Fri, 23 Jun 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Days after rebels in Colombia announced turning in the last of their cache of weapons over to international observers, the Vatican announced June 23 details of Pope Francis' September trip to the war-torn South American country. The pope is scheduled to visit four cities, starting his trip in the Colombian capital of Bogota Sept. 6, followed by day trips to Villavicencio and Medellin Sept. 8 and 9, respectively, and heading back to Rome from Cartagena after Mass Sept. 10. Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos had said the pontiff had promised him he would visit Colombia if the government and the rebel group known as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) signed a peace agreement. Though Colombian voters last year rejected a referendum on the peace agreement between the government and FARC, Santos later negotiated a modified deal with Colombian opposition leader and former President Alvaro Uribe. The process came with help from the Vatican, including the pope, who met with the two men in late 2016. The rebels began turning in their weapons to United Nations observers in early June and all were expected to be turned in by June 20, bringing 52 years of war to an end. The pope is expected to take part Sept. 8 in several acts of reconciliation, including a Mass and prayer, in Villavicencio, according to a schedule released by the Vatican. Colombian Vice President Oscar Naranjo said in an interview published June 23 in El Tiempo newspaper that that pope's trip comes at a time in the country "when the discussion stops being about how to win the war, but how to achieve peace." The pope's trip cannot be "just another episode" in the national discourse about peace, said Naranjo. According to some estimates, more than 220,000 have died in the decades-long conflict, tens of thousands have been injured, and more than 7 million were displaced. Concerns about the end of the conflict were reawakened when a bomb exploded inside a mall bathroom in Bogota June 17, killing three and injuring nine people. Some blamed another rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional). The group, however, denied involvement and said it doesn't target civilians. While in Colombia, the pope also is set to meet in Bogota Sept. 7 with the directive committee of the Latin American bishops' council, known as CELAM for its Spanish acronym.
Wed, 21 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being a saint doesn't require spending long hours in prayer, but rather living life open to God in good times and in bad, Pope Francis said. Christians should live with the "hope of becoming saints" and with the desire that "work, even in sickness and suffering, even in difficulties, is open to God," the pope said June 21 during his weekly general audience. "We think that it is something difficult, that it is easier to be delinquents than saints. No! We can become saints because the Lord helps us. It is he who helps us," he told the estimated 12,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis rode around in his popemobile, stopping along the way to greet pilgrims and kiss babies. One child casually waved goodbye to the pope as he was handed back to his parents. In his talk, the pope reflected on the intercession of the saints, who are "older brothers and sisters who have gone along our same path, (gone through) our same struggles and live forever in God's embrace." "Their existence tells us above all that Christian life isn't an unattainable ideal. And together, they comfort us: We are not alone, the church is made up of innumerable brothers and sisters, often anonymous, who have preceded us and who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those who still live here," he said. Just as their intercession is invoked in Baptism, the pope continued, the church asks for their help in the sacrament of marriage so couples "can have the courage to say 'forever.'" "To live married life forever; not like some who say, 'as long as love lasts.' No, it is forever. On the contrary, it is better you don't get married. It's either forever or nothing. That is why their presence is invoked in the nuptial liturgy," he said. The lives of the saints, he continued, served as a reminder that "God never abandons us" and in times of trial and suffering, he "sends one of his angels to comfort us and fill us with consolation." There are "angels, sometimes with a face and a human heart because God's saints are always here, hidden among us," the pope said. Another sacrament in which the saints are invoked is Holy Orders, in which candidates for the priesthood lay prostrate on the ground while the bishop and the entire assembly pray the litany of the saints, he said. "A man would be crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him but, in feeling that all of paradise is behind him, that the grace of God will not fail because Jesus is always faithful, he can go forward serenely and refreshed. We are not alone," the pope said. Pope Francis told the pilgrims that Christians need saints who lived their lives "aspiring to charity and brotherhood" because without them, the world would not have hope." "May the Lord give us the grace to believe so profoundly in him that we become images of Christ for this world," he said. Before the general audience, Pope Francis met with members of the U.S. Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who will be inducted into the prestigious association Aug. 5. "As many of you know, I am an avid follower of 'football,' but where I come from, the game is played very differently!" the pope said, referring to the fact that "football" refers to the game of soccer in most parts of the world. The pope said the values of "teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence" aren't just important on the field, but are "urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community." "Our world, and especially our young people, need models, people who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents and, in doing so, to point the way to a better future for our communities," he said.
Tue, 20 Jun 2017
ROME (CNS) -- Instead of "pretending to be adolescents," parents must help young people see the blessing of growing into adulthood, Pope Francis told priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome. The belief that youthfulness is a model of success "is one of the most dangerous 'unwitting' menaces in the education of our adolescents" that hinders their personal growth because "adults have taken their place," the pope said June 19, opening the Rome Diocese's annual convention. This "can increase a natural tendency young people have to isolate themselves or to curb their process of growth" because they have no role models, the pope said. In his nearly 45-minute talk, Pope Francis reflected on the convention's theme, "Do not leave them alone! Accompanying parents in educating adolescent children." The pope said the first step in reaching out to young people in Rome is to "speak in the Roman dialect, that is, concretely" rather than in general or abstract terms that do not speak to teens' problems. Families in big cities such as Rome face different problems than those in rural areas. For this reason, the pope said, parents must educate their adolescent children "within the context of a big city" and speak to them concretely with "healthy and stimulating realism." Families, the pope continued, also must confront the challenge of educating their children in an "uprooted society" where people are disconnecting from their roots and feel no sense of belonging. "An uprooted culture, an uprooted family is a family without a history and without memory," he said. Although social networking has allowed more people to connect and feel part of a group, its virtual nature can also create a certain alienation where people "feel that they do not have roots, that they belong to no one," the pope said. "If we want our children to be formed and prepared for tomorrow, it is not just by learning languages, for example, that they will succeed in doing so. They need to connect, to know their roots. Only then can they fly high," he said. Departing from his prepared speech, Pope Francis said parents "should make room for their children to speak with their grandparents," who have the gift of passing on "faith, history and belonging with wisdom." Often disregarded and cast aside, grandparents must be given the opportunity to "give young people the sense of belonging that they need." Pope Francis said parents, catechists and pastors must understand that adolescence is a challenging time in young people's lives where "they are neither children (and do not want to be treated as such) and are not adults (but want to be treated as such, especially on the level of privileges.)" He also said he was worried about the current trend in society to view adolescence as a "pathology that must be fought" and that leads some parents to "prematurely medicate our youths." "It seems that everything is solved by medicating or controlling everything with the slogan 'making the most of time' and in the end, the young people's schedules are worse than that of a high-level executive," he said. Instead, schools, parishes and youth movements can take a pivotal role in helping young men and women want to feel challenged so they can achieve their goals. In this way, "they can discover that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage toward a vocation (in the broadest and most beautiful sense of the word)," he said. Young people, Pope Francis added, need educators that help grow within them "the life of the spirit of Jesus" and help them see that "to become Christians requires courage and it is a beautiful thing." "I think it is important to live the education of children starting from the perspective as a calling that the Lord has made to us as a family, to make this step a step of growth, to learn to enjoy the life that he has given us," Pope Francis said.
Mon, 19 Jun 2017
ROME (CNS) -- The Eucharist is a tangible reminder of God's love, and receiving Communion is a call to work to build the body of Christ by loving others and shunning all that sows division within a community, Pope Francis said. The Eucharist should "heal our ambition to lord it over others, to greedily hoard things for ourselves, to foment discord and criticism," he said June 18, celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. "May it awaken in us the joy of living in love, without rivalry, jealousy or mean-spirited gossip." Pope Francis celebrated the Mass outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. With an almost constant breeze cooling the warm Rome day, thousands of people -- including children who made their first Communion this spring -- gathered outside the basilica for the evening Mass and for the Corpus Christi procession later from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, about a mile away. The 2017 feast day included two major changes from past practices. First, although Italian dioceses, like many around the world, moved the feast from a Thursday to a Sunday in the late 1970s, the Mass and procession with the pope at St. John Lateran remained on the Thursday until this year. Second, instead of transporting the Blessed Sacrament on a truck in the Corpus Christi procession this year, it was carried on a platform held aloft on the shoulders of four men. Eight other men carried tall poles holding a canopy over the platform, a task made more difficult by the breeze. The truck had made its first appearance in 1994 when St. John Paul II began having difficulty walking. He and now-retired Pope Benedict XVI would ride on the truck, kneeling or sitting before the monstrance. Elected at the age of 76, Pope Francis walked behind the truck for the 1-mile procession in 2013. But beginning in 2014, because of his difficulty walking long distances and in order to avoid drawing attention away from the Eucharist, he met the procession at St. Mary Major instead of participating in it. In his homily at the Mass, the pope said the Eucharist "is the sacrament of memory, reminding us, in a real and tangible way, of the story of God's love for us." Just as the Israelites were called to remember how God led them safely through the desert, he said, "remembering all that the Lord has done for us is the foundation of our own personal history of salvation." "Remembrance is essential for faith, as water is for a plant," Pope Francis said. Remembering, he said, keeps people "mindful, never forgetting who it is who loves us and whom we are called to love in return." Pope Francis said it seems that today people's ability to remember and be mindful is weakening. "Amid so much frantic activity, many people and events seem to pass in a whirl," he said. "We quickly turn the page, looking for novelty while unable to retain memories." But the focus on living for the moment, he said, often means living superficially and without a focus on "who we are and where we are going." The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the pope said, reaches people even in their "fragmented lives," reminding them how Christ was broken for their salvation and continues to offer himself in the "loving fragility" of the Eucharist. "In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life's frantic pace of life," he said. "The Eucharist is flavored with Jesus' words and deeds, the taste of his passion, the fragrance of his Spirit," he said. "When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus' love." At the same time, the pope said, the Eucharist is a reminder that Christians are not isolated individuals but are called to receive Christ's body together and to build up the body of the church. "In experiencing this Eucharist," he told those at the Mass, "let us adore and thank the Lord for this greatest of gifts: the living memorial of his ...
Wed, 14 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world. The questionnaire -- available in English, Spanish, French and Italian -- can be found on the synod's official site: and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief. The general secretariat of the synod launched the website June 14 to share information about the October 2018 synod on "Young people, faith and vocational discernment" and to link to an online, anonymous survey asking young people about their lives and expectations. The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops' conferences and other church bodies, "will provide the basis for the drafting of the 'instrumentum laboris,'" or working document for the assembly, synod officials said in January. Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take part in the questionnaire because every young person has "the right to be accompanied without exclusion," synod officials had said. The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions. The write-in questions are an invitation to describe a positive example of how the Catholic Church can "accompany young people in their choices, which give value and fulfillment in life" and to say something about oneself that hasn't been asked in the questionnaire. Other questions ask about living arrangements; self-image; best age to leave home and have a family; opinions about education and work; measures of success; sources of positive influence; level of confidence in public and private institutions; and political or social activism. The section on faith looks at the importance of religion in one's life and asks, "Who Jesus is for you?" That question provides 16 choices to choose from, including "the savior," "an adversary to be fought," "an invention" and "someone who loves me." It also asks which topics -- promoting peace, defending human life, evangelization, defending truth, the environment -- are the most urgent for the church to address. The Vatican's preparation for a synod generally includes developing a questionnaire and soliciting input from bishops' conferences, dioceses and religious orders. This is the first time the Vatican's synod organizing body put a questionnaire online and sought direct input from the public. A synod's preparatory phase seeks to consult of "the entire people of God" to better understand young people's different situations as synod officials draft the working document. The synod on youth will be looking for ways the church can best and most effectively evangelize young people and help them make life choices corresponding to God's plan and the good of the person.
Wed, 14 Jun 2017
For the fourth time in as many years since his election, Pope Francis announced the creation of new members to the College of Cardinals on May 21. The five newest cardinals will receive their distinctive red hat at a June 28 consistory and the cardinal’s ring the following day in a Mass concelebrated with the pope. Two of the new cardinals come from Europe while one apiece hail from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Of the five new cardinals, four are from countries that previously never have had a cardinal. A smaller group This consistory is the smallest group of new cardinals to be named by Pope Francis. In fact, it is one of the smallest in modern history. It bears noting that the two most recent consistories of similar size over the last 50 years were called by Blessed Pope Paul VI (four new cardinals in 1977) and Pope Benedict XVI (six new cardinals in 2012) within the year before their respective death and resignation. The Office of Cardinal Cardinals serve the vital role of serving as the closest collaborators of the pope. As members of one of the most select groups in the world, the two primary roles of a cardinal are to assist the pope in governing the universal Church and, for those under 80 years of age, to vote for the election of a new pope. Appointed only by the pope, cardinals are inducted into the college in a centuries-old ritual called a consistory. Cardinals have worn scarlet since the 13th century, when they were first given the famous red hat. The color symbolizes their willingness to give their all to defend the Church, even to the point of spilling their blood. Popes still confer on newly created cardinals the red ecclesiastical hat, called a biretta. At that time, the new cardinals take an oath of fidelity and obedience to the pope and his successors. As has become custom in recent decades, the new cardinals concelebrate a Mass with the pope the day following their formal creation as cardinals. At that time, they receive a unique ring from the pope, symbolizing their distinct relationship to the pope and their new, special ministry in the Church. With the five new cardinals, membership of the College of Cardinals now is made up of 121 cardinal-electors eligible to vote for the next pope, 49 of whom (or 40 percent) have been named by Pope Francis, 53 (or 44 percent) by Pope Benedict XVI and 19 (16 percent) by Pope St. John Paul II. These will remain the eligible electors until next February, when the next cardinal to turn 80 will lose his voting ability. Four of the new cardinals are in their 70s. Last fall, Pope Francis named three cardinals from the United States — the only three Americans thus far designated in this pontificate — among a group of 17 new cardinals (13 electors and four over the age of 80). Currently there are 18 U.S. cardinals, 10 of whom are currently eligible to vote in a future conclave. With these new cardinals, the global composition of the 121 electors will be 53 from Europe (including 24 from Italy), 15 from Africa, 19 from Asia and Oceania, 21 from Latin America and 13 from the United States and Canada. To the peripheries The cardinals who have been named by Pope Francis, for the most part, widely have been considered unconventional candidates. Pope Francis has raised the global profile of the body that will one day elect his successor, often turning to what he calls “the peripheries” to find cardinals who will represent Catholicism’s universal character. Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital . Pope Francis often has eschewed choosing as new cardinals those bishops who serve in urban population centers throughout Europe or America that have traditionally been headed by a cardinal. Instead, many of the cardinals this pope has named generally have come from poor, forgotten or emerging locales. The latest group offers no deviation from the pope’s programmatic approach to redefining the Church’s seats of power; in a first-of-its-kind move, an auxiliary bishop ...
Tue, 13 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People cannot sit back and be indifferent or unresponsive to growing poverty in the world as a privileged minority accumulates "ostentatious wealth," Pope Francis said. "God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded," the pope said in a message for the first World Day of the Poor. The newly established commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to help Christians develop and maintain a more consistent and sincere lifestyle built on sharing, simplicity and the essential truths of the Gospel, the pope said in the message released June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua. CNS The World Day of the Poor -- to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time -- will be celebrated Nov. 19 this year and will focus on the Apostle John's call to love "not with words, but with deeds." There are so many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people's hearts and harm their dignity, the pope said in his message, and "we must respond with a new vision of life and society." Too often Christians have taken on "a worldly way of thinking" and forgotten to keep their gaze and goals focused on Christ, who is present in those who are broken and vulnerable. An admonition by St. John Chrysostom "remains ever timely," the pope said, quoting: "If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the eucharistic Christ with silk vestments and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness." "Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money," he said. "What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few and generalized indifference." "Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world," Pope Francis wrote. "Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned." Christians must reach out to the poor as Christ did and commanded, the pope said. The poor, in fact, "are not a problem, they are a resource" rich in dignity and God-given gifts that can help Christians better understand the essential truth of the Gospel. "Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: They are hands that bring hope," he said. "Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity. Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no 'ifs' or 'buts' or 'maybes': They are hands that call down God's blessing upon their brothers and sisters." Pope Francis said a good role model was his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who kept his gaze fixed on Christ so as to be "able to see and serve him in the poor." The pope took the name of this saint during the conclave that elected him in 2013 after another cardinal told him, "Don't forget the poor." "If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization," the pope wrote in his message. Just a few days before the end of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis spoke of his desire to have a special day dedicated to the poor. As the doors of mercy were set to be closed around the world, "let us ask for the grace not to close our eyes to God, who sees us and to our neighbor who asks something of us," the pope said in that homily in November 2016. However, straying from his prepared text that day, the ...
Mon, 12 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Generosity, hard work, solidarity and a recognition of the dignity of the human person are essential for facing the major challenges posed by natural disasters, a large influx of migrants and a crisis in creating jobs, especially for young people, Pope Francis told Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Making a formal visit June 10 to the Quirinal Palace, Italy's presidential residence, Pope Francis said he looks at Italy with hope because "the dignity of the person, family and work" are values that inspired generations of Italians -- including his forebears -- and continue to inspire people today. Using those values to "transform challenges into occasions for growth," he said, is seen particularly in "the welcoming of the numerous refugees who have landed on your shores," the rescue work in the Mediterranean carried out by Italian ships and the vast network of volunteers who assist the newly arrived migrants. Still, Pope Francis said, it is not right that Italy and a handful of other countries have been left taking care of so many migrants and refugees. "It is indispensable and urgent to develop broad and incisive international cooperation" to assist, resettle and help integrate the new arrivals. "Sentiments and attitudes that find their most genuine source in the Christian faith" also are seen in how Italians responded when central Italy was struck by strong earthquakes in August and October 2016, the pope said. Joining him for the visit by Pope Francis, President Mattarella invited 200 young people from the regions struck by the earthquakes. The pope and president mingled with them at the end of the visit, shaking hands and posing for photographs. In his formal speech, the pope also urged the Italian government to do more to favor "an alliance of synergies and initiatives so that financial resources" are devoted to job creation, particularly for young adults. Mattarella told Pope Francis safeguarding the environment is another area where he sees a convergence of Christian values and the democratic ideal of seeking the common good. Thanking Pope Francis for his encyclical, "Laudato Si'," the president affirmed Italy's ongoing commitment to the Paris climate agreement. "Justice passes through the safeguarding of available resources and their equitable distribution," he told the pope.
Mon, 12 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The more women are involved in and contribute to communities, politics, economics and the church, the more positive changes will come about, Pope Francis said. "Women are fully entitled to actively take part in all settings, and their rights must be affirmed and protected, including through legal instruments wherever it may prove necessary," he said June 9. The pope was speaking to members, consultors and guests of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which was holding its plenary assembly in Rome June 7-9. Participants had discussed the role of women in teaching universal fraternity. "We cannot truly call on God, the father of all, if we refuse to treat (others) in a brotherly way," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran told the pope, quoting from "Nostra Aetate," the Vatican II declaration that addressed the Catholic Church's relations with other religions. Pope Francis told the assembly that unfortunately the important ability of women to teach these values is "obscured and often unrecognized because of the many evils that afflict this world and that, in particular, damage women's dignity and their role." Women and children are frequently the victims of "blind violence," he said. Whenever "hatred and violence have the upper hand, they tear apart families and society, preventing women from easily and effectively carrying out their mission as educators," joining with men to promote common aims and efforts. More must be done to recognize women's gifts and their ability to find new ways to welcome and respect others in a multicultural, globalized world, he said. It is also important to take advantage of "their conviction that love is the only power that can make the world habitable for everyone." When women have the opportunity to fully share their gifts with the whole community, the community ends up "transformed" in a positive way, the pope said. "Therefore, it is a beneficial process -- that of having the growing presence of women in social, economic and political life on the local, national and international levels, as well as in ecclesial life," he said. He also urged all groups involved in interreligious dialogue to invite women to participate in all aspects of their discussions, not just when a topic or a gathering is about women. "Many women are well prepared to address very high-level meetings on interreligious dialogue," he said.
Fri, 09 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In good times and in bad, prayer and patience can keep hope alive, Pope Francis said. God is close to those who suffer with patient hope and helps Christians see truly "beautiful moments" in times of darkness, the pope said June 9 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Pope Francis said he was speaking about "authentically beautiful moments, not those moments with cosmetic beauty, which is all artificial; it is like fireworks, but it is not the beauty of the soul." In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the Book of Tobit, comparing the struggles faced by Tobit, who suffered due to blindness, and Sarah, Tobit's future daughter-in-law who lost seven husbands. Even though they were known for their piety, both passed through "dark moments" that tested their patience and their faith in God, he said. Both reached the point where they actually thought it might be better to be dead, the pope said. But "Sarah thought, 'If I hang myself, will I make my parents suffer?' and she stops and prays," the pope said. "Tobit said, 'This is my life, let's keep going,' and he prays and prays. This is the behavior that saves us from bad moments: prayer." Tobit and Sarah, he continued, were "patient with their pain" and kept alive the hope that God was present in the midst of their sufferings. They held fast to "the hope that God hears us and ensures we pass through these bad moments. In moments of sadness whether great or small, in dark moments: prayer, patience and hope. Do not forget this," the pope said. Pope Francis called on Christians to reflect on what happens in their souls during dark times and whether they can accept trials as a "necessary" cross to bear rather than fall prey to the "vanity" of artificially beautiful moments in life.
Wed, 07 Jun 2017
The Braccio di Carlo Magno museum, next to the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, is a rather unusual place for an exhibit on the Jewish menorah. “La Menorà: culto, storia e mito” (“The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth”) marks the first major collaboration between the Vatican Museums and the Jewish Museum of Rome on an exhibit and runs from May 16 to July 23. The collection The collection contains a vast array of pieces, all connected by their use of the menorah as a symbol. According to Alessandra Di Castro, director of the Jewish Museum of Rome, “Menorah is the most ancient identity-symbol of the Jewish people, and as such has been recognized by the Christian world since about the fourth century A.D.” In fact, the menorah has been depicted in myriad places and for every occasion, from the East to the West: Jewish catacombs in Rome, sarcophagi, tomb inscriptions, graffiti, coins, glass decorated with gold, necklaces, pendants and other jewelry. And the story of this symbol only grew richer and more fascinating beginning in the Carolingian period, when Christian art began to appropriate the menorah as a religious symbol. The Ancient and the Contemporary The precious rarity of “ La Menorà: culto, storia e mito ” is a first-century stone engraved with a menorah carved in bas-relief from the ancient synagogue of Magdala. Discovered in 2009 during excavations to build a hotel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, it is the oldest representation of the menorah known so far. At the other chronological end, there is a menorah among the 80 symbols chosen by William Kentridge to tell the story of Rome, depicted along the Tiber embankment wall, in “Triumphs and Laments” (2016). His sketch is in the Jewish Museum of Rome. All these facts are illustrated through 130 works displayed in chronological sequence: sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and liturgical furnishings provided by many prestigious Italian and foreign museums. These include the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Israel Museum, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Sephardic Museum of Toledo, the Jewish Museums of Padua, Florence, Naples and others. There are extremely rare Roman glass artifacts decorated in gold, the Carolingian Bible of St. Paul, the magnificent Christian seven-branch candelabra from the Sanctuary of the Mentorella and Roman Baroque silverware and paintings by such masters as Giulio Romano, Andrea Sacchi, Nicolas Poussin and Marc Chagall. In short, the only menorah missing is the original one, but its recovery is unlikely. From the barbarian invasions forward, no reliable accounts of the Temple Menorah exist, only legends, which are more or less fanciful. The Temple Menorah The Book of Exodus claims the design for the original seven-branched candelabrum was given to Moses by God. Moses was said to have forged the Temple Menorah that was held in the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70. The future emperor Titus brought the Temple Menorah to Rome in A.D. 71 after the destruction of Jerusalem in the Jewish War, the last confirmed movement of the Temple Menorah. “Where is the Menorah? We do not know!” Francesco Leone, the art historian who prepared the exhibit catalog, admitted. “We know it was in Rome at least until the second century after Christ, then there the story melts away. Was it raided by Alaric’s Visigoths, during the Sack of Rome of 410? Or perhaps by the Genserico’s Vandals in 455? And every legend generated other chains of legends.” For example, one legend maintains that Alaric left Rome heading south, but suddenly died near Cosenza, Calabria, and was buried in the Busento River valley with all the treasures raided in Rome, including the Temple Menorah. According to a second legend, Gaiseric brought the Menorah to Carthage, capital of the Vandals’ kingdom. When Byzantine Belisario in 533 conquered Carthage, the Menorah was taken to Constantinople. “But a Jew of the ...
Fri, 02 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Life is a long series of hellos and goodbyes, so don't be afraid to let go of the past; remember old friends, but keep moving and be open to the new, Pope Francis told students as the school year was coming to an end. "We have to learn to see life by seeing the horizons," not the walls that can make people afraid because they don't know what is on the other side, he told thousands of adolescents during a 45-minute encounter at the Vatican June 2. The middle-schoolers were part of Communion and Liberation's "The Knights of the Grail" educational initiative. In the informal Q-and-A, a teen named Marta told the pope how scared she was to be leaving middle school and most of her best friends as they head on to high school next year. "Why do I have to change everything? Why does growing up make me so afraid?" she asked him. "Life is a constant 'Good morning' and 'Farewell,'" he said, with the goodbyes sometimes being for forever. "You grow by encountering and by taking your leave," he said. "If you don't learn to say goodbye well, you will never learn how to encounter new people." This moment of change in life is "a challenge," he said, but "in life we have to get used to this journey of leaving something behind and encountering something new." Noting that Marta had used the word "afraid" a number of times in her question, the pope said the risk that comes with the challenge is that fear will render a person immobile, "too serene" and unable to grow. Those who give up, settle down and say, "Enough," close off the horizons that are out there waiting for them and do not grow. "Look at that wall? What's behind it?" he asked the girl. "I don't know," she said. "But if you go outside, to the countryside, what do you see?" he asked. "I see everything," she replied. "Everything! You see the horizon," the pope said. "We have to learn to see life by looking at the horizons" that are always open, always lying ahead, by meeting new people and having new experiences. Instead of framing the future with terms like "fear" or "afraid," he added, try "using the word 'a challenge' more" and remembering, "I will win this challenge or I will let this challenge defeat me." "Look at the wall and think about the horizon that lies in the countryside," he said. The more a person journeys toward the horizon, the farther, longer and wider that horizon becomes. Remember to call and visit old friends, he said, "but live and journey with the new ones." When asked how kids their age could change the world when it has so many problems, the pope told them they have to begin with the people and situations in their daily lives. Think of what happens to a person's hand when sharing a piece of candy, for example: It's open and moves toward the other person, the pope said. Now think of what happens when a person wants to keep that candy for himself or herself: The hand closes up tight and moves away from the other. One's heart has to be like the hand that is responding in a positive, generous way, not the negative, self-centered approach, he said. "You can begin to change the world with an open heart," the pope said, and by listening to others, welcoming others and sharing things. Pray for everyone, including one's enemies and "those who make you suffer," he said, "Never return evil with evil." Don't bad-mouth, insult or wish bad things would happen to others, he said. "That's how you can change the world. There is no magic wand, but there are little things we can learn to do every day." Pope Francis suggested that the kids meet up to openly discuss the right and the wrong ways to respond to the many difficulties or choices that have to make each day.
Thu, 01 Jun 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Upholding the sacredness of human life becomes concrete when generations work together to serve everyone: the poor, disabled, orphans, migrants, the unborn and the elderly, Pope Francis said. Such work is demanding and complicated, but "only by strengthening your association and inviting other families to join with you, will the task become less arduous, since union makes for strength," he told members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe June 1. The group was holding a meeting in Rome to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The various crises facing Europe -- in demographics, immigration, employment, education -- "might find positive outcomes precisely in the culture of encounter, if different social, economic and political actors were to join in shaping policies supportive of families," he said. Pope Francis encouraged the Catholic family groups to stimulate constructive dialogue with these various leaders "without hiding" their Catholic identity. "In this sense, the culture of encounter always includes an attitude of dialogue in which listening is always necessary," he said. "May your dialogue be always based on action, testimony, experiences and lifestyles that speak more loudly than your speeches and programs." If families are to be the "protagonists" St. John Paul II called for, he said, they must show concern and respect for the dignity of everyone, and they "cannot remain isolated" from others. "Families need to go out from themselves; they need to dialogue and to encounter others" from all generations, he said. "Your service to the sacredness of life takes concrete form in the covenant between generations and in service to all, especially those most in need, the disabled and orphans," the pope said. "It takes concrete form in solidarity with migrants, in the patient art of education that views each young person as a subject worthy of all the family's love, in defending the right to life of the unborn who have no voice and in ensuring dignified living conditions for the elderly." He encouraged the group to "develop with creativity new methods and resources" so families could better support the younger generations, accompany others through their difficulties and uphold important values and life's true meaning.
Thu, 25 May 2017
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- Migration should be "a choice rather than something forced or involuntary," said Philippine Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations. For that to happen, he cautioned, the "right to remain" must be respected. Archbishop Auza said a proposed U.N. global compact on migration must give the right to remain a higher priority than the right to emigrate. The archbishop made his remarks May 22 as part of a panel on human-made crises as drivers of migration. The panel was a side event taking place during U.N. preparations for the compact he was addressing. "There is no worse human-made crisis that drives people forcibly to migrate or internally displaces populations than wars and violent conflicts. More than half of the world's refugees, forced migrants and internally displaced persons have been forced to abandon their homes and properties and, indeed, to flee their countries, because of conflicts and violence, the tremendous negative impact of which continues in the odyssey of the victims," Archbishop Auza said. "They face the dangers of trafficking in persons, starvation and many forms of abuse. Upon arriving at their destination, rather than finding a safe haven, in many places they find mistrust, suspicion, discrimination, extreme nationalism, racism and a lack of clear policies regulating their acceptance. Clearly, the most effective way to stop massive movements of forced migrants and refugees is to stop the wars and violent conflicts that cause them." Archbishop Auza also outlined other factors he said are "major drivers of migration," such as "extreme poverty, the lack of basic goods and services, and severe environmental degradation and disasters." "Helping distressed populations where they are, rather than procrastinating and hoping for the best," he said, "is the most effective way to prevent their becoming involuntary migrants. It could also be the most cost effective way to help them and to spare them from all forms of exploitation." He added, " When vulnerable individuals and populations are forced to move, human rights abuses and sexual-related violence against women and children become all too common; families are separated; many are forcefully detained upon arrival or fall victim to human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. While they are in transit and especially when they arrive in their countries of destination, "forced migrants are often perceived as taking advantage of host communities, rather than hapless peoples who deserve assistance and human sympathy," the archbishop said. The Vatican "continues to insist on the right of all to remain in their countries in peace and economic security," Archbishop Auza said. "If conditions for a decent life are met and the drivers of migration are adequately addressed, people would not feel forced to leave their homes." He added, "The migrants who are massively crossing international borders, the forced migrants in search of safety and protection, and the many millions more internally displaced persons look to us for hope and action." The side conference hosted by the Vatican's U.N. observer mission had as its theme "Ensuring the Right of All to Remain in Dignity, Peace and Security in Their Countries of Origin." It was co-sponsored by the International Catholic Migration Commission, Caritas Internationalis and the Center for Migration Studies. Among the speakers were Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary-general of the International Catholic Migration Commission and former executive director of the U.S. bishops' Catholic Campaign for Human Development; Sister Norma Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, who is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas; Canadian Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary for migrants and refugees at the Vatican's new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; and a Syrian refugee recently ...
Wed, 24 May 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace May 24, and as the president left, he told the pope, "I won't forget what you said." The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady, Melania Trump, and asked if she fed her husband "potica," a traditional cake in Slovenia, her homeland. There were smiles all around. Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is "a symbol of peace." Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, "I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace." The president responded, "We can use peace." Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, "I signed it personally for you." In addition, he gave Trump copies of three of his documents: "The Joy of the Gospel"; "Amoris Laetitia," on the family; and "Laudato Si,'" on the environment. Knowing that Pope Francis frequently has quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Trump presented Pope Francis with a large gift box containing five of the slain civil rights leader's books, including a signed copy of "The Strength to Love." "I think you will enjoy them," Trump told the pope. "I hope you do." After meeting the pope, Trump went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. He was accompanied by Rex Tillerson, U.S. secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser. The meeting lasted 50 minutes. Tillerson later told reporters that climate change did not come up in the meeting with the pope, but that U.S. officials had "a good exchange on the climate change issue" with Cardinal Parolin. "The cardinal was expressing their view that they think it's an important issue," Tillerson said. "I think they were encouraging continued participation in the Paris accord. But we had a good exchange (on) the difficulty of balancing addressing climate change, responses to climate change, and ensuring that you still have a thriving economy and you can still offer people jobs so they can feed their families and have a prosperous economy." Asked how Trump responded to Cardinal Parolin's encouragement to stick with the Paris climate agreement, Tillerson said: "The president indicated we're still thinking about that, that he hasn't made a final decision. He, I think, told both Cardinal Parolin and also told Prime Minister (Paolo) Gentiloni that this is something that he would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip. It's an opportunity to hear from people. We're developing our own recommendation on that. So it'll be something that will probably be decided after we get home." Tillerson also told reporters he did not know what Trump meant when he told the pope, "I won't forget what you said." The Vatican described the president's meetings with both the pope and with top Vatican diplomats as consisting of "cordial discussions," with both sides appreciating "the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience." "It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants," the Vatican said. The discussions also included "an exchange of views" on international affairs and on "the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities." Because of the pope's weekly general audience, Pope Francis and Trump met at 8:30 a.m., an unusually early ...
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 ...
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