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Updated: 59 min 33 sec ago

Pursue the common good, not allure of money, Pope tells finance students

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 23:00

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2017 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis told a group of students studying finance Thursday not to let themselves get taken in by the charm of money, but to instead work toward building a better future based on justice and the common good.

“It is essential that, until now and in your future professional life, you will learn to be free from the allure of money, from the slavery in which money closes those who worship it,” the Pope said Oct. 19.

It's also essential that students “acquire the strength and the courage not to blindly obey the invisible hand of the market,” he said, and encouraged them to take advantage of their study time, learning “to become promoters and defenders of a growth in equity, to become craftsman of a just and adequate administration of our common home, which is the world.”

Pope Francis spoke to students enrolled in the Chartreux Institute of Lyon. Established in 1825, the school is a private Carthusian educational institution linked to the French state school system.

The institute takes students from grade school all the way through high school, and also offers courses in higher education, with a specialization in the fields of finance, business, and accounting.

In his speech, Pope Francis said he was glad to learn that alongside their education in finances, students also receive a solid foundation in “human, philosophical and spiritual” studies.

To take courses in Rome, he said, allows the students to be immersed in the history “which has so strongly marked European nations.”

“Admiring what the genius of men and the hopes they cultivated were able to accomplish, also you must have it at heart to leave your mark in history,” he said, stressing in off-the-cuff comments that “you have the ability to decide your future.”

Francis told the students to take responsibility not only for the world, but “for the life of every man,” and urged them remember that “every injustice against a poor man is an open wound, and belittles your own dignity.”

Even though the world will expect them to strive for success above all else, the Pope told them to put the time and the means into going forward on “the path of brotherhood,” so that they will be able “to build bridges between men rather than walls, to add your stones to the building of a more just and human society.”

Noting how his audience was composed of both Christians and non-Christians, Pope Francis urged the Christians to stay united with the Lord in prayer, and to learn “to entrust everything to God, and so not give in to the temptation of discouragement and desperation.”

For those who are not Christians, the Pope greeted them with “respect and affection,” telling them to keep they eyes focused on others.

He closed his speech by encouraging all of the students “to work for the good, to become humble seeds of a new world,” and prayed that they would be able to “cultivate the culture of encounter and sharing within the single human family.

Pope to Methodists: Reconciliation is more than talk – it needs action

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 19:29

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2017 / 07:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Marking 50 years of Catholic-Methodist dialogue, Pope Francis on Thursday told members of both traditions that when it comes to future relations, simply speaking about reconciliation is not enough – we must actually pray and work for it.

“This is the journey that awaits us in the new phase of the dialogue, devoted to reconciliation: we cannot speak of prayer and charity unless together we pray and work for reconciliation and full communion,” the Pope said Oct. 19.

Pope Francis met with a delegation of around 50 members of the World Methodist Council on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of theological dialogue between Catholics and Methodists.

In his address, Francis said that looking toward the future, as well as back over the last 50 years, it is clear that to grow in holiness we must also grow in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

“As a call to life in communion with God, the call to holiness is necessarily a call to communion with others too,” he said. “Faith becomes tangible above all when it takes concrete form in love, particularly in service to the poor and the marginalized.”

And this service to others, he pointed out, can be a source of communion between Catholics and Methodists.

“When, as Catholics and Methodists, we join in assisting and comforting the weak and the marginalized – those who in the midst of our societies feel distant, foreign and alienated – we are responding to the Lord’s summons,” he said.

Discussions between the two churches can be a gift not just for their members, but also for our communities and our world, he noted, pointing out that the discussion could be an incentive to Christians everywhere to be “ministers of reconciliation.”

He explained how it is the Holy Spirit that brings about unity, and this is always done in his own way and his own time, just like at Pentecost, where the Spirit awakened “a variety of charisms,” creating unity without uniformity.

“We need then, to remain together,” he said, “like the disciples awaiting the Spirit, as brothers and sisters on a shared journey.”

Francis said that after a long separation, we are like brothers and sisters who are happy to once more meet and learn about one another, moving forward “with open hearts.”

“So let us advance together, knowing that our journey is blessed by the Lord. It began from him, and it leads to him.”

As encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, dialogue enables Christians of different creeds to continue growing in knowledge and esteem, the Pope continued, saying that “true dialogue gives us the courage to encounter one another in humility and sincerity, in an effort to learn from one another, and in a spirit of honesty and integrity.”

Francis expressed his gratitude to the Catholic-Methodist Dialogue Commission and to the World Methodist Council for their work, both past and present.

A lot has been learned over the past 50 years, but the work is not finished, he said, saying we must look forward to that day when we can finally unite in the “breaking of the bread.”

Concluding the audience by praying the ‘Our Father,’ the Pope invited those present to pray for reconciliation as well as the daily bread that sustains us “along the way.”

Pope taps Joliet auxiliary to head Evansville diocese

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:08

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2017 / 05:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced that Joseph M. Siegel, until now auxiliary bishop of Joliet, will be taking the reins in the diocese of Evansville, Indiana, which has been vacant for several months.

Siegel's appointment was announced in an Oct. 18 communique from the Vatican, and comes just four months after the previous Bishop of Evansville, Charles C. Thompson, was reassigned to Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The youngest of nine children, Seigel was born in Lockport Township July 18, 1963, and attended Catholic school.

After graduating from St. Charles Borromeo High School, he entered the local seminary where he completed his college education, and was eventually sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He completed his theological studies there, also taking courses at the Pontifical Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Siegel was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Joliet March 4, 1988, and assigned to the St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale. While serving at the parish, he completed a Licentiate degree in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein.

Other parish assignments the bishop held include St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield, St. Mary Nativity in Joliet and the Cathedral of St. Raymond, where he also served as the diocesan Master of Ceremonies. In 2004, Siegel was named pastor of Visitation Parish in Elmhurst.

He served as a member of the diocese's Presbyteral Council for nine years, including three as chairman, and was also appointed to the diocesan Board of Consultors. He also held the role of director of the Continuing Formation for Priests and was a member of the diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and was the Dean of Eastern Will County.

Within the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Siegel served as a priest-representative on the Executive Committee and was also chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. During the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress in Joliet, he chaired the Steering Committee.

Siegel was also a member of the Bishops’ Respect Life Advisory Board, and is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Joliet by Benedict XVI in 2009, and received his episcopal ordination in January 2010.

A year later, in December 2010, the bishop was named Apostolic Administrator of Joliet when the previous bishop, J. Peter Sartain, was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Seattle. When Joliet's current bishop, R. Daniel Conlon, was appointed in 2011, Siegel was named the diocese's Vicar General.

In addition to English, the bishop also speaks Spanish and Italian.

Pope Francis prays for victims of bloody Somalia 'massacre'

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:43

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2017 / 04:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis offered prayers for the more than 300 victims of a terrorist bombing in the African country of Somalia, one of the most lethal attacks to take place anywhere in the world in recent years.

"I would like to express my sorrow for the massacre that occurred a few days ago in Mogadishu, Somalia," the Pope said Oct. 18. "This terrorist act deserves the most firm censure, because it ravages a population that has already been so tried."

The attack took place Oct. 14 when a truck packed with explosives blew up in front of a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing more than 300 people and injuring hundreds, including children.

Responsibility for the bombing has yet to be claimed by any group, though some Somalis have reacted to the attack by condemning al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group associated with al-Qaeda.

In his appeal, Pope Francis said he prays “for the dead and the wounded, for their family members and for all the people of Somalia," and also offered prayer “for the conversion of the violent.”  He also encouraged “those who, with great difficulty, work for peace in that tortured land."

Pope Francis made his appeal at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his address, the Pope spoke about the inevitability of death, saying it’s good to meditate on our eventual passing.

As a piece of advice, he told pilgrims to “recite Psalm 90,” which asks to be taught how “'to count our days and acquire a wise heart.’”

These words help to give us a “healthy realism, casting off the delusions of omnipotence,” he said, asking: “What are we? We are ‘almost nothing,’ says another psalm; our days are running fast.”

He noted how many times he has heard older people speak about their life, saying it "passed like a breath." Death brings our life into focus, showing how all our pride, anger and hatred is ultimately vanity, he said.

"We realize with regret that we have not loved enough and did not look for what was essential. And, on the contrary, we see what we have really sowed: the affections for which we have sacrificed ourselves and who now hold our hand."

But faith gives us hope, he said, explaining that "we are all small and helpless in front of the mystery of death. However, what a grace if we keep the flame of faith in our hearts!"

Francis noted that Jesus, by his life and death, illuminated the mystery that is death. As an example, he pointed to the New Testament, when Jesus weeps after learning of the death of his dear friend Lazarus, showing us that it is okay to mourn the loss of a friend.

But then Jesus prays to the Father, the source of life, and orders Lazarus to leave the tomb: "and so it happens."

This is a source of Christian hope, he said: that though death is a part of life and is present in creation, it is "an affront to the design of God's love, and the Savior wants it to be healed."

In another Gospel episode there is a father with a very sick daughter who addresses Jesus with faith, asking him to save her, the Pope recalled. But then, someone comes out from the man's house to tell him it is too late, his daughter has died.

"Jesus knows that man is tempted to react with anger and despair because of the child's death, and advises him to guard the small flame that is lit in his heart: faith."

"Do not be afraid, only have faith," Jesus says to the father, telling him that when he arrives at home, he will find the child alive.

Also in his words to Martha, as she weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus teaches us that he is "the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live."

These words are repeated to us every time death comes in order "to tear the fabric of life and affections," Francis said, adding that "all our existence is played out here, between the side of faith and the precipice of fear."

Jesus is the resurrection and the life, the Pope said, asking pilgrims: "do you believe this?" He then invited those present in St. Peter's Square to close their eyes and think of the moment of their death.

Think of your death and imagine the moment when Jesus will take you by the hand and say, "come, come with me, get up," he said. Jesus will come to each of us, taking us by the hand "with his tenderness, his mildness, his love."

"This is our hope before death," he concluded. "For whoever believes, it is a door that opens wide completely; for those who doubt it is a glimmer of light that seeps out of a door that has not closed completely."

"But for all of us it will be a grace when this light illuminates us."

Pope Francis on why he gives interviews

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 03:49

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a preface to a new book of interviews, Pope Francis outlined his approach to speaking with journalists, explaining that he thinks interviews should be like a conversation and this is why he doesn’t prepare answers in advance.

“For me interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson,” the Pope wrote.

“I do not prepare for this,” he said, stating that he usually declines to read the questions when they are sent in advance, instead opting to answer organically, as he would in an actual conversation.

“Yes, I am still afraid of being interpreted badly,” he clarified, while adding that as a pastor, it’s a risk he’s willing to take.

“Everything that I do has pastoral value, in one way or in another,” he said. “If I did not trust this, I would not allow interviews: for me it is clear. It's a manner of communicating my ministry.”

Pope Francis gave his thoughts on interviews, and why and how he gives them, in a preface written for a book called Now Ask Your Questions.

The book, a a collection of both new and old interviews with Pope Francis, was compiled by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica. It will be presented Oct. 21.

In the preface, Francis explained that for him, giving an interview is not like ascending “a pulpit” to preach, but is a meeting between him and the journalist: “I need to meet the people and look them in the eyes,” he wrote.

He said he likes to speak with people from both small magazines and popular newspapers, because he feels “even more comfortable.”

“In fact, in those cases I really listen to the questions and concerns of ordinary people,” trying to answer “spontaneously” and in a “simple, popular language,” he explained.

He takes the same approach in press conferences aboard the papal plane when returning from apostolic visits, he said, though he sometimes imagines beforehand what questions journalists may ask.

He knows he must be prudent, he said, and he always prays to the Holy Spirit before listening to the questions and responding.

Historically however, Francis wasn’t fond of giving interviews. I may be “tough,” the Pope said, but I'm also shy, stating that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was a little afraid of journalists, though one eventually persuaded him.

“I've always been worried about bad interpretations of what I say,” he wrote. As with interviews in the past, he said he was hesitant to accept Spadaro’s request, though eventually he did and gave two long interviews, both which make up part of the book.

The compilation also includes various conversations with fellow Jesuits, which Francis said are the moments he usually feels the most comfortable and free to speak.

“I'm glad they've been included in this collection,” he said, since he feels like he is speaking among family members, and thus doesn’t fear being misunderstood.

Included in the book “are also two conversations with the superior generals of religious groups. I have always requested a real dialogue for them. I never wanted to give speeches and not have to listen to them,” he said.

“To me, to converse always felt the best way for us to really meet each other.”

In his meeting with Polish Jesuits, for example, the Pope said he spoke about discernment, strongly underlining the specific mission of the Society of Jesus today, “that is also a very important mission of the Church for our times.”

“I have a real need of this direct communication with people,” he said.

These conversations, which take place in meetings and interviews, are united in form to how he delivers his daily homilies at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta every morning, what is sort of his “parish,” he pointed out.

“I need this communication with people. There, four days a week, they go to find me, 25 people of a Roman parish, together with others.”

“I want a Church that knows how to get involved in people's conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” he said.

“It is the Church of Emmaus, in which the Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples who are walking, discouraged. For me, an interview is part of this conversation of the Church with the people of today.”

What is Pope Francis' approach to appointing new bishops?

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 02:34

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadership.

With that in mind, Pope Francis’ approach to the selection and appointment of bishops is worth considering.

When diocesan and auxiliary bishops turn 75 years old, they are required to submit a letter of resignation to the Pope, which he can accept immediately or at any time going forward.

At present, there are seven key posts in the world waiting for a new bishop. While it can take more than a year before a bishop’s resignation is accepted, many analysts anticipate a flurry of significant episcopal appointments over the next several months.  

Bishops who recently submitted a letter of resignation to Pope Francis include Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC; Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo); Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban (South Africa); Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa (Honduras); Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris; and Archbishop Peter Okada of Tokyo.

What will Pope Francis’ criteria be in appointing new bishops to these significant dioceses?

Some recent appointments may shed light on his priorities.  

Pope Francis recently appointed Mario Delpini, 66, to serve as Archbishop of Milan, succeeding Cardinal Angelo Scola. Delpini served as Milan’s auxiliary bishop for a decade before being appointed archbishop.

Archbishop Delpini had been a collaborator with the three previous archbishops of Milan, Cardinals Martini, Tettamanzi and Scola. Unlike his predecessors, however, all of his priestly life took place in the Archdiocese of Milan.

Pope Francis also recently appointed a Vicar of Rome, the title used for the functional head of the Diocese of Rome. To replace Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope picked Bishop Angelo De Donatis, 63, who preached the 2014 Lenten spiritual exercises to the Roman Curia, and was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Rome in 2015.

Archbishops Delpini and De Donatis have several things in common. They both have extensive pastoral experience, both are considered ideologically moderate, and both were already connected to the dioceses they’d been appointed to lead. These are said to be key criteria in the episcopal appointments of Pope Francis.

In fact, the Pope’s apparent criteria were a factor in many of his other notable appointments.

In 2014, the Pope chose Cardinal Reinhard Woelki as Archbishop of Cologne, moving him from his post in Berlin. Cardinal Woelki’s move to Cologne was a return to his hometown. When he was appointed, he was noted for his human touch, his pastoral work and simple style of life – television news pieces featured him washing his clothes personally and cooking at his home.

The same year, the Pope picked Carlos Osoro Sierra as the Archbishop of Madrid, and later named him a cardinal. Cardinal Osoro Sierra is known as the “little Francis” in Spain, largely because of his pastoral gifts and his missionary impulse, which have been a transformational factor for the Church in Spain.

Given these four examples, what is the Pope going to do with the Church in the U.S.?

Over the past year, Pope Francis has appointed 16 U.S. bishops, most of them in smaller dioceses or as auxiliaries. The major pending question is that of the successor of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Cardinal Wuerl is already 76 years old, more than a year beyond the normal retirement age.

The post in Washington, D.C. is a key post, as it involves both pastoral care and institutional relations with the U.S. political establishment. What will Pope Francis do?

An insistent rumor says that Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego might be at the top of the list.

Bishop McElroy recently grabbed headlines for jumping into the discussion on LGBT issues that followed Fr. James Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge.” Bishop McElroy has defended the book, and Martin, in the face of criticisms of his work.  

He also recently took part in a Boston College conference on Amoris Laetitia, hosted by Cardinal Blase Cupich and Father James Keenan, SJ. During the conference, Bishop McElroy reported on the diocesan synod he launched on Amoris Laetitia, and said that Catholic teaching must take seriously the complexity of adult moral life.

Among observers, he is considered a figure similar to Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was personally chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead the Archdiocese of Chicago. This seems to suggest that he is a fit for Pope Francis’ model of episcopal leadership.

Of course, his appointment is simply a rumor, just as another rumor in Rome says that the Pope will soon call Cardinal Cupich to lead an important Vatican office in Rome.

There are no confirmation of rumors, and sometimes gossip is just a way to test possible reactions to an appointment. Such rumors are typical in such a moment of transition.

It’s worth noting that Pope Francis might also be reconsidering the selection process for bishops.

During the June 12-14 meeting of the Council of Cardinals, a new procedure for the appointment of bishops was discussed. It was not the first time the cardinals who advise Pope Francis have addressed this issue.

In particular, the Holy See Press Office explained that the consultation before the appointment of a new bishop might involve more local priests and laity. In the end, a bishop’s appointment is always a Pope’s appointment. However, the Pope receives suggestions – usually in the form of a set of three – from the local nuncios of each country, who consult broadly, and “interview” a number of people before suggesting any name to the Pope.

The idea being suggested is to emphasize the local level, rather than the nuncio’s suggestions. One of the issues apparently of concern is the way that nuncios gather information, as the standard questionnaire they deliver is said to be too dated.

 

 

Benedict XVI's secretary denies rumors that he is close to death

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 23:52

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has rejected reports that the former pontiff is nearing death.

Rumors of Benedict XVI being close to death circulated on social media following a quote attributed to Ganswein, which reads, “Pope Benedict is like a candle that fades slowly. He is serene, at peace with God, with himself and the world. He can no longer walk without help and can no longer celebrate Mass.”

However, Archbishop Ganswein called this quote “pure invention.”

“It is false and wrong! I would like to know who the author of this is,” he said, according to German media outlet kath.net.

 “I have received in the last two days many messages that refer to this phrase, and people are worried,” he said.

Last week, Ratzinger’s brother was at the Vatican to visit, and he has now returned home, Ganswein confirmed, adding, “Both had a good time.”

 

In Diwali message to Hindus, Vatican officials call for mutual respect

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 23:00

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 11:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With tensions between Christians and Hindu nationalists in India increasingly on the rise, the Vatican sent a message marking the Hindu feast of Diwali, urging members of both religions to go beyond mere tolerance of one another, and to foster a genuine mutual respect.

Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights, and is being celebrated this year on Oct. 19.

“May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities,” read a greeting to Hindus sent Oct. 16 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue. The message was signed by the council's president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and its secretary, Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot.

In their message, titled “Christians and Hindus: Beyond Tolerance,” Tauron and  Ayuso acknowledged that there are many good things happening in the world for which to be grateful, but said there are also difficulties that “deeply concern us.”

They said, “the growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world,” is one of these challenges.

In India this intolerance has been acutely felt with an increase in violence against minorities in the country, including Christians and Muslims. While there is no state religion in India, nearly 80 percent of its population is Hindu.

“On this occasion,” the Vatican officials wrote, “we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.”

“Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole,” the letter read.

They wrote that “to see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.”

“Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity.”

This respect encourages mutual esteem for different social, cultural and religious practices, while at the same time recognizing the inalienable rights of others, “such as the right to life and the right to profess and practice the religion of one’s choice,” they said.

In order for diverse communities to move forward, then, the path must be one “marked by respect,” they said: “While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favors peaceful coexistence and harmony for all.”

“Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of 'feeling at home' with others,” and rather than dividing and isolating, “respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family.”

The Vatican officials then urged members of different religious traditions to “go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace-making and harmonious living.”

“Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own.”

Thus, they concluded, “we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.”

Hunger must be fought by actively going to the roots, Pope Francis says

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:26

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 05:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday Pope Francis issued a lengthy appeal to address the problem of world hunger not only through talk, but concrete action by going to the root of the problem and introducing a new global mentality aimed at love rather than profit.

With the risk of indifference rising as deaths due to hunger, abandonment or war are reported on a daily basis, “we urgently need to find new ways to transform the possibilities we have into a guarantee that will allow each person to face the future with established confidence, and not only with some illusion,” the Pope said Oct. 16.

In light of the vast portions of the global population who continue to suffer from malnutrition, war, climate change, forced migration and various forms of exploitation, “we can and must change course,” he said.

Noting how some would say simply “reducing the number of mouths to feed” would be enough to solve the problem of food shortage and global inequality, Francis said this is “a false solution” given current patterns of waste and consumption in some areas of the world.

Rather, he proposed “sharing” as a more effective strategy, which “implies conversion, and this is demanding.”

Francis spoke during his annual address to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which estimates that across the board, a third of food produced in the world each year is wasted, amounting to some 1.3 billion tons.

He suggested a change in language used on the international scene which is focused on “the category of love, conjugated as gratuitousness, equal treatment, solidarity, a culture of gift, brotherhood and mercy.”

“These words express, effectively, the practical content of the term 'humanism,' often used in international activity,” he said.

Francis also highlighted the relationship between hunger and forced migration, saying the problem can only be solved “ if we go to the root of the problem,” rather that coming up with superficial solutions.

Referencing various studies, the Pope noted that the main underlying causes of hunger, which in itself prompts many to migrate, are “conflicts and climate change.”

The effects of climate change are felt on a daily basis, he said, explaining that thanks to science, the international community already knows how to face the problem.

He praised initiatives such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, and urged nations to uphold the agreement. However, he noted that “unfortunately, some are moving away from (it).”

Though Pope Francis mentioned no one specifically, his reference includes the United States, which pulled out of the agreement June 1 as President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pursue other means of addressing the environmental issue which are more favorable to Americans.

In terms of conflict, the Pope pointed to various “martyred populations” suffering from decades of war, many of which “could have been avoided or at least stopped, and yet they spread such disastrous and cruel effects as food insecurity and the forced displacement of peoples.”

To overcome these conflicts, both “good will and dialogue” are needed, as well as firm and total commitment to a “gradual and systemic disarmament” in war zones.

“What is the point of denouncing that, because of military conflicts, millions of people are victims of hunger and malnutrition, if we do not act effectively in the interest of peace and disarmament?” he said.

“It is clear that wars and climate change are an occasion for hunger, so let us avoid, then, presenting it as an incurable illness.”

Human mobility, he said, can and must be managed by a coordinated and systemic action on the parts of governments that are in accord with existing international standards, and which are “impregnated with love and intelligence.”

In terms of solutions, he said it's possible to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction because the world has recognized “the destructive capacity of these weapons.” However, he asked whether “we equally aware of the effects of the poverty and exclusion?”

People who are “willing to risk everything” to escape violence, hunger, poverty or climate change won't be stopped by physical, economic, legislative or ideological barriers, he said, explaining that “a coherent application of the principle of humanity” is the only thing capable of addressing the problem.

Francis urged “a broad and sincere” dialogue at all levels of society in order for “the best solutions” to be found and for new relationships to be formed which are characterized by “mutual responsibility, solidarity and communion.”

Although current initiatives in place are praiseworthy, “they are not enough,” he said, and stressed the need to promote and develop new actions and financial programs “which combat hunger and structural misery more effectively and with high hopes of success.”

In developing these new tactics, it's necessary to avoid the temptation “to act in favor of small groups of the population” or to used aid funding “inappropriately, favoring corruption, or lack of legality,” he said.

Closing his remarks, the Pope voiced the desire for the Catholic Church to directly participate in the various efforts being pursued and implemented given her mission, “which leads it to love everyone and also forces it to remind those who have national or international responsibility of the great duty to meet the needs of the poorest.”

Francis, who received a standing ovation for his speech, gifted the FAO with a marble statue commemorating Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee boy whose body washed up on the shores of Turkey in 2015 after a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

Vatican City court finds former hospital president guilty of corruption

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 01:09

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 01:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Vatican City announced Saturday the conclusion of the corruption trial of the former president and treasurer of the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome.

The Oct. 14 communique announced the end of the trial and the conviction of former president, Giuseppe Profiti, on charges of abuse of office. The hospital's former treasurer, Massimo Spina, was acquitted.

The final hearing was held Saturday morning. The finding was pronounced after roughly two hours of deliberation.

Profiti was given a penalty of one year imprisonment, one year interdiction from public offices and a fine of 5,000 euros ($5,900).

However, subject to the granting of general attenuating circumstances, Profiti was granted a five-year conditional suspension of the sentence. A conditional suspension means that if a new offense is committed in the five-year period he becomes immediately subject to the penalty.

The judicial board which delivered the sentence was composed of Paolo Papanti Pelletier, president, Venerando Marano, judge, Carlo Bonzano, judge, and Elisa Pacella, alternate chancellor.

Vatican City reported it was conducting an investigation into this matter in 2016 after documents were published implying there may have been the illicit transfer of funds from the hospital’s foundation.

The Vatican announced July 13 it was charging Profiti and Spina with the illicit use of hospital funds in the amount of 422,005 euros ($499,000) for the refurbishment of the apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.

The crime was said to have been carried out during the period of November 2013-May 28, 2014 and to have benefited the construction firm of Italian businessman Gianantonio Bandera, which was carrying out the renovations on the apartment.

Profiti and Spina were summoned to appear before the court by a June 16, 2017 decree from the president of the Vatican Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre. The first hearing took place July 18.

The Bambino Gesù was founded in Rome in 1869 as the first pediatric hospital in Italy. In 1924 it was donated to the Holy See and became the “Pope's Hospital.” While it receives funding from the Italian government, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Italian government’s health authorities.

Pope at canonization Mass: God never stops inviting us to the heavenly banquet

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:14

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 05:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints in the Catholic Church, saying that no matter how often we reject him, the Lord will continue to love us and invite us to participate in his heavenly banquet.

“The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite,” the Pope said Oct. 15.

“When he hears a ‘no,’ he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation. In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.”

Francis explained that when we are hurt by others, we often harbor grudges and resentment. But God, on the other hand, while pained by our rejection of him, does not give up. He tries again and again.

“He keeps doing good even for those who do evil. Because this is what love does. Because this is the only way that evil is defeated,” the Pope said.

“Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.”

In a Mass with 35,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints, including Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, three teenage boys from the 16th century in Mexico, who were beaten to death after converting to Catholicism.

“...we declare and define Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, Mateo Moreira and 27 companions; Cristobal, Antonio and Juan; Faustino Miguez; and Angelo of Acri to be Saints,” Francis stated.

“And we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel from Matthew, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast to explain the Kingdom of God. In the parable, guests are invited by the king to the wedding feast of his son.

“Such is the Christian life, a love story with God,” the Pope said. “The Lord freely takes the initiative,” inviting, not a select few, but everyone to participate in his Kingdom.

“The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love,” he said.

The Pope pointed out that some people, however, ignore the invitation and instead continue to go about doing their own thing.

In the Gospel passage, each person “was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation,” he continued. The guests weren't worried about being bored or annoyed, they simply did not care.

“They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands,” he said. In the Gospel, then, we are being asked where we stand: with God or with ourselves, Francis stated. “Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.”

We should ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him. Among all the things we say each day, there should also be the prayer, “Lord, I love you’ you are my life,” he said.

Because without love, and without a relationship with Christ, the Christian life becomes empty and dead; merely a collection of rules and laws with no good reason for obedience. “The God of life, however, awaits a response of life. The Lord of love awaits a response of love.”

Today’s newly canonized saints all responded to God with love, he explained. As the Gospel emphasizes, it is not enough to merely respond “yes” to God’s invitation one time, and then do nothing.

“Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the 'habit' of practicing love,” he said.

The newly canonized saints, especially the many martyrs, are an example of this daily habit of choosing to love God and choosing to do his will, he pointed out.

Cristobal, Antonio and Juan lived in Mexico in the 16th century, at the start of the Christian missionary work in the country. Cristobal was educated in the Christian faith by Franciscan missionaries, asking to be baptized.

He then began to share the Gospel with his family and acquaintances in an effort to convert them, especially his father who had abusive habits and was frequently drunk.

One day, after Cristobal destroyed the pagan idols in his family's home, his father began to kick and beat him, breaking his arms and legs. The boy continued to pray, despite the intense pain, so his father threw him into a burning fire, killing him.

The boy Antonio and his young servant Juan, all born in the same town as Cristobal, helped the Dominican missionaries who were setting up a mission in a nearby town as interpreters for the other indigenous people.

The boys were warned that it was a task that could likely end in death, but still volunteered to go. One day, while entering a house to destroy the pagan idols as usual, angry townspeople approached and began beating Juan to death with sticks.

Antonio turned to the aggressors and asked, “Why do you beat my companion who has no fault? It is I who collect idols, because they are diabolical and not divine.” The people then turned to Antonio, also beating him to death.

The blood of the three boys is considered the first seed of the great growth of Catholicism in the country of Mexico.  

Martyrs Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, were killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on July 16, 1645; Mateo Moreira, a layman, and 27 fellow martyrs, were also killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on October 3, 1645.

Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, who took the religious name Faustino of the Incarnation, was a priest and a professed member of the Piarists (the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). He lived from 1831-1925 in Spain.

Angelo of Acri, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, lived in Italy from 1669-1739.

Concluding his homily, the Pope urged everyone to ask the Lord, “through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters,” for the grace to make a habit of love, accepting God’s invitation to the wedding feast.

We should also ask for his help in keeping our wedding clothes “spotless.”

“How can we do this?” Francis asked. “Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness. This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.”

Pope announces special 2019 Synod of Bishops on South American region

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 16:32

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis announced the decision to hold a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in October 2019, on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops' conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” Francis said Oct. 15.

The purpose of the assembly will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America, meaning Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, “especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” he said.

The assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

The Pope’s announcement was made in St. Peter’s Square before the recitation of the Angelus, and following the canonization Mass of 35 new saints.

New saints Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, and Mateo Moreira and 27 companions were all martyred in Brazil. Three teenage boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, also martyred, were from Mexico.

The other new saints are Faustino Miguez of Spain and Angelo of Acri, Italy.

“The new Saints will intercede for this ecclesial event, so that, in respect for the beauty of creation, all the peoples of the earth may praise God, Lord of the universe, and enlightened by him walk on the paths of justice and peace,” Francis stated.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel...and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod of Bishops may meet for ordinary general assemblies, which are on a matter of importance to the Church in general and held at fixed intervals, or for special assemblies, which focus on a specific geographical area of the Church.
Extraordinary general assemblies can also be organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The last special assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in 2010 on the situation in the Middle East.

The 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place in October 2018, and will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an Extraordinary Synod in 2014, which was followed by the Ordinary Synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.

Pope Francis: You can’t spread God’s love from an armchair

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 18:13

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2017 / 06:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis said that to share God’s love with the world requires action and service – and that we can’t just sit around and wait for other people to perform our vocation.

“Love is dynamic, it goes out of itself,” the Pope said Oct. 14. The person who loves does not just sit in an armchair watching and waiting for the world to improve. Instead, he or she “with enthusiasm and simplicity gets up and goes.”

As St. Vincent de Paul said, our vocation is not merely to go to one parish or diocese, but to go throughout the earth, he continued. And what do we do? We “inflame the hearts of men, doing what the Son of God did, he who came to bring fire to the world to inflame it with his love.”

The vocation to love, Francis said, “is always valuable for everyone.”

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Vincentian Family during a celebration in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 14 celebrating the 400th anniversary of the start of the charism of the Vincentian Family, a group of organizations founded by or under the inspiration of St. Vincent de Paul.

A 17th-century French priest, St. Vincent is known as the patron of Catholic charities for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized.

The meeting was part of a week-long symposium in Rome which included Mass, prayer services and talks.

In their audience, Francis said he wanted to encourage the members of the Vincentian Family to continue their journey of charity.

Besides the verb “to go,” he offered two other simple words he said are of great importance for “the Vincentian spirit but also for Christian life in general:” To worship and to welcome.

For St. Vincent, worship of God, or prayer, was essential, the Pope said. There are many invitations from him in his writing encouraging us to cultivate an inner life, devoting ourselves to prayer, which "purifies and opens the heart,” he said.

St. Vincent considered prayer like the compass of every day, the “manual of life.” Only through prayer can we draw from God the love that we then pour into the world, he continued.

But the saint didn't consider prayer a set of formulas or a sterile duty, he continued. Prayer, for St. Vincent, was to stand before God, being with him and devoting yourself to him.

“This is the most pure prayer, the one that makes room for the Lord and his praise, and nothing else: adoration,” he said.

"Here is adoration: to stand before the Lord, with respect, with calm and in silence, giving him the first place," abandoning oneself with confidence.

Whatever the situation or problem, those who spend time worshiping God can't help but be "contaminated" by the living source of love, he continued. Which makes us want to treat others like we have been treated by the Lord.

Those who spend time in worship and adoration become "more merciful, more sympathetic, more available, above rigidity and open to others."

When we think of the verb “to welcome,” we often think of doing something, like performing an act of hospitality or the like, Francis said. But it actually has more to do with a way of thinking.

Welcoming is really "a slow detachment from all that is mine: my time, my rest, my rights, my plans, my agenda."

The Christian is truly welcoming who sets aside his or her own ego in favor of sowing peace and concord and communion, even when not reciprocated.

“Thank you for moving in the streets of the world, as St. Vincent would ask you today,” the Pope concluded. I hope you continue to draw God’s love from adoration, spreading it throughout the world, through the “good contagion” of charity.

“I bless all of you and the poor you meet.”

Pope Francis, Lebanese prime minister discuss Middle East

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 23:21

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 11:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and the prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Rafic Hariri, discussed Friday the current situation in the Middle East and Lebanon, which has received a large number of refugees from Syria.

According to an Oct. 13 statement from the Vatican, the meeting took place “in an atmosphere of great cordiality,” which enabled a productive discussion of various issues in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Among these, the two expressed hope for “increasingly fruitful collaboration between the various political powers” in support of the common good of the nation.

They also focused on the importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and the “historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country.”

In the half-hour meeting, Francis and Hariri spoke about the need to find a “just and comprehensive solution” to conflicts in the region and Pope Francis also expressed his appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has shown to refugees fleeing Syria and other countries of the Middle East.

Now more politically stable, before Oct. 2016 and the election of President Michel Aoun, the Lebanese parliament was under a 29-month deadlock to choose the next president.

Bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south, the situation in Lebanon is closely tied to that of the Middle East. The country has welcomed the largest number of refugees per capita, which now represent an estimated one quarter of the country's 4.5 million population.

In an effort to keep refugees from overwhelming any one area of the country, Lebanon has banned formal refugee camps, but already in some Lebanese towns there are now more Syrians than native Lebanese.

In Lebanon, Christians make up about 41 percent of the population, and Muslims, evenly divided between Sunnis and Shiites, around 54 perecent. Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group.

In the meeting the Pope and Prime Minister also conversed on the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as the value of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in promoting peace and justice.

Francis gave Hariri a gift of an olive branch sculpture, symbolizing peace. On his part, the Prime Minister gave Francis a silver necklace with a cross.

As is usual for heads of state, following his meeting with Francis, the Prime Minister also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher.

Celebrating 50 years, Special Olympics athletes meet with Pope Francis

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:52

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 06:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis met with Special Olympics soccer players, commending their commitment to the promotion of inclusion and the dignity of all.

“You are the symbol of a sport that opens eyes and heart to the value and dignity of individuals and people who would otherwise be subject to prejudice and exclusion,” the Pope said Oct. 13.

The papal audience was part of 50th anniversary celebrations put on by Special Olympics Italy. Francis met with around 350 participants of a unified soccer tournament taking place in Rome Oct. 12-15.

The event, called “We #Change the Game with PlayUnified,” involves 120 young athletes, both with and without intellectual disabilities, from the countries of Italy, France, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Romania.

The Special Olympics was started in 1967 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the first international Special Olympics Games took place at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968.

Today Special Olympics is active in 170 nations; more than 4 million athletes participate around the world.

Pope Francis told athletes that “sport is one of those universal languages ??that overcomes cultural, social, religious and physical differences, and succeeds at uniting people, making them part of the same game and protagonists together of victories and defeats.”

During the days of the tournament, participants will reaffirm the importance of “unified” sports, where athletes with and without disabilities play together on the same teams, he said.

“Do not be tired of showing the world of sport your shared commitment to building more fraternal societies in which people can grow and develop and fully realize their abilities,” he encouraged.

For its part, the Catholic Church supports and encourages these initiatives, he continued, because they foster the good of people and communities.

He recalled that in sports one can find many great stories of people who have overcome difficulties or come to terms with misfortunes such as poverty and physical and emotional wounds.

“These stories show us how the determination and character of some can be a motive for inspiration and encouragement for so many people in all aspects of their lives,” he said.

He praised their commitment to the promotion of human dignity and unity through sport, which he said “nourishes the hope of a positive and fruitful future of sport, because it makes it a real opportunity for inclusion and involvement.”
 
“I hope you spend these days with joy and serenity,” he concluded. Along with fun, also cultivating “friendship and solidarity.”

“As I ask you to pray for me, I invoke the Lord's blessing on you, on your families, and on those who support you in your sporting activity,” he said.

Pope Francis offers prayer for victims of California wildfires

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:33

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With more than 30 deaths caused by the various wildfires devouring swaths of California, Pope Francis on Friday sent a message voicing his solidarity with victims, and ensuring his prayer for all those affected by the blazes.

“Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster,” read an Oct. 13 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Addressed to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, the letter assured of the Pope's closeness to “those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.”

The letter also offered encouragement to civil authorities and emergency personnel working to put put the fires and help victims of the “tragedy,” and extended his blessing.

The 17 different wildfires raging in northern California, made worse by dry conditions and unrelenting winds, have so far scorched at least 100,000 acres and have killed at least 31 people since the beginning of the week. Thousands more have been displaced, their homes and businesses destroyed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa alone, one of the hardest hit by the fires, while roughly 400,000 square feet of commercial spaces have also been reduced to ash.

Much of the area of the Diocese of Santa Rosa has been under mandatory evacuation, including the chancery and the local Catholic Charities office.

In an Oct. 10 message, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa said “the sense of great helplessness is palpable” among residents. “When people ask how they can help I answer that I really do not know. I do know that prayers are the greatest source of solace and help.”

The bishop offered his own prayers for those who had lost loves ones in the fires, praying “for your consolation and for eternal rest for your lost loved ones. Our hearts go out to all of you.”

“At the same time, we acknowledge the sense of loss and suffering experienced by those who have lost their homes, or businesses, or places of employment,” he said. “We pray that you do not lose hope, nor the sense of God’s presence and ultimate goodness. You must know that the hearts of the entire community, though it can neither feel what you feel, nor undo the loss, do go out to you.”

Vasa also thanked the firefighters and police, both those from California and throughout the country who have offered their help.

Our Lady of Aparecida's smile gives us hope, Pope Francis says

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 23:39

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 11:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a video message Thursday for the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida, whose simple smile, he said, is a source of encouragement even during the most difficult times.

“The simple smile of Mary, which we can see in her image, is the source of the smile of each one of you in the face of the difficulties of life,” he said Oct. 12.

“The Christian can never be pessimistic!”

Recalling his first international apostolic visit, to Brazil in 2013, Francis said that visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in São Paulo was an occasion of joy and grace for him.

Repeating the message of his visit, the Pope said that at Aparecida "we learn to preserve hope, to be surprised by God, and to live in joy."

Hope, he insisted, is the virtue that must "permeate the hearts" of believers, especially when discouraged by desperate situations: "Do not let yourselves be overcome by discouragement. Have trust in God, have trust in the intercession of Our Mother of Aparecida.”

The Pope’s video message was sent to the people of Brazil Oct. 12 for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Our Lady of Aparecida, the country’s patroness.

"What I leave here are simple words, but I want you to receive them as a fraternal embrace at this time of celebration," he said.

The story behind the feast involves a clay statue of Mary Immaculate that was caught by three fishermen in Brazil in October 1717 while they were preparing for a feast dedicated to royalty passing through the town.

Guarantinqueta, a small city along the Paraiba River, was expecting to receive the Count of Assumar on his travels to a gold mining site in Vila Rica.

The feast required a vast amount of fish, but it was not the right season and weather conditions proved challenging. After a night of fishing, the men caught nothing.

Having prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the fishermen caught in their nets the body of the statue and then the head.

After the statue was brought aboard the boat, the men decided to pray to “Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida” – Our Lady of the Appeared Conception – to help them catch the fish. Their nets suddenly became very full, and the catch has been considered a miracle.

This miracle encouraged them to have confidence in God, Pope Francis said. With that miracle God surprised them, for he "who created us in infinite Love always surprises us," he underlined.

At the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, he said, as well as in every heart devoted to Mary, we can find hope "embodied in the experience of spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy, these values which in turn sink their roots deeper into the Christian faith."

At the beginning of April the Pope had sent a letter to Brazil's president apologizing for his inability to visit the country in 2017.

President Michael Temer had invited Pope Francis to visit Brazil for the 300th anniversary of the Marian apparition, and in 2013, Francis had expressed the desire to visit during the anniversary if possible.

In his video message, Francis reiterated how he would have liked to be with the people of Brazil during this jubilee year, saying that unfortunately, “the life of a Pope is not easy.”

Instead he nominated Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, vice-dean of the College of Cardinals, to be his papal delegate for the Oct. 12 celebrations. “To him I entrusted the mission to ensure the Pope's presence among you!” he said.

Though not able to be physically present, he expressed the wish that his affection be felt by the people of Brazil, devoted to the Mother of God.

Closing his message, the Pope thanked the Brazilian people for their prayers, especially at Mass, asking them to continue to pray for him, knowing that he is praying for them as well.

Brazil, he continued, needs men and women who, full of hope and faith, "witness that love, manifested in solidarity and in sharing, is stronger and brighter than the darkness of selfishness and corruption."

“Together, near or far, we form the Church, the People of God,” he said. “Every time we work together, even if in a simple and subtle way, for the announcement of the Gospel, we become, like Mary, authentic disciples and missionaries.”

Pope's death penalty views may mean new approach to criminal justice

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 21:37

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 09:37 am (CNA).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis told a gathering in Rome that the Catechism of the Catholic Church should significantly revise its treatment of the death penalty.

It's no surprise that Francis proposed a stronger theological condemnation of capital punishment.  He's criticized the practice throughout his papacy, as did his most immediate predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. All three popes have pled for clemency when the execution of condemned prisoners is imminent, and all three have linked capital punishment to the “culture of death” and the “throwaway culture” they've criticized.  All three have called for nations to abolish the death penalty.

The Church's official position on the death penalty is nuanced. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the “Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty,” assuming a criminal's guilt is sufficiently established, and only when execution seems to be the only just way of protecting public safety.  

In his landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae, issued in 1995, John Paul wrote that the punishment of criminals should focus on rehabilitation, while also ensuring the common good – public order and safety. He opposed capital punishment “except in cases of absolute necessity,” when a community would have no other means to protect itself.

Because of the resources available for modern and secure penal systems, John Paul said that today, “such cases are very rare, if practically non-existent.”

In fact, the Catechism was formally revised in 1997 to reflect the teaching of Evangelium Vitae.

The gist of the Church's current teaching on the death penalty is this: the state has the right to execute criminals, if there is no doubt about that the crime was grave and the offender is guilty. The state cannot justly execute a criminal if it can protect the common good and public safety equally well through non-lethal means. It is the job of the state to judge its own civil conditions and capacity for punishment, in order to determine how to apply those principles, but, when doing so, it should take seriously the moral direction of popes and bishops who have repeatedly said that the death penalty seems unnecessary in the context of developed nations.

On Wednesday, Francis proposed a strikingly different vision. He said that the death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel.” For many theologians, this language, and the idea that the death penalty “in itself” is contrary to the Gospel, has evoked the theological concept of “intrinsically evil acts,” a group which includes torture, rape, lying, abortion, and sexual immorality.

The distinction is important. Intrinsically evil acts are understood to be wrong in all cases, regardless of the circumstances, intention, or rationale. The morality of other kinds of acts is judged, in part, by circumstances. The traditional teaching on the death penalty puts it in the latter category; the morality of a particular execution is partially determined, as the Catechism explains, by the state's ability to secure the common good in other ways. 

If the Pope proposes that doctrine has developed, and that capital punishment is an intrinsically evil act, this would mean that there are no circumstances, in any time and place, in which it can be justified.

Francis' speech recognized this distinction. He explained that thinking about the death penalty in a new way is the result of the development of social doctrine.

“We are not in the presence of some contradiction with the teaching of the past,” he explained, “because the defense of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death has always been found in the teaching of the Church.

“The harmonious development of doctrine, however, requires that we [now] leave out arguments which now appear decisively contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth,” namely, the circumstantial qualifiers which guide current moral reasoning about executions.

Francis proposes that because the Church has gradually developed a deeper understanding of human dignity, over time, we are now able to recognize that execution is always immoral.

The development of doctrine is a thorny theological concept. Theologians have already begun asking whether Francis' proposal represents a development of prior positions, or a rupture from them. This debate will be complex, likely contentious, and not quickly resolved. But given increased attention to the death penalty in the last half-century, it is an important question to resolve.  

Francis did not announce which Vatican offices would be responsible for the reforms he proposed. Past revisions have included the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is likely to take a lead role in this process. But the Holy Father has a penchant for involving voices beyond traditional structures, so consultation may include some unexpected figures.

There is an additional factor of interest for American readers. In 2014, Pope Francis said that the use of long-term solitary confinement is a kind of torture. This position is also held by many psychologists, who have noted that solitary incarnation can have a profoundly negative impact on mental health. Long-term solitary confinement is the most prominent alternative to the death penalty proffered by American corrections officials, especially for habitual unmanageable inmates.

If long-term solitary confinement is a kind of torture, and thus an intrinsically evil act, it can never be morally justified. If execution also begins to be classified as an intrinsically evil act, Catholics will have to think carefully and creatively about very different approaches to criminal justice in the United States. Spurring that thinking may be a part of what Pope Francis has in mind.

Death penalty opponents across the world have cheered Pope Francis' comments on capital punishment. But his remarks on Thursday might also reveal something about the Pope's understanding of doctrine's development, a theological issue with effect on many other elements of the pontiff's teaching, including the already controversial Amoris Laetitia. That conversation will probably make fewer headlines, but for the Church, its implications could be significant.

 

Pope Francis: Be courageous in prayer – God will answer

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:36

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 06:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis told members of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and various Eastern Churches that they have a mission for peace and reconciliation, and that if we are courageous in prayer, God will answer, giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Here is the true gift of the Father. Man knocks with prayer at the door of God to ask for grace. And he, who is Father, gives me that and more: a gift, the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said Oct. 12. “That which the Lord, the Father, gives us more of is the Spirit.”

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the promise of prayer through which God bestows his gifts, stressing that when we pray, we need the courage of faith.

We must have “confidence that the Lord listens to us, the courage to knock at the door,” just as Jesus says in the day’s Gospel, he said, quoting the text: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

However, posing a series of questions to participants, the Pope asked is our prayer really courageous? Does it involve our entire selves, our heart and our life? Do we know how to knock at God’s heart?

We must “learn to knock on the heart of God! And we learn to do it courageously,” he said. And this brave prayer should inspire us and nourish us in our service to the Church, leading our commitment to grow and develop, giving “fruit at its own time” as the day’s Psalm said.

At the end of the Gospel passage from Luke, the Pope pointed out that Jesus says no father, when his son asks for a fish, gives him a serpent. Or when asked for an egg, hands his child a scorpion.

Jesus goes on to say that “if you, therefore, who are bad, know to give good things to your children, how much more your heavenly Father...”

The Pope said we expect Jesus to continue by saying that he will give us good things, but “he does not say that! He says: He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. That is the gift that is the ‘more’ of God.”

Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass Oct. 12 at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV.

Before Mass, he greeted superiors of the congregation, patriarchs and major archbishops. He then blessed a cypress tree in the garden of the Pontifical Oriental Institute building, afterward meeting with benefactors and the Jesuit community.

In a message addressed to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Oriental Churches and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Pope Francis greeted members of both entities.

He highlighted major events in the founding and history of the congregation and institute, explaining that his predecessor, in founding them, “wanted to draw attention to the extraordinary richness of the Eastern Churches.”

Even in the midst of the “turbulent” First World War, Benedict XV reserved “special attention to the Churches of the Orient.”

Now, we must look toward the “future mission” of the congregation and institute, he said, noting that at the beginning, there may have been some confusion about the balance between study and pastoral work of the institute.

But today, he continued, this conflict does not and should not exist: it's not about ‘either/or,’ he explained, but ‘both/and.’

He invited the professors to place their scientific commitments “in first place,” based on the example of their predecessors, whom he said distinguished themselves with their scholarly contributions and editions of liturgical, spiritual, archaeological and canonical sources.

While many are aware of the contributions scholars have made in these areas, the Pope said that now, as it was 100 years ago, we again find ourselves in challenging times, with war and hatred attacking “the very roots of peaceful coexistence in the persecuted lands of the East.”

The institute is again at the center of a “providential crossroads,” Francis said, and encouraged members to maintain their long tradition and attention to research, but also to listen to the challenges and experiences of students during this difficult time.

With the collapse of totalitarian regimes and various dictatorships, and the rise and spread of international terrorism, Eastern Christians are experiencing a time of persecution and worry, he said, and “in these situations nobody can close their eyes.”

The Oriental Institute is called to listen in prayer to what the Lord wants “at this precise moment,” he said, and in coherence with the three wise men, they must “seek new ways to go.”

Many of the students and professors are experiencing this important moment in history, he said, and the Oriental Institute, “through research, teaching and testimony, has the task of helping our brothers helping our brothers and sisters to strengthen and consolidate their faith in the face of the tremendous challenges they face.”

The institute can be a place of formation for seminarians, priests and laity, giving them hope so that they can collaborate and cooperate with Christ’s reconciling mission, he said.

He noted that the Pontifical Oriental Institute has an ecumenical mission in relation to the various Eastern Churches, with which we are still journeying toward full communion.

The way the institute can carry out this ecumenical mission, he said, is by fostering good relations with the Eastern Churches, collaborating on important issues, and devoting thorough study to the problems and questions still dividing Rome from the East.

However, he stressed that this work must be in the knowledge that everything happens in the Lord's time and manner.

Francis said the institute is also in a good position, with the trust of the many students of the non-Catholic Eastern Churches who attend, to “make known the treasures of the rich traditions of Eastern Churches in the Western world, so that they are understandable and can be assimilated.”

Concluding, Pope Francis bestowed his apostolic blessing on participants, giving thanks for the work of the Pontifical Oriental Institute over the last 100 years.

He also voiced his hope for the continued pursuit of its mission, which he said is to study and spread “with love and intellectual honesty, with scientific rigor and pastoral perspective, the traditions of the Oriental churches in their liturgical, theological, artistic and canonical variety.”

This mission, he said, also involves responding “better and better to the expectations of today's world to create a future of reconciliation and peace.”

New Miami auxiliary is first Peruvian-born US bishop

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:32

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis named Fr. Enrique Delgado, who has a background in economics, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami, making him the first Peruvian bishop in the United States.

Previously holding the position as pastor of the Miami's Saint Katherine Drexel Parish in Weston, Delgado will serve under Miami's Archbishop Thomas Wenski. His appointment as bishop was announced in an Oct. 12 communique from the Vatican.

In addition to being the first Peruvian bishop in the U.S., Delgado is the 14th auxiliary bishop to serve South Florida's Catholic community since the Miami diocese was created in 1958. It became an archdiocese in 1968.

Born in Lima, Peru in 1955, Delgado studied at the University of Lima and in 1982 obtained a Masters Degree in Economics, with an emphasis in Finance and Accounting.

He worked as a manager for a number of years in Peru before eventually came to the United States and entering seminary for the Miami Archdiocese, undergoing studies in the in the Saint John Vianney College Seminary of Miami and later in the Saint Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach.

After completing his studies in 1996, he was ordained a priest for Miami the same year. Delgado served as pastor of several parishes after his ordination, including St. Agnes Parish in Key Biscayne, Nativity Parish in Hollywood, Saint Justin Martyr Parish in Key Largo and finally Saint Katherine Drexel Parish in Weston, where he has been stationed since 2010.

The bishop-elect continued his studies while serving as a priest, and obtained his doctorate in Practical Theology from Saint Thomas University in Miami Gardens in 2015.

In an Oct. 12 press release from the Archdiocese of Miami, the diocese said they are “proud” to have Delgado on board.

He will officially be introduced by Archbishop Wenski during a 10a.m. press conference at the Archdiocese of Miami's pastoral center. His episcopal ordination will take place Thursday, Dec. 7, at Miami's St. Mary Cathedral, with Archbishop Wenski presiding.

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