Mon, 13 Aug 2018 07:40:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- Members of the Catholic Church sin and give scandal, it's true, Pope Francis said, but it is up to each Catholic to live the faith as authentically as possible and witness to the world the love of Jesus. "The best way to respond is with witness," the pope said Aug. 11 in response to a young man who said, "The useless pomp and frequent scandals have made the church barely credible in our eyes." Pope Francis spoke about witness, dreams and true love during an evening meeting with some 70,000 young adults, aged 16 to 30, gathered at Rome's Circus Maximus at the end of a pilgrimage. Most of them had walked at least 50 miles over the previous three or four days. Representatives came from 195 of Italy's 226 dioceses, and 150 bishops walked at least part of the way with groups from their dioceses. The young people began congregating at the dusty site of the ancient Roman stadium early in the afternoon when temperatures were already in the 90s. They gathered together on the shady slopes of the field, under the loudspeaker towers and even set up their pup tents seeking relief from the bright sun. Five young people were chosen to share their stories with the crowd and ask Pope Francis questions. They asked his advice about keeping their dreams alive when the future seems so uncertain, how to prepare to marry and start a family and how to get church leaders to listen to them rather than preach at them. "He put his finger in the wound," the pope said in reference to the last question, which was posed by Dario, a 27-year-old hospice nurse. He told the pope, "For young people, commands from on high are no longer enough, we need signs and the sincere witness of a church that accompanies us and listens to the doubts our generation raises each day." Dario's judgment of the church's pastors is "strong," the pope said, and it is true that "sometimes we are the ones who betray the Gospel." But Pope Francis also told the young people they need to recognize that they, too, are part of the church. Thinking only religious, priests and bishops are the church is "clericalism" and "clericalism is a perversion of the church," he said. The best way to respond to a stuffy, lifeless church or to church scandals, the pope told them, "is with witness. If there is no witness, there is no Holy Spirit. The church without witness is just smoke." Letizia, 23, told the pope she wanted to be an art historian, but was advised to study economy because it would pay better. Lucamatteo, 20, told the pope dreaming big dreams is frightening, and Martina, 24, said she wants to start preparing for marriage and a family, but everyone seems to think it's more important to have a career first. "Dreams are important," the pope told them. "And the dreams of the young are the most important of all; they are the brightest stars, those that indicate a different path for humanity." Of course, he said, dreams must grow, be put to the test and purified. Those worth pursuing -- those the Bible would call "great dreams" -- always are those that will help others and make the world a better place. "Great dreams include, involve others, reach out, share and generate new life." One of the greatest dreams of all, he said, is the dream of finding true love, pledging oneself to another for life and creating a family. It is so important and so holy, he said, that it should never take second place to one's career. True love is not simply infatuation, the pope told the young people. It involves giving all of oneself to another; "you have to put all the meat on the grill, as we say in Argentina." "To choose, to be able to decide for oneself seems to be the highest expression of freedom," he said. "And in a certain sense, it is. But the idea of choice we breathe today is that of a freedom without bonds -- pay attention to this -- without bonds, without commitment and always with some kind of escape route." But true joy and happiness come from finding what is most precious, what "is ...
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:29:00 -0400
In 1859 Father — later Cardinal — John Henry Newman published a long essay, which he called “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Although controversial when it first appeared, it is still mined today for its insights. Now, however, the Church may need a different study, with a title like “On Consulting the Faithful on the Selection and Promotion of Bishops.” And the scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick suggests it can’t come too soon. Following the accusations against McCarrick of sexual misconduct with boys and young men, including seminarians and priests, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and removed him from ministry pending a Church trial. Many welcome this but believe it isn’t enough. Beyond digging out the facts of this scandal, reforms are needed to reduce the chances of something like it happening again and to rebuild trust in the hierarchy. Necessary as that is, others say, the reforms should include major changes in the way men become bishops and are promoted within the ranks of the hierarchy. One such change would be to give laypeople a much larger role in the vetting process than they have now. Current system Involving laypeople wouldn’t by itself prevent something like the McCarrick scandal from happening. But it would reduce the influence of the system that kept the former cardinal moving up in the ranks of the hierarchy even though his misdeeds were rumored. As it stands, the vetting process for men being considered for appointment or promotion as bishops already allows for limited, confidential consultation of the laity. Canon 377 of the Code of Canon Law says that “if he deems it expedient” the nuncio or papal legate in the country may seek the views of laypeople “outstanding for their wisdom” concerning particular candidates. But the canon specifies that this is to be done “individually and in secret,” a practice that has been employed at various times. Such consultation could be made mandatory and involve new lay consultative bodies established for this purpose, as well as a more forthcoming vision of consulting the laity that sees it as not just consultation “of” laypeople but collegial consultation with them. Messy precedents The ways in which bishops are chosen have varied greatly over the centuries. Indeed, until early in the last century, rulers of Catholic countries claimed and sometimes exercised a right to intervene even in papal elections. As that suggests, not every suggested change in the way bishops are chosen is necessarily desirable. But there are plenty of precedents — both good and bad — for involving laypeople. In the early centuries of the Church, the preferred approach was participation by all the members of the local church — including the laity — in selecting their bishop. St. Cyprian, a third-century bishop of Carthage, wrote that there was “divine authority” for having candidates evaluated by “public scrutiny and testimony” and “chosen in the presence of the laity and before the eyes of all.” Role in Investigation and Review As bishops have wrangled with how to respond to the McCarrick case, some have floated the idea of a review board to investigate and respond to allegations against bishops. In an Aug. 6 statement, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, asserted that lay participation in such a body would be essential: “I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer. To have credibility, a panel would have to be separated from any source of power whose trustworthiness might potentially be compromised. ... What is needed now is an independent commission led by well-respected, faithful lay leaders who are beyond reproach, people whose role on such a panel will not serve to benefit them financially, politically or personally. These will be people with a deep understanding of the Catholic faith, but without an axe to grind or an agenda to push. It will not be easy, ...
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 07:28:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide. The catechism's paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life. Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, "The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in 'Evangelium Vitae,' affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes." "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") was St. John Paul's 1995 encyclical letter on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. The encyclical led to an updating of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he originally promulgated in 1992 and which recognized "the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty." At the same time, the original version of the catechism still urged the use of "bloodless means" when possible to punish criminals and protect citizens. The catechism now will read: "Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good. "Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption," the new section continues. Pope Francis' change to the text concludes: "Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide." In his statement, Cardinal Ladaria noted how St. John Paul, retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis had all spoken out against capital punishment and appealed for clemency for death-row inmates on numerous occasions. The development of church doctrine away from seeing the death penalty as a possibly legitimate punishment for the most serious crimes, the cardinal said, "centers principally on the clearer awareness of the church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: 'Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.'" Pope Francis specifically requested the change to the catechism in October during a speech at the Vatican commemorating the 25th anniversary of the text's promulgation. The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, he had said, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor." Cardinal Ladaria also noted that the popes were not the only Catholics to become increasingly aware of how the modern use of the death penalty conflicted with church teaching on the dignity ...
Wed, 01 Aug 2018 08:14:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christ's commandment to love God and neighbor is a path trodden by those who have the desire to become saints, Pope Francis told thousands of altar servers from around the world. "Yes, it does take effort to keep doing good and to become saints," the pope told the young people July 31. "You know that the path to holiness isn't for the lazy, it requires effort." The pope presided over an evening meeting and prayer service with some 60,000 altar servers making an international pilgrimage to Rome. The majority of young men and women came from Germany, but there also were pilgrims from Italy, France, Austria, the United States and other countries. After circling St. Peter's Square in his popemobile, Pope Francis smiled brightly as Bishop Ladislav Nemet of Zrenjanin, Serbia, waved his arms and urged the young men and women to welcome the pope with cheers and applause. Bishop Nemet is president of Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium, the association of altar servers that hosted the meeting along with the German bishops' conference. Before the event, the Vatican fire department used hoses to spray water over the seats in the blistering Rome sun in an effort to cool them down. The firefighters stayed once the pilgrims were allowed into the square, creating cooling showers for the much-needed relief of the young people. "You are very courageous to be here since 12 p.m. in this heat!" the pope told the young people before responding to questions posed by servers from Luxembourg, Portugal, Antigua and Barbuda, Germany and Serbia. One server told Pope Francis that like many of his fellow altar servers, he was saddened "to see how few of our own age group come to Mass" or participate in parish life. "How can we -- and our communities -- reach out to these people and bring them back to Christ and to the family of the church?" he asked. The pope said that even in their youth, altar servers can be apostles and draw others to Christ "if you are full of enthusiasm for him, if you have encountered him, if you have come to know him personally and been 'won over' by him." "There is no need for lots of words," the pope said. "More important are your actions, your closeness, your desire to serve. Young people -- and everyone else for that matter -- need friends who can give a good example, who are ready to act without expecting anything in return." When asked how altar servers can contribute to peace "in our families, in our countries and in the world," the pope said that "making peace begins with little things" such as trying to reconcile after a quarrel or asking in every situation, "What would Jesus do in my place?" "If we can do this, if we really put it into practice, we will bring Christ's peace to our everyday lives. Then we will be peacemakers and channels of God's peace," he said. A Serbian altar server asked, "How can we translate our service, in daily life, into concrete works of charity and in a path toward holiness?" Pope Francis encouraged them to practice the works of mercy, which "are demanding yet within the reach of all." "It makes no difference whether it is a friend or a stranger, a countryman or a foreigner," the pope said. "Believe me, by doing this, you can become real saints, men and women who transform the world by living the love of Christ." Before continuing with the prayer service, Bishop Nemet thanked the pope for his words. However, the pope wanted to make sure the altar servers were happy. "Ask them if they feel encouraged after I answered their questions," the pope told Bishop Nemet. After the bishop relayed the pope's question, the 60,000 young servers erupted in cheers and applause. Recalling the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis said the Jesuit founder "discovered the heart and meaning of life itself" through seeking the glory of God and not his own glory. "Let us imitate the saints," the pope told the young people. "Let everything we do be for God's glory and the salvation of ...
Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., from the College of Cardinals, the Vatican announced on July 28. The rare step came over a month after the revelation that Pope Francis had removed now-Archbishop McCarrick from public ministry over a credible and substantiated allegation that he had sexually abused a minor almost 50 years ago while serving as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. The Vatican’s announcement also noted that Archbishop McCarrick is to seclude himself in a life of prayer and penance until the conclusion of the canonical trial. ‘Breach of trust’ “I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the Church in the United States,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a public statement the morning the news dropped. “We are seeing some brave survivors step forward to speak to the media, and share their stories,” Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, who succeeded McCarrick in 2006, said in an interview published July 31. “The claims that have been made are profoundly troubling; individuals should not have to bear them alone.” Those coming forward have included priests, as Father Desmond Rossi of the Diocese of Albany, New York, told America Magazine that the “culture of harassment” he experienced as a seminarian of the Newark archdiocese, including unwanted attention and touching by McCarrick himself, led him to transfer dioceses before ordination. Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, who encouraged Father Rossi to speak out, sent a letter to all clergy of his diocese on July 29. Scharfenberger “I do not see how we can avoid what is really at the root of this crisis: sin and a retreat from holiness, specifically the holiness of an integral, truly human sexuality,” Bishop Scharfenberger wrote. He noted it is gravely sinful to be “sexually active” outside of marriage and that this applies to all clergy, even cardinals, and extends even to behavior of “grooming and seduction.” Bishop Scharfenberger added, “The psychological and spiritual destructiveness of such predatory behavior, really incestuous by a man who is held up as a spiritual father to a son in his care — even if not a minor — cannot be minimized or rationalized in any way.” Need for new protections Bishop Scharfenberger continued, “Abuse of authority — in this case, with strong sexual overtones — with vulnerable persons is hardly less reprehensible than the sexual abuse of minors, which the USCCB attempted to address in 2002. Unfortunately, at that time — something I never understood — the Charter did not go far enough so as to hold cardinals, archbishops and bishops equally, if not more, accountable than priests and deacons.” Honorary No More The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York have both announced that they have rescinded honorary degrees awarded to McCarrick. Also, the previously named McCarrick Family Center run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington has been renamed the Catholic Charities Center. (Source: CNS) “The Charter does not provide clear means for reporting and responding to allegations of abuse committed by bishops. This gap has contributed to the erosion of trust and confidence,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said in a July 30 letter to his archdiocese. “Repairing this gap by creating consistent standards and procedures for all, including bishops, will go a long way toward restoring that trust.” Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR, of Newark, where McCarrick served as archbishop from 1986-2001, said July 28, “This latest news is a necessary step for the Church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment ...
Mon, 30 Jul 2018 07:30:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and has ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors. The announcement came first from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a few minutes later from the Vatican press office. The press office said July 28 that the previous evening Pope Francis had received Archbishop McCarrick's letter of "resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals." "Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the cardinalate and has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial," the Vatican statement said. In late June, Archbishop McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent. In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had. Although unusual, withdrawal from the College of Cardinals in such circumstances is not unheard of. Just 10 days before then-Pope Benedict XVI retired in 2013, Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien announced he would not participate in the conclave to elect Pope Benedict's successor because he did not want media attention focused on him instead of the election of a new pope. Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal's resignation as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after reports that three priests and a former priest had accused the cardinal of "inappropriate conduct" with them going back to the 1980s. One week after the conclave that elected Pope Francis, the Vatican announced the new pope accepted Cardinal O'Brien's decision to renounce all "duties and privileges" associated with being a cardinal. He died March 19. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, thanked the pope for accepting Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals. In a July 28 statement he said: "I thank the Holy Father for his leadership in taking this important step. It reflects the priority the Holy Father places on the need for protection and care for all our people and the way failures in this area affect the life of the church in the United States." In New Jersey, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, an archdiocese then-Archbishop McCarrick headed 1986-2000, stated July 28: "The somber announcement from the Vatican this morning will impact the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Newark with particular force." "This latest news is a necessary step for the church to hold itself accountable for sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by its ministers, no matter their rank," Cardinal Tobin said. "I ask my brothers and sisters to pray for all who may have been harmed by the former cardinal, and to pray for him as well." Before being named to Newark, then-Bishop McCarrick was founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, serving there 1981 to 1986. Other reaction from U.S. bishops included a strongly worded letter from Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth Texas, to the people of the diocese. "Ministry in the church is a grace from God that carries with it sober responsibility. Ministry is not a right to be claimed by anyone as an entitlement; rather, it involves a convenantal trust established through our baptism as members of the church established by Christ," he said. "We see in the scandalous crimes and sins ...
Mon, 30 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson, who had been found guilty by an Australian court of failing to inform police about child sexual abuse allegations. The Vatican made the announcement July 30. Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide was sentenced to 12 months of house arrest by the Newcastle Lower Court July 3 with another hearing set for Aug. 14 to assess the location of his home detention. The archbishop was convicted in May for failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse by a priest in the 1970s. He stepped aside from his duties in the Adelaide Archdiocese May 25 but at the time maintained his title as archbishop. Archbishop Wilson had resisted calls to resign and had said July 4 he would do so only if plans to appeal his conviction failed. The court found that, in 1976, then-Father Wilson had been told by a 15-year-old boy that he had been indecently assaulted by a priest, but that Father Wilson chose not to go to the authorities despite believing the allegations were true. The abusive priest, Father James Fletcher, was convicted in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in 2016 while in prison. Archbishop Wilson, who had led the Archdiocese of Adelaide since 2001, is the highest-ranking church official to be convicted of covering up abuse charges. He recently was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer's disease, and throughout the magistrate's hearing he testified that he had no memory of the conversation with the 15-year-old. Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said that "while the judicial process will continue, Archbishop Wilson's resignation is the next chapter in a heartbreaking story of people who were sexually abused at the hands of Jim Fletcher and whose lives were forever changed." "This decision may bring some comfort to them, despite the ongoing pain they bear," he said in a written statement released July 30. "Archbishop Wilson has been praised by many for his work to support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse as bishop of Wollongong, archbishop of Adelaide and president of the bishops' conference," Archbishop Coleridge wrote. However, he said, Archbishop Wilson has decided "that his conviction means he can no longer continue as archbishop because to do so would continue to cause pain and distress to many, especially to survivors, and also in the Archdiocese of Adelaide." Meanwhile, the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference announced July 26 it would hold a special meeting Aug. 2-3 in Melbourne to expedite the Catholic Church's formal response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Archbishop Coleridge said in a statement that they had received additional advice from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, the Implementation Advisory Group, Catholic Professional Standards Limited, local safeguarding experts and canon lawyers that would better inform the bishops' response. "We have also begun discussions with the Holy See about issues that concern the discipline and doctrine of the universal church," he wrote. The archbishop said he hoped the bishops' formal response to the Royal Commission would be released as soon as possible after the early August meeting. The commission released its report in December 2017 after five years of hearings, nearly 26,000 emails and more than 42,000 phone calls from concerned Australians. The report made 20 recommendations to the Catholic Church, including asking the bishops' conference to work with the Holy See to change the Code of Canon Law "to create a new canon or series of canons specifically relating to child sexual abuse." Another recommendation was for the Australian bishops to work with the Holy See to determine if the absolute secrecy concerning matters discussed during confession also applies to a child confessing he or she has been abused sexually. The report also said the church should consider if ...
Fri, 27 Jul 2018 11:07:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The last time a pope visited Ireland, the Constitution prohibited divorce, gay marriages were unthinkable, abortion was illegal and physical and sexual abuse at the hands of nuns and priests was a carefully hidden secret. That has all changed in the almost four decades since St. John Paul II visited the country in 1979. Pope Francis will visit Dublin and Knock Aug. 25-26, mainly for the World Meeting of Families. But he also will meet Irish government leaders and is expected to meet with survivors of abuse. "Ireland is a country that has suffered tremendously, and suffered at the hands of the church, also -- so many cases of abuse: sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse," said Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, the Irish-born prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, which helped organize the World Meeting of Families. Revelations of the extent of the abuse and the long-delayed response of church officials have devastated Irish Catholics, sent church attendance plummeting and contributed strongly to the waning influence of the Irish hierarchy in public discourse. "Ireland is certainly a different country today" from what St. John Paul experienced in the late 1970s, Cardinal Farrell told Catholic News Service. "The church was a powerful force in Ireland -- for good or for bad, it's not my position to judge -- but, certainly, that is not the Ireland of today." The people of Ireland and the Catholic Church in Ireland must find ways to work together and support each other in dealing with the new, multicultural, pluralistic reality of the country, he said. "Pope Francis has tried to teach us that over the last five years," he said. "You've got to remember: People aren't the way we would like them to be; they are the way they are. And we have to bring the message of God and the word of God to people where they are, in this place, at this particular moment. The changes in society -- not just in Ireland -- and in the church also have dictated changes in the World Meeting of Families and its "pastoral congresses," which since 1994 have gathered an international group of bishops, theologians, members of Catholic movements and Catholic families to strengthen their work and witness about the Catholic vision of marriage and family life. The Dublin congress Aug. 22-24 will continue that core mission but has been designed to be more attractive to and welcoming of all families, including those who find some of the church's teachings challenging, he said. Participants can attend workshops ranging from cooking demonstrations to discussions about outreach to migrant and refugee families; and from fostering family prayer to welcoming LGBT people and their families. "As Pope Francis says, we have to adjust to the reality with which we find ourselves," Cardinal Farrell said. "Catholics today are not so expressive of their Catholic identity, of their married identity, but I believe that they are seeking." For example, he said, more couples under the age of 40 have registered for the Dublin gathering than for any of the previous world meetings, and some 37,000 people have registered for the congress. The entire World Meeting of Families 2018 is focused on Pope Francis' 2016 letter, "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), which offered his reflections on modern family life. Cardinal Farrell said he hoped the meeting and the pope's visit would help spark "a renewed consciousness of the beauty of marriage and of the beauty of family" and, even more, that "people would become enthused about helping each other." In societies where people are increasingly isolated from each other and live far from the rest of their extended families, he said, the traditional supports for a strong, healthy marriage and family are more difficult to find. Pope Francis made no changes to Catholic doctrine in "Amoris Laetitia," the cardinal said. But there is "a pastoral change, a way of dealing with married couples" starting from the ...
Thu, 19 Jul 2018 10:18:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis added an Italian teenager to the list of people he will formally recognize as saints Oct. 14 during the monthlong meeting of the world Synod of Bishops on young people. During an "ordinary public consistory" July 19, Pope Francis announced he would declare Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio a saint the same day he will canonize Blesseds Oscar Romero, Paul VI and four others. An ordinary public consistory is a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process. Sulprizio was born April 13, 1817, in the Abruzzo region near Pescara. Both of his parents died when he was an infant and his maternal grandmother, who raised him, died when he was nine. An uncle took him under his guardianship and had the young boy work for him in his blacksmith shop. However, the work was too strenuous for a boy his age and he developed a problem in his leg, which became gangrenous. A military colonel took care of Sulprizio, who was eventually hospitalized in Naples. The young teen faced tremendous pain with patience and serenity and offered up his sufferings to God. He died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19. He was declared blessed in 1963 by Blessed Paul VI, who will be canonized together with the teen. During the ceremony, Blessed Paul had said, "Nunzio Sulprizio will tell you that the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will rather tell you how being young is a grace." Together with Blesseds Paul and Romero, Sulprizio will be canonized along with: Father Francesco Spinelli of Italy, founder of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament; Father Vincenzo Romano, who worked with the poor of Naples, Italy, until his death in 1831; Mother Catherine Kasper, the German founder of the religious congregation, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; and Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Crusaders of the Church. The Oct. 14 date for the canonizations had already been announced during an ordinary public consistory in mid-May.
Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:12:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All Christians are called to be missionaries, concerned more with sharing the Gospel than with earning money or even with being successful at winning converts, Pope Francis said. "A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Christ, is not a good Christian," the pope said July 15 before reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis was commenting on the day's Gospel reading, which told about how Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two to preach and to heal in his name. "It was a kind of apprenticeship for what they would be called to do with the power of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of the Lord," the pope explained. Speaking only in the name of Jesus, he said, "the apostles had nothing of their own to proclaim and none of their own abilities to demonstrate, but they spoke and acted as emissaries, as messengers of Jesus." "This Gospel episode concerns us, too, and not only priests, but all the baptized, who are called to witness to the Gospel of Christ in all the situations of life," the pope said. Christians fulfill their mission, he said, when their proclamation is motivated only by love for and obedience to Christ and when the only message they share is Christ's. In the reading from St. Mark's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples "to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts." The poverty and simplicity of lifestyle Jesus asks for, the pope said, were meant to make the disciples of yesterday and today "free and light." Jesus, he said, calls his disciples to set out as "messengers of the kingdom of God, not powerful managers, not unmovable functionaries (and) not stars on tour." Although all the baptized are sent out on mission by Christ, they go with no guarantee of success, the pope said. "This, too, is poverty: the experience of failure." Pope Francis prayed that Mary, "the first disciple and missionary of the word of God, would help us bear the message of the Gospel in the world with a humble and radiant exultation that goes beyond every refusal, misunderstanding or tribulation."
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:09:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents in the Vatican Secret Archives and the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prove it was a "myth" that Blessed Paul VI largely set out on his own in writing "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 encyclical on married love and the regulation of births. In anticipation of the encyclical's 50th anniversary, Pope Francis gave special access to the archives to Msgr. Gilfredo Marengo, a professor at Rome's Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. The results of his research were published in Italian in early July in the book, "The Birth of an Encyclical: 'Humanae Vitae' in the Light of the Vatican Archives." In a note to reporters, Msgr. Marengo said his research revealed four little-known facts: Pope Paul approved an encyclical, "De Nascendae Prolis" ("On a Child's Birth"), in early May 1968, but was convinced by translators in the Vatican Secretariat of State that it still needed work; a new draft was corrected by hand by Pope Paul; on several occasions the future St. John Paul II sent suggestions, including an extensive treatment of the theme, but there is no evidence that they were used heavily in the final document; and Pope Paul asked the 199 bishops at the 1967 world Synod of Bishops to send him reflections on the theme of the regulation of births. Msgr. Marengo said the request to the synod members was a surprise. It is not included in any report about the synod itself. "The news about the desire of the pope to consult all the members of the synodal assembly is very important," he said, "because one of the accusations repeated most often after the publication of 'Humanae Vitae' was that the pope decided to act alone, in a manner that was not collegial." The pope received only 25 responses in the period between Oct. 9, 1967, and May 31, 1968, Msgr. Marengo said. And, perhaps more surprising, of those, only seven bishops asked Pope Paul to repeat the Catholic Church's teaching against the use of contraceptives. The other responses -- including a joint U.S. response from Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, Archbishop John Dearden of Detroit and Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh -- exhibited an openness to the use of artificial birth control in some circumstances, however "none of them would say that using the pill is a good thing," Msgr. Marengo told Catholic News Service. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen of Rochester, New York, and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland -- the future Pope John Paul II -- were among the seven bishops urging a reaffirmation of church teaching that using contraceptives was wrong. "The pope never thought of proceeding alone, putting the collegial profile of the Petrine ministry in parentheses," Msgr. Marengo wrote. But consultation is not the same thing as taking a vote. And bishops were not the only ones asked for their input. Long before the synod, and before Pope Paul was elected to lead the church, St. John XXIII had appointed a small committee to study the issue of the regulation of birth. Pope Paul expanded the commission, which included several married couples. The commission's work ended in 1966 with the leaking of a report by the majority of members asserting artificial contraception was not intrinsically evil; minority reports, insisting contraception was morally wrong, were leaked in response. After reading the commission reports and the bishops' input, Msgr. Marengo wrote, Pope Paul "found himself in a situation that was not easy. His judgment had matured, and he felt obliged in conscience to express it in virtue of his apostolic ministry, knowing well that going in that direction would place him at a predictable and painful distance from sectors of the church community that were not marginal." In fact, less than a week after the encyclical was published, Pope Paul held a general audience and spoke about just how weighty the decision was. "Never before have we felt so ...
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:54:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis attended the funeral Mass and presided over the final commendation of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the French cardinal who led the Vatican's outreach to other religions and who had announced to the world his election as pope five years ago. Seated to the right of the closed casket with his head bowed in solemn prayer, the pope attended the entire ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica July 12. Typically, the pope arrives at the end of a cardinal's funeral Mass to officiate over the rites of final commendation. Pope Francis gave the final blessing, sprinkling with holy water and incensing Cardinal Tauran's casket, upon which was laid an open book of the Gospels. Members of the College of Cardinals, the diplomatic corps, Vatican officials, dignitaries and guests, including those of other faiths, gathered for the funeral of the late cardinal, who had spent more than 10 years as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and decades in the Vatican's diplomatic service. Members of the Sikh and Muslim communities, along with other mourners, paid their respects before the cardinal's casket at the end of the service. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated the funeral Mass. In his homily, he said he personally witnessed Cardinal Tauran's "great apostolic spirit" after working with him for so many years. The French cardinal courageously served the church, particularly through his illness, Cardinal Sodano said, and he was a living example of the beatitudes. The poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, "they are the beatitudes that will always shine on the life of our dear deceased brother like bright stars along his journey," he said. He said Cardinal Tauran also followed the path laid out by the Second Vatican Council in "Guadium et Spes," which says that with God as the father of all of humanity, everyone is called to be brothers and sisters; therefore, "we can and we should work together without violence and deceit in order to build up the world in genuine peace." Cardinal Tauran, who had been living with Parkinson's disease, died July 5 at the age of 75 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he had been receiving medical treatment. In a telegram to the cardinal's sister, who also attended the funeral Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis had praised the cardinal's "sense of service and his love for the church." Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the church, the pope said in the telegram July 5, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims. "I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease," he wrote. An experienced diplomat and esteemed leader of the Vatican's interreligious efforts, the cardinal had grabbed the world spotlight for his other role as the top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, "Habemus papam," "We have a pope." His death left the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 124 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. He was to be buried in his titular church in Rome, the Basilica of St. Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine.
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:34:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is helping organize an international conference meant to help dioceses work with their local communities in finding appropriate uses for decommissioned churches. The Pontifical Council for Culture, together with Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the Italian bishops' conference, will sponsor the gathering, titled "Doesn't God Dwell Here Anymore? Decommissioning Places of Worship and Integrated Management of Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage," Nov. 29-30 in Rome. In the run-up to the conference, the public is invited to photograph and post on Instagram examples of deconsecrated churches being reused in a positive way, since examples of churches turned into night clubs and gyms garner the bulk of media attention. The photographs, to be tagged with #NoLongerChurches, #unigre and a hashtag of the name of the church and city, are meant to showcase positive ways the historical, social, artistic and sacred significance of such buildings can be maintained or highlighted. Photographs must be posted between July 10 and Oct. 15, and selected winners will have their images displayed at the international conference and published on the sponsors' websites and in Italian magazines dedicated to Christian art, the church and architecture. Researchers and academic institutes also are being invited to submit posters and papers on completed studies or projects underway dealing with the revitalization or repurposing of deconsecrated or underutilized places of worship. The results of the Instagram contest and call for papers will be used to inform and help bishops as they consider what to do with closed parishes. Representatives from bishops' conferences in Europe, North America and Oceania are invited to attend the conference to discuss and approve guidelines addressing the reuse of deconsecrated church properties. Whether or when a church should be deconsecrated or sold will not be the focus of the conference and its resulting guidelines; its purpose is to show the need for a long-term planning process that involves the whole community and aims for reaching an understanding about how such structures should be reutilized or rebuilt. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican's culture council, told reporters July 10 that former places of worship must retain some spiritual, social or culture value within the community and that every possible effort must be made to safeguard the church's patrimony, for example, by transferring mobile assets to diocesan museums. Current criteria for guiding this process, he said, "are too generic." While European churches built during the Renaissance, Baroque or other periods may have great artistic value, it must not be forgotten that a simple brick or wooden church in North America also carries important "spiritual value," said Richard Rouse, an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture. "They may not have Michelangelo's frescoes decorating the interior, but so many of these places of worship were built thanks to the donations, support and hard work of generations of families, and for some members of the local community, they would still have strong emotional significance," he told Catholic News Service July 11. The conference "will seek to demonstrate that the cultural patrimony of the church, built up with faith and charity over time, is still able to transmit Christian culture if it is properly enhanced and not seen as a burden to maintain," the organizers said in a press release. Success, the statement said, will depend on involving the church community in appreciating and managing their patrimony and on the formation of skilled architects, builders and planners who are "culturally motivated."
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400
As we make our way through life as Christians, some signposts are clearer than others. Out of love for God and neighbor we will not kill, steal or commit adultery. Other signposts are harder to see. But they can become clearer over time when the results of ignoring them are writ large. When the birth control pill was developed in the 1960s, many people thought it would bring great benefits. Contraception would free women from fear of pregnancy, allowing men and women to love each other fully and have children only when ready. Abortion, child abuse and out-of-wedlock births would be reduced or eliminated. When Blessed Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, he saw a different future. He thought readily available contraception would weaken, not strengthen, fidelity in marriage. He feared it would liberate not authentic love but rather a selfish desire allowing men to treat women as sex objects. Governments would promote birth control, intervening in what should be a private decision for couples. Many Catholics were skeptical of these predictions and disappointed in the encyclical. After 50 years, we can take a new look. The problems contraception was thought to solve are worse. We see more infidelity, divorce and sexual harassment and abuse of women. Governments have vast programs for population control, not all of them voluntary. It’s natural to ask: Why did Paul VI see the future more clearly than his critics? With the aid of our Christian tradition, did he see more deeply into the truth about marriage and sexuality? Shutterstock A deeper vision Here’s a strange fact. Every other system of the body — breathing, circulation, digestion and so on — is designed for our own survival and development. The sexual aspect of our bodies — which even Planned Parenthood calls “the reproductive system” — is different. It is for going out of ourselves, for uniting with another person and ensuring the survival and development of someone else who will need our unconditional love to thrive. And because we like to think of ourselves first, it is the only bodily system that modern medicine turns against. We are sold drugs, devices and surgeries — even those with bad effects on our overall health — to make this one healthy system stop working. Our Catholic faith adds its own insight. Our bodies are “temple[s] of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19), as are the bodies of any children we conceive. When a man and a woman give themselves to each other in committed love, their bond is a sacrament, a symbol of Christ’s union with his Church. And when their love conceives a child, they cooperate with God to create a human person, body and soul, with his or her own innate dignity and eternal destiny. This power to be “co-creators” with God deserves our respect. Paul VI sought to defend these two gifts from God, the “unitive” and “procreative” meanings of sexuality. Marital love is about bonding with each other forever and being open to a child who may result from that union. To quote Pope St. John Paul II, they are both ways in which “life attains its fullness in the sincere gift of self” ( Evangelium Vitae , No. 86). These two meanings imply and support each other. Marital commitment must be permanent so children can be sure of both parents’ love and support throughout childhood. And openness to having a child with each other makes married love deeper and richer. The love both parents have for a child arising from their love for each other is unique. In the Middle Ages, theologian Richard of St. Victor compared it to the love among the persons of the Holy Trinity, coining a new word for it: condilectio, or co-loving. Therefore when we “free” sexual love from openness to life, we do not set free the love between man and woman — we make it a less complete gift of self. What is set free from fully authentic love is a more selfish desire, with the consequences we have seen over half a century. It was to preserve the fullness of marital love that ...
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 11:20:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As war continues to threaten the land of Jesus' birth and to undermine the existence of Christian communities there, the international community must learn from the errors of the past and do more to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, Pope Francis said. "Do not forget the previous century; do not forget the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; do not let the land of the East, where the Word of peace arose, be transformed into a dark expanse of silence," the pope said after a private meeting with the heads of Christian churches and communities in the Middle East. Pope Francis traveled July 7 to the southern Italian Adriatic port city of Bari to host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East. Arriving by helicopter in the early morning, the pope stood in front of the Basilica of St. Nicholas and greeted the patriarchs and other representatives of Christian churches. Among them was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, represented Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Flanked by the church leaders, the pope entered the basilica and walked down to the crypt, where he bowed deeply before the relics of St. Nicholas, who is venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox. After remaining several minutes in prayer and lighting a candle on the altar, the pope and church leaders boarded a bus that took them to the seaside site of the ecumenical prayer service. Thousands of men, women and children cheered and waved as the group made its way to the stage overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Behind the pope's chair was a large statue of Christ crucified with the words "May peace be upon you" etched above it. The pope began the service by welcoming the patriarchs and Christian leaders and thanking them for joining him in prayer for the Middle East, which he described as a source of "ever fresh streams of spirituality and monasticism." However, he added, the light of the region has been dimmed by the "dark clouds of war, violence and destruction," which threaten to cast out Christians "amid the complicit silence of many." "There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East," the pope said. While asking "the Lord of heaven for that peace which the powerful of our world have not yet been able to find," the pope also prayed for peace in Jerusalem, "the holy city beloved of God and wounded by men for which the Lord continues to weep." After the prayer service, the pope and the Christian leaders returned to the basilica for a private meeting that lasted over two hours. In a speech delivered to the faithful outside the basilica, the pope said members of the group were encouraged by their dialogue, which "was a sign that encounter and unity are always found without fear of differences." Peace, he said, can only be cultivated and nurtured through listening and engaging in dialogue and not by "truces guaranteed by walls and tests of strength." Pope Francis denounced arms dealers who have taken advantage of the conflicts by selling weaponry and called for an end to the "personal profit of a few on the skin of many." "Enough with the occupation of lands that tear people apart. Enough with the prevalence of half-truths over people's hopes. Enough with using the Middle East for profits that are foreign to the Middle East," he said. Before ending the meeting with the release of two white doves, Pope Francis once again called for peace in Jerusalem whose "status quo demands to be respected." The Vatican supports a "two-state solution" for the Holy Land with independence, recognition and secure borders for both Israel and ...
Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:05:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis issued decrees advancing the sainthood causes of four candidates, including two young teenagers who heroically lived the Christian virtues. At a meeting July 5 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Alexia Gonzalez Barros, who offered her sufferings from a malignant tumor for the church. Gonzalez was born in Madrid in 1971. Her parents were members of Opus Dei and passed on their faith to their five children. She made her first Communion in Rome and the following day attended the weekly general audience May 9, 1979. She ran up to St. John Paul II as he greeted pilgrims and received a blessing and a kiss from the pope. Several years later, her life dramatically changed when doctors discovered a tumor that gradually paralyzed her. Throughout her illness, she offered her sufferings for the church and the pope and would often pray, "Jesus, I want to feel better, I want to be healed; but if you do not want that, I want what you want." She died Dec. 5, 1985, at the age of 14. Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of Carlo Acutis, a young teen who used his computer skills to catalogue eucharistic miracles around the world before his death at the age of 15 due to leukemia. According to the website of his canonization process, Acutis placed the Eucharist "at the center of his life and called it 'my highway to heaven.'" Before his death in 2006, Acutis offered his sufferings for Pope Benedict XVI and for the church. The other decrees signed by the pope recognized the heroic virtues of: -- Pietro Di Vitale, an Italian layman and a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. He was born in Sicily in 1916 and died in 1940. -- Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence and a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. He was an advocate for peace during the Cold War and despite his stature in the international community, he lived in a small cell in the Basilica of St. Mark in Florence. He died in 1977. Recognizing the heroic virtues of a person is one of the first formal steps toward canonization, or sainthood. In most cases, a miracle attributed to that person's intercession is needed for beatification, the next step toward sainthood.
Fri, 06 Jul 2018 09:08:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, an experienced diplomat and head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, died at the age of 75 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was receiving medical treatment. The cardinal, who had been living with Parkinson's disease, led a Vatican delegation to Saudi Arabia in April. But it was his role as "proto-deacon" or top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, that put him more squarely in the spotlight, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, "Habemus papam," "We have a pope." In a telegram to the cardinal's sister, Pope Francis extended his condolences and praised the cardinal's "sense of service and his love for the church." Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the church, the pope said, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims. "I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease," he wrote. Born in Bordeaux, France, April 5, 1943, the cardinal was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and entered the Vatican's diplomatic service in 1975. He worked in apostolic nunciatures in the Dominican Republic and Lebanon from 1975 to 1983. He was a representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1983 to 1988, pressing the Vatican's position on human rights at a time when the Soviet-bloc regimes of Eastern Europe were weakening. He was called to work in the Secretariat of State, first named undersecretary for relations with states in 1988, then secretary of the department in 1990. For the next 13 years, he was St. John Paul II's "foreign minister," the official who dealt with all aspects of the Vatican's foreign policy. Most of his work has been behind the scenes, with daily unpublicized meetings with diplomats accredited to the Holy See and with visiting dignitaries. But sometimes he was called upon to express Vatican positions more openly -- on war and peace, on the Holy Land or on the rights of minority Catholic communities. St. John Paul ordained him an archbishop in January 1991 and elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 2003, soon after making him head of the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI then named him president of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the office overseeing the Vatican's dialogue efforts with representatives of other faiths, including Islam. The pope had placed the interreligious council under the wing of the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2006 but, with Cardinal Tauran's appointment, he returned the office to its previous autonomy and high profile. Addressing a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue in Qatar in 2004, Cardinal Tauran told participants that political leaders have nothing to fear from true religious believers. "Believers who are recognized and respected for who they are will be more inclined to work together for a society of which they are full members," he said. He once told diplomats that the reason then-Pope John Paul made so many pronouncements against world conflicts and wars was not in an attempt to get involved in politics, "but to show men and women the correct path, to revive their consciences, to highlight rights and the commitments made to them, and to repeat with new words the Gospel beatitude: 'Blessed are the peacemakers.'" His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 124 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 14:37:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Twenty-five years after St. John Paul II visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit Sept. 22-25, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. The four-day trip will take the pope to two important Marian shrines, two major ecumenical encounters and places that commemorate each nation's fight for freedom from oppression. Abortion and the disintegration of families have been serious challenges for the church and society in these three former Soviet republics, according to past reports from bishops during their visits Rome. Pope Benedict XVI had noted the problem of "scant attention paid to the transmission of authentic values to one's children, the precariousness of jobs" and mobility that breaks up extended family networks. "A modernity that is not rooted in authentic human values is destined to be dominated by the tyranny of instability" and a widespread sense of being lost, he told bishops from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2008. In a 2015 meeting with bishops from Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis also addressed the need to adequately transmit church teaching on marriage and family life. The pope told the bishops in a written address that God had chosen them to "work in a society that, after having long been oppressed by regimes founded on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom, today is called to face other insidious dangers, such as secularism and relativism." It will be Pope Francis' 24th trip abroad and bring the total number of countries he has visited outside of Italy since his election to 38 nations. The Vatican released the following schedule July 5 with many of the times still yet to be announced. Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses. Saturday, Sept. 22 (Rome, Vilnius) -- 7:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport for Vilnius, Lithuania. -- 11:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.) Arrival at Vilnius' international airport. -- Welcoming ceremony at the airport. -- Courtesy visit with the president at the presidential palace. -- Meeting with government authorities, local leaders and representatives of the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace. Speech by pope. -- 4:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.) Visit the image of Mother of Mercy (Mater Misericordiae) at the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn. Prayer by pope. -- Meeting with young people in the square by the city's cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Visit the city's cathedral. Sunday, Sept. 23 (Vilnius, Kaunas, Vilnius) -- 8:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.) Transfer from Vilnius to Kaunas by car. -- Mass at the Kaunas' Santakos park. Homily by pope. -- Angelus prayer at Santakos park. Angelus by pope. -- Lunch with the bishops at the curial house. -- Meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Kaunas cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Transfer by car to Vilnius. -- Visit and prayer at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. Prayer by pope. Monday, Sept. 24 (Vilnius, Riga, Vilnius) -- 7:20 a.m. (12:20 a.m.) Departure by airplane from Vilnius' international airport to international airport of Riga, Latvia. -- 8:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m.) Arrival at the international airport of Riga, Latvia. -- Official welcome at the airport. -- Welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of the presidential palace. -- Courtesy visit with the president in the presidential palace. -- Meeting with government authorities, local leaders and representatives of the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace. Speech by pope. -- Ceremony and placement of flowers at the Freedom Monument. -- Ecumenical encounter at Riga's Lutheran cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Visit to the Catholic cathedral of St. James. Greeting by pope. -- Lunch with the bishops at the archdiocesan house of the Holy Family. -- Transfer by helicopter from Riga's harbor helipad to the Marian sanctuary of Aglona. -- Mass near the sanctuary. Homily by pope. -- Farewell ceremony at the heliport of Aglona. -- Transfer by ...
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 12:54:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has released a document that establishes norms and principles for women who dedicate their lives as consecrated virgins and their place in the life of the church. Presenting the new document at the Vatican press office July 4, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said it is the "first document of the Holy See that delves into the character and discipline of this way of life." "The instruction on the 'Ordo virginum' ('Order of Virgins') intends to respond to the requests that numerous bishops and consecrated virgins in these years have presented to the congregation for consecrated life regarding the vocation and witness of the order of virgins, its presence in the universal church and, particularly, its formation and vocational discernment," Cardinal Braz de Aviz said. Consecrated by her local bishop, a member of the order of virgins makes a promise of perpetual virginity, prayer and service to the church while living independently in society. The publishing of the document, "Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago" ("The Image of the Church as Bride") comes two years ahead of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the renewed "Ritual for the Consecration of Virgins,'' an ancient rite in the church that fell into disuse in the years before the Second Vatican Council. Divided into three parts, the document's first section highlights the biblical origins and characteristics of the order of virgins, in which women "with spousal love are dedicated to the Lord Jesus in virginity." "Since this form of consecrated life was reintroduced in the church, there has been a real revival of the 'Ordo virginum,' whose vitality is evident in the rich variety of personal charisms placed at the service of the church's development and of the renewal of society in the spirit of the Gospel," the document stated. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told journalists that through prayer penance and works of mercy, women in the order of virgins "take the Gospel as the fundamental rule of life." "The unique element of the 'Ordo virginum,' which distinguishes itself from the Institutes of Consecrated Life, is that the charism of virginity is harmonized with the charism of each consecrated woman, making room for a great variety of responses to vocations, in a creative freedom that demands a sense of responsibility and the exercise of a serious spiritual discernment," Archbishop Rodriguez said. The document's second section, he added, deals with the pastoral duties of bishops in fostering and nurturing the vocation of consecrated virgins as well as their role within the diocese. While rooted in their diocese, consecrated virgins are not confined to it and instead "are opened to the horizons of the universal mission of the church" in other dioceses, bishops' conferences and the universal church," Archbishop Carballo said. Finally, the third section of "Ecclesia Sponsae Imago" details the discernment and formation of women who choose the life of consecrated virgins. Bishops, the archbishop said, must ensure that their dioceses have the available resources to help women discern their calling that "deepens the understanding of the ecclesial value of this consecration." "Reproposing this way of life in the church may seem as an anachronism, but it is an act of trust in the action of the spirit, who is leading many women to accept and interpret this vocation in the light of the path fulfilled by the church over the centuries and according to the needs of the current historical context. It is a true path of sanctification that is fascinating and demanding," Archbishop Carballo said.
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 10:13:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named a lay Italian journalist with decades of experience in print, radio and television broadcasting to head the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. Paolo Ruffini, 61, who headed the Italian conference of Catholic bishops' TV and radio network, was named prefect of the dicastery July 5, making him the first layperson to head such a high-level Vatican dicastery. He succeeds Italian Msgr. Dario Vigano, who resigned as prefect in March after a controversy involving the use and photographing of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI. Born in Palermo in 1959, Ruffini received a degree in law at Rome's La Sapienza University. He worked for a number of major Italian newspapers beginning in 1979, then began working for radio news programs in 1996. He started working in television news in 2002. He served as the head of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops' television and radio stations -- TV2000 and Radio InBlu, from 2014 to 2018. He has received numerous awards for journalism, according to a Vatican press release. Pope Francis created the Secretariat for Communication in 2015 to streamline and coordinate the Vatican's many news and communications outlets and make them more effective. The Vatican has since changed its name to Dicastery for Communication. The development of digital media, with its converging technologies and interactive capabilities, required "a rethinking of the information system of the Holy See" and a reorganization that proceeded "decisively toward integration and a unified management," the pope wrote in the letter establishing the new dicastery.