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11/18/2018

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2018 / 05:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a difficult time, it can be easy to see only the immediate problem; but asking Jesus to be the guide is the key to weathering the storm, Pope Francis said Sunday at a Mass with 6,000 poor and volunteers.

“The boat of our life is often storm-tossed and buffeted by winds. Even when the waters are calm, they quickly grow agitated. When we are caught up in those storms, they seem to be our only problem,” the pope said Nov. 18.

“But the issue is not the momentary storm, but how we are navigating through life. The secret of navigating well is to invite Jesus on board. The rudder of life must be surrendered to him, so that he can steer the route.”

“Today,” he continued, “let us invite Jesus into the boat of our life. Like the disciples, we will realize that once he is on board, the winds die down and there can be no shipwreck.”

Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the World Day of the Poor, which he established in 2016 at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. The theme for 2018 is taken from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

After Mass, he ate a lunch of lasagna, chicken nuggets, mashed potato and tiramisu with poor in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

Before the meal, Francis offered a blessing, saying "we thank everyone and pray to God to bless us all. A blessing from God for all, all [of us] who are here. May God bless each one of us, bless our hearts, bless our intentions, and help us to go forward."

In his homily at Mass, the pope reflected on Matt. 14:22-33, which gives the account of Jesus walking across the water to meet his disciples in the boat, which was being tossed about by waves.

As St. Matthew writes, after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus left the crowd of people and his disciples and went up on a mountain to pray.

His disciples set off in a boat for the other side of the Sea of Galilee, “meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward them, walking on the sea.”

There are several lessons that can be taken from this Gospel passage, the pope said; one being to have the courage to leave behind comfort and an easy life. “To go where? To God by praying, and to those in need by loving. These are the true treasures in life: God and our neighbor,” he said.

He explained that Jesus’ disciples were not meant to have a carefree life, “traveling light, ready to leave passing glories behind, careful not to cling to fleeting goods.”

“Christians know that their homeland is elsewhere,” he underlined. “We do not live to accumulate; our glory lies in leaving behind the things that pass away in order to hold on to those that last.”

“Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life,” he said: The unborn, starving children, young people in places of conflict, the elderly, those forced to leave their home and native country.

Taking care of those in need is not a “sociological option, it is not the fad of a pontificate; it is a theological requirement,” he emphasized.  “It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. Before the prayer, he reflected on the day’s Gospel passage from Mark. In the passage, the pope explained, Jesus is saying that the story of people and of individuals all have a goal: “permanent encounter with the Lord.”

“We do not know the time nor the ways in which [the end of the world] will happen,” Francis said. “We know, however, a fundamental principle which we must confront: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,’ Jesus says.”

At the end he offered a special prayer for everyone affected by the fires that are “scourging California” and for the victims of the winter storm on the east coast.

“May the Lord welcome the deceased into his peace, comfort the family members and support those who commit themselves to help,” he prayed.

The pope also prayed for those who died in a Nov. 15 attack on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Alindao, in the Central African Republic. At least 42 people died in the attack, including at least one priest, according to local reports. Some unofficial estimates have said the death toll could reach as high as 100. Many of the people killed were refugees sheltering at the church.

Pope Francis said, “we pray for the dead and the wounded and for an end to all violence in that beloved country, which is in great need of peace.”

11/17/2018

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 04:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s nativity scene will be a little bit different this year. In a departure from the traditional Neapolitan or Maltese figures of recent years, the scene of Christ’s birth will be entirely sculpted from sand.

Beginning Nov. 17, four artists are beginning their work in St. Peter’s Square, crafting nearly 46,000 cubic feet of sand, equal to around 700 tons, into a grand “Sand Nativity.”

The creators, who have been sculpting sand nativities in the Italian town of Jesolo for years, say on their website that the goal is “to build the largest sand nativity in Christendom in the center of Rome in order to provide moments of authentic and joyful contemplation to all those who love Christmas.”



Sand Nativity scene in the Italian town of Jesolo. Credit: Town of Jesolo.

A partnership between the mayor of Jesolo and Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice is what brought the famous sand sculptures to the Vatican for Christmas 2018.

The Jesolo sand, as it is called, was brought to the square from the Dolomites, a mountain range in northeastern Italy near Jesolo. The four sculptors who will transform the shapeless mounds into the traditional figures of Jesus’ birth hail from Holland, Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States.

Phase one of construction will begin with a large pyramid of sand; spaces will then be dug into the sides and the sand compacted. A few days later, a protective structure will be built around the sand. The true sculpting phase will begin Nov. 21 and go until the first week of December.

In the final 48 hours, which will be Dec. 5-6, the final touches will be placed, before the big reveal Dec. 7, the same day as the annual lighting ceremony of the St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree.

The tradition to have a tree in St. Peter’s Square was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982. This year’s tree comes from the Forest of Cansiglio in northern Italy, which is near the Dolomites.

11/17/2018

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 05:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the face of the difficulties of the modern-age, artists and theologians need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – the source of joy and hope, Pope Francis said Saturday, during the awarding of the 2018 Ratzinger Prize.

“Against the backdrop and in the context of the great problems of our time, theology and art must therefore continue to be animated and elevated by the power of the Spirit, which is the source of strength, joy and hope,” he said Nov. 17.

“I thank the theologians and the architects who help us to lift our heads and turn our thoughts to God,” he added. “Let [their work] always be addressed to this end.”

Pope Francis spoke with members of the Joseph-Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation, which is headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. During the audience in the Clementine hall, the pope bestowed the 8th annual Ratzinger Prize on Swiss architect Mario Botta and Bavarian theologian Marianne Schlosser.

The Ratzinger Prize was started in 2011 to recognize scholars whose work demonstrates a meaningful contribution to theology in the spirit of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Bavarian theologian who became Pope Benedict XVI.

It is not the first time a woman has been awarded the prize, he noted, but stressed the importance of greater recognition of the contribution of women to the sciences, to theological research and to the teaching of theology, which were “for so long considered almost exclusive territories of the clergy.”

This contribution should be encouraged, and “find a wider space, in keeping with the growing presence of women in the various fields of responsibility for the life of the Church,” he said, pointing to the example set by St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisiuex and St. Hildegard of Bingen, who are all considered Doctors of the Church.

Francis also praised the contribution of the other prize winner, architect Mario Botta. He noted the importance of sacred buildings throughout the history of the Church, as places which show “a concrete call to God” and express “the faith of the believing community.”

“The commitment of the architect, creator of sacred space in the city of men, is therefore of highest value, and must be recognized and encouraged by the Church, especially when we risk the oblivion of the spiritual dimension and the dehumanization of urban spaces,” he stated.

Pope Francis also encouraged members of the foundation to continue to study the writings of Benedict XVI, both those from his time as pope and before, “but also to face the new themes on which faith is called to dialogue,” like care of creation and defense of human dignity.

For admirers of Benedict’s spiritual legacy, there is a “mission to cultivate it and to continue to make it bear fruit,” he said. “His is a spirit that views the problems of our time with awareness and courage, and knows how to draw, from attention to Scripture in the living tradition of the Church, the wisdom necessary for a constructive dialogue with today’s culture.”

Schlosser, 59, has been a professor of the theology of spirituality at the University of Vienna since 2004. Pope Francis appointed her a member of the International Theological Commission in 2014.

She has translated a large part of the body of work of St. Bonaventure into German and was the researcher for the second volume of the total works of Joseph Ratzinger, which was on "the Idea of Revelation and the Theology of the History of Bonaventure." Her expertise is in Patristics and the theology and spirituality of the late Middle Ages.

Botta, 75, is an internationally-acclaimed architect, who has designed many different buildings, including homes, schools, libraries, museums, and banks. He has also designed several significant religious buildings, among them the Church of St. John the Baptist in Mogno, the Cathedral of Evry near Paris, and the Co-cathedral of Santo Volto in Turin.

He is also the designer of one of the chapels on display in the Holy See's pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

11/16/2018

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2018 / 06:56 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington collaborated extensively on a recently proposed policy for handling abuse allegations against bishops, CNA has learned.

Cupich submitted the plan Tuesday to leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference, proffering it as an alternative to a proposal that had been devised by conference officials and staffers.

The conference’s proposed plan would have established an independent lay-led commission to investigate allegations against bishops. The Cupich-Wuerl plan would instead send allegations against bishops to be investigated by their metropolitan archbishops, along with archdiocesan review boards. Metropolitans themselves would be investigated by their senior suffragan bishops.

Sources in Rome and Washington, DC told CNA that Wuerl and Cupich worked together on their alternative plan for weeks, and presented it to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops before the U.S. bishops’ conference assembly in Baltimore. Cupich and Wuerl are both members of the Congregation for Bishops.
 
The Cupich-Wuerl plan was submitted to the U.S. bishops even after a Vatican directive was issued Monday barring U.S. bishops from voting on any abuse-related measures. The Vatican suspended USCCB policy-making on sexual abuse until after a February meeting involving the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world.

An official at the Congregation for Bishops told CNA on Thursday that the substance of the plan presented by Cupich at the Baltimore meeting is known in the congregation as “Wuerl’s plan.” The official would not confirm whether the congregation had received an advance copy of the document.

Senior chancery officials in Washington described the plan presented Tuesday as a collaborative effort by the cardinals, telling CNA that Wuerl and Cupich first informed the Congregation for Bishops several weeks ago about their idea for the “metropolitan model” to handle complaints against a bishop, and suggested they had continued to discuss the plan with Congregation officials since that time.

"It was a mutual effort," one Archdiocese of Washington official told CNA.

The idea of amending USCCB policy so that allegations against a bishop would be handled by his metropolitan archbishop was first suggested by Wuerl publicly in August.

While Cupich played an active role in conference sessions this week, and proposed the detailed plan for an alternative to the conference’s special commission, Wuerl did not make any public comment on the plan, which at least some in Rome consider to be “his,” and which he first suggested in public 3 months ago.

Sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes discussions in Baltimore told CNA that Wuerl chose to step back from the plan’s presentation, providing advice and counsel but not seeking to take public credit. A spokesman for Wuerl declined to comment on that decision.

Several bishops in Baltimore told CNA that Cupich appeared to be positioning himself as an unofficial but influential policy-maker in the conference. His status would be strengthened if the plan he introduced in Baltimore gained support in Rome, they said, especially if it were favored over the plan proposed by conference officials.

It is not clear to what extent Cupich considered how the manner in which he presented his plan could be interpreted. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago told CNA that Cardinal Cupich was away, and could not be reached for comment.

A source familiar with the drafting of the alternative proposal told CNA that Wuerl was not involved in the way the plan was presented in Baltimore, saying that Wuerl’s only concern was developing the best possible plan for tackling the sexual abuse crisis, and not “playing games” at the conference.

Many American bishops arrived in Baltimore this week expecting to approve the proposed the independent commission, along with proposed standards for episcopal conduct. Bishops were stunned to discover Monday that they could not vote on the measures, following the last-minute instruction from the Congregation for Bishops, received Sunday night by conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

An Archdiocese of Washington official suggested to CNA that the Congregation for Bishops’ last minute suspension of voting at the Baltimore meeting might have been because the conference’s independent commission proposal was not sent to Rome until Oct. 30.

DiNardo, however, told a press conference Monday that while the draft document for the independent commission had been sent to Rome at the end of October, the USCCB had been in consistent contact with Vatican officials as the texts were developed.

DiNardo said that “When we were in Rome [in October] we consulted with all of [the Vatican dicasteries]. I mean, [that’s what] we do.”

“When I met with the Holy Father in October, the Holy Father was very positive in a general way - he had not seen everything yet - of the kind of action items we were looking to do.”

Cupich spoke from the floor immediately after DiNardo’s announcement of the change Monday morning. The cardinal suggested that the bishops continue to discuss the proposed measures and take non-binding votes on them. He offered no indication at that time that he would introduce a completely different plan.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago cardinal rose to question the premise of the USCCB’s proposed independent commission, asking if it was a reflection of sound ecclesiology. Cupich suggested that the commission could be seen as a way of “outsourcing” difficult situations.

Shortly thereafter, Cupich submitted to conference leaders a seemingly well-prepared and comprehensive “Supplement to the [USCCB] Essential Norms,” which outlined in detail the plan he had developed with Wuerl.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said from the floor that the “metropolitan model” appeared to align closer with the Church’s hierarchical structure.

“I really do favor the use of the metropolitan and the metropolitan review board for these cases… but that would require that the Holy See give metropolitan archbishops more authority than we have,” Chaput told the conference.

Chaput told the bishop that the reason the USCCB executive committee opted to pursue the idea of an independent commission instead of developing a plan based around the metropolitan archbishop was because they did not think the “metropolitan model’ would have support in Rome.

“When we discussed this at the executive committee level we, some people, thought it would be easier for us to develop this independent commission than to get the Church to change canon law,” he said.

Sources close to the USCCB told CNA that if the executive committee had known the Vatican might support the “metropolitan model,” it might have been pursued earlier, with a proposal being circulated to members by the conference leadership. A spokesperson for the USCCB declined to comment on that possibility.

Cupich had suggested during the meeting that either or both plans could be voted on in non-binding resolutions in order to give the Vatican a sense of the American episcopate’s desires. Ultimately, no vote was taken.

Instead, as the Baltimore meeting ended, DiNardo agreed that Cupich’s plan would be developed alongside the independent commission plan, by a special task force consisting of former USCCB presidents Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, and Archbishop Wilton Gregory. DiNardo will have the option of presenting either or both possibilities when he and conference vice president Archbishop Jose Gomez attend the Vatican’s February meeting.

USCCB spokespersons declined several times to comment on any role Cupich or Wuerl, members of the Congregation for Bishops, might have played in developing the congregation’s reaction to the special commission plan.

 

Ed. note: This story was updated after publication to explain that metropolitans under investigation would be investigated by their senior suffragan bishops.

11/16/2018

Rome, Italy, Nov 16, 2018 / 06:27 pm (CNA).- Catholic leaders are open to discussing with the Italian government a court ruling saying Italy has the right to recover millions of dollars from the Church from a previous tax exemption.

According to DW, an exemption was established in the beginning of 2012, which allowed for non-commercial Church properties to be exempt from paying an Italian municipal tax – the IMU.

The case had been opened that year by a Montessori school and an owner of a bed-and-breakfast, who called the exemption unfair to properties offering similar services.

In December 2012, the European Commission in Brussels declared the exemption to be unlawful. However, the court ruled that it would be too complicated to recover the money, as the tax database and Italian property title registry were not up-to-date.

However, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg overruled that decision this month, saying that Italy has the right to take back millions of euros, the Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, head of the Italian bishops’ conference, said the Church had not yet begun a discussion with the government, but “certainly some contacts will be necessary,” according to the Associated Press.

11/16/2018

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There is the bloody martyrdom of Christians killed for their faith, but also another “martyrdom” which takes place when religious freedom is unjustly limited, Pope Francis said Friday in an audience with a group which assists the Church in the Holy Land.

“It is in front of the whole world – which too often turns its gaze to the other side – the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-increasing numbers,” the pope said Nov. 16 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“In addition to their martyrdom in their blood,” he said, “there is also their ‘white martyrdom,’ such as that which occurs in democratic countries when freedom of religion is restricted.”

Pope Francis spoke with around 130 members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on the final day of their Nov. 13-16 general assembly in Rome. The knighthood order provides financial support to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

To their material support, the pope urged them to unite prayer under the intercession of Our Lady of Palestine. “She is caring Mother and the Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort from the Lord in sorrow,” he said.

Emphasizing that the order is not just a “philanthropic agency,” he called its members to “place the evangelical love of your neighbor as the final aim of your works, to witness everywhere the goodness and care with which God loves everyone.”

Since the order’s last general assembly in 2013, it has grown in number, in geography, in pilgrimages, and in the material assistance it has offered to the Church in the Holy Land, the pope noted, thanking the members for their support of the Holy Land.

“It is a good sign that your initiatives in the field of training and health care are open to all, regardless of the communities they belong to and the professed religion.”

“In this way you help to pave the way to the knowledge of Christian values, to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, mutual respect and mutual understanding,” he said, adding: “your contribution to the construction of the path... will lead, we all hope, to the achievement of peace throughout the region.”

Francis also noted the assembly’s agenda, which focused on the role of the local leaders, but underlined the importance of remembering that their main purpose is the spiritual growth of members – not the success of charitable initiatives which cannot be separated from “religious formation programs” for members.

So that members, called knights and ladies, may “strengthen their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, in the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and in the deepening of the doctrine of the church,” he said.

Leaders of the order of the Holy Sepulchre, he urged, have the task in particular of giving an example “of intense spiritual life and concrete adherence to the Lord.”

Francis closed the audience by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Church in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, “with her special intercession for those whose life and freedom are in danger.”

11/16/2018

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2018 / 11:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited Friday the temporary medical clinics serving Rome’s poor and homeless in St. Peter's Square this week.

During the Nov. 16 visit to the free mobile health clinics, which lasted about 20 minutes, the pope greeted those present, speaking with them and giving them each a rosary he had blessed.

He also greeted the volunteers and medical professionals within each of the shelters. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, accompanied the visit.

The mobile clinics, an initiative begun last year, have been open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day the week leading up to the World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated Nov. 18.

The temporary center offers Rome’s poor and homeless free visits with doctors specializing in general medicine, cardiology, infectious diseases, gynecology, obstetrics, podiatry, dermatology, rheumatology, and ophthalmology. A laboratory for clinical analysis is also present.

Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day of the Poor takes its theme for 2018 from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

The day will be marked by the pope with a Mass with the poor in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by lunch with around 3,000 poor men and women inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

Present at the tables of the lunch will also be members of the Roman community, such as volunteers from local charitable organizations, parish priests, and university students and faculty.

The evening prior a prayer vigil for charitable volunteers and others who help the poor will be held at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.
 

11/15/2018

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis encouraged the community of the Pontifical Latin American College Thursday to avoid cultural fragmentation and to be close to their people.

“One of the phenomena currently afflicting the continent is cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots,” the pope said Nov. 15 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“This is exacerbated when arguments are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who 'are not one of us', even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from combining in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest autochthonous traditions.

He spoke to the community to mark the 160th anniversary of the college's founding. He noted that it “is one of the few Roman Colleges whose identity does not refer to a nation or a charism, but which seeks rather to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land … offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion that is expressly 'Latin Americanized'.”

Francis lamented that new generations are “uprooted and fragmented”, and said that “the Church is not external to this situation and is exposed to this temptation; since she is subject to the same environment, she runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one form of polarization or another, or becoming uprooted if one forgets that the vocation is a meeting ground.”

He added that “the invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.”

Because of this, he said it is important at the college “to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years you can learn to know better and make your own the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of your brothers; you can name and face specific situations that our people live, and face and feel your neighbour’s problems as if they were your own.”

The Pontifical Latin American College should help create a good priestly community “if one knows how to help oneself, if one is able to lay down roots in the lives of others, brothers and sons with a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and the same Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely 'parochial' and to lead communities that know how to open up to others to interact and to promote hope.”

Latin America needs, he said, “artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can inspire today … A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and this is fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself out, of isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important – not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling part of the community – can awaken and encourage processes and dynamics capable of transcending time.”

“This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent,” Pope Francis said.

“Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and, worse still, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life. And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America … a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people ... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.”

He said Latin America knows that “the love for Christ and of Christ can not manifest itself except in passion for life and for the destiny of our peoples, and especially solidarity with the poorest, the suffering and those in need.”

The pope said this “reminds us of the importance … of developing the pleasure of always being close to the life of our people; never isolating ourselves from them. The life of the diocesan presbyter is lived – the repetition is valid – in this identification and belonging. The mission is passion for Jesus, but at the same time, it is passion for His people. It is learning to look where He looks and to let ourselves be moved by the same things He is moved by: feelings for the life of His brothers, especially sinners and of all those who are despondent and fatigued, like sheep without a shepherd. Please, do not huddle in personal or community enclosures that keep us away from the hubs where history is written. Captivated by Jesus and members of His Body, we integrate fully into society, share life with everyone, listen to their concerns ... rejoice with those who are happy, mourn with those who mourn and offer every Eucharist for all those faces that were entrusted to us.”

Francis said the linking of the college's anniversary with the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a sometime student, is providential, calling him a “living sign of the fruitfulness and sanctity of the Latin American Church. A man rooted in the Word of God and in the hearts of his people.”

“This reality allows us to make contact with that long chain of witnesses in which we are invited to place our roots and take inspiration from every day … Do not fear holiness, and do not fear spending your life for your people.”

“On the path of cultural and pastoral miscegenation we are not orphans; Our Mother accompanies us,” Pope Francis stated. “She wanted to be like that, mestizo and fertile, and that is how she is with us, our Mother of tenderness and strength who rescues us from the paralysis or confusion of fear, just because she is simply there, as our Mother.”

“Brother priests, let us not forget, and confidently ask her to show us the way, to free us from the perversion of clericalism, increasingly to make us 'village pastors' and not to let us become 'clerics of the state'.”

He concluded with a message for his brother Jesuits who help run the college, saying that “one of the distinctive notes of the Society’s charism is seeking to harmonize contradictions without falling prey to reductionism. This is why Saint Ignatius wanted to think of the Jesuits as men of contemplation and action, men of discernment and obedience, committed to daily life and free to leave.”

The Jesuits at the college should help the young priests “to harmonize the contradictions that life presents to them and present them without falling into reductionism, gaining in the spirit of discernment and freedom,” he said.

“Teach how to embrace problems and conflicts without fear; to handle dissent and confrontation. Teach how to reveal all kinds of 'correct' but reductionist discourse is a crucial task for those who accompany their brothers in formation. Help them to discover the art and taste of discernment as a way of proceeding to find, in the midst of difficulties, the ways of the Spirit by tasting and feeling the Deus semper maior within. Be teachers of broad horizons and, at the same time, teach how to take charge of the small, to embrace the poor and the sick, and to take on the reality of everyday life. Non coereceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est.”

11/15/2018

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and XVI have written letters lending their support to a Vatican-sponsored conference on the risks posed to fundamental human rights.

In a letter on a Nov. 15-16 international symposium in Rome, Benedict wrote that he believes it “extraordinarily useful” to make a close examination of the issue of the “multiplication of rights” and the risk this poses.

Pope Francis, in his own letter on the conference, pointed to Benedict XVI as having “lucidly warned of the urgency of these issues for our time,” and having “intervened authoritatively on them as a thinker and as a pastor.”

The symposium, which is on the theme of “fundamental rights and conflicts between rights,” is being organized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. It is being held at LUMSA, a Catholic university in Rome.

Addressing Lombardi, the former director of the Holy See press office, Benedict wrote that the issue of increasing “rights” is a “current and fundamental question to protect the foundations of the coexistence of the human family,” and is a topic deserving of “an in-depth and systematic reflection.”

The pope emeritus concluded the brief letter with a promise of his esteem and prayers for the event’s speakers and participants, asking the Lord’s blessing on their work “as a precious service for the Church and for the good of the human family.”

In his own letter to Lombardi, Pope Francis pointed to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, noting the appropriateness of having “an in-depth reflection on its implementation and on developing the vision of human rights in today’s world.”

The pope said about the symposium that the changing interpretation of certain rights and the appearance of “new rights,” especially in recent years, “opens up a series of problems that tend to involve, at bottom, the very idea of law and its foundations.”

He praised the pope emeritus’ interventions on the issue of human rights and noted that it was for that reason LUMSA bestowed on Benedict XVI an honorary degree in jurisprudence 20 years ago.

“I therefore hope,” Francis continued, “that the Symposium of high academic level that is about to be celebrated, drawing inspiration from the thought and the magisterium of our beloved Pope Emeritus, can contribute with courage and depth to illuminate an essential problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his integral development.”

11/14/2018

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2018 / 05:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians are called to not only refrain from telling falsehoods, but to conduct their entire lives – both words and actions – as a witness to the Truth that is Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Wednesday.

“Let us ask ourselves: what truth do the works of us Christians attest to, our words, our choices?” the pope said Nov. 14. “Everyone can ask themselves: am I a witness to the truth, or am I more or less a liar disguised as a true person?”

In his weekly catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the eighth commandment: “you shall not give false witness against thy neighbor.”

“The truth,” he said, “finds its full realization in the very person of Jesus, in his way of living and dying, the fruit of his relationship with the Father.” As children of God, people are given this same access to truth, sent through the Holy Spirit, “who is the Spirit of truth, who attests to our hearts that God is our Father.”

Francis explained that “in every one of his actions man affirms or denies this truth. From small everyday situations to the most demanding choices. But it is the same logic: that which parents and grandparents teach us when they tell us not to lie. The same logic.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said, the commandment against lying, “forbids falsifying the truth in relations with others.”

“Inauthentic communication” is a serious error because it prevents relationships and love, which require truth; and “where there is a lie there is no love, there can be no love,” he emphasized.

To tell the truth in one’s relationships means more than to just not tell a falsehood with one’s words, he continued, listing also “gestures, attitudes, silences, and absences,” as possible occasions of dishonesty.

“A person speaks with everything he is and what he does. We are always in communication. We all live by communicating and we are constantly poised between truth and falsehood,” he stated.

An element of telling the truth in relationships includes not gossiping, he said, departing from his prepared remarks to emphasize that to gossip is like dropping a bomb, which destroys the community and the reputation of others.

“Be careful!” he urged. “How much gossip destroys communion for inappropriateness or lack of delicacy!”

Just because one may have told the truth about another person, does not mean it was right to say it, or to reveal some personal or confidential information, Francis warned.

Christians are not exceptional people, but “we are children of the heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint,” therefore, Christians are able to live in the truth “not so much said with discourses,” he said, but as a “way of existing, a way of life, and it is seen in every single act.”

“Truth is a marvelous revelation of God, of his Father’s face, is his boundless love,” he said.

The question, “what is truth?” Francis noted, is what Pontius Pilate asked Jesus when he questioned him about his kingship before handing him over to the Jewish people to be crucified.

Jesus said: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Jesus gives this “testimony” by his passion and death, Pope Francis said. Through his manner of suffering and dying, “Jesus manifests the Father, his merciful and faithful love.”

“Not to say false testimony means to live as a child of God… letting the great truth emerge in every act: that God is Father and we can trust Him. I trust God: this is the great truth,” he concluded.

“From our trust in God, who is a Father and loves me, loves us, my truth is born; and to be truthful and not a liar.”

11/13/2018

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 10:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò sent Tuesday a message to the bishops of the United States, who are holding a plenary assembly, encouraging them to act as courageous shepherds in the face of the sex abuse crisis.

“I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ,” the emeritus Apostolic Nuncio to the US said Nov. 13.

“Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.”

“I am fasting and praying for you,” Archbishop Viganò concluded.

The former nuncio's message came on the second day of the USCCB's autumn general assembly, being held in Baltimore Nov. 12-14.

It was intended that the assembly would vote on proposals meant to form the basis for a response to the sexual abuse crisis facing the Church in the US.

But Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the conference, announced Monday morning that the Congregation for Bishops had directed that the vote not be held.

DiNardo said that the Holy See insisted that consideration of a code of conduct for bishops and a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct be delayed until the conclusion of a special meeting called by Pope Francis for February.

Archbishop Viganò, who was nuncio to the US from 2011 to 2016, has issued a series of testimonies and letters in recent months.

In August, he wrote that Benedict XVI had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Viganò claimed that this was ignored by Francis, who pulled McCarrick back into public ministry and allowed him to become a “kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States.”

11/13/2018

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 09:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Tuesday appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to a Nov. 13 announcement, Scicluna, 59, will take up the Vatican position while remaining head of the Archdiocese of Malta, which he has led since February 2015.

The archbishop’s appointment as adjunct secretary makes him joint second in command of the CDF with secretary Archbishop Giacomo Morandi under prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer. Among the congregation’s leaders is also under-secretary Fr. Matteo Visioli.

Scicluna, who served as the Vatican’s sexual abuse prosecutor before becoming a bishop in 2012, has continued to have a high-profile role in addressing clerical sexual abuse. He was appointed by Pope Francis to conduct an an apostolic visitation of the Chilean abuse crisis earlier this year.

He also helped establish the Church’s first response to the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, and his work in the field is considered landmark.

Scicluna’s nomination to a high position within the CDF takes place in advance of a Vatican meeting on child protection, which will bring together bishops from all over the world.

According to comments from Scicluna in October, the February meeting on abuse is the time to address “not just the issue of prevention but also of accountability” and the meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how to tackle issues “on the ground.”

He told CNA in September that the CDF asked bishops’ conferences to prepare guidelines countering abuse in 2001, and most have complied. He added that all existing guidelines have been now screened by the Vatican.

The February 2019 meeting of bishops is “a response to people’s expectation that we move from documents to actions,” he said.

It is not certain which Vatican department will be responsible for the organization of the meeting on abuse prevention, though it will likely fall to the CDF.

In January 2015, Scicluna was made a member of a special doctrinal board established within the CDF in 2014 to handle appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse.

Scicluna also served for 10 years, until 2012, as the promoter of justice of the CDF under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. From 1995-2002 he was deputy promoter of justice in the Apostolic Signatura.

The archbishop was born in Toronto to Maltese parents in 1959, though his family returned to Malta before his first birthday.

Before the start of his Vatican career, Scicluna was defender of the bond and promoter of justice at the Metropolitan Court of Malta, and a professor of pastoral theology and canon law at Malta’s archdiocesan seminary.

11/13/2018

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will head to two cities in Morocco March 30-31, 2019, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

Pope Francis will visit the cities of Rabat and Casablanca, a Nov. 13 message stated. The schedule of the trip is not yet published.

According to papal spokesman Greg Burke, the visit takes place at the invitation of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the Catholic bishops.

Francis will be the second pope to visit the country, after St. Pope John Paul II went in 1985 as the first pope to visit a Muslim country at the invitation of the state.

Morocco, which is located on the north-west side of Africa, is a majority Muslim country. The total population, as of 2014, was around 29 million. There were an estimated 21,000 Catholics in the country in that year; just .1 percent of the population. 

The country has two archdioceses; one in Ribat, the country’s capital city, and one based in Tanger.

After Pope Francis received an invitation to visit the country from King Mohammed earlier this year, there had been rumors about whether he would attend a United Nations gathering in December for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

Now that the trip has been announced for March, what the pope’s agenda in Morocco will be has not yet been revealed, though it will likely focus on Christian-Muslim relations and migration.

The visit to Morocco falls just two months after the pope will travel to Panama Jan. 23-27, 2019, the only other Vatican confirmed apostolic visit in the upcoming year, though there have been comments from heads of state and bishops that say Francis may also be traveling to Romania and to Mozambique.

He has also expressed the desire to visit Japan. Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana said at a Vatican press briefing Oct. 9 that the pope will visit Madagascar in 2019. Holy See spokesperson Greg Burke said at the time he could not confirm the trip, but that the possibility was “well under study.”

11/12/2018

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2018 / 11:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The artwork featured on the Vatican’s postage stamps for Christmas 2018 were painted by a man serving a life-sentence in a Milanese prison.

The two stamp designs, painted by Marcello D’Agata, depict the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Nativity of Christ.

The postage stamps were unveiled by Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan at a Nov. 9 presentation in the Milan prison and can be purchased at the Vatican City post office. They are available in denominations of 1.15 or 1.10 euro ($1.29, $1.24), which is the postage required to mail directly to Europe and the Mediterranean region.

An Italian journalist had the idea for the Vatican stamps after having followed a philately initiative within the Milan prison for several years.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, a Vatican-supported newspaper, D’Agata was drawn to art from an early age. “I confess that as a child, as soon as a blank paper appeared before me, I never failed to draw on it,” he told the newspaper.

“Of course, they were just scribbles, but I liked it so much, because on those papers I gave shape and color to my emotions and, most of all, to my dreams.”

D’Agata said he had fallen away from artistic expression until a few years ago, when the director of the prison allowed a group of prisoners to take part in a drawing course, which served as a “source of inspiration and the dormant talents came back to life.”

11/12/2018

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2018 / 10:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis told a group of scientists Monday to use their knowledge for the benefit of all humanity, especially at the service of those people who are most often disregarded by most of society.

It is not enough to merely follow the principles of ethics, the Church expects from science “a positive service that we can call with Saint Paul VI the ‘charity of knowledge,’” the pope said Nov. 12.

“I would like to stand before you as the advocate of the peoples that receive only rarely and from afar the benefits of vast human knowledge and its achievements,” he continued, “especially in the areas of nutrition, health, education, connectivity, well-being and peace.”

Pope Francis spoke in an audience with participants in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ plenary meeting, taking place at the Vatican Nov. 12-14 on the theme “Transformative roles of science in society: From emerging basic science toward solutions for people’s wellbeing.”

Referencing the theme of the academy’s plenary meeting, he praised the academy’s focus on using knowledge to confront the challenges facing modern society, stressing that “the universal rights we proclaim must become reality for all.”

“Science can contribute decisively to this process and to breaking down the barriers that stand in its way,” he said, encouraging scientists to conduct research which benefits all people, “so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated.”

He also encouraged them to give sound advice to the political and economic spheres “on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.”

In his speech, Francis outlined a few of the possible fruits of a scientific community focused on a “mission of service.”

One of these fruits is “commitment to a world without nuclear arms,” he said, echoing sentiments of St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, “that scientists actively cooperate to convince government leaders of the ethical unacceptability of such weaponry, because of the irreparable harm that it causes to humanity and to the planet.”

He urged “the need for disarmament,” which he argued is a topic raised less and less frequently by those in positions of power. “May I be able to thank God, as did Saint John Paul II in his Testament, that in my Pontificate the world was spared the immense tragedy of an atomic war,” he stated.

Pope Francis also noted what he said is a “lack of will and political determination” to end the arms race and wars. More monetary resources could then be put toward renewable energy and programs to ensure water, food, and health for all, he said.

On climate change, he pointed out the influence of human actions and said there is a need for responses aimed at protecting “the health of the planet and its inhabitants,” which is risked by use of fossil fuels and deforestation.

In his address, he also praised the Academy of Sciences’ work combating human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution, and organ trafficking and said he stands at their side “in this battle for humanity.”

“This is the immense panorama that opens up before men and women of science when they take stock of the expectations of peoples,” he said: “expectations animated by trusting hope, but also by anxiety and unrest.”