was a huge boost in hope for anyone who attended. And likewise, anyone who takes part in the national gatherings of FOCUS [Fellowship of Catholic University Students] will come away changed for the better by the joy and confidence among the young people. They’re alive with the Gospel. ... OSV: How is the Faith and knowing you are loved by God essential for a young person? But, equally so, how does living a life where they live their faith in going to Mass, regular prayer, the sacraments, trying to follow the advice of the saints, give meaning to the lives of young people? Archbishop Chaput: That gets back to your first question, and the absence of meaning in so many young people’s lives. It’s reflected in today’s young adult suicide rates. God anchors a genuinely human life. We need God, which is why faith is so important. Of course, faith is more than just words and good intentions. You actually need to live your faith in your daily actions. That takes patience and determination, and also humility. Faith is made real by practice, and by immersing ourselves in the rhythm of Church life, which implies the need for prayer, confession, Mass and seeking out Christian friendships. OSV: Do you observe those living their faith, or who recognize God and Jesus giving mean to their lives, are happier than those who do not? Archbishop Chaput: They’re obviously happier. It’s the difference between someone who’s going somewhere and knows it; and someone who’s wandering around lost. OSV: What elements of being Catholic — or of Catholic living (such as Mass, prayers, ...
Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400
A few key themes emerged in early October as the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment entered its second week in Vatican City. Listening to young people, taking their concerns seriously and accompanying them on their journeys of faith will be necessary for the Catholic Church of the future, said several Synod fathers and young adults who are auditing the four-week gathering. “In the light of the Holy Spirit and faith, we believe that there is a way, based on the teachings of the Church, to be able to deal with the issues” that young adults face, 21-year-old Joseph Cao Huu Minh Tri of Vietnam told reporters during a media briefing on the Synod’s second day. Just as important as accompaniment, according to several bishops who addressed the Synod, will be the need for Church leaders to evangelize the youth by offering the whole truths of the Catholic faith, providing reverent liturgies and helping them to encounter Christ. “If we lack the confidence to preach Jesus Christ without hesitation or excuses to every generation, especially to the young, then the Church is just another purveyor of ethical pieties the world doesn’t need,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told the Synod on Oct. 4. Cloud of abuse Discussions engaged several serious topics, especially the sex abuse crisis that is roiling the Church around the globe. Addressing young people in Pope Francis’ presence, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, on Oct. 4 apologized “for the shameful deeds of some priests, religious and laypeople, perpetrated upon you or other young people just like you, and the terrible damage that has done.” Archbishop Fisher also said he was sorry “for the failure of too many bishops and others to respond appropriately when abuse was identified, and to do all in their power to keep you safe; and for the damage thus done to the Church’s credibility and to your trust.” Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, continued that theme the following day, telling the Synod during his Oct. 5 intervention that the sexual abuse of minors by clerics was an issue that weighed on his heart. “It is a both a crime and a sin that has undermined the confidence and trust that young people must have in the Church’s leaders and the Church as an institution, so that they may again trust their priests and bishops to exercise true spiritual fatherhood, serve as adult figures in their lives and as authentic mentors of faith,” Bishop Caggiano said. The sexual abuse crisis emerged frequently through the first week as a topic of discussion among bishops, lay auditors and reporters during the Vatican’s daily press briefings. At a Holy See Press Office briefing on Oct. 8, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, who has investigated clergy sexual abuse for the Vatican, told gathered reporters that he has many times cried with abuse victims, who are usually no longer young people when he meets them. “It pains me that justice takes so long. This is also very painful to Pope Francis,” said Archbishop Scicluna, who added that young people are searching for a Church that is authentic, and that bishops must be accountable to God and their people. Points of dispute The synod, which is taking place Oct. 3-28, is the third of Pope Francis’ five-year papacy. It follows the synods in 2014 and 2015 on family life that Pope Francis capped in 2016 with his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. The earlier synods were marked by often intense debates, in and outside the synod hall, around issues pertaining to the pastoral care of divorced peoples who had remarried without an annulment. The run-up to the current gathering had some controversy, with conservative commentators displeased that the gathering’s preliminary working document — the Instrumentum Laboris — made several references to the topic of sexuality, including the use of the acronym LGBT to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Archbishop Chaput — who ...
Mon, 08 Oct 2018 08:23:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church's youngest cardinal, 51-year-old Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic, said the key question before the Synod of Bishops is: "What is God trying to tell us through young people?" Finding better ways to pass the faith on to younger generations is one part of the task, the cardinal told reporters Oct. 6. The other part is to encourage them and support them in sharing the faith with others. Participants in the synod of bishops -- the 267 voting bishops, priests and religious brothers, as well as the 72 experts and observers -- spent the evening of Oct. 5 and the morning of Oct. 6 getting to know each other in their small groups, which are divided by language. The groups, taking what they hear in the synod's general assembly sessions, are to make suggestions for a final synod document. The Vatican does not publish the texts of speeches given in the sessions but allows the bishops to do so. Auxiliary Bishop Mark Edwards of Melbourne, addressing the synod during the morning session Oct. 5, suggested taking St. John Vianney and his experience in Ars, France, as a model. Moving to Ars, the bishop said, St. John Vianney did not know exactly where the town was, so he convinced a shepherd to take him, promising, "If you show me the way to Ars, I will show you the way to heaven." And once the priest arrived in the town, he said, he got to know it and its people, not treating it "as a version of the previous parish where he had worked." "We stand at the edge of a new era," Bishop Edwards told the synod. "We knew how to be church in the past, how to pass on the faith and how to be effective missionaries," but "at least some of what we did isn't effective anymore." Young people, though, "more instinctively grasp the lay of this land with its values of equality, inclusion, respect, authenticity and the integration of multiple aspects of life such as body and soul." Bishop Edwards did not suggest that older church members just give up, but said an "intergenerational encounter" is necessary. Church leaders and ministers must say to young people, "You show us the lay of this land, the way to the place where you dwell, and we will show you the way to God." Walking with young people, elders in the faith can help them encounter Christ, the bishop said. "When they meet Jesus, he will change their hearts. And this will enable them to discover appropriate ways to live fruitfully and really humanly and as effective church in the tensions of this new age." Archbishop Luc Cyr of Sherbrooke, Quebec, spoke to the synod Oct. 4 about the importance of guiding and protecting the freedom of Catholic young people involved in new movements or religious communities. When young people feel a call to religious life, "we must do everything to assure that their freedom" is respected, he said. In some groups, he said, "it was evident that the exploration of a vocation was not done in conditions that were favorable to making a informed choice." The archbishop did not mention any group by name. However, his archdiocese is home to the Marie-Jeunesse Family, which in January closed all but its Sherbrooke house and began what it termed a period of "deep restructuring." Archbishop Cyr told the synod that when young people are enveloped too quickly in a community "where the way of life leaves little space for freedom and empowerment," some of them experience enormous pressure to enter religious life and don't realize until they are in their 30s or 40s that they had not made the choice in full freedom. For "healthy discernment" of a vocation, a young person needs a wise guide, the availability of a counsellor outside the group and continued contact with his or her family, the archbishop said. "Above all," he said, "it is important to reiterate to everyone that the Lord calls people freely to freedom." Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Bryan Bayda of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, spoke to the synod about how young ...
Mon, 08 Oct 2018 07:49:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Promising a thorough review of how the Vatican handled allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the Vatican acknowledged that what happened may fall short of the procedures that are in place today. "The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues. However, as Pope Francis has said: 'We will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead,'" the Vatican said in statement released Oct. 6. The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had said in August that they would seek such an investigation, and leaders of the bishops' conference met with Pope Francis Sept. 13 to tell him how the church in the United States has been "lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse." After the meeting with the pope, neither the bishops nor the Vatican mentioned an investigation. However, the president and vice president of the conference -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles -- are at the Vatican for the Synod of Bishops and are likely to meet the pope again Oct. 8. Renewing its commitment to uncovering the truth, the Vatican also said that information gathered from its investigation as well as "a further thorough study" of its archives regarding the former cardinal will be released "in due course." "Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated and a different treatment for bishops who have committed or covered up abuse, in fact represents a form of clericalism that is no longer acceptable," the Vatican said. According to the statement, the pope ordered a preliminary investigation by the Archdiocese of New York after an allegation that Archbishop McCarrick abused a teenager 47 years ago; the allegation subsequently was found to be credible. Pope Francis, the Vatican said, accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals after "grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation." In the weeks after the allegations were made public, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had. The Vatican statement comes more than a month after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, released an 11-page "testimony" claiming that church officials, including Pope Francis, failed to act on the accusations of abuse by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. In his statement Aug. 25, Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 -- when he was an official at the Secretariat of State -- of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians." Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegations from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011. A 2006 letter obtained by Catholic News Service Sept. 7 suggested that then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, acknowledged allegations made in 2000 by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, concerning Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis." "I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said. Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he claimed, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, and was ...
Mon, 08 Oct 2018 07:36:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States. The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano's letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops' appointments in the United States. Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother," Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion." Archbishop Vigano's letters, he said, "inflict a very painful wound" on the church, "which you claim to serve better, aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!" "Come out of hiding," Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was published, claiming that it was for his own safety. "Repent of your revolt," the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?" Cardinal Ouellet's letter, written with the approval of Pope Francis, was published the day after the Vatican said the pope had ordered a "thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively." The statement added that "the Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues." Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope Francis in June 2013 that in "2009 or 2010," after Cardinal McCarrick had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. Archbishop Vigano later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions "privately" perhaps "due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey." In his open letter, Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, "You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013, of the McCarrick case in an audience he granted to you like many other papal representatives he met for the first time that day." "Imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information he received that day regarding many people and situations," the cardinal wrote. "I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him as much as you would like us to believe, given the fact that he was an 82-year-old archbishop emeritus who had been without a post for seven years." As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, "they say nothing at all about McCarrick." However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past." Cardinal ...
Fri, 05 Oct 2018 08:16:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, introduced the work of the synod on young people Oct. 3 with a variety of statistics and informational notes. He told the gathering that the 267 voting members of the synod include: 51 cardinals (including two patriarchs and three major archbishops of Eastern Catholic churches); four other patriarchs of Eastern Catholic churches; the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church; 45 archbishops; 102 diocesan bishops; 37 auxiliary bishops; six apostolic vicars; one bishop prelate; eight religious-order priests and two religious brothers representing the Union of Superiors General; and 10 diocesan and religious-order priests nominated by Pope Francis. The synod's working document was prepared with input from an online questionnaire for young people, responses from bishops' conferences around the world and the results of a presynod meeting of young adults in March. More than 220,000 people accessed the online questionnaire the Synod of Bishops' office had active in June-December 2017, the cardinal said. Just over 100,000 people ages 16-29 -- 58,000 young women and 42,500 young men -- completed the survey. Just over 50 percent of the respondents were 16-19 years old, he said. And more than 16,000 of the completed questionnaires originated with users in Uganda, making it the country with the highest response rate. The preparatory document for the synod was released in January 2017 and included a series of questions to be answered by national bishops' conferences or bishops' synods of the Eastern Catholic churches and by the offices of the Roman Curia. Cardinal Baldisseri said 40 percent of the Eastern churches and 68.4 percent of the bishops' conferences responded. The rate is low for a synod. For the first assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2014, more than 80 percent of bishops' conferences responded; for the 2012 synod on new evangelization, the synod office had reported that 81.5 percent of the conferences responded. The general sessions in each of the first three weeks of the synod are devoted to one section of the three-part working document, Cardinal Baldisseri explained. Each voting member of the synod is allowed to address the general session only once and only for four minutes. His remarks must refer to the section of the working document being discussed that week. In addition, at each working session, one of the 34 synod of observers who is between the ages of 18 and 29 will speak. Continuing a practice begun by Pope Benedict XVI, the evening sessions of the synod end with one hour of "free discussion." Again, each synod member may speak for no more than four minutes. The 12 sessions of the synod's working groups are where members can shake off those time limits and where experts, observers and the eight fraternal delegates from other Christian churches also are free to speak. The synod participants will be divided into 14 working groups according to language: French, Italian, English, Portuguese, Spanish or German. Although the groups are commonly referred to by their Latin name -- "circuli minores" -- there no longer is a Latin-language small group at the synod. In accordance with new rules published just before the synod, participants will not be working on "propositions" to submit to Pope Francis, but on "amendments" to the synod's working document with a view of transforming it into a final document to be submitted to the pope. Pope Francis will decide whether it can be published, and he can decide whether to adopt it as his own teaching. Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, told reporters Oct. 4 that no decision had been made yet on whether the bishops will be voting on the final document as a whole or whether they will be voting on the document's individual paragraphs. "As we move along, we will decide."
Fri, 05 Oct 2018 07:57:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When people ask why the Vatican has an observatory, one Jesuit priest says it's because it cannot afford a particle accelerator. The nerdy quip by the Vatican Observatory's vice director, Jesuit Father Paul Mueller, has become his signature response to people's inevitable surprise when they discover that popes have stockpiled telescopes, and the church does not oppose science -- even if it won't buy a 16-mile long, multibillion-dollar particle accelerator. Eleven Jesuit astronomers live, work and pray together year-round as they conduct top-notch research either at the modern Mount Graham International Observatory in Arizona or at their historic headquarters on the grounds of the papal summer villa and gardens in Castel Gandolfo near Rome. "Science is part of our life; for us there is no conflict, no tension" with their Catholic faith and religious vocation, said Father Mueller, a U.S. priest who has degrees in physics, history, philosophy and theology and a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science. He spoke to Catholic News Service Sept. 30 during a Vatican-led tour of the observatory's facilities at the papal villa. Reporters were treated to a full tour of the four observatory domes and telescopes housed in two separate buildings -- one being the papal summer residence itself with a stunning view of Lake Albano below and the other being a newly refurbished building nestled within the wooded gardens. The recently renovated facility houses the now fully restored Carte du Ciel (Celestial Map) telescope from 1891, a Schmidt telescope from 1957 and a new exhibit showcasing a number of historical scientific instruments, artifacts and meteorites from the observatory's collections. The plan is to open the unique space to the public starting in the summer 2019 with visits organized by the Vatican Museums. Father Mueller said one idea would be to have groups tour the villa's garden, have dinner and then open one of the observatory domes for a night of stargazing. The Vatican Museums already organize special tours of the papal villa and gardens at Castel Gandolfo. While the details and starting dates of the star-watching tour still have to be worked out, Father Mueller said it will offer a great way to make the historical treasures, work and achievements of the Vatican Observatory more "public and visible." The observatory traces its origins back to an observational tower erected at the Vatican by Pope Gregory XIII in 1578 in preparation for reforming the Western calendar. Over time, a number of posts for celestial observation were set up along the Vatican walls and elsewhere in Rome, such as atop the church of St. Ignatius where Jesuit Father Angelo Secchi -- the father of astrophysics -- conducted much of his work. Pope Leo XIII formally established the Vatican Observatory -- placed on a hillside behind the dome of St. Peter's Basilica -- in 1891 as a visible sign of the church's centuries-old support for science. The pope's main observatory, by now entrusted to the Jesuits, was eventually moved to the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in 1935. Two observational domes were built on the top of the pope's summer villa to house two Zeiss telescopes purchased that year. The Carte du Ciel telescope was moved in 1942 from the Leonine Tower in Vatican City to the papal villa and, in 1957, it was joined by a Schmidt wide-angle telescope that Pope Pius XII purchased with his own money as a gift to the observatory, astronomer Jesuit Father Gabriele Gionti told reporters. The Jesuit observatory staff set up a second research center in Tucson, Arizona, in 1981 after Italian skies got too bright for nighttime observation. And in 1993, in collaboration with Steward Observatory, they completed the construction of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mount Graham -- considered one of the best astronomical sites in the continental United States. Visitors who participate in next year's sky-watching ...
Thu, 04 Oct 2018 07:47:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis asked bishops to be bold, honest, open-minded, charitable and, especially, prayerful as they begin a three-week meeting on "young people, the faith and vocational discernment." While many young people think no older person has anything useful to teach them for living today, the pope said, the age of the bishops, combined with clericalism, can lead "us to believe that we belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen or learn anything." "Clericalism is a perversion and is the root of many evils in the church," Pope Francis said Oct. 3 at the synod's first working session. "We must humbly ask forgiveness for this and above all create the conditions so that it is not repeated." The pope formally welcomed 267 bishops and priests as voting members of the synod, eight fraternal delegates from other Christian churches and another 72 young adults, members of religious orders and lay men and women observers and experts at the synod, which will meet through Oct. 28. He also thanked the thousands of young people who responded to a Vatican questionnaire, participated in a presynod meeting in March or spoke to their bishops about their concerns. With the gift of their time and energy, he said, they "wagered that it is worth the effort to feel part of the church or to enter into dialogue with her." They showed that, at least on some level, they believe the church can be a mother, teacher, home and family to them, he said. And they are asserting that "despite human weaknesses and difficulties," they believe the church is "capable of radiating and conveying Christ's timeless message." "Our responsibility here at the synod," the pope said, "is not to undermine them, but rather to show that they are right to wager: It truly is worth the effort, it is not a waste of time!" Pope Francis began the synod with an invitation that every participant "speak with courage and frankness" because "only dialogue can help us grow." But he also asked participants to be on guard against "useless chatter, rumors, conjectures or prejudices" and to be humble enough to listen to others. Many of the synod participants arrived in Rome with the text of the three-minute speech they intended to give, but the pope asked them "to feel free to consider what you have prepared as a provisional draft open to any additions and changes that the synod journey may suggest to each of you." A willingness to "change our convictions and positions," he said, is "a sign of great human and spiritual maturity." The synod is designed to be an "exercise in discernment," the pope told them. "Discernment is not an advertising slogan, it is not an organizational technique or a fad of this pontificate, but an interior attitude rooted in an act of faith." Discernment "is based on the conviction that God is at work in world history, in life's events, in the people I meet and who speak to me," he said. It requires listening and prayer, which is why the pope has added a rule that after every five speeches there will be a three-minute pause for silent reflection and prayer. Listening to the Spirit, listening to God in prayer and listening to the hopes and dreams of young people are part of the church's mission, the pope said. The preparatory process for the synod "highlighted a church that needs to listen, including to those young people who often do not feel understood by the church" or feel they "are not accepted for who they really are, and are sometimes even rejected." Listening to each other, especially young people and bishops listening to each other, he said, is the only way the synod can come to any helpful suggestions for leading more young people to the faith or for strengthening the faith of young people involved in church life. "Adults should overcome the temptation to underestimate the abilities of young people and (should) not judge them negatively," he said. "I once read that the first mention of this fact dates back to ...
Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:24:00 -0400
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With Pope Francis midway into the sixth year of his pontificate, the percentage of U.S. Catholics who view him favorably, while still strong, is noticeably down. And, compared to a January poll by the Pew Research Center that showed Catholics being evenly split on how well Pope Francis has handled the issue of clergy sex abuse, numbers in the new poll, released Oct. 2, show that twice as many Catholics feel he is doing only a fair or poor job on the issue than say he is doing a good or excellent job. The overall favorability number for the pope is 72 percent, split between 42 percent of Catholics who see him "mostly favorable" and 30 percent who view him "very favorable." The latter number down a third from the last Pew poll last January, when Pope Francis had been at 84 percent favorability. The 72 percent figure is lower than Pew's favorability findings for Pope Benedict XVI except for its first poll asking the question shortly after Pope Benedict assumed the papacy in 2005. Pope Francis' lowest favorability numbers are among Catholic men, at 66 percent, and Catholic Republicans or those who lean Republican, at 61 percent. They are highest among Catholic Democrats or those who lean Democratic, at 83 percent, and Catholic women, at 77 percent. The percentage of Catholics overall who view him unfavorably, though, more than doubled, from 9 percent to 20 percent. "The new study also shows that U.S. Catholics' views of Pope Francis are increasingly polarized along political lines," said the Pew report on its poll. "For instance, in 2014, there was virtually no difference in views of Pope Francis" between Democrats and Republicans, with the latter giving him a 90 percent favorable rating and Democrats giving him an 87 percent mark. The pope's favorability numbers also suffered among white evangelical Protestants, from 52 percent in January to 32 percent in September; white mainline Protestants, from 67 percent to 48 percent; and religiously unaffiliated adults, from 58 percent to 53 percent. Still, 51 percent of all Americans view him favorably. Sixty-two percent of Catholics believe Pope Francis is doing only a fair or poor job handling the abuse crisis, compared to 46 percent in January. Those who believe he is doing an excellent or good job shrunk from 45 percent in January to 31 percent in September. The drop is most pronounced among men and Catholics ages 18-49, with both groups registering under 30 percent in the latest poll who say he is doing a good or excellent job, although the numbers among those who attend Mass at least weekly nosedived from 71 percent to 34 percent. In other areas of church life, Catholics gave Pope Francis higher marks, although those numbers also declined. In terms of standing up for traditional morals, 56 percent said the pope was doing an excellent or good job, down from 81 percent in the first Pew poll assessing Catholic opinion of Pope Francis in 2014, while those who say he is doing only a fair or poor job more than doubled from 15 percent to 36 percent. When it comes to spreading the Catholic faith, Pope Francis dipped from 81 percent in 2014 to 56 percent in September among those saying he is doing a good or excellent job, while those who say he is doing only fair or poor climbed from 14 percent to 27 percent. On the issue of appointing new bishops and cardinals, Pope Francis dropped from 58 percent in the "good/excellent" category in January to 43 percent in that category in September, while those who say he is doing only a fair or poor job rose from 24 percent to 39 percent. The poll was taken in the wake of allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former papal nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis knew about restrictions having been placed on the ministry of then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick over allegations of sexual misconduct yet did nothing about them. Archbishop Vigano has demanded that the pope resign in the wake of his charges. The results ...
Wed, 03 Oct 2018 08:04:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Setting the stage for a monthlong gathering of bishops, Pope Francis urged synod fathers not to be crushed by "prophets of doom," but to be the signs of hope and joy for which today's young people yearn. "Anointed by hope, let us begin a new ecclesial meeting," he said in his homily at Mass Oct. 3, opening the Synod of Bishops, which was to meet until Oct. 28 to discuss "young people, the faith and vocational discernment." Filled with hope and faith, he said, the synod members can "broaden our horizons, expand our hearts and transform those frames of mind that today paralyze, separate and alienate us from young people, leaving them exposed to stormy seas, orphans without a faith community that should sustain them, orphans devoid of a sense of direction and meaning in life." Among the hundreds of synod participants and thousands of guests celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Square were two bishops from mainland China, the first from the communist country to attend a synod. With his voice shaking, the pope offered them "our warm welcome: the communion of the entire episcopate with the Successor of Peter is yet more visible thanks to their presence." Standing in front of St. Peter's Basilica, which was decorated with a tapestry depicting St. Michael the Archangel battling the devil and one of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus, Pope Francis told synod participants that young people want help in facing today's challenges and need their commitment "to work against whatever prevents their lives from growing in a dignified way." "They ask us and demand of us a creative dedication, a dynamism which is intelligent, enthusiastic and full of hope," he said. "They ask us not to leave them alone in the hands of so many peddlers of death who oppress their lives and darken their vision." He reminded the bishops that when most of them were young, Blessed Paul VI called on them during the Second Vatican Council to lead the way in renewing the world through Christ. Quoting the soon-to-be saint's message to young people in 1965, the pope recalled how the church was depending on them -- as young people of the day and the future of the church -- to "express your faith in life" and faith in "a good and just God." The late pope, he said, called on them to be open to the world, listen to and serve their brothers and sisters, "fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred which beget wars and all their train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful and sincere, and build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had." The memory of Blessed Paul's appeal and of the bishops' own youthful faith and passion for Christ must be rekindled "and renew in us the capacity to dream and to hope," Pope Francis said. "For we know that our young people will be capable of prophecy and vision to the extent that we, who are already adult or elderly, can dream and thus be infectious in sharing those dreams and hopes that we carry in our hearts." May this memory never be "extinguished or crushed by the prophets of doom and misfortune, by our own shortcomings, mistakes and sins," he added. The pope asked synod members to participate in the upcoming discussions with an "attitude of docile listening to the voice of the Spirit" and to each other "to discern together what the Lord is asking of his church." "This demands that we be really careful against succumbing to a self-preservation and self-centeredness which gives importance to what is secondary, yet makes secondary what is important," the pope said. With love for the Gospel and the faithful, synod members must aim to follow God's will and "an even greater good that will benefit all of us. Without this disposition, all of our efforts will be in vain." "The gift of that ability to listen, sincerely and prayerfully, as free as possible from prejudice and conditioning, will help us to be part of those situations which the people of God experience," he said. ...
Tue, 02 Oct 2018 14:15:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians have guardian angels to encourage and guide them so they won't become sluggish on their journey in life, Pope Francis said. Without the guidance of angels, men and women who become settled in their ways and put "their life on hold" are in danger of becoming like stagnant water, the pope said Oct. 2 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "So many people don't know how to walk or are afraid of taking a risk and they remain still," the pope said. "But we know the rule is that a person who is stationary ends up stagnating like water. When water is still, the mosquitos come, they lay eggs and ruin everything. The angel helps us, he pushes us to walk." Commemorating the day's feast of the Guardian Angels, the pope quoted from the Book of Exodus in which God promises the people of Israel that he is "sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared." Guardian angels, the pope said, are the help "the Lord promises his people and us who walk along the path of life." As companions and protectors, he continued, guardian angels are like "a human compass or a compass that resembles a human being and helps us see where we should go" to avoid dangers along the way. Christians, he added, should heed God's command to "be attentive and obey" their guardian angel and listen to "their inspirations, which are always from the Holy Spirit." "I would like to ask you all a question: Do you speak to your angel?" the pope asked. "Do you know the name of your angel? Do you listen to your angel? Do you let yourself be taken by the hand along the path or pushed to move?" By obeying their guardian angels, he said, Christian men and women can avoid the dangers of taking the wrong path or, worse, leaving the path and going "from one place to another like in a labyrinth that ensnares." He encouraged Christians to pray and speak to their guardian angel who "is not only with us but also sees God the father." "The angel is the daily door toward transcendence, to the encounter with the Father," Pope Francis said. "The angel helps me walk along the path because he looks at the Father who knows the way. Let us not forget this traveling companion."
Tue, 02 Oct 2018 08:09:00 -0400
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Debate continues about whether the Vatican's provisional agreement with China will improve relations between the Chinese state and members of religious groups, which have had a long history of conflict. The agreement marks the first time in decades that all the Chinese bishops have been in communion with Rome, said the Vatican press office. A Sept. 27 hearing on Capitol Hill, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, drew attention to the challenges faced by the Chinese government in adapting its stance toward religion in modern times and tensions between China's lawmakers and many ethnic and religious minorities over past decades. Smith mentioned the Vatican's new arrangement with China in his opening address. "The reports are that this deal is provisional and full details are yet unknown," said Smith. "I hope and pray that this agreement will bring true religious freedom for Catholics in China -- who have suffered so much to maintain their faith," said Smith, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Discussing the history of conflicts between churches and state in China, Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-New York, pointed out that China has fundamental differences in approaching personal freedoms due to a different belief system. "One of the mistakes that we make often is that we take our value system that we have and expect that other people have those values in other places," said Suozzi. "We're very influenced in the United States of America and throughout the West by Judeo-Christian values." A fundamental difference in mindset also extends to Christianity and Catholicism. In contrast to the U.S., where the vocation to priesthood is viewed as a spiritual calling, the Chinese state views priesthood as a licensed profession. According to documents provided at the hearing, China's law regarding the appointment of clergy states in Chapter 5, Article 36 of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs: "Upon affirmation by a religious group and reporting to the religious affairs department of a people's government at the county level or above to be filed for the record, religious professionals may engage in professional religious activities. … Those who have not obtained or have lost religious professional credentials must not engage in activity as religious professionals." As a result, many leaders of underground "house" churches within Chinese jurisdiction have been prosecuted for not being qualified by the Chinese government to lead churches. In the past, diplomatic snarls have occurred when those church leaders sought legitimization from the Vatican -- viewed as a foreign power by the Chinese -- without legal Chinese approval. Pope Francis said he hopes his agreement will refocus the faith of Chinese Catholics on common values, not on issues of church and state. "The church exists for the sake of bearing witness to Jesus Christ and to the forgiving and saving love of the Father," not for political or personal aims, wrote Pope Francis in a statement. Had Abraham "demanded ideal social and political conditions before leaving his land, perhaps he would never have set out," the pope said. "It was not historical changes that made him put his trust in God; rather, it was his pure faith that brought about a change in history." In another development at the hearing, Chinese dissident Bob Fu, a former house church leader exiled to the U.S. in 1997, praised President Donald Trump for his humanitarian efforts to release incarcerated Chinese house church leaders from captivity. "I have seen more proactive moments, measures and even some unprecedented actions taken by the Trump administration than the previous administrations," said Fu. "In terms of aiding those victims of religious persecution and rescuing them, this year alone, with the active support and help of this administration, we rescued five families who were in danger," said Fu. ...
Mon, 01 Oct 2018 15:30:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To strengthen and support young people in the faith, members of the Synod of Bishops will need to listen to their real-life stories, interpret what they hear in the light of the Gospel and make decisions that will lead to an authentic renewal of the Catholic Church, said Brazilian Cardinal Sergio da Rocha. "Often we hear voices that blame young people for moving away from the church. But many of them have lived in situations that lead them to affirm that it was the church that moved away from them," said Cardinal da Rocha, archbishop of Brasilia and relator general of the Synod of Bishops 2018. The Brazilian cardinal will introduce the work of the synod Oct. 3 and, midway through the gathering, will summarize the speeches individual bishops have made in the synod hall. The synod will meet Oct. 3-28 to discuss "young people, the faith and vocational discernment." Introducing the synod at a news conference Oct. 1, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, synod general secretary, said it will have 267 voting members, including two bishops from mainland China. While Chinese bishops always have been invited to the synod, he said, the agreement signed by the Vatican and the Chinese government Sept. 22 made it possible for bishops to attend. The synod's members include 15 heads of Eastern Catholic churches, 16 heads of Vatican offices, 15 members of the synod's permanent council, 181 members elected by national bishops' conferences and the men's Union of Superiors General and 40 members named by Pope Francis. Eighteen of the voting members are priests; two are religious brothers. The synod released Oct. 1 a new "Instruction of the Celebration of Synodal Assemblies and on the Activity of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops." The document specifies that religious brothers may be voting members of a synod, but women may not. Cardinal Baldisseri said, however, that the synod observers, which include women and 34 young people between the ages of 18 and 29, can participate in the synod's working groups and are encouraged to help formulate the synod's final resolutions. The instruction and Pope Francis' new constitution on the synods, which was published Sept. 18, looks to the future, but "first of all looks to the past, to the deposit of faith and the tradition of the church," the cardinal said. "It is the structure of the church for a synod of bishops. Obviously, there is an increasing effort to involve the entire people of God." He also was asked about an article Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia had printed in the magazine First Things presenting an anonymous theologian's critique of the synod's working document. In a later exchange in the magazine, the archbishop wrote that he agreed with the critique, which claimed the document had a "pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements" rather than religious and moral issues, that it emphasizes the church's obligation to listen over its obligation to teach and that its understanding of vocation is heavily focused on "private meaning and truth," rather than service. Cardinal Baldisseri, who did not refer to Archbishop Chaput by name, noted that the bishop who complained is a member of the synod's permanent committee and was present when a draft of the document was presented before publication. "If he had any objection, he could have said so; we would have included that, calmly. But I don't understand why, later, he made a declaration. It's a matter of loyalty and honesty." Asked whether the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis should or will dominate the synod discussion, the cardinal said the synod is an opportunity to explain to young people and everyone that "this is not the church." "Certainly, the scandals in the church that have come to light recently strike the mind and the heart," the cardinal said, but he is certain young people are "able to understand human fragility." "I honestly do not think it (the scandal) is an impediment" to the synod's task, he ...
Mon, 01 Oct 2018 08:18:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Signaling his belief that the Catholic Church is facing a serious crisis, Pope Francis asked every Catholic in the world to pray for the protection of the church from attacks by the devil, but also that the church would be more aware of its sins and stronger in its efforts to combat abuse. Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray the rosary each day in October, seeking Mary's intercession in protecting the church, and "at the same time making her (the church) more aware of her sins, errors and the abuses committed in the present and the past, and committed to fighting without hesitation so that evil would not prevail," the Vatican said in a statement released Sept. 29, the feast of the Archangels. United "in communion and penitence as the people of God," the statement said, Catholics should plead for protection against "the devil, who always seeks to divide us from God and from one another." Pope Francis met earlier in September with Jesuit Father Federic Fornos, international director of the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, to ask that the recitation of the rosary in October conclude with "the ancient invocation 'Sub Tuum Praesidium' ('Under your protection') and with the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, who protects us in the battle against evil." The first prayer, to Mary, has a variety of translations. One reads: "We turn to you for protection, Holy Mother of God. Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs. Save us from every danger, glorious and blessed Virgin." The prayer to St. Michael reads: "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls." The Vatican, announcing Pope Francis' prayer request, cited his homily Sept. 11 at morning Mass where he spoke about the devil as the "Great Accuser" who "roams the world looking how to blame" and spread scandal. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio of the United States, who has called on Pope Francis to resign, claiming the pope knew about and ignored the sexual misconduct of former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, issued another statement Sept. 27 accusing the pope of "subtle slander" with that homily. As of Sept. 29, neither Pope Francis nor the Vatican had responded to Archbishop Vigano's original allegations. In addition to the case of Archbishop McCarrick, the Catholic Church in the United States is still coming to grips with the mid-August release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report covering decades of alleged abuse by more than 300 priests; the report identified more than 1,000 victims. A widespread abuse scandal and broad police investigation is ongoing in Chile; Cardinal George Pell, Vatican secretary for the economy, is on trial for abuse in Australia; and the bishops of German in late September released a report on thousands of cases of abuse in their country, some going back to 1946, but some as recent as 2000.
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