Tue, 21 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he would travel to Bangladesh to proclaim the Gospel message of "reconciliation, forgiveness and peace," and he said he was especially looking forward to a meeting with the nation's religious leaders. "We are living at a time when religious believers and people of goodwill everywhere are called to foster mutual understanding and respect and to support each other as members of our one human family," the pope said in a video message to the people of Bangladesh. "I especially look forward to meeting religious leaders," he said in the video, which was released at the Vatican Nov. 21. Pope Francis is scheduled to leave Rome Nov. 26 for a visit to Myanmar Nov. 27-30 and Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2. What the Vatican described as an "interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace" is scheduled for Dec. 1 in the garden of the archbishop's residence in Dhaka's Ramna neighborhood . The vast majority -- some 90 percent -- of Bangladesh's people are Muslim. The largest minority group is made up of Hindus. Christians are about 1 percent of the population. The ecumenical National Council of Churches in Bangladesh includes 13 Christian denominations; although the Catholic Church is not a member, it has a strong working relationship with the council.
Mon, 20 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People have a basic choice in the way they live: either striving to build up treasures on earth or giving to others in order to gain heaven, Pope Francis said. "What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes," the pope said in his homily Nov. 19, the first World Day of the Poor. Between 6,000 and 7,000 poor people attended the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica as special guests, the Vatican said. While almost all of them live in Europe, they include migrants and refugees from all over the world. Among the altar servers were young men who are either poor, migrants or homeless. The first reader at the Mass, Tony Battah, is a refugee from Syria. Those presenting the gifts at the offertory were led by the Zambardi family from Turin, whom the Vatican described as living in a "precarious condition" and whose 1-year-old daughter has cystic fibrosis. In addition to the bread and wine that were consecrated at the Mass, the offertory included a large basket of bread and rolls that were blessed to be shared at the lunch the pope was offering after Mass. Some 1,500 poor people joined the pope in the Vatican's audience hall for the meal, while the other special guests were served at the Pontifical North American College -- the U.S. seminary in Rome -- and other seminaries and Catholic-run soup kitchens nearby. Preaching about the Gospel "parable of the talents" (Mt 25:14-30), Pope Francis said the servant in the story who buried his master's money was rebuked not because he did something wrong, but because he failed to do something good with what he was given. "All too often, we have the idea that we haven't done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just," the pope said. "But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans." If in the eyes of the world, the poor they have little value, he said, "they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our 'passport to paradise.' For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God's word, which is addressed first to them." Where the poor are concerned, the pope said, too many people are often guilty of a sin of omission or indifference. Thinking it is "society's problem" to solve, looking the other way when passing a beggar or changing the channel when the news shows something disturbing are not Christian responses, he said. "God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation," he said, "but whether we did some good." People please God in a similar way to how they please anyone they love. They learn what that person likes and gives that to him or her, the pope said. In the Gospels, he said, Jesus says that he wants to be loved in "the least of our brethren," including the hungry, the sick, the poor, the stranger and the prisoner. "In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love," he said. True goodness and strength are shown "not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord." Before joining his guests for lunch, Pope Francis recited the Angelus prayer with thousands of people in St. Peter's Square. The previous day in Detroit, he told the people, Capuchin Father Solanus Casey was beatified. "A humble and faithful disciple of Christ, he was known for his untiring service to the poor. May his witness help priests, religious and laypeople live with joy the bond between the proclamation of the Gospel and love for the poor." Pope Francis told the crowd that he hoped "the poor would be at the center of our communities not only at times like this, but always, because they are at the heart of the Gospel. In them, we encounter Jesus who speaks to us and calls us through their suffering and their needs." Offering ...
Wed, 15 Nov 2017
Pope Francis is acting on his own call that the Church go out to the peripheries with his visits to Myanmar (formerly Burma) from Nov. 27-30 and to Bangladesh from Nov. 30–Dec. 2. In both places he will find Catholic communities that are not only poor, but are small minorities in countries faced with new problems. His visit likely will encourage the Catholic communities, but what impact he will have on the hosting governments remains to be seen. More than once he has deplored the “persecution of ... our Muslim brothers,” meaning the Rohingya people who are fleeing from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh. Reportedly over half a million of the 1.1 million Rohingya have crossed the border, which creates problems for Bangladesh. Many are in overcrowded refugee camps. Plight of the Rohingya By the Numbers Bangladesh ◗ Archdioceses: 2 ◗ Dioceses: 6 ◗ Parishes: 102 ◗ Priests: 373 Myanmar ◗ Archdioceses: 3 ◗ Dioceses: 13 ◗ Parishes: 356 ◗ Priests: 793 Source: 2016 Catholic Almanac In Myanmar, 135 different ethnic groups are recognized, but the Rohingya are not among them. They are a people without a state. They claim they have always lived where they are, whereas Myanmar nationalists say they are intruders from Bangladesh. They are mainly Muslims who always have been disadvantaged in Myanmar, where 75 percent are Buddhists. For almost 50 years, until 2015, Myanmar was ruled by a military dictatorship. For more than a decade, the leading opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991, was kept under house arrest, but in 2015 political parties were allowed to contest a credible election, and her party won. She has a role corresponding to that of prime minister, and she has promised an inclusive society. However, an attack by Rohingya militants in October on a police station in which nine police were killed led to reprisals and the mass migration to Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi has downplayed the situation, denying that there is ethnic cleaning, an attitude that has disappointed many former admirers in and out of Myanmar. Leaders in Myanmar The archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, who was made a cardinal in 2016, has deplored the anti-Rohingya violence and called for an independent enquiry by the United Nations, but he also stressed that Aung San Suu Kyi should not be written off because the difficult process of democratizing Myanmar depends on her. Cardinal Bo, a 68-year-old Salesian, is aware that the military are assigned three crucial ministries and could put an end to the fragile democracy at any moment. Moreover, some Buddhist monks founded a Movement for the Protection of Race and Religion, which promotes that idea that the true Burmese are Buddhists. The movement is accused of spreading hatred and violence and has links with the main parliamentary opposition party. As well as meeting state, civic and political leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi, the bishops of the 16 dioceses and the faithful at a Mass in a Yangon park, Pope Francis is to meet the government-appointed ruling committee of Buddhist monks. The Rohingya, who are Muslims, are not the only disadvantaged minority in Burma. Christians make up slightly more than 8 percent of the population of 53 million (Muslims around 4 percent and Hindus around 2 percent). Most of the Christians are found in two regions, Chin and Kachin, where some of their churches have been attacked by the military. And the Catholic schools throughout Burma, which were confiscated by the military, have yet to be returned to the Church. If Pope Francis adheres to Cardinal Bo’s approach, he will speak out for human and religious rights and encourage leaders to make Myanmar a peaceful place for all. Issues in Bangladesh Pope Francis will find a different threat to Christian and other minorities in Bangladesh. When the British abandoned control of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, they divided it between India, with a Hindu majority, and Pakistan, with Muslim ...
Tue, 14 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During his visit to Chile and Peru, Pope Francis will honor the country's religious roots and underline the plight of indigenous men and women. The Vatican said Pope Francis will be in Chile Jan. 15-18, visiting the cities of Santiago, Temuco and Iquique. He then will fly to Peru and, from Jan. 18-21, he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo. In Chile, the pope will meet with residents of the Mapuche indigenous community in the Araucania region. Members of the Mapuche have called for the government to return lands confiscated prior to the country's return to democracy in the late 1980s. He will also meet with the indigenous people of the Amazon during his visit to Puerto Maldonado. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity. A special gathering of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the Amazon region will take place in Rome in October 2019. The synod, he said, would seek to identify new paths of evangelization, especially for indigenous people who are "often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future, including because of the crisis of the Amazon forest," which plays a vital role in the environmental health of the entire planet. The Peru-Chile trip will be Pope Francis' fourth to South America. In July 2013, he visited Brazil for World Youth Day. In July 2015, he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. His trip to Colombia in September was his third visit to the continent as pope. Here is the detailed schedule released by the Vatican. Times listed are local, with Eastern Standard Time in parenthesis when it is different from local time: Monday, Jan. 15 (Rome, Santiago) -- 8 a.m. (2 a.m.) Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport. -- 8:10 p.m. (6:10 p.m.) Arrival at Santiago International Airport. Welcoming ceremony. -- 9 p.m. (7 p.m.) Arrival at the apostolic nunciature. Tuesday, Jan. 16 (Santiago) -- 8:20 a.m. (6:20 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps at La Moneda presidential palace. -- 9 a.m. (7 a.m.) Courtesy visit to Michelle Bachelet, president of the republic, at the presidential palace. -- 10:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.) Mass at O'Higgins Park. Homily by pope. -- 4 p.m. (2 p.m.) Brief visit to the women's prison center in Santiago. Greeting by pope. -- 5:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.) Meeting with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and novices at the cathedral of Santiago. Speech by pope. -- 6:15 p.m. (4:15 p.m.) Meeting with Chile's bishops in the cathedral's sacristy. -- 7:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m.) Visit to the shrine of St. Alberto Hurtado. Private meeting with Jesuit priests. Wednesday, Jan. 17 (Santiago, Temuco, Santiago) -- 8 a.m. (6 a.m.) Departure by plane for Temuco. -- 10:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.) Mass at Maquehue Airport. Homily by pope. -- 12:45 p.m. (10:45 a.m.) Lunch with indigenous residents of the Araucania region in the "Madre de la Santa Cruz" house. -- 3:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.) Departure by plane for Santiago. -- 5 p.m. (3 p.m.) Arrival in Santiago. -- 5:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m.) Meeting with young people at the Shrine of Maipu. Speech by pope. -- 7 p.m. (5 p.m.) Visit to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Speech by pope. Thursday, Jan. 18 (Santiago, Iquique, Lima) -- 8:05 a.m. (6:05 a.m.) Departure by plane for Iquique. -- 10:35 a.m. (8:35 a.m.) Arrival at Iquique International Airport. -- 11:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m.) Mass at Lobito beach. Homily by pope. -- 2 p.m. (12 p.m.) Lunch at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes retreat house. -- 4:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m.) Departure ceremony at the Iquique international airport. -- 5:05 p.m. (3:05 p.m.) Departure by plane for Lima. -- 5:20 p.m. Arrival at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. Welcoming ceremony. Friday, Jan. 19 (Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Lima) -- 8:30 a.m. Meeting with government ...
Mon, 13 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Marriage and family life are blessings for individuals and for society, but both are filled with difficult choices that Catholic couples must be helped to face prayerfully and in the light of their consciences, Pope Francis said. Unfortunately, too many people today confuse a rightly formed conscience with personal preferences dominated by selfishness, the pope said in a video message to an Italian meeting on "Amoris Laetitia," his exhortation on the family. "The contemporary world risks confusing the primacy of conscience, which is always to be respected, with the exclusive autonomy of the individual" even when the individual's decisions impact his or her marriage and family life, the pope said. Repeating a remark he had made to the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis said, "There are those who even speak of 'egolatry,' that is, the true worship of the ego on whose altar everything, including the dearest affections, are sacrificed." Confusing conscience with selfishness "is not harmless," the pope said. "This is a 'pollution' that corrodes souls and confounds minds and hearts, producing false illusions." The conference sponsored by the Italian bishops' conference was focused on "conscience and norm" in Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation. Diagnosing problems in the church's outreach to married couples and families, Pope Francis had written, "We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life." "We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations," he wrote in "Amoris Laetitia." "We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them." In his message to the meeting Nov. 11 in Rome, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must strengthen its programs "to respond to the desire for family that emerges in the soul of the young generations" and to help couples once they are married. "Love between a man and a woman is obviously among the most generative human experiences; it is the leaven of a culture of encounter, and introduces to the present world an injection of sociality," he said. Marriage and family life are "the most effective antidote against the individualism that currently runs rampant," he said, but it does not do one any good to pretend that marriage and family life are free from situations requiring difficult choices. "In the domestic reality, sometimes there are concrete knots to be addressed with prudent conscience on the part of each," he said. "It is important that spouses, parents, not be left alone, but accompanied in their commitment to applying the Gospel to the concreteness of life." Conscience, he said, always has God's desire for the human person as its ultimate reference point. "In the very depths of each one of us, there is a place wherein the 'Mystery' reveals itself, and illuminates the person, making the person the protagonist of his story," he said. "Conscience, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, is this 'most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.'" Each Christian, the pope said, must be "vigilant so that in this kind of tabernacle there is no lack of divine grace, which illuminates and strengthens married love and the parental mission."
Thu, 09 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Concerned by the damage caused by smoking, Pope Francis has banned the sale of cigarettes in Vatican City State. Starting in 2018, the Vatican "will cease to sell cigarettes to employees," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said in a Nov. 9 statement. "The reason is very simple: The Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people," he said. "According to the World Health Organization, every year smoking is the cause of more than seven million deaths throughout the world." The Vatican used to be known as a safe haven for cigarette smokers. That changed dramatically in 2002, when Vatican City prohibited smoking in offices and public places. However, cigarettes continued to be sold to current and retired personnel at the Vatican. Even after the cigarette ban goes into effect, the Vatican will continue discount sales of gasoline, groceries and other goods to employees and retirees. Nevertheless, while cigarette sales "are a source of revenue for the Holy See, no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk," Burke said. On a moral level, the church has never defined smoking as a sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the gift of physical health requires "reasonable care" of the body, and more specifically says: "The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine."
Thu, 09 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis recognized that Pope John Paul I, who served only 33 days as pope, lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way. The Vatican announced Pope Francis' decision Nov. 9. It marks the first major step on the path to sainthood for the pope who died in 1978 at the age of 65, shocking the world and a church that had just mourned the death of Blessed Paul VI. Pope Francis would have to recognize a miracle attributed to the late pope's intercession in order for him to be beatified, the next step toward sainthood. A second miracle would be needed for canonization. Stefania Falasca, vice postulator of Pope John Paul's sainthood cause, said one "presumed extraordinary healing" had already been investigated by a diocese and a second possibility is being studied, but the Vatican does not begin its investigations until a sainthood candidate is declared venerable. Although his was one of the shortest papacies in history, Pope John Paul left a lasting impression on the church that fondly remembers him as "the smiling pope." "He smiled for only 33 days," read the front page of the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, while the Catholic Telegraph of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati reported: "Saddened church seeking another Pope John Paul." The surprise of his death after just over a month in office opened a floodgate of rumors and conspiracy theories, running the gamut from murder to culpable neglect. The Vatican doctor insisted then, as the Vatican continues to insist, that Pope John Paul died of a heart attack. His papal motto, "Humilitas" ("Humility") not only emphasized a Christian virtue but also reflected his down-to-earth personality and humble beginnings. "The Lord recommended it so much: Be humble. Even if you have done great things, say: 'We are useless servants.' On the contrary, the tendency in all of us is rather the opposite: to show off. Lowly, lowly: This is the Christian virtue which concerns us," he said Sept. 6, 1978. Born Albino Luciani in the small Italian mountain town of Canale D'Agordo Oct. 17, 1912, the future pope and his two brothers and one sister lived in poverty and sometimes went to bed hungry. His father, a bricklayer by trade, would often travel to Switzerland and Germany in search of work. During a general audience Sept. 13, 1978, the pope told pilgrims he was sickly as a child and his mother would take him "from one doctor to another" and watch over him "whole nights." He also said he had been hospitalized eight times and operated on four times throughout his life. Despite his weak health and poverty, his father encouraged him to enter the minor seminary. He did so, but would return to his hometown in the summers and often was seen working in the fields in his black cassock. He was ordained a priest in 1935 and was appointed bishop of Vittorio Veneto in December 1958 by St. John XXIII. More than 10 years later, he was named patriarch of Venice by Blessed Paul VI and was created a cardinal in 1973. During his time as patriarch of Venice, then-Cardinal Luciani was known for his dedication to the poor and the disabled. In February 1976, he called on all priests in his diocese to sell gold and silver objects for the Don Orione Day Center for people with disabilities. Leading by example, he started the fund drive by putting up for auction a pectoral cross and gold chain -- given to him by St. John XXIII -- that had once belonged to Pope Pius XII. His contribution, he wrote, "is a small thing compared to the use it will have. Perhaps it is worth something if it helps people understand that the real treasures of the church are the poor." After Blessed Paul VI's death, his name was hardly at the top of anyone's list of potential popes, least of all his own. When asked if he might be elected pope, he quoted a Venetian proverb: "You don't make gnocchi out of this dough." His surprise election, nevertheless, did not sway him from continuing his humble manner of living, such as rejecting ...
Tue, 07 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After 7-year-old Rani Hong was stolen from her mother in a small village in India and sold into slavery, her captors kept her in a cage to teach her to submit completely to her "master." "This is what the industry of human trafficking does," she said; it is an industry of buying and selling human beings for forced labor, prostitution, exploitation and even harvesting organs. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking grosses $150 billion a year and is rapidly growing, with profits beginning to match those made in the illegal drug and arms trades. Human beings are highly lucrative, Hong said, because a drug sold on the street can only be used once, while a person can be used and sold over and over again. One human rights group estimates traffickers can make $100,000 a year for each woman working as a sex slave, representing a return on investment of up to 1,000 percent. Hong and others spoke to reporters at the Vatican Nov. 6 during a conference on ways to better assist victims of trafficking in terms of legal assistance, compensation and resettlement. The Nov. 4-6 gathering was organized by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and Global Alliance for Legal Aid, a U.S.-based association of jurists providing legal aid to the poor in developing countries. Hong eventually found freedom, she said, but it came only after she became so sick and weak that her owner sold her to an international adoption agency. She ended up with her adoptive mother in Canada and then the United States. While her adoptive mother helped her, the trauma of her past hindered her future -- leading her to not easily trust or communicate with people, she said. Today, along with her husband, who, as a child ended up shipwrecked on a remote island for two years after escaping forced inscription in Vietnam, she leads the nonprofit Tronie Foundation to serve survivors and help them join the fight against trafficking. The success stories and tragedies of victims and survivors offer the next clue in an effective fight against traffickers and in helping those who get caught in their snares, said Margaret Archer, president of the pontifical academy. In the process of criminalizing, tracking down and penalizing traffickers over the years, "victims got almost left out except as numbers" and their true needs overlooked, Archer said. The three-day meeting at the Vatican, she said, was meant to come up with a "victims' charter," that is, very concrete proposals gleaned from victims and their advocates to act as a sort of framework for prevention, healing and resettlement. This is why survivors were part of the conference, Archer wrote in the conference booklet, to "pinpoint what we did that deterred their progress toward the life they sought and what we did -– besides providing bed and board –- that was experienced by them as life-enhancing." When it comes to rescuing and helping resettle victims of trafficking, she said, "there's a lot of rhetoric about empowerment, giving voice ... which don't really get (survivors) very far in paying the rent, buying the food, finding schools for the children." One idea, she said, is mobilize the power of Catholic parishes around the world in helping those who have been trafficked. Hong said no country is immune to human trafficking and educating the public is critical for bringing awareness and stemming demand for forced labor. "Slavery was never abolished. It's found new forms in new places" and everyone can play a part in stopping this crime, said John McEldowney, a professor of law at the University of Warwick, England.
Fri, 03 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- More than two years before the first atomic bomb was dropped, Pope Pius XII warned of the "catastrophic" consequences that could come from using the discovery of nuclear fission to create weapons. Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in February 1943, Pope Pius noted that scientists were saying that nuclear technology could produce "an amount of energy that could take the place of all the large electrical power plants of the whole world." But, he said, it was essential to ensure the technology was used only for peaceful purposes, "because otherwise the consequence could be catastrophic, not only in itself but for the whole planet." After the United States used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, Pope Pius described the nuclear bomb as "the most terrible weapon that the human mind has ever conceived." For more than 70 years, the popes and Catholic leaders around the globe have echoed that judgment. And while, for a time, the policy of nuclear deterrence was seen as morally acceptable as long as efforts continued for a complete ban of the weapons, today that is no longer the case. "Nuclear deterrence is increasingly seen as an excuse for the permanent possession of nuclear arsenals that threaten humanity's future," Stephen Colecchi, director of the U.S. bishops' Office of International Justice and Peace, wrote in a 2016 article for the blog of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Colecchi is scheduled to participate in a high-level Vatican meeting Nov. 10-11 on "Perspectives for a world free from nuclear weapons and for integral disarmament." The conference, sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will bring together Nobel laureates, government and U.N. officials, theologians and peace activists to strategize ways to move the disarmament process forward. Given that the conference is being held at a time of severely heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea, several Italian media outlets described the Vatican meeting as Pope Francis' attempt to mediate the U.S.-North Korean crisis. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said Oct. 30 that while Pope Francis "works with determination to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons," it is "false to speak of a mediation on the part of the Holy See." Coincidentally though, the Vatican conference will take place as U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. North Korea's ongoing missile testing program, and Trump's tough talk about destroying the nation, are expected to top the agenda of the Nov. 3-14 trip. Following in Pope Pius' footsteps, every pope in the "nuclear age" has pleaded with the world's powers to lessen the threat of nuclear war and reduce nuclear arsenals. St. John XXIII, in his 1963 encyclical "Pacem in Terris," wrote: "Justice, right reason and the recognition of man's dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned." In his historic address to the United Nations in 1965, Blessed Paul VI told global leaders, "It is hard to foresee the future, but easy to assert that the world has to set out resolutely on the path toward a new history, a peaceful history, one that will be truly and fully human, the one that God promised to men of goodwill. The pathways are marked out before you, and the first one is disarmament." Thirteen years later, Pope Paul sent a message to the first U.N. conference on disarmament. In it, he acknowledged that, for government leaders, who have an obligation to protect their people, "the temptation is strong to ask oneself if the best possible protection for peace does not in fact continue to be ensured, basically, by the old system of the ...
Thu, 02 Nov 2017
NETTUNO, Italy (CNS) -- "No more, Lord, no more (war)" that shatters dreams and destroys lives, bringing a cold, cruel winter instead of some sought-after spring, Pope Francis said looking out at the people gathered for an outdoor Mass at a U.S. war memorial and cemetery. "This is the fruit of war: death," he said, as the bright Italian sun lowered in the sky on the feast of All Souls, Nov. 2. On a day the church offers special prayers for the faithful departed with the hope of their meeting God in heaven, "here in this place, we pray in a special way for these young people," he said, gesturing toward the rows of thousands of graves. Christian hope can spring from great pain and suffering, he said, but it can also "make us look to heaven and say, 'I believe in my Lord, the redeemer, but stop, Lord," please, no more war, he said. "With war, you lose everything," he said. Before the Mass, Pope Francis placed a white rose atop 10 white marble headstones; the majority of the stones were carved crosses, one was in the shape of the Jewish Star of David. As he slowly walked alone over the green lawn and prayed among the thousands of simple grave markers, visitors recited the rosary at the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Nettuno, a small coastal city south of Rome. In previous years, the pope marked All Souls' Day by visiting a Rome cemetery. This year, he chose to visit a U.S. military burial ground and, later in the day, the site of a Nazi massacre at the Ardeatine Caves in Rome to pray especially for all victims of war and violence. "Wars produce nothing other than cemeteries and death," he said after reciting the Angelus on All Saints' Day, Nov. 1. He explained he would visit the two World War II sites the next day because humanity "seems to have not learned that lesson or doesn't want to learn it." In his homily at the late afternoon Mass Nov. 2, Pope Francis spoke off-the-cuff and said people do everything to go to war, but they end up doing nothing but destroying themselves. "This is war: the destruction of ourselves," he said. He spoke of the particular pain women experience in war: receiving that letter or news of the death of their husband, child or grandchild. So often people who want to go to war "are convinced they will usher in a new world, a new springtime. But it ends up as winter -- ugly, cruel, a reign of terror and death," the pope said. Today, the world continues to head off fiercely to war and fight battles every day, he said. "Let us pray for the dead today, dead from war, including innocent children," and pray to God "for the grace to weep," he said. Among the more than 7,800 graves at the Nettuno cemetery, there are the remains of 16 women who served in the Women's Army Corps, Red Cross or as nurses, as well as the graves of 29 Tuskegee airmen. Those buried or missing in action had taken part in attacks by U.S. Allies along Italy's coast during World War II. After the Mass, the pope visited the Ardeatine Caves, now a memorial cemetery with the remains of 335 Italians, mostly civilians, brutally murdered by Nazi German occupiers in 1944. The pope was led through the long series of tunnels and stopped to pray several minutes in silence at a bronze sculpted fence symbolizing the twisted, interlocking forms of those massacred. Walking farther along the dark corridors, he placed white roses along a long series of dark gray cement tombs built to remember the victims. The victims included some Italian military, but also political prisoners and men rounded up in a Jewish neighborhood. They were all shot in the back of the head in retaliation for an attack on Nazi soldiers. The Nazis threw the bodies into the caves and used explosives to seal off access. After the war, a memorial was built on the site. Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, sang a short prayer, and the pope prayed to God, merciful and compassionate, who hears the cries of his people and knows of their sufferings. ...
Thu, 02 Nov 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed for victims of the terrorist attack in New York, as well as victims of other terror attacks, and condemned the murder of innocent men and women in the name of God. After praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Nov. 1, the pope said he was "deeply saddened" by the attack in New York Oct. 31 that left at least eight people dead and 11 others injured when pedestrians and bicyclists were mowed down by a driver in a pickup truck. "We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and from the murderous folly that abuses the name of God to spread death," he said. Police in New York identified the suspect as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, who has been in the United States on a visa since 2010. He allegedly drove 20 blocks along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center at about 3 p.m. Eastern time before he slammed into a school bus. After being shot by police, he was taken into custody and admitted to a hospital for treatment of his wounds, which were not believed to be life-threatening. Pope Francis also prayed for victims of recent terrorist attacks in Somalia and Afghanistan. Five Al-Shabaab militants stormed a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 28, killing 23 people and wounding dozens. The attack occurred two weeks after the terrorist group detonated a truck carrying military-grade explosives in one of the deadliest massacres in the country's history. In Afghanistan, an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 people Oct. 31 after blowing himself up near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The explosion also left 20 people wounded. "In deploring such acts of violence, I pray for the dead, the wounded and their families," Pope Francis said.
Wed, 01 Nov 2017
In the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors, three central roles are now held by Jesuits. Pope Francis is the Church’s sole lawmaker who will ultimately set the global direction. Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, S.J., the recently appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, heads a dicastery that receives a case file on every credible allegation of clergy sexual abuse in the world, each to be processed for disciplinary measures. The third, Father Hans Zollner, is seen as the pope’s point man on the issue. Father Zollner, 51, is a licenced psychologist and psychotherapist and was a member of the German government’s working group on child abuse. Dean of the Psychology Institute at Rome’s Gregorian University, he was chair of the steering committee for the university’s Oct. 3-6 conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World,” which discussed how children can be exposed to online predators, sexting, grooming behaviors and dehumanizing pornography, all of which can enter their homes via the internet. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which currently is wrapping up its three-year term. Father Zollner discussed the work of the commission and other issues in an interview at Gregorian University. Our Sunday Visitor: What has the commission done? Father Hans Zollner, S.J.: In its advisory role, with Cardinal Seán O’Malley [of Boston] as leader, it recommended more accountability of bishops and a multi-level response to sexual abuse, which must not only be legal but also educational. OSV: How has that progressed? Father Zollner: In Rome, things don’t work as in Anglo-Saxon or Germanic countries, where you move from A to B to C. It’s not like that. We’re still waiting on the definition of the necessary procedures regarding bishops’ accountability. OSV: Where is the delay? Father Zollner: Opposition is not active. If it exists, it’s passive. Four Vatican Congregations — that for bishops, for the evangelization of peoples, for Eastern Churches and for consecrated life — have to work out the procedures, which must then be presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The procedures have to be consistent and coherent. OSV: Was the recent conference on children’s safety online an attempt to show that, although the Church has been tardy in facing clerical sexual abuse, it can take the lead in a related problem? Father Zollner: The aim was to increase awareness of the dangers, not an attempt to prove we are trailblazers. But it was the first conference to bring together all the major players in the field and give them time together in working groups. Collaboration is needed between governments, social workers, researchers and different religions to master the plague. I’ve already heard of follow-up conferences in Africa, Latin America and Asia and new research projects involving top scientists. OSV: What do you see as the causes of priests abusing minors? Father Zollner: There are various causes, but the most basic is a lack of a well-integrated spirituality, which can find expressions other than the strictly sexual, for instance, alcoholism. We need more sound research. A good recent study in Germany used material from countries ... such as the U.S.A., Germany, Australia, Ireland, Holland and Belgium [indicating] that the average age of clerical abusers is 39, which is a decade or more higher than abusers in other contexts, such as families or sporting circles. This indicates a resistance to the impulse among clergy. Strictly speaking, most are not pedophiles, which means abusers of pre-pubescent children. Most are guilty of abuse of adolescents — ephebophilia. Ninety percent of cases are due to a few serial abusers. At the other end of the scale are those accused because of one offense, which might be kissing or hugging. OSV: Do you consider clericalism one of the causes? Father Zollner: Yes, if by that you mean a closed system, which sets ...
Tue, 31 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God's "dream" for human beings is that they would know they are loved by him, that they would love him in return and that they would love one another, Pope Francis said. "In fact, we were created to love and be loved," the pope said Oct. 29 before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis focused his remarks on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells the Pharisees that the greatest commandments are "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus lived according to those two commandments, the pope said. His preaching and actions were all motivated by what was essential, "that is, love." "Love gives energy and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of faith," he said. "Without love, both life and faith remain sterile." True fidelity to God involves loving God and loving the other people he created, the pope said. "You can do many good things, fulfill many precepts, good things, but if you do not have love, they are useless." The ideal of love Jesus offers in the Gospel passage, he said, also corresponds to "the most authentic desire of our hearts." Jesus gave himself in the Eucharist precisely to fulfill that desire and to give people the grace they need to love others like he loves them, the pope said.
Tue, 31 Oct 2017
ROME (CNS) -- The acceptance of artificial contraception by some Christian churches and communities beginning in the 1930s has led "to the monstrosity of what is today known as procreative medicine," which includes abortion, said German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller. Inaugurating an Oct. 28 conference anticipating the 50th anniversary of Blessed Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," Cardinal Brandmuller told participants that in ignoring traditional church teaching men and women today have seated themselves "on the throne of the Creator." In "Humanae Vitae," published in 1968, Pope Paul underlined the responsibility that goes with human sexuality and marriage. While he taught that couples can space the birth of their children for valid reasons, they must use only natural methods of avoiding fertility. Birth control, he said, causes an "artificial separation" of the unitive and procreative aspects of married love. In his speech at the Rome conference, Cardinal Brandmuller said that after the Second Vatican Council, the church faced significant pressure -- including from within its own ranks -- to endorse contraception as "morally justifiable" just as the Anglican Church had done at the 1930 Lambeth Conference and the U.S. Federal Council of Churches, the precursor of the National Council of Churches, did in 1961. Nevertheless, he added, Blessed Paul defended the sanctity of life and brought "temporary closure to a series of doctrinal affirmations on the matter of contraception." "Humanae Vitae" proves that ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that guides the process of "paradosis," or teaching based on church tradition, and "ensures that the faith of the church develops in the course of time" while remaining faithful to Christ's teachings, Cardinal Brandmuller said. He prayed that the document would continue to "irradiate the 'splendor veritatis' ('the splendor of the truth'), capable of illuminating the current darkness of minds and hearts." Cardinal Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Sciences, was one of four cardinals who formally asked Pope Francis to clarify his teaching on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. When the four prelates did not receive a response, they released the letter -- commonly referred to as the "dubia" -- to the press.
Mon, 30 Oct 2017
Members of the military and of humanitarian agencies who risk their lives to save others or to alleviate their suffering are precisely those for whom Jesus will say, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me," Pope Francis said. For decades, the Geneva Conventions have tried to establish rules to protect innocent civilians in times of war, yet "atrocious crimes" and shocking violations of human dignity continue to occur, the pope told participants at a conference on international humanitarian law. The conference was sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Carabinieri, Italy's military police. Pope Francis met Oct. 28 with the 150 conference participants and with 100 officer candidates from the Carabinieri. Despite the ongoing, "praiseworthy attempt" to codify humanitarian law to protect noncombatants, religious and cultural monuments and the environment during periods of strife, the pope said, so many atrocities continue around the globe that it leads to "a certain saturation that anesthetizes and, to some degree, relativizes the seriousness of the problem." The only solution, he said, is "a conversion of hearts (and) an openness to God and to one's neighbor that pushes people to overcome indifference and live solidarity as a moral virtue and a social attitude." And while it is true that almost unimaginably horrible things continue to happen in situations of conflict, he said, it also is true that solidarity and charity are there as well. "There are many people, many charitable and non-governmental groups, within the church and outside it, whose members face difficulty and danger to care for the injured and the sick, to bury the dead, to bring food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty and to visit prisoners," he said. "Truly," the pope said, "the assistance provided to the victims of conflict add up to the works of mercy upon which we will be judged at the end of our lives." Pope Francis prayed that all combatants and humanitarian workers would embrace the "fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence" in assisting the victims of war. And he praised those, including members of the military and of humanitarian organizations present at the audience, for having "put in danger their own lives to save another or to relieve the suffering of populations struck by armed conflict."
Fri, 27 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican's Christmas tree and Nativity scene will feature traditional designs and decorations centered on the theme of mercy. A towering 92-foot spruce tree will be the centerpiece of the Vatican's Christmas holidays, according to a note released Oct. 25 by the governing office of Vatican City. The tree, which measures nearly 33 feet in diameter, will be donated by the Archdiocese of Elk, Poland, and transported to the Vatican on a flat-bed truck traveling over 1,240 miles across central Europe, the Vatican said. The Nativity scene, instead, will be donated by the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine, located in southern Italy, and created in an "18th century style according to the oldest Neapolitan tradition." Covering a surface of over 860 square feet, the Nativity scene will be "inspired by the works of mercy" and will feature 20 terracotta figures, some as tall as 6 feet, the governing office said. As it was last year, the Christmas tree will be adorned with ornaments made by children receiving treatment at several Italian hospitals. "These children, with their parents, participated in a ceramics recreational therapy program" organized by the Countess Lene Thune Foundation, which provides therapeutic recreation to young boys and girls suffering from oncological and hematological disorders, the Vatican said. Additionally, children from the central Italian Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, which was devastated by earthquakes in 2016, will also make ornaments for the Christmas tree. Several of the children and a delegation from Poland will meet with Pope Francis at an audience the morning of Dec. 7; that evening, the Vatican will hold a tree-lighting ceremony. The tree will remain in St. Peter's Square until the feast of the Lord's Baptism Jan. 7, the Vatican said.
Fri, 27 Oct 2017
ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis called on the people of the United States to welcome migrants and urged those who are welcomed to respect the laws of the country. "To all people (of the U.S.) I ask: take care of the migrant who is a promise of life for the future. To migrants: take care of the country that welcomes you; accept and respect its laws and walk together along that path of love," the pope said Oct. 26 during a live video conversation with teenagers from around the world. Pope Francis was speaking with teens participating in a program of the international network of "Scholas Occurrentes." At the event, broadcast by the U.S. Spanish-language network Telemundo, the host asked the pope for a message to immigrants in the United States. Many face difficulties after the Trump administration's recent call to tighten immigration laws, by raising the standard of proof for asylum seekers and limiting family members of current immigrants who can enter the country. Other proposals include: constructing a wall on the southern border; cracking down on the entry of young Central Americans; criminalizing the overstay of a visa as a misdemeanor; and restricting federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities. Pope Francis said the U.S. bishops "have told me about what you suffer" and is aware that "there are people that do not want you." "I am a son of immigrants. And if there weren't people who helped my father when he arrived at 22 years old, I would not be here today," the pope said. The call to welcome the migrant and the stranger, he added, is not a personal request he made as pope but a mandate given "by someone much more important than myself." "God said it and the Bible is clear," the pope said. "Receive the migrant, receive the refugee, because you too were a migrant and refugee from Egypt. Jesus was also a refugee; they wanted to cut the little child's head off." While video chatting with students from Houston, the pope also was asked by the host of the event if he had a message for immigrant youths in the United States known as "Dreamers." Approximately 800,000 young men and women who have benefited from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, are at risk of losing their legal status. President Donald Trump has said that in any bill to legalize DACA, Congress must include funding for a U.S-Mexico border wall and more Border Patrol agents -- as laid out in his policy proposals -- or he won't sign such a measure. The pope told the Dreamers, "The first thing I want to say is that I'm praying for you and I am close to you. Secondly, continue dreaming. And lastly, be close to people who can help you and defend you at this juncture. Do not hate anyone; look for help from those who can defend you. I am praying for you." Pope Francis also urged Europeans to welcome migrants and refugees who arrive on the continent seeking a better life, and he reminded Europeans that they are also "mestizos" ("mixed race") from "the great migrations of the barbarians and the Vikings." "This isn't the time to pretend this is sterilized laboratory," the pope said. "This is the moment to receive, to embrace and -- to those who arrive -- to respect the rules of the country that welcomes you." "To the migrants who suffer," the pope added, "know that the pope is very close to you. I accompany you and I am praying for you."
Thu, 26 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass with the poor and people who assist them Nov. 19, the first World Day of the Poor. After the 2015-16 Year of Mercy, the pope established the day to encourage new initiatives fostering encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance to the poor. Pope Francis is scheduled to offer a luncheon to 500 people attending the Mass, and the Vatican said it hoped parishes would do something similar. The World Day of the Poor celebration was just one item on a list of papal liturgies for November through January. Other items on the list published Oct. 24 include: -- Nov. 2, feast of All Souls, afternoon Mass at the American military cemetery in Nettuno, south of Rome. -- Nov. 3, annual memorial Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for cardinals and bishops who died in the past year. -- Nov. 19, World Day of the Poor, Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. -- Nov. 26-Dec. 2, papal visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. -- Dec. 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, prayer at the foot of a Marian statue near Rome's Spanish Steps. -- Dec. 12, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, evening Mass for Latin America in St. Peter's Basilica. -- Dec. 24, Christmas Mass at 9:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. -- Dec. 25, Christmas blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) at noon from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. -- Dec. 31, evening prayer and "Te Deum" in St. Peter's Basilica in thanksgiving for the year past. -- Jan. 1, Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the feast of Mary, mother of God, and World Peace Day. -- Jan. 6, feast of the Epiphany, Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. -- Jan. 7, feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the baptism of several infants. -- Jan. 15-22, papal trip to Chile and Peru.
Mon, 23 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is not to "impose" a specific liturgical translation on bishops' conferences, but rather is called to recognize the bishops' authority and expertise in determining the best way to faithfully translate Latin texts into their local languages, Pope Francis said in a letter to Cardinal Robert Sarah. In the letter, released by the Vatican Oct. 22, Pope Francis said he wanted to correct several points made in a "commentary," which Cardinal Sarah sent him and which was published on several websites in a variety of languages. Cardinal Sarah is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The pope's letter noted that most of the websites "erroneously" cited Cardinal Sarah as the author of the commentary. The commentary looked at changes Pope Francis made to the Code of Canon Law in the process for approving liturgical translations. The changes were ordered in the pope's document, "Magnum Principium" ("The Great Principle"), which was published Sept. 9 and went into effect Oct. 1. Pope Francis, saying he wanted to "avoid any misunderstanding," insisted the commentary could give an erroneous impression that the level of involvement of the congregation remained unchanged. However, while in the past "the judgment regarding the fidelity to the Latin and the eventual corrections necessary was the task of the congregation," the pope said, "now the norm concedes to episcopal conferences the faculty of judging the worth and coherence of one or another term in translations from the original, even if in dialogue with the Holy See." The commentary attributed to Cardinal Sarah insisted on the ongoing validity of the norms for translation contained in "Liturgiam Authenticam," the congregation's 2001 instruction on translations. But Pope Francis, in his letter, said the changes to canon law take precedence, and "one can no longer hold that translations must conform in every point to the norms of 'Liturgiam Authenticam' as was done in the past." The texts for Mass and other liturgies must receive a confirmation from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the pope said, but this "no longer supposes a detailed, word by word examination, except in obviously cases that can be presented to the bishops for further reflection." Pope Francis also wrote to the cardinal that the "fidelity" called for in translations has three layers: "first, to the original text; to the particular language into which it is being translated; and, finally, to the intelligibility of the text" by the people. The new process, the pope said, should not lead "to a spirit of 'imposition' on the episcopal conferences of a translation done by the congregation," but should promote cooperation and dialogue.
Fri, 20 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Sister Kathleen Schipani found out she was usually the very first person to teach deaf children to pray, she decided there had to be an app to fix that. Learning to pray usually happens in the family, when a parent or relative recites the words for grace before meals, asks for blessings or requests guidance or protection, the Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary told Catholic News Service in Rome. But when a child is born deaf into a hearing family, those kids shouldn't have to miss out on learning Catholic prayers or religious terms as they learn American Sign Language, she said Oct. 20. Sister Schipani, who is director of the office for persons with disabilities and the deaf apostolate at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was in Rome as part of a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The gathering Oct. 20-22 was dedicated to sharing best practices in engaging and catechizing persons living with disabilities. Lots of apps exist for learning ASL, she said, but there is nothing dedicated to religious terms, daily devotions or prayers of blessing, love, thanks and praise. The app meant to fill that gap is called, "Religious Signs for Families," and was to be available from the iTunes App Store and Google Play in early November. "The locus of learning your faith starts in the family, so this app is really to provide families with the ability" to foster prayer in the home and bond with each other and with God as they pray in ASL, she said. It also will help teachers who want to teach elementary school students how to pray using sign language. "Deaf people have deep experiences of prayer," she said, particularly because it involves praying with "their whole body" with signing and visualization. "Deaf people have never heard the language that we speak so they are not hearing the little voice in their head like we are," she said. Instead some people say they pray visually with beautiful imagery or with seeing hands signing in their head. While sacred music does not have the same ability to draw deaf individuals to prayer, sacred or beautiful art does, she said. "A lot of deaf people have not been catechized because there was no one to sign to them, and that really is what the sad thing is -- when there is no opportunity for deaf people to know religious language and have an experience of someone teaching them," she said. Sister Schipani said the beautiful thing about sign language is the signs are often "iconic," reflecting what the thing is and, therefore, they can convey the theology behind the concept. For example, she said, the sign for "heaven" in the Jewish faith is moving both hands in a way that suggests a semi-circular dome -- the heavens -- overhead. In the Christian faith, she said, the sign conveys the canopy of heaven, but with the other hand going through and up, "because we believe that Jesus, our savior, has come and we're saved so we can have the possibility of entering heaven." - - - The app has captions and voiceover in English and Spanish. More information can be found at http://deafcatholicphilly.org/religious-sign-app/ .