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Did you know Mother Teresa experienced visions of Jesus?

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 09:42 am (CNA).

Even her friend of more than 30 years, Father Sebastian Vazhakala, did not know Mother Teresa had conversations with and visions of Jesus before forming the Missionaries of Charity.

It wasn't until after her death, for the vast majority of people, that this part of Mother Teresa's spiritual life was uncovered. “It was a big discovery,” Missionary of Charity priest, Fr. Vazhakala told CNA.  

When Mother Teresa's cause for canonization was opened, just two years after her death in 1997, documents were found in the archives of the Jesuits in Calcutta, with the spiritual director and another of Mother Teresa's close priest friends, and in the office of the bishop, containing her accounts of the communications.

Fr. Vazhakala, who co-founded the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity alongside Mother Teresa, said he has a document handwritten by Mother Teresa where she discusses what Jesus spoke to her directly during the time of the locutions and visions.

During a period lasting from Sept. 10, 1946 to Dec. 3, 1947, Mother Teresa had ongoing communication with Jesus through words and visions, Fr. Vazhakala said. This all happened while she was a missionary sister in the Irish order of the Sisters of Loreto, teaching at St. Mary's school in Calcutta.

Mother Teresa wrote that one day at Holy Communion, she heard Jesus say, “I want Indian nuns, victims of my love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so united to me as to radiate my love on souls.”

It was through these communications of the Eucharistic Jesus that Mother Teresa received her directions for forming her congregation of the Missionaries of Charity.

“She was so united with Jesus,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “that she was able to radiate not her love, but Jesus’ love through her, and with a human expression.”

Jesus told her what sort of nuns he wanted her order to be filled with: “'I want free nuns covered with the poverty of the Cross. I want obedient nuns covered with the obedience of the Cross. I want full-of-love nuns covered with the charity of the Cross,'” Fr. Vazhakala related.

According to the Missionary, Jesus asked her, “Would you refuse to do this for me?” “In fact, Jesus told her in 1947,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “'I cannot go alone to the poor people, you carry me with you into them.'”

After this period of joy and consolation, around 1949, Mother Teresa started to experience a “terrible darkness and dryness” in her spiritual life, said Fr. Vazhakala. “And in the beginning she thought it was because of her own sinfulness, unworthiness, her own weakness.”

Mother Teresa's spiritual director at the time helped her to understand that this spiritual dryness was just another way that Jesus wanted her to share in the poverty of the poor of Calcutta.

This period lasted nearly 50 years, until her death, and she found it very painful. But, Fr. Vazhakala shared that she said, “If my darkness and dryness can be a light to some soul let me be the first one to do that. If my life, if my suffering, is going to help souls to be saved, then I will prefer from the creation of the world to the end of time to suffer and die.”

People around the world know about Mother Teresa's visible acts of charity toward the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, but “the interior life of Mother is not known to people,” said Fr. Vazhakala.

Mother Teresa's motto, and the motto of her congregation, was the words of Jesus, “I thirst.” And that they could quench the thirst of Jesus by bringing souls to him. “And in every breathing, each sigh, each act of mind, shall be an act of love divine. That was her daily prayer. That was what was motivating her and all the sacrifices, even until that age of 87, and without resting,” he said.

Mother Teresa never rested from her work during her life on earth, and she continues to “work” for souls from heaven. “When I die and go home to God, I can bring more souls to God,” she said at one point, Fr. Vazhakala noted.

She said, “I'm not going to sleep in heaven, but I'm going to work harder in another form.”

Pope Francis: To seek status over service is a spiritual illness

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 06:03 am (CNA).

Do good from a spirit of service, not from a desire for personal glory, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

In his message before the Angelus prayer Oct. 17, Pope Francis said there is a worldly mentality which tempts even Catholics “to experience everything, including relationships, in order to feed our ambition, to climb the ladder to success, to reach important positions.”

“The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation,” he said from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

This is also something that happens in the Catholic Church, he said: “How many times, we Christians – who should be servants – try to climb up, to get ahead.”

This is why we need to constantly evaluate our heart’s real intentions, he said, and to ask ourselves: “Why am I carrying out this work, this responsibility? To offer service or rather to be recognized, praised and to receive compliments?”

Pope Francis spoke about the desire for recognition during a reflection on the day's Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which two disciples, James and John, ask Jesus if they can one day sit at his right and left in glory.

“Jesus patiently offers them a great teaching: true glory is not obtained by rising over others, but by experiencing the same baptism that He would receive just a little later in Jerusalem, that is, the cross,” Francis stated.

With these words, “Jesus contrasts this worldly logic with his own,” the pope added: “instead of exalting yourself over others, get off your pedestal to serve them; instead of rising above others, be immersed in others’ lives.”

He explained that it is through our Christian baptism that we are immersed in Jesus and receive the grace that directs us to follow Christ in service to others.

“The word ‘baptism’ means ‘immersion:’ through his Passion, Jesus immersed himself into death, offering his life to save us. Therefore, his glory, the glory of God, is love that becomes service, not power that seeks to dominate,” he said.

Pope Francis emphasized that “God is love and love is humble, it does not exalt itself, but descends like the rain that falls to the earth and brings life.”

“It is a grace, a fire that the Spirit has kindled in us that needs to be nurtured,” he added. “Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, the immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, more in service, servants.”

“And let us pray to the Madonna: she – even though she was the greatest – did not seek to rise up, but was the humble servant of the Lord, and is completely immersed in our service to help us encounter Jesus,” he concluded.

After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis voiced his support for from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “One million children praying the rosary.”

The worldwide rosary campaign is held annually on Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke.

More than 100,000 children from 44 countries, including the United States, Spain, Kenya, India, Colombia, and the Philippines, have already registered to take part in the initiative, according to an online map published by ACN.

“I encourage this prayer campaign that has been entrusted to the intercession of Saint Joseph in a particular way this year,” Pope Francis said. “Thanks to all the boys and girls participating in it.”

The pope also drew attention to the of Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 fellow martyrs, which took place in Córdoba, Spain on Oct. 16.

Medina and the 126 companions – among them priests, religious, and lay people – were killed in hatred of the faith during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

Francis prayed that their fidelity would “grant us all, especially persecuted Christians in various parts of the world, the strength to witness to the Gospel courageously.”

Pope Francis also said he is near to the families of the victims of recent violent attacks in Norway, Afghanistan, and England.

One of the victims was Catholic and pro-life British lawmaker Sir David Amess, who died Oct. 15 after suffering multiple stab wounds at a Methodist church in southeast England.

Amess, 69, was a Member of Parliament since 1983 and a member of the Conservative party. He was holding a meeting with his constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church when the attack took place.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the killing, and is being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act after early investigations uncovered a potential link to Islamic extremism, the BBC reported Oct. 17.

“I beg you to please abandon the path of violence that is always a losing cause and is a defeat for everyone. Let us recall that violence begets violence,” Pope Francis said.

PHOTOS: Pope Francis ordains Msgr. Guido Marini a bishop in St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 05:21 am (CNA).

On Sunday, Pope Francis consecrated two new bishops for the Catholic Church in St. Peter’s Basilica: Bishop Guido Marini of Tortona, Italy, and Bishop Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.

During the Mass, Pope Francis reminded the bishops-elect to always be close to God, their brother bishops, priests, and the People of God.

Two of the most important things a Catholic bishop must do are pray and announce the Gospel, the pope said in impromptu comments during the homily Oct. 17.

“The first task of the bishop is to pray,” he said, “and not like a parrot, to pray with the heart, to pray.”

Do not make excuses about not having time to pray, he added. “Remove the other things, because praying is the bishop’s first duty.”

Pope Francis also advised the bishops-elect to go out of their way to make time for their priests: “If you learn that a priest has called you, call him the same day or the day after. And with this he will know that he has a father.”

“May the Lord make you grow on this path of closeness, in this way you will better imitate the Lord, because he has always been close and is always close to us, and with his closeness, which is a compassionate and tender closeness, he carries us forward,” Francis concluded his homily. “And may Our Lady watch over you.”

During the consecration, the bishops-elect promised to preach the gospel with faithfulness and perseverance, to protect the deposit of faith, to care for Catholics as a father, to be welcoming and merciful to the poor, to obey the pope, to pray tirelessly, and “to go in search of the lost sheep to bring them back to the fold of Christ.”

Marini and Ferrada then prostrated themselves on the ground while the Litany of Saints was sung.

Afterward, Pope Francis laid his hands on each of the men as they knelt in front of him. Other bishops also laid their hands on the heads of the bishops-elect.

An open Book of the Gospels was held over their heads while Pope Francis said the prayer of consecration.

The new bishops each received the miter and crosier, as well as a ring with the image of a shepherd carrying a lamb, which they will wear on the third finger of their right hands.

Bishop Guido Marini, 56, was the Vatican’s head master of ceremonies for papal liturgies for 14 years. On Aug. 29, Pope Francis named him to lead the Diocese of Tortona, which is in northern Italy not far from Marini’s hometown of Genoa.

Bishop Andrés Gabriel Ferrada, 52, is from Chile’s capital city, Santiago. He was named the titular archbishop of Tiburnia in honor of his new position as secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.

Pope Francis: Catholic social teaching has useful principles for popular movements to follow

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2021 / 09:44 am (CNA).

Speaking over a video call on Saturday, Pope Francis told members of popular movements that Catholic social teaching has useful principles that can help people of any faith to improve the world.

“The social teaching of the Church does not have all the answers, but it does have some principles that along this journey can help to concretize the answers, principles useful to Christians and non-Christians alike,” the pope said Oct. 16.

He said the principles compiled in the , a manual of the Catholic Church’s social teaching, are “tested, human, Christian.”

“I recommend that you read it, you and all social, trade union, religious, political and business leaders,” he said.

Pope Francis delivered his message during the fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements, which took place in an online format Oct. 16. The last international meeting, which Pope Francis also attended, took place in Bolivia in July 2015.

According to the U.S. regional website, “popular movements are grassroots organizations and social movements established around the world by people whose inalienable rights to decent work, decent housing, and fertile land and food are undermined, threatened or denied outright.”

Pope Francis compared popular movements to the Good Samaritan, and said that these two things reminded him of the protests which happened because of the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020, by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Protests against police brutality were organized across the U.S. and in other parts of the world in the wake of Floyd’s unjust death.

“It is clear that this type of reaction against social, racial or macho injustice can be manipulated or exploited by political machinations or whatever, but the main thing is that, in that protest against this death, there was the Collective Samaritan who is no fool!” Pope Francis said.

“This movement did not pass by on the other side of the road when it saw the injury to human dignity caused by an abuse of power. The popular movements are not only social poets but also collective Samaritans.”

Francis encouraged the groups to also transmit to future generations “the same thing that inflames your hearts.”

“In this you have a dual task or responsibility,” he said. “Like the Good Samaritan, to tend attentively to all those who are stricken along the way, and at the same time, to ensure that many more join in: the poor and the oppressed of the earth deserve it, and our common home demands it of us.”

He emphasized several principles which can be found in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, “such as the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity, participation, and the common good.”

“These are all ways in which the Good News of the Gospel takes concrete form on a social and cultural level,” he said, noting that “the pope must not stop mentioning this teaching, even if it often annoys people, because what is at stake is not the pope but the Gospel.”

Francis said we need to rely on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity to carry out the mission of the Gospel in a concrete way.

“These are balanced and well-established principles in the Social Teaching of the Church. With these two principles I believe we can take the next step from dream to action. Because it is time for action,” he underlined.

He noted that he does not have all the answers to the question, “what must we do?” But he pointed to a universal basic income and a shortened workday as two possible solutions to the unfair distribution of resources and labor.

“I believe these measures are necessary, but of course not sufficient. They do not solve the root problem, nor do they guarantee access to land, housing and work in the quantity and quality that landless farmers, families without secure shelter and precarious workers deserve. Nor will they solve the enormous environmental challenges we face. But I wanted to mention them because they are possible measures and would point us in the right direction,” he stated.

He said in the service of popular movements he sees the Lord making himself present.

“Jesus told us that salvation consists in taking care of the hungry, the sick, prisoners, foreigners; in short, in recognizing Him and serving Him in all suffering humanity,” he continued. “That is why I wish to say to you: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied’ (Mt 5: 6), ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Mt 5: 9).”

Among those who took part in the Oct. 16 video conference with Pope Francis was a group of refugees stuck in Libya, some of whom are survivors of torture and prison camps.

According to a video and information sent by one migrant to Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, the refugees have staged a peaceful protest outside of the U.N. agencies’ headquarters in Tripoli, Libya, for over 16 days asking to be evacuated to a safe country.

In the , the migrant says they will participate in the World Meeting of Popular Movements “because our struggle is the struggle of everyone… of justice and fraternity.”

Pope Francis said “in my experience, when people, men and women, have suffered injustice, inequality, abuse of power, deprivations, and xenophobia in their own flesh – in my experience, I can see that they understand much better what others are experiencing and are able to help them realistically to open up paths of hope.”

“How important it is that your voice be heard, represented in all the places where decisions are made. Offer your voice in a collaborative spirit; speak with moral certainty of what must be done,” he stated.

Pope Francis to meet 500 poor in Assisi on Nov. 12

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2021 / 07:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will visit Assisi, Italy on Nov. 12, where he will spend time with a group of 500 poor people from across Europe, the Vatican announced Friday.

The encounter will take place as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the 5th annual World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on Sunday, Nov. 14.

According to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which is organizing the meeting, Pope Francis will make a private visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.

The pope will then meet a group of 500 poor people, praying with them and listening to their experiences.

The theme of this year’s World Day of the Poor is “The poor you will always have with you,” the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 14:7 after a woman anointed him with precious ointment.

Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor in his , issued in 2016 at the end of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The idea came about, he explained, during the .

“At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” the pope wrote in his first World Day of the Poor in 2017.

The Day is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the Feast of Christ the King.

In his for this year’s celebration, released in June, Pope Francis appealed for a new global approach to poverty.

He also said democracy is threatened when the poor are marginalized and treated as if they are to blame for their condition.

“This is a challenge that governments and world institutions need to take up with a farsighted social model capable of countering the new forms of poverty that are now sweeping the world and will decisively affect coming decades,” he wrote.

“If the poor are marginalized, as if they were to blame for their condition, then the very concept of democracy is jeopardized and every social policy will prove bankrupt.”

The pope also lamented what he said was an increasing tendency to dismiss the poor against the background of the coronavirus crisis.

“There seems to be a growing notion that the poor are not only responsible for their condition, but that they represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups,” he commented.

“A market that ignores ethical principles, or picks and chooses from among them, creates inhumane conditions for people already in precarious situations,” he said. “We are now seeing the creation of new traps of poverty and exclusion, set by unscrupulous economic and financial actors lacking in a humanitarian sense and in social responsibility.”

What is the seal of confession? A Q&A with Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

The release this month of a watershed on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France has sparked another debate over the secrecy of confession.

The Catholic Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is obliged, under the severest legal penalties, to keep absolute secrecy concerning everything learned in the context of sacramental confession.

French law has long recognized the Church’s strict rules about the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but the government is contemplating amending the law for confessors, as it has done with lawyers and other secular professionals, who are required to report child sexual abuse if they learn of it.

In comments to the National Catholic Register on Wednesday, the spokeswoman for France’s bishops’ conference, Karine Dalle, that the country’s Catholic leaders do not intend to compromise on the Church’s teaching that the confessional seal is sacrosanct.

To learn more about the seal of confession, ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian partner agency, spoke to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary.

MP: The nature of the Sacrament of Reconciliation consists in the personal encounter of the sinner with the Merciful Father. The object of the sacrament is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God and with the Church, and the restoration of filial dignity by virtue of the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ.

The Church’s teaching on confession is briefly presented in paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which collects the teachings in Vatican II’s [constitution] and canon of the Code of Canon Law.

It is essential to emphasize that the Sacrament of Reconciliation, being an act of worship, cannot and must not be confused with a psychological session or a form of counseling. As a sacramental act, this sacrament must be protected in the name of religious freedom and any interference must be considered illegitimate and harmful to the rights of conscience.

Everything said in confession from the moment in which this act of worship begins with the sign of the cross to the moment in which it ends, either with absolution or with absolution denied, is under absolutely inviolable seal. All information referred to in confession is “sealed” because it is given to God alone, so it is not usable by the priest confessor (cf. canons 983-984 CIC; 733-734 CCEO).

Even in the specific case in which, for example, during confession a minor reveals that he has been abused, the conversation must, by its nature, always and in every situation, remain sealed. This does not prevent the confessor from strongly recommending that the minor himself report the abuse to his parents, educators, and the police.

In the case that someone confesses to having committed abuse, if the confessor has no doubt about the penitent disposition of the person asking for absolution it cannot be denied or postponed (cf. canon 980). There is certainly a duty to make amends for a perpetrated injustice and to sincerely commit to preventing the abuse from happening again, resorting, if necessary, to competent help, but these serious duties linked to the path of conversion do not involve self-denunciation. The confessor must in any case invite the penitent to a deeper reflection and to evaluate the consequences of his actions, especially when another person has been suspected or unjustly condemned.

Comparing the sacramental seal to the professional secrecy which, for example, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, etc. are required to keep, must be absolutely avoided.

Apart from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there is no [professional] secret that cannot yield to requirements to the contrary established by law or by a judge, by ethical codes or by the interested party who authorizes its disclosure.

The secret of confession, on the other hand, is not an obligation imposed from outside, but an intrinsic requirement of the sacrament, and as such cannot be dissolved even by the penitent himself (cf. canon 1550, §2, n.2 CIC; canon 1231, §2, n.2 CCEO).

The penitent does not speak to the human confessor, but to God, so that to take possession of what belongs to God would be sacrilege. The safeguard of the sacrament, instituted by Christ to be a sure haven of salvation for all sinners, is accepted.

If the faithful lose confidence in the seal, reception of the sacrament of confession could nosedive, causing very serious damage to souls and to the whole work of evangelization.

It is essential to insist that the seal of confession cannot be compared to professional secrecy, in order to prevent secular legislation from applying the justifiable exceptions of professional secrecy to the inviolable secrecy of confession.

Pope Francis defends conscientious objection to abortion, euthanasia in healthcare

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Conscientious objection to abortion and euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s fidelity to the medical profession, Pope Francis told a group of Italian pharmacists on Thursday.

“On an individual level, the pharmacist, each of you, uses medicinal substances which can however turn into poisons. Here it is a question of exercising constant vigilance, so that the objective is always the patient’s life in its entirety,” the pope on Oct. 14.

“You are always at the service of human life,” he told the group of pharmacists. “And this may in some cases involve conscientious objection, which is not infidelity, but on the contrary, fidelity to your profession, if validly motivated.”

The pope addressed participants in a congress organized by the during a meeting in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

He noted that today it is fashionable to think that “removing conscientious objection” is a good idea, but, he said, protection of one’s conscience is the ethical right of every health professional, and can never be negotiated.

Conscientious objection “is precisely the fundamental responsibility of health professionals,” he added, “and it is also a denunciation of the injustices committed against innocent and defenseless human life.”

Turning to abortion, the pope said that life issues were a delicate subject that required competence and integrity.

“You know that I am very clear about this: [abortion] is a murder and it is not permissible to become accomplices,” Francis said, explaining that it is a duty to be close to women in difficult situations so that they are not left to think that abortion will solve their problems.

“Because in reality, it is not the solution,” he said. “Then life, after 10, 20, 30 years, passes you the bill.”

The long-term repercussions of an abortion, he said, are often heard by Catholic priests in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“You have to stay in a confessional to understand the very hard price of this,” he said.

Pope Francis said that Italy’s national public health system was important “as an essential element to guarantee the common good and social growth of a country.”

He urged pharmacists not to let the “throwaway culture” affect their work, treating the elderly the same way they would care for younger patients.

The pope also compared the work of a hospital pharmacist to the hidden service of the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable.

“The daily routine and the hidden service have no visibility, little, so to speak, little visibility,” he said. “Precisely for this reason, if they are accompanied by prayer and love, they generate the ‘holiness of everyday life.’”

“Because without prayer and without love -- you know well -- this routine becomes dry. But with love, done with love and with prayer, it leads you to ‘next door’ holiness: anonymous saints who are everywhere because they do what they have to do well.”

Italy’s high court overturns arrest warrant against Vatican broker Gianluigi Torzi

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.

According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”

The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the .

Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.

The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.

An Italian magistrate an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.

The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.

In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”

The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.

In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.

Pope Francis approves beatification of Colombian sister filled with ‘ardent apostolic zeal’

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a miracle obtained through the intercession of Venerable María Berenice Duque Hencker, a Colombian nun described as an entrepreneurial figure with “great mettle.”

Mother María Berenice, as she was known, was the founder of the in Medellín, Colombia. She died in 1993 at the age of 94, and her congregation continues to be active in Colombia and Venezuela.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, described her as having an “ardent apostolic zeal.”

Urosa ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, in May that the nun, who was born in 1898, “felt the vocation to religious life very young, and responded in 1917 to the Lord’s call, entering the Congregation of the Dominicans of the Presentation.”

“There she grew in her intense love for God, which inspired her with an ardent apostolic zeal to serve and evangelize her neighbor, which she concretized in the various activities that were progressively assigned to her,” the cardinal wrote in a letter.

In 1943, she founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation, and afterward, she began another congregation, the Missionary Sisters, to welcome young Afro-Colombian women called to consecrated life.

“She was a woman of living and firm Christian faith, of intense Marian piety and great mettle, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, with many initiatives to announce the name and love of God to those most in need,” Urosa said.

He added that the mother superior accepted and implemented the decrees of the Second Vatican Council in her congregation, and led her sisters “with prudence, gentleness, and tact.”

The cardinal stressed that “her intense love for God and her union with Christ crucified gave her the necessary strength to undertake many difficult deeds, especially among the poorest.”

In her 70s, she became seriously ill for several years, but “the Lord gave her a special strength to join the passion of Christ in the pain of illness and the weakness that it brings,” Cardinal Urosa said.

The miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in May, and on Oct. 13, Pope Francis gave his authorization for her to be beatified.

Pope Francis also signed off on the of the diocesan priest Fr. Pedro Ortiz de Zárate and the Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Antonio Solinas, who were killed in Argentina in 1683.

Other Servants of God whose sainthood causes have been advanced are the Spanish priest Fr. Diego Hernández González (1915-1976); the Italian priest and Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor Fr. Giuseppe Spoletini (1870-1951); the Italian foundress of the Fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Sr. Maddalena di Gesù (1898-1989); and Italian foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Mary of Leuca, Sr. Elizabetta Martinez (1905-1991).

Pope Francis: The Gospel opens every culture to greater freedom in Christ

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke Wednesday about the universal nature of the Catholic Church, which embraces all cultures because Christ died for all people.

“This is the meaning of calling ourselves Catholics, of speaking of the Catholic Church: it is not a sociological denomination to distinguish us from other Christians. Catholic is an adjective that means ‘universal,’” Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 13.

“The Church contains within herself, in her very nature, an openness to all peoples and cultures of all times, because Christ was born, died, and rose for everyone,” he said.

The word “Catholic” comes from the Greek word “katholikos” (καθολικός), which means “universal.” The term was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in the second century that “wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, chapter five, verse 13: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”

Pope Francis said: “In the call to freedom we discover the true meaning of the inculturation of the Gospel ... being able to announce the Good News of Christ the Savior while respecting the good and the true that exist in cultures.”

“It is not easy. There are many temptations to seek to impose one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing. How many errors have been made in the history of evangelization by seeking to impose a single cultural model.”

The pope pointed to examples from Church history in which missionaries who immersed themselves deeply in other cultures were criticized by their contemporaries. He mentioned the 16th-century Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who spent nearly three decades in China, and another Jesuit missionary, Fr. Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), who learned Sanskrit and Tamil while ministering in India.

“The liberation obtained through baptism enables us to acquire the full dignity of children of God, so that, while we remain firmly anchored in our cultural roots, at the same time we open ourselves to the universalism of faith that enters into every culture, recognizes the kernels of truth present, and develops them, bringing to fullness the good contained in them,” Pope Francis said.

“To accept that we have been set free by Christ -- his passion, his death, his resurrection -- is to accept and bring fullness even to the different traditions of every people. True fullness.”

In his 11th address in his on Galatians, the pope underlined that “uniformity as a rule of life is not Christian.”

“Unity yes, uniformity no,” he said.

Pope Francis said that culture by its very nature is always in “continual transformation.”

“Think about how we are called to proclaim the Gospel in this historical moment of great cultural change, where increasingly advanced technology seems to have the upper hand,” he said.

“If we were to speak of faith as we did in previous centuries, we would run the risk of no longer being understood by the new generations. The freedom of Christian faith -- Christian freedom -- does not indicate a static vision of life and culture, but rather a dynamic vision, a dynamic vision too of tradition. Tradition grows but always with the same nature.”

“Let us not claim, therefore, to possess freedom. We have received a gift to cherish. Rather, it is freedom that asks each one of us to be constantly on the move, oriented towards its fullness. It is the condition of pilgrims; it is the state of wayfarers, in continual exodus: liberated from slavery so as to walk towards the fullness of freedom.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis greeted American visitors on pilgrimage in Rome.

“I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. In this month of October, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, may we grow in the Christian freedom that we received at baptism. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you,” the pope said.

John Paul I, ‘the smiling pope,’ to be beatified after miracle approved by Pope Francis

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 04:41 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has recognized a miracle obtained through the intercession of his predecessor Venerable John Paul I, who will now be declared “blessed.”

Often called “the smiling pope,” John Paul I died unexpectedly on Sept. 28, 1978, after just 33 days in office. A priority of his short pontificate was carrying forward the work of the Second Vatican Council.

But even before he was elected pope, Albino Luciani was known for his humility, his emphasis on spiritual poverty, and his dedication to teaching the faith in an understandable manner.

Pope Francis gave his approval on Oct. 13 for the cause of beatification of John Paul I to move forward, along with the causes of on the path to sainthood.

John Paul I was by Pope Francis in 2017.

According to a this week from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, John Paul I may be beatified before Easter.

Though beatification ceremonies usually take place in the country most associated with the life of the new blessed, John Paul I is likely to be beatified at the Vatican by Pope Francis because he served as a pope.

The miracle attributed to John Paul I’s intercession is the 2011 healing of a girl in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from a severe form of encephalopathy, a disease affecting the brain.

Last year, Pope Francis instituted a to promote John Paul I’s thought and teachings.

In an in L’Osservatore Romano on April 28, 2020, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that “Pope John Paul I was and remains a reference point in the history of the universal Church, the importance of which -- as St. John Paul II pointed out -- is inversely proportional to the duration of his very short pontificate.”

In 2008, on the 30th anniversary of John Paul I’s death, Benedict XVI on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, when the apostle wrote: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”

Benedict that this biblical text called to mind John Paul I, who chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo, “Humilitas.”

John Paul I’s simplicity, according to Benedict, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of Church and secular authors.”

Pope Francis encourages Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 11:23 am (CNA).

As the Soviet Union was disintegrating 30 years ago, St. John Paul II appointed apostolic administrators for the pastoral care of Latin Rite Catholics in Moscow and Siberia.

Pope Francis has marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of these Apostolic Administrations with a message encouraging Latin Rite Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel.

“My wish is that this commemoration will stimulate the entire Catholic community in the Russian Federation to be an evangelical seed which, with joy and humility, offers a clear vision of the Kingdom of God,” the pope wrote in the message published Oct. 10.

“I wish you to be a community of men and women, children and adults, young people and the elderly, priests and lay people, consecrated persons, and people in search of a vocation, striving for communion with all, in order to bear witness with simplicity and generosity, in family life and in every area of daily life, to the gift of grace received. This is so pleasing to God and contributes to the common good of the whole of society.”

Three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Catholics constitute a very small religious minority in Russia. The majority of the population is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis asked Catholics in Russia to share in solidarity and take steps toward unity with Eastern Orthodox Christians.

“In the context of the Eastern Christian tradition in which you live, it is important to continue walking together with all your Christian brothers and sisters, without getting tired of asking the Lord's help to deepen mutual knowledge and advance, step by step, on the path of unity,” the pope said.

“By praying for all and by serving those with whom we share the same humanity, which Jesus has united to himself in an inseparable way, we will rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters in a common pilgrimage towards the goal of communion, which God indicates to us in every Eucharistic celebration.”

The pope’s message, signed Sept. 16, was released Oct. 10, the Sunday following Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s visit to the Vatican.

The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Volokolamsk participated in an interreligious gathering Oct. 4 at the Vatican to issue a joint appeal calling for “net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

Hilarion, who serves as the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said in an interview after his private audience with the pope on Oct. 6 that he thinks that another meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will take place, but that a potential papal trip to Russia would be “impossible at the moment.”

The Russian metropolitan told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that although Christians in Russia no longer face the impediments to preaching that existed in the USSR for 70 years, many baptized Christians in Russia today still do not really know the Gospel.

“In the university I was telling you about, there were probably 90% baptized, but only one out of four who had read the Gospel. They are not pagans, they consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but if they have not read the Gospel it means that it is a nominal rather than a real Orthodoxy,” Hilarion said.

“I think this is the main task, for everyone: to make people see Christ."

Pope Francis names master of ceremonies for Vatican papal liturgies

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 05:16 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday appointed Msgr. Diego Giovanni Ravelli the Vatican’s next lead master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, replacing Msgr. Guido Marini, who held the post for 14 years.

Ravelli was also named head of the pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir.

A 56-year-old priest from northern Italy, Ravelli is one of several papal masters of ceremonies at the Vatican. He also served in the office of papal almoner for 15 years before being promoted to manager of the office in 2013.

He replaces Msgr. Guido Marini, who on Aug. 29 was promoted to bishop of Tortona, a diocese in northern Italy close to Genoa. The bishop-elect had been in charge of papal liturgies since his appointment as master of ceremonies by Benedict XVI in 2007.

Marini, 56, will be ordained a bishop by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 17.

Papal masters of ceremonies are responsible for organizing and overseeing all liturgical celebrations of the pope. The lead MC is usually at the side of the pope during liturgies both in Rome and abroad.

Ravelli was ordained a priest of the Association of Priests of Jesus Crucified, part of the Opera Don Folci association, in 1991; he then served in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni, which is just south-east of Rome.

In 2010, he received a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. His dissertation, published in 2012, was a historical-liturgical study on the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter celebrated in the Vatican. The study includes an analysis of the Lectionarium and the Sacramentarium of the Mass.

Ravelli was also an assistant master of ceremonies prior to his 2006 appointment as a full master of ceremonies.

Ravelli was rumored to be a possible replacement for Msgr. Guido Marini in 2017, before Pope Francis confirmed Marini in the position for another four years.

Also on Oct. 11, Pope Francis named Fr. Cristiano Antonietti, who works in the Secretariat of State as secretary of the nuntiature, as a master of ceremonies to fill the place left by Ravelli.

How to pray the rosary more deeply

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 09:04 am (CNA).

It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only” place the Rosary in our hearts?

We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.

This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies” or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.

All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.  

But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.

There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.

And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.

There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.  

It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I long for your kingdom, my true homeland.

In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can't get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don't have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.

With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:

Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we're going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment” with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week.  Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.

We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn't be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment” is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.

Saint Ignatius recommends what's called the “third form of prayer,” which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one's own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.

The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love. 

One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they're going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That's how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.

Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It's about seeing images. It's useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that's warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John's eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.

The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don't think a lot, love a lot!” An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.

Pope Francis greets Colombian nun freed 4 years after kidnapping by Islamists in Mali

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 07:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis greeted a Colombian nun on Sunday, shortly after she was freed four years after being kidnapped by Islamists in Mali.

The pope Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti before a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica a worldwide synodal process.

Sr. Gloria, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, was kidnapped in southern Mali in 2017.

The Malian presidency that she was released on Oct. 9 after “four years and eight months of combined efforts of several intelligence services.”

It posted photographs on social media of her meeting with interim president Col. Assimi Goïta, accompanied by Cardinal Jean Zerbo of Bamako.

“We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible,” the cardinal AFP.

Armed men kidnapped Sr. Gloria in Karangasso, about 90 miles south of the town of San, near the border with Burkina Faso, on Feb. 7, 2017.

The men forced her to hand over the keys to the community’s ambulance. The vehicle was later found abandoned. Three other sisters were present at their house but escaped.

The kidnappers were going to take the youngest nun, but Sr. Gloria reportedly to take her place.

The Colombian nun had served in Mali for 12 years before her abduction.

Her community administers a large health center in the country, as well as a home for some 30 orphans.

Earlier this year, she was allowed to give proof that she was alive with a handwritten note in which she asked people to pray for her.

In the 11-line message sent to her brother Edgar Narváez Argoti via the Red Cross, she wrote: “I send everyone my warmest greetings. May the good Lord bless you and grant you health. I have been a prisoner for four years and now I am with a new group.”

She identified the group who held her as , an Islamist organization in West Africa and the Maghreb.

In her message, she asked: “May they all pray a great deal for me. May God bless them all. I am hopeful that God will help me to regain my freedom.”

Mali is currently under the leadership of Goïta, who led two coups in a span of nine months, first the country’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020 and, in May this year, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.

Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Goïta as transitional president of Mali until the country holds elections.

The move attracted , with Catholic leaders in the country calling it a “seizure of power outside the legal process.”

Mali is struggling with an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger, with a rise in kidnappings.

Agenzia Fides in September 2020 that Sr. Gloria’s mother died at the age of 87 while awaiting her daughter’s release.

Pope Francis at the Angelus: ‘Is your faith tired and do you want to reinvigorate it?’

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered advice on Sunday to Catholics who feel that their faith is “tired” and wish to reinvigorate it.

In his Angelus on Oct. 10, the pope outlined a three-step process for personal renewal.

“Is your faith, my faith, tired, and do you want to reinvigorate it? Look for God’s gaze: sit in adoration, allow yourself to be forgiven in Confession, stand before the Crucified One. In short, let yourself be loved by him,” he said.

“This is the beginning of faith: letting ourselves be loved by Him, who is Father.”

The pope offered the advice while reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, , in which Jesus urges a rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

Giving his address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the pope said that everyone could see themselves in the rich young man because he wasn’t named in the Gospel.

He said: “The man begins with a question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Notice the verbs he uses: ‘must do,’ ‘inherit.’ Here is his religiosity: a duty, a doing so as to obtain; ‘I do something to get what I need.’”

“But this is a commercial relationship with God, a quid pro quo. Faith, on the other hand, is not a cold, mechanical ritual, a ‘must-do-obtain.’ It is a question of freedom and love.”

The pope, who earlier celebrated a Mass the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality, asked his listeners to consider if their faith was primarily a matter of duty or a “bargaining chip.”

“The first thing to do is to free ourselves of a commercial and mechanical faith, which insinuates the false image of an accounting and controlling God, not a father,” he said.

He continued: “Jesus, in the second step, helps this man by offering him the true face of God. Indeed, the text says, ‘Jesus looking upon him loved him’: this is God!”

“This is where faith is born and reborn: not from a duty, not from something that is to be done or paid for, but from a look of love to be welcomed. In this way, Christian life becomes beautiful, if it is based not on our abilities and our plans, but on God’s gaze.”

The pope said that in the third and final step, Jesus invited the young man to give generously of himself to others.

“It is perhaps what we are missing too. Often, we do the bare minimum, whereas Jesus invites us to do the maximum possible,” he commented.

“How many times are we satisfied with doing our duties -- the , a few prayers, and so on -- whereas God, who gives us life, asks us for the impetus of life!”

The pope noted that in the Gospel reading, Jesus began by listing the Commandments and ended with a “positive proposal.”

He said: “Faith cannot be limited to ‘do not,’ because Christian life is a ‘yes,’ a ‘yes’ of love.”

Concluding his meditation, he said: “A faith without giving, without works of charity, in the end makes us sad: just like that man whose ‘face fell’ and returned home ‘sorrowful,’ even though he had been looked upon with love by Jesus in person.”

“Today we can ask ourselves: At what point is my faith? Do I experience it as something mechanical, like a relationship of duty or interest with God? Do I remember to nourish it by letting myself be looked at and loved by Jesus? ... And, attracted by him, do I respond freely, with generosity, with my whole heart?”

After praying the , Pope Francis welcomed two beatifications taking place this weekend.

He said: “Yesterday, in Naples, , a 16th-century wife and mother of a family, was . A widow, she founded in Naples the Hospital for the Incurables and the Capuchin Poor Clares.”

“A woman of great faith and intense prayer life, she did all she could for the needs of the poor and the suffering.”

He added: “Today, in Tropea, Calabria, , founder of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart, who died in 1969, was .”

“A zealous pastor and tireless proclaimer of the Gospel, he was an exemplary witness of a priesthood lived in charity and contemplation.”

After asking for a round of applause for the new blesseds, the pope noted that Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day, marked by the Vatican with a by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The pope acknowledged those suffering from mental health issues, as well as suicide victims, including young people.

“Let us pray for them and their families, that they will not be left alone or discriminated against, but welcomed and supported,” he said.

As he greeted pilgrims in the square below, he pointed out a large image of Mother Maria Bernardetta of the Immaculate, a professed sister of the , held by visitors from her birthplace of Montella, southern Italy.

She spent time in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and was a of the future Pope Francis from 1979 until her death in 2001. The Vatican the opening of her cause in 2019.

“Let us pray for her prompt canonization,” the pope said, concluding his Angelus address.

Pope Francis launches 2-year synodal path with call to ‘encounter, listen, and discern’

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis formally launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality on Sunday with a call to “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.”

Preaching at a at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10, the pope said that Catholics taking part in the synodal path should strive to “become experts in the art of encounter.”

“Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another,” he said.

“Time to devote to prayer and adoration -- this prayer that we neglect so much: to adore, to make room for adoration -- listening to what the Spirit wants to say to the Church.”

“Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations, and ministries.”

The Mass, attended by around 3,000 people, was the second of two weekend events officially opening the two-year global consultation process.

The first was a on Oct. 9 featuring speeches from the pope, Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s relator general, and others.

The Vatican in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

In his , the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, , in which Jesus challenges the rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

He said that the Gospels often showed Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people and listening to their deepest concerns.

“Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves -- all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity -- whether we, the Christian community, embody this ‘style’ of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity,” he urged.

“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?”

“Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together. Let us look at Jesus, who encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life.”

The pope built his homily around three verbs -- “encounter, listen, and discern” -- that he hoped would mark the synodal path.

He noted that when Jesus encountered the young man, he was fully present to him and did not “keep looking at his watch to get the meeting over.”

“Everything changes once we are capable of genuine encounters with Him and with one another, without formalism or pretense, but simply as we are,” he observed.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ meeting with the rich man showed that listening was an essential feature of true encounters.

He said: “Let us ask frankly during this synodal process: Are we good at listening? How good is the ‘hearing’ of our heart?”

“Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even though they have had difficulties in life, and to be part of the life of the community without being hindered, rejected, or judged?”

He continued: “Participating in a synod means placing ourselves on the same path as the Word made flesh. It means following in his footsteps, listening to his word along with the words of others. It means discovering with amazement that the Holy Spirit always surprises us, to suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking.”

The pope acknowledged that learning to listen was “a slow and perhaps tiring exercise” for bishops, priests, religious, and laity.

“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties. Certainties often close us off. Let us listen to one another,” he encouraged Catholics.

The pope said that encounter and listening should lead to discernment.

“We see this in today’s Gospel,” he explained. “Jesus senses that the person before him is a good and religious man, obedient to the commandments, but he wants to lead him beyond the mere observance of precepts.”

“Through dialogue, he helps him to discern. Jesus encourages that man to look within, in the light of the love that the Lord himself had shown by his gaze, and to discern in that light what his heart truly treasures.”

“And in this way to discover that he cannot attain happiness by filling his life with more religious observances, but by emptying himself, selling whatever takes up space in his heart, in order to make room for God.”

The pope described the synod as “a journey of spiritual discernment” guided by God’s word.

“That word summons us to discernment and it brings light to that process. It guides the synod, preventing it from becoming a Church ‘convention,’ a study group or a political congress, because it is not a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us.”

Pope Francis ended his homily by wishing participants in the synodal path a good journey together.

He said: “May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening, and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.”

Pope Francis and Nancy Pelosi meet at the Vatican

Vatican City, Oct 9, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday.

At the time of publication, the Vatican had released no information about what the pope and Pelosi discussed, in line with its usual custom for papal meetings with non-heads of state.

But it noted the audience in its for Oct. 9, saying that the House Speaker was accompanied by her husband, the businessman Paul Pelosi, and entourage.

Photographs released by the Vatican showed that Pelosi also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

The first Italian-American Speaker of the House was in Rome to give the at the opening session of the . She also the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The day before her audience with the pope, the 81-year-old the environment, migration, and human rights during a visit to the Vatican.

The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the visit on Oct. 8 in a on its Twitter account.

Pelosi was accompanied to the Vatican on Friday by Patrick Connell, the of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

On the same day, the White House that former U.S. senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five, has clashed repeatedly with the archbishop of her home diocese over her support for abortion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone launched a last month aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting abortion.

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the San Francisco archbishop said.

“I am therefore inviting all Catholics to join in a massive and visible campaign of prayer and fasting for Speaker Pelosi: commit to praying one rosary a week and fasting on Fridays for her conversion of heart.”

Cordileone urged Catholics and people of goodwill to sign up for the campaign.

A rose will be sent to the Speaker “as a symbol of your prayer and fasting for her,” he explained.

In May, Pelosi said that she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops which addressed Communion for pro-abortion politicians. She claimed that the Vatican had instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone the Vatican was in fact promoting “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction” to the letter, he noted, “raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter.”

In July, Cordileone Pelosi after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

“Let me repeat: no one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it,” he said.

Pelosi had a 15-minute audience with Benedict XVI in 2009.

The Vatican that the German pope “took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

Pope Francis is to receive Joe Biden on Oct. 29, in the U.S. president’s first official visit to the Vatican since his inauguration, according to sources at the Apostolic Palace.

Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, is due to attend the in Rome on Oct. 30–31.

In a after the papal audience, Pelosi described the meeting as a “spiritual, personal and official honor.”

She said: “His Holiness’ leadership is a source of joy and hope for Catholics and for all people, challenging each of us to be good stewards of God’s creation, to act on climate, to embrace the refugee, the immigrant and the poor, and to recognize the dignity and divinity in everyone.”

“His Holiness’ is a powerful challenge to the global community to act decisively on the climate crisis with special attention to the most vulnerable communities. I expressed the gratitude of those working on climate action in the Congress for the immense moral clarity and urgency that His Holiness continues to bring to the climate crisis, and how we continue to cherish his to the Joint Session of Congress in 2015.”

She continued: “His Holiness commands our attention to honor the Gospel of Matthew by serving lifting up those who have been left out or left behind, especially in the time of COVID.”

“In San Francisco, we take special pride in Pope Francis, who shares the namesake of our city and whose song of St. Francis is our anthem. ‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may we bring light. Where there is hatred, may we bring love. Where there is despair, may we bring hope.’”

Pope Francis: Path to 2023 synod on synodality faces 3 ‘risks’

Vatican City, Oct 9, 2021 / 03:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged Catholics on Saturday to be conscious of three “risks” as they embark on the path to the 2023 synod on synodality.

Speaking at an event marking the opening of the two-year process leading to the synod on Oct. 9, the pope said that proceedings could be impeded by “formalism,” “intellectualism,” and “the temptation of complacency.”

Addressing the first risk, he : “If we want to speak of a synodal Church, we cannot remain satisfied with appearances alone; we need content, means, and structures that can facilitate dialogue and interaction within the People of God, especially between priests and laity.”

“Why do I emphasize this? Because sometimes there is some elitism in the presbyteral order that makes it detached from the laity; and the priest ultimately becomes the ‘master of the house’ and not the shepherd of a whole Church that is moving forward.”

“This requires changing certain overly vertical, distorted and partial visions of the Church, the priestly ministry, the role of the laity, ecclesial responsibilities, roles of governance and so forth.”

Turning to the second risk, he cautioned that the synod “could turn into a kind of study group,” losing itself in abstraction.

He said that the process would then consist of “the usual people saying the usual things, without great depth or spiritual insight, and ending up along familiar and unfruitful ideological and partisan divides, far removed from the reality of the holy People of God and the concrete life of communities around the world.”

The final risk, he said, was to adopt an attitude that “We have always done it this way.”

“Those who think this way, perhaps without even realizing it, make the mistake of not taking seriously the times in which we are living,” he commented.

“The danger, in the end, is to apply old solutions to new problems. A patch of that ends up creating a worse tear.”

“It is important that the synodal process be exactly this: a process of becoming, a process that involves the local Churches, in different phases and from the bottom up, in an exciting and engaging effort that can forge a style of communion and participation directed to mission.”

The pope was speaking at a “moment of reflection” for the opening of the synodal path at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.

The event was the first of two major weekend events, to be followed by a papal Mass on Sunday formally opening the two-year global consultation process.

The Vatican in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

In September, the Vatican a and encouraging dioceses to consult all the baptized, including those no longer participating in Church life.

In his address, the pope acknowledged the challenge of involving everyone in the process.

But he said: “Without real participation by the People of God, talk about communion risks remaining a devout wish.”

“In this regard, we have taken some steps forward, but a certain difficulty remains and we must acknowledge the frustration and impatience felt by many pastoral workers, members of diocesan and parish consultative bodies and women, who frequently remain on the fringes.”

“Enabling everyone to participate is an essential ecclesial duty!”

The began with the enthronement and proclamation of the Word of God, featuring a reading from .

The pope spoke after meditations by , from Burkina Faso, and , from Spain.

After the papal address, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s , described the synodal process as a “moment of discernment.”

He : “Let us pray for true communion. Communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, opens us to the communion of the Church.”

“Communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will prevent us from turning the synod into a political debate where each one fights for his own agenda.”

“This is why our path will lead to a phase in which our pope will draw conclusions based on the final document of the Synod of Bishops, which will be the fruit of all this process of listening and discernment.”

Speakers that followed included Sr. Donna Ciangio, of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, who has served as of Newark archdiocese, in northeastern New Jersey, since 2018.

Speaking via , she explained that the archdiocese has asked parish pastoral counselors to conduct listening sessions as part of the synodal process.

“We feel this is a great opportunity for them to listen to all in the parish, as well as those on the margins, and also Catholics who have left the faith,” she said.

“My hope for the listening sessions for the synod is that we will listen deeply to what the Holy Spirit is asking of the Church for the 21st century.”

She continued: “Many people will be energized by thoughtful and honest conversations. They will talk about the spiritual aspects of the faith that formed their lives, and they will discuss the aspects of the Church that need renewal and change.”

“My hope is that our bishops will listen carefully to what people discern as needed change for the Church of our time, so that the mission of Christ continues with strength and courage.”

The event also heard from Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, the of the Congregation for the Clergy, who described how he grew up in South Korea in a family without religious faith.

“I went to middle school and high school in a Catholic school, which bore the name of our martyr Andrew Kim Taegon. He was the first Korean priest and gave his life for others. His testimony attracted me a lot,” he .

“I was baptized on Christmas Eve 1966. I was 16 years old. I was the first Christian in my family.”

He explained that after his priestly ordination and appointment as a bishop, he decided to hold a diocesan synod.

“It was a great grace, because it made us experience the beauty of walking together. And it was also an antidote to clericalism,” he noted.

The was delivered by Cardinal Mario Grech, the of the Synod of Bishops.

The Maltese cardinal explained that the synod’s preparatory document and handbook were not intended to “pre-establish the conditions of the path or dictate the way, obliging the Church to follow a path established in advance.”

They were instead “signs,” rather than “a road,” indicating the direction of the synodal process.

He raised questions about how the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023 should be conducted. He asked whether voting was always the best way to establish consensus among participants.

He said: “Is it so impossible to imagine, for example, to resort to voting on the final document and its individual items only when consensus is not certain?”

“Is it not enough to foresee reasoned objections to the text, perhaps signed by a suitable number of members of the assembly, resolved with an additional discussion, and have recourse to the vote as a last resort?”

“I limit myself to these few questions, not to give a solution, but to point out a problem on which we must carefully reflect.”

He also suggested that the assembly might decide not to submit its final document immediately to the pope, but to send it instead to dioceses around the world.

“In this case, the final document would reach the Bishop of Rome, who has always been recognized by all as the one who issues the decrees established by councils and synods, already accompanied by the consensus of all the Churches,” he said.

Pope Francis ended his address with a prayer to the Holy Spirit.

He said: “Come, Holy Spirit! You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a ‘museum Church,’ beautiful but mute, with much past and little future.”

“Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.”

“Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Spirit of holiness, renew the holy faithful People of God! Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth!”

Nancy Pelosi discusses environment, migration, and human rights at Vatican

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2021 / 11:30 am (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) discussed the environment, migration, and human rights during a visit to the Vatican on Friday.

The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the visit on Oct. 8 in a on its Twitter account.

It said: “We welcome Speaker Pelosi from the U.S. House of Representatives. We talked about caring for the environment, in the light of [Pope Francis’ 2015 ] , migration issues, human rights, health in times of pandemic, and the work of the Vatican COVID Commission.”

An accompanying photograph showed the 81-year-old standing between Cardinal Peter Turkson, the dicastery’s prefect, and Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, the dicastery’s secretary and coordinator of the .

Smerilli that the meeting was “great and inspiring.”

The House Speaker was accompanied by her husband, the businessman Paul Pelosi, and Patrick Connell, the of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, which currently lacks an ambassador.

A photograph showed Turkson presenting the Pelosis with a copy of the book “Why Are You Afraid? Have You No Faith?” by the Vatican Dicastery for Communication to mark the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ extraordinary “Urbi et Orbi” blessing as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world.

The first Italian-American Speaker of the House was in Rome to give the at the opening session of the . She also the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five, has clashed repeatedly with the archbishop of her home diocese over her support for abortion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone launched a last month aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting the practice.

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the San Francisco archbishop said.

“I am therefore inviting all Catholics to join in a massive and visible campaign of prayer and fasting for Speaker Pelosi: commit to praying one rosary a week and fasting on Fridays for her conversion of heart.”

Cordileone urged Catholics and people of goodwill to sign up for the campaign.

A rose will be sent to the Speaker “as a symbol of your prayer and fasting for her,” he explained.

In May, Pelosi said that she was with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops which addressed Communion for pro-abortion politicians. She claimed that the Vatican had instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone said the Vatican was in fact promoting “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

“I’m happy to know that Speaker Pelosi said she is pleased with the letter,” the archbishop said.

“Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction” to the letter, he noted, “raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter.”

In July, Cordileone Pelosi after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

“Let me repeat: no one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it,” he said.

Cardinal Turkson was drawn this week into the debate over whether Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, should be denied Communion over his support for abortion.

In an interview with Axios on HBO, the Ghanaian cardinal : “If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin.”

“It sounds like you don’t think that should happen in the case of President Biden,” said the interviewer.

“No,” Turkson replied. “You know, if, you know, a priest who’s distributing Communion sees -- unexpected all of a sudden somebody he knows to have committed murder, he’s meant to protect their dignity and the respect of that person.”

“So it’s for extreme cases?” the interviewer suggested.

“Yeah. Those, for extreme cases, OK?” Turkson commented.

Vatican indicates Pope Francis will not attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will not attend the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, the Vatican indicated on Friday.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said on Oct. 8 that the Vatican’s delegation to the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference () would be led by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Vatican never officially acknowledged the possibility that the pope would take part in the Nov. 1-12 event.

But Pope Francis noted in an with Spain’s COPE radio station aired on Sept. 1 that he hoped to travel to Scotland to take part in the conference.

“It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there,” he said.

During a visit to the Vatican in May, John Kerry, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, that the pope “intends to attend” the event.

Kerry met with Pope Francis privately on May 15. In a video clip released by the Vatican, Kerry could be heard telling members of his staff, “first day he’ll be there with the heads of state.”

In July, a spokesperson for Scotland’s bishops’ conference the pope’s prospective visit.

“The pope will be in Scotland for a very short time, most of which will be spent participating in the COP26 conference,” the spokesperson .

“While many pastoral, ecumenical, and interfaith gatherings would be desirable while he is with us, time constraints sadly mean such a full program will not be possible.”

The statement was issued as the 84-year-old pope recuperated in hospital following a on his colon.

“Having written to the Holy Father to assure him of a warm welcome, should he attend the conference, they are delighted to hear that he does hope to attend and would be glad to meet with them in Glasgow,” the spokesperson said.

Francis has sought to galvanize efforts to protect the environment since his election in 2013. He issued the in 2015, ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, which negotiated the .

The Glasgow summit will encourage governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the .

The pope issued an joint message on the environment on Sept. 7, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Pope Francis and religious leaders from across the world on Monday for countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, he a degree course on ecology and the environment at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

The pope’s future travel plans are uncertain, with unconfirmed reports that he could visit and Greece in December, and early next year.

Speaking ahead of his September trip to , the pope told COPE that since his election he had chosen to visit “small countries in Europe.”

“Now Slovakia is on the program, then Cyprus, Greece, and Malta. I wanted to take that option: first to the smaller countries,” he said.

How a sworn Satanist became the apostle of the Rosary

Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 2021 / 15:08 pm (CNA).

In 2015, Pope Francis, like some of his predecessors, visited the ancient city of Pompeii in Southern Italy: not to visit the ruins buried by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, but to extoll the wonders of the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, founded in the XIX century by a former Satanist "priest," now on his way to sainthood.

Blessed Bartolo Longo is regarded as the founder of modern Pompeii, a town that grew East of the famous ruins in 1891, after he commissioned the building of the city’s shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary.

The shrine is home to a miraculous image of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was given to Longo by his confessor, Father Alberto Radente, in 1875.

Originally born into a devout Roman Catholic family, Longo fell away from his faith while studying law in Naples in the 1860s – a time when the Catholic Church faced opposition from a nationalist movement fighting for Italian unification, and which viewed the then Papal States and the Pope himself as an antagonist to their cause. Most of the main leaders of the "Unification" movement were Free Masons and held strong anti-Catholic ideas.

The Catholic Church was also fighting against the growing popularity of involvement in the Occult, which at that time had a strong presence in Naples.

Longo himself became involved in a Satanist cult, and eventually claimed to have been "ordained" as a Satanist "priest."

However, after struggling with anxiety and depression, at times even suicidal thoughts, over the next few years, a university professor from his hometown urged Longo to abandon Satanism and introduced him to his future confessor, Fr. Radente.

Under Fr. Radente’s guidance Longo began praying the rosary and converted back to the Catholicism of his chidlhood.

He developed a great devotion to the rosary, and became a third order Dominican in 1871, working to restore the faith of the people in Pompeii by promoting a renewed devotion to the rosary.

The image of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii portrays Mary seated on a throne holding the child Jesus and handing a rosary to St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena - two of the most emblematic Dominicans - who are standing at her feet.

Originally an old, worn-out painting belonging to the Rosariello Convent in Naples, the image was delivered to Longo by way of a cart, which in those days were used to transport manure.

A few months after he received the image of Our Lady of the Rosary given to him by Fr. Radente, miracles started to happen.

The first miracle took place the same day Longo exposed the image to the public after scrounging funds for its restoration when 12-year-old Clorinda Lucarelli was completely healed of epileptic seizures, after being deemed incurable by several doctors.

The Marian shrine became popular beyond the region, and started attracting tens of thousands Italians during the year.

Pope Paul VI crowned the image in St. Peter’s Basilica, and was later completely restored by the Vatican Museums in 2012.


Longo died in Pompeii in 1926, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. He is known as the “Apostle of the Rosary.” His last words were: “My only desire is to see Mary who saved me and who will save me from the clutches of Satan.”


Pope Francis visited the shrine in 2015, becoming the third time a Pope has stopped to pray, the first being St. John Paul II in 1979, followed by Benedict XVI in 2008.

Pope Francis to declare St. Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church with title ‘Doctor of Unity’

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2021 / 06:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Thursday that he plans to declare St. Irenaeus of Lyon a Doctor of the Church with the title “Doctor unitatis,” meaning “Doctor of Unity.”

The pope made the announcement in a to the St. Irenaeus Working Group, a group of Catholic and Orthodox theologians who conducted a study together on synodality and primacy.

“Your patron, St. Irenaeus of Lyon -- whom soon I will willingly declare a Doctor of the Church with the title Doctor unitatis -- came from the East, exercised his episcopal ministry in the West, and was a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 7.

was a second-century bishop and writer revered by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians and known for refuting the heresies of Gnosticism with a defense of both Christ’s humanity and divinity.

The U.S. bishops voted last year in favor of having St. Irenaeus named a Doctor of the Church at the request of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the then archbishop of Lyon, southern France, and sent their approval to the Vatican for the pope’s consideration.

Pope Francis previously St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th-century Armenian monk, a Doctor of the Church in 2015.

Benedict XVI Sts. John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church in 2012.

Seventeen of the 36 figures declared Doctors of the Church by the Catholic Church lived before the Great Schism of 1054 and are also revered by Orthodox Christians.

St. Irenaeus would be the first martyr to be receive the title.

“His name, Irenaeus, contains the word ‘peace,’” Pope Francis said. “We know that the Lord’s peace is not a ‘negotiated’ peace, the fruit of agreements meant to safeguard interests, but a peace that reconciles, that brings together in unity. That is the peace of Jesus.”

The pope spoke about synodality and primacy during his meeting with the St. Irenaeus Working Group, a joint Orthodox-Catholic working group from the at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.

“A fruitful approach to primacy in theological and ecumenical dialogues must necessarily be grounded in a reflection on synodality. There is no other way.” Pope Francis said.

“I have frequently expressed my conviction that in a synodal Church, greater light can be shed on the exercise of the Petrine primacy.”

Petrine primacy refers to the absolute authority of the pope as a pastor and governor with immediate and direct jurisdiction over the whole Church.

The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is one of the major issues of disagreement that has kept Orthodox Christians apart from the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox have a conciliar model of the Church, rather than a centralized authority.

Pope Francis thanked the group for its recently issued , “Serving Communion: Re-thinking the Relationship between Primacy and Synodality.”

“Through the constructive patience of dialogue, especially with the Orthodox Churches, we have come to understand more fully that in the Church primacy and synodality are not two competing principles to be kept in balance, but two realities that establish and sustain one another in the service of communion,” the pope said.

“Just as the primacy presupposes the exercise of synodality, so synodality entails the exercise of primacy.”

Pope Francis expressed hope that the Catholic Church’s upcoming synod on synodality will allow Catholics around the world to reflect on synodality and Petrine primacy.

The pope will kick off the Church’s three-year synodal process this weekend with a Mass on Oct. 10. All dioceses have also been invited to offer an opening Mass the following Sunday on Oct. 17.

“I am confident that, with the help of God, the synodal process that will begin in the coming days in every Catholic diocese will also be an opportunity for deeper reflection on this important aspect, together with other Christians,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis noted that the group of Orthodox and Catholic scholars had chosen St. Irenaeus as their patron.

“Dear friends, with the help of God, you too are working to break down dividing walls and to build bridges of communion,” he added.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also participated in the papal audience with the St. Irenaeus working group.

The cardinal has that strengthening synodality is “the most important contribution” that the Catholic Church can make to ecumenical dialogue, especially dialogue with the Orthodox.

“This synod will not only be an important event in the Catholic Church, but it will contain a significant ecumenical message, since synodality is an issue that also moves ecumenism, and moves it in depth,” Koch wrote in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Jan. 18.

He pointed to the 2007 , in which Catholic and Orthodox theologians agreed that the bishop of Rome was the “protos,” or first among patriarchs, before the separation of East and West.

“The fact that the two dialogue partners were able to declare together for the first time that the Church is structured synodally at all levels and therefore also at the universal level, and that she needs a protos is an important milestone in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue,” he said.

For this step to bear fruit in the future, Koch wrote, it is necessary to deepen the relationship between synodality and primacy.

Pope Francis launches ecology degree course at pontifical university

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday launched a degree course on ecology and the environment at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

The course of studies, called “Care of our common home and protection of creation,” was established in cooperation with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

A UNESCO Chair “On Futures of Education for Sustainability” was also inaugurated on Oct. 7.

In a to Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the university’s grand chancellor, Pope Francis said that a university education must “be able to respond to the numerous challenges currently posed to the whole of humanity and communities of believers, proposing a courageous coherent cultural drive and a scientifically valid project.”

Structures and enthusiasm are not enough to face the environmental crisis, he added, saying “solid preparation is needed.”

“In the Catholic Church, attention to the protection of creation finds its roots in the patrimony of reflections, ideas, and tools for action contained in her social doctrine,” he said.

Francis said that expressions of freedom, justice, mutual respect, solidarity, equity, and the common good were used today to “justify any action” in the face of “the degradation that threatens the planet.”

“This is why educating and training remain the ways to go in order to move from commitment to the environment to proper ecological responsibility,” he commented.

Both believers and non-believers, he said, have a duty to develop concrete tools for safeguarding the planet’s ecosystems, “knowing that it is not given to us to dispose of them without measure.”

The pope added that the failure to have an ecological awareness not only has repercussions on the environment but also on human relationships and social life, and that these feed into the throwaway culture of exclusion, poverty, inequality, and forced displacement.

Pope Francis’ letter was given to Cardinal De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, at a event at the on Oct. 7.

Patriarch Bartholomew and Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, were also present at the meeting, which included a speech by Pope Francis.

The pope encouraged the Lateran academic community to have “an attitude that requires openness, creativity, broader educational offers, but also sacrifice, commitment, transparency and honesty in choices, especially in this difficult time.”

“Let us definitively abandon that ‘it has always been done this way,’” the pope said, calling it a suicidal mentality, which “generates superficiality and answers that are valid only in appearance.”

“Instead, we are called to qualified work, which asks everyone for generosity and gratuitousness to respond to a cultural context whose challenges await concreteness, precision, and the ability to confront,” he said.

“May God fill us with his tenderness and pour out the strength of his love on our path,” he concluded, “‘so that we sow beauty and not pollution and destruction.’”

Francis has sought to galvanize efforts to protect the environment since his election in 2013. He issued the in 2015, ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, which negotiated the .

He hopes to attend the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (), which begins at the end of October in Scotland.

The Glasgow summit will encourage governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the .

A 1,200-year-old Vatican Library manuscript is on display at Dubai Expo

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican Library has a ninth-century manuscript currently on display at the Dubai Expo.

Three original manuscripts from the Vatican Apostolic Library are part of a Holy See exhibit on display until March 31, 2022, at the world’s fair in the United Arab Emirates.

The oldest of the documents is an Arabic translation of the Greek scholar Theon of Alexandria’s introduction to Ptolemy’s produced between 800 A.D. and 830 A.D. by the Bayt al-Ḥikmah, or House of Wisdom, in Baghdad.

It is the first time that the manuscript has left the Vatican Library. A video released by the Vatican explained how it came into the possession of the Catholic Church centuries ago.

In the late ninth century, Christian monks from a Palestinian monastery purchased scratch parchment sheets at a market that contained remnants of the Greek model of Ptolemy’s “Handy Tables” and an attempted Arabic translation of its introduction.

The monks cut the parchment into smaller pieces, washed clear the unwanted text, and assembled them into a small booklet into which they copied a collection of pious Christian stories in Syriac.

Using multi-spectral photography, the Vatican Library was able to unveil the erased undertext of the Arabic translation of the introduction to Ptolemy’s “Handy Tables.”

“This document, the original copy of the translator, remains the only surviving piece of evidence which can be directly linked to the House of Wisdom,” Stephen Metzger of the Vatican Library said in the video.

The other historic documents on display in Dubai are a handbook on the use of Arabic numerals in the West by Leonardo Fibonacci, dating back to between 1170 and 1250, and the 16th-century astronomer Tomás de Orta’s observation on the Gregorian calendar reform.

The aim of the Holy See’s exhibit is to showcase an encounter between “science and faith under the banner of fraternity and intercultural and interreligious dialogue,” according to the Vatican.

Msgr. Tomasz Trafny and architect Giuseppe Di Nicola designed the to contain a reproduction of Giotto’s of St. Francis meeting the Sultan and a copy of Michelangelo's from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The Holy See exhibit also includes a video installation about the Vatican Library and some Swiss Guard uniforms.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was in Dubai for the exhibit’s inauguration.

The is the first world’s fair to be held in the Middle East. The UAE built multi-million dollar pavilions and a new metro station in preparation for the fair. But the construction project was criticized by the European Parliament, which passed a condemning the country’s treatment of migrant workers.

The European Union’s law-making body called on member states to signal disapproval of what it described as human rights violations in the UAE by not participating in the expo.

Human Rights Watch also issued a arguing that the UAE’s attempts to “promote a public image of openness” with the expo were “at odds with the government’s efforts to “prevent scrutiny of its rampant systemic human rights violations.”

“Since 2011 UAE authorities have carried out a sustained assault on freedom of expression and association, arresting and prosecuting hundreds of independent lawyers, judges, teachers, students, and activists, and shutting down key civil society associations and the offices of foreign organizations, effectively crushing any space for dissent,” said the statement published Oct. 1.

More than 190 countries are participating in the expo, including the , which has on display a Quran that was part of President Thomas Jefferson’s library collection. has a marble 3-D replica of Michelangelo’s in its pavilion that is partially covered out of respect for local sensitivities.

Pope Francis creates new Vatican foundation for Catholic hospitals facing financial difficulties

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has created a new foundation offering financial support to Catholic hospitals, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.

The pope established the foundation with a called a chirograph, the Holy See press office said on Oct. 6.

The document, dated Sept. 29, said that the pope had agreed to create the foundation for Catholic healthcare -- known in Italian as the Fondazione per la Sanità Cattolica -- in response to requests for “direct intervention” by the Vatican to help Catholic institutions.

Vatican News that the pope took the step in “the light of financial difficulties faced by a number of Catholic health facilities run by religious orders, who are sometimes forced to sell them.”

The decree explained that the new foundation would operate under the Holy See’s sovereign authority and as an entity of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican’s treasury and sovereign wealth manager.

The foundation “will be subject to the controls and authorizations of the Secretariat for the Economy,” it noted.

At the same time as issuing the chirograph, the pope approved the new body’s statutes.

The Vatican also announced the names of the foundation’s leadership team.

In an Oct. 6 , it said that the pope had appointed APSA president Bishop Nunzio Galantino as the foundation’s president and APSA secretary Fabio Gasperini as its secretary general.

Directors of the new institution include Mariella Enoc, president of Rome’s Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, and Sergio Alfieri, a surgeon at the Gemelli Hospital who in July.

After the to remove part of his colon, the pope spoke about the importance of healthcare during his delivered from the hospital balcony.

“In these days of hospitalization, I experienced once again how important is good healthcare that is accessible to all, as there is in Italy and in other countries. Free healthcare, that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost,” he .

He added: “In the Church too it happens that at times some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it. But vocation in the Church is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: saving free institutions.”

Vatican News said that the foundation would “support and revamp health facilities owned or managed by ecclesial bodies, finding the necessary financial sources, including ones from private donors and public and private institutions.”

It added that it would help Catholic healthcare institutions facing financial distress to “avoid hurried decisions.”

Galantino told Vatican News: “We want to avoid the risk of giving the impression that these institutions are elitist and are reducing treatment to all and for all.”

Vatican finance trial: Judges order prosecutors to re-do interrogations, hand over evidence

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Judges in the Vatican finance trial ruled on Wednesday that the prosecution’s office needs to hand over missing evidence to the defense, while also re-doing a part of the investigation into seven of the 10 defendants, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

The Vatican tribunal also asked the prosecutor to clarify Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s position in the case and to communicate whether he is accused of any crimes.

Perlasca was Becciu’s former chief deputy at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. In that position, he signed off on aspects of the 350 million-euro London real estate purchase at the center of the historic trial.

Originally a suspect in the Vatican’s investigations, Perlasca was never indicted and is a star witness for the prosecution after volunteering information without the presence of a lawyer.

Judges sided on Wednesday with arguments by defense attorneys, ordering Vatican deputy promoter of justice Alessandro Diddi to make evidence available to the defense, including video recordings of four interviews with Perlasca.

The footage and other forensic evidence are due to be handed over by Nov. 3, but attorneys can request to see it and have a copy from today. The court is scheduled to reconvene for the next hearing on Nov. 17.

Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, said on Oct. 6 that he was satisfied with the court’s decision to accept his and other attorneys’ objections to “obvious errors committed by the promoter’s office, directly affecting the effectiveness of the right of defense.”

“Our right of access to acts and documents necessary for the exercise of the right of defense has been recognized,” Viglione said. “Let us go forward certain of the absolute innocence of Cardinal Becciu and of his fidelity to the Church and to the Holy Father.”

A panel of three judges, led by tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone, also agreed on Wednesday to Diddi’s at an Oct. 5 hearing to re-gather evidence, including the depositions of those under investigation.

The court said that there were procedural problems with parts of the investigation and with the interrogations of seven suspects.

This means that the prosecutor’s office will start the investigative phase over for Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, who negotiated the Secretariat of State’s purchase of the London property.

Mincione was helped by longtime Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso, for whom the charges of embezzlement and fraud in regard to his management of the Centurion Global Fund, as well as charges of fraud against three companies he owns, will also need to be re-examined.

The charges of corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office against Fabrizio Tirabassi, who oversaw investments at the Secretariat of State, have also been returned to the investigative phase.

Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked with Tirabassi, will be re-examined concerning charges of corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office.

Becciu, the former number two at the Secretariat of State, will be re-investigated on the charge that he tampered with a witness by applying pressure to Perlasca to recant, and that he embezzled by sending Vatican money to charities run by his brothers.

Prosecutors will re-examine Tommaso Di Ruzza, former director of the Vatican’s financial authority, for embezzlement, while charges that he abused his office and breached confidentiality will go forward.

Becciu will continue to be tried for abuse of office. Defendants René Brülhart and Cecilia Marogna will also not be deposed for a second time.

The Vatican judges said on Wednesday that defendant Gianluigi Torzi’s participation in the trial was effectively on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

Torzi, an Italian businessman who worked with Mincione and brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s purchase of the London building, is under in the U.K. while he awaits extradition to Italy at the of Italian authorities.

The businessman was and sequestered for a little over a week in June 2020 after he was interrogated at the Vatican as part of the financial investigation.

Vatican abuse trial: Court clears former altar boy and ex-youth seminary rector of crimes

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican tribunal cleared a priest who formerly served as a papal altar boy and the ex-rector of a Vatican-based youth seminary of crimes on Wednesday.

Defendant Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, 29, was acquitted of charges of violent sexual assault alleged to have taken place at the Pius X pre-seminary. The school’s former rector, 72-year-old Fr. Enrico Radice, was cleared of charges of cover-up.

The came at the end of a year-long trial for alleged abuse at the Pius X pre-seminary, a residence in Vatican City for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.

The Vatican in May that Pope Francis had decided to move the pre-seminary outside of Vatican City State beginning in September.

At the last hearings on July 15-16, the Vatican’s prosecutor had judges to sentence Martinelli to eight years in prison, with a reduction to four years, and to sentence Radice to four years in jail.

Tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone handed down the decision on Oct. 6. The court said that Martinelli could not be punished for crimes while he was a minor (in Vatican law, before his 16th birthday), clearing him of charges of abuse before Aug. 9, 2008.

For accusations of sexual violence from Aug. 9, 2008, to March 19, 2009 (the period before the alleged victim turned 16 years old and was no longer a legal minor), the court said the sexual acts “were proven in their materiality,” but lacked certainty that they were coerced.

In this case, the tribunal continued, the acts would constitute a different crime, “the corruption of minors,” but the statute of limitations had lapsed by four years when the lawsuit was filed in 2018.

The religious group , which runs the pre-seminary and is overseen by the Diocese of Como, was a defendant in a civil suit regarding the abuse charges. No decision in the civil suit was announced on Oct. 6.

Attorneys for the defendants, agreeing with the ruling on Oct. 6, said that “there were very many doubts” about whether the alleged crimes took place.

A lawyer for Martinelli noted that the man who said he had been assaulted testified in court that it sometimes took place in his room at the pre-seminary and sometimes in the presence of others. But in the course of the trial, former roommates of the alleged victim said they had never heard or saw anything.

“So, it was clear,” the lawyer said, “there were doubts about the fact that it happened.”

Across 13 hearings starting last year, Vatican judges listened to testimony from the defendants, the alleged victim, former students and priest teachers at the pre-seminary, and others.

The man who made the allegations, identified only as L.G., claimed that Martinelli, who is seven months and nine days older, sexually abused him, starting about two months after he moved to the pre-seminary, when he was 13 years old.

The initial abuse allegation was first revealed by Italian journalists in 2017, and then reported by the Associated Press in 2018.

The investigation into the abuse allegations began in November 2017, but according to Vatican law at the time, the complaint had been made outside the statute of limitations.

In June 2019, however, Pope Francis made a special provision allowing the case to proceed.

In September 2019, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice the indictment of the two accused men.

Martinelli, who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Como, northern Italy, in 2017, always denied the allegations against him, calling them “unfounded” and intended to “strike” at the pre-seminary.

Radice, who was accused of covering up the allegations of abuse, said that he never heard or saw anything like sexual assault in the pre-seminary, and he argued that accusers had made up the story out of “economic interests.”

“No one has ever told me about abuse, not the students, not the teachers, not the parents,” the former rector on the stand last year.

‘This is a moment of shame’: Pope Francis expresses sorrow at French abuse report

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2021 / 07:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed sadness and shame on Wednesday in response to a report estimating that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.

“This is a moment of shame,” Pope Francis during his on Oct. 6.

“To the victims, I wish to express my sadness and my pain for the traumas they have endured and my shame, our shame, my shame that for so long the Church has been incapable of putting this at the center of its concerns, assuring them of my prayers,” he said.

The pope’s comments came a day after the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church () a nearly 2,500-page estimating that 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns in France from 1950 to 2020.

It suggested that there were “between 2,900 and 3,200” abusers out of 115,000 clergy and monks, which it noted “would imply a very high number of victims per aggressor.”

The study also said that “more than a third of sexual assaults within the Catholic Church were committed, not by clergy or monks, but by lay people.”

Before entering the Paul VI Hall for his general audience, Pope Francis took a moment to pray with four French bishops for the victims of sexual abuse.

The French bishops were in Rome for their ad limina visit, a papal meeting required for every diocesan bishop in the world to provide an update on the state of his diocese.

“I encourage the bishops and religious superiors to continue to do everything possible so that similar tragedies might not be repeated,” Pope Francis said at the general audience.

“I express my closeness and fatherly support to the priests in France in the face of this trial which is difficult but beneficial, and I invite the Catholics in France to assume their responsibility to guarantee that the Church might be a safe home for everyone.”

In response to the French abuse report, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph published a on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Johnston serves as the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

“In renewed solidarity with victim-survivors who have courageously come forward, we join the Church of France in praying for forgiveness, healing, and protection,” the bishop said.

“This report underscores the need for us to repent and grow in our commitment to serve the people of God. The Holy Father, in his pastoral concern for the Universal Church has called us all to greater accountability and transparency in addressing the sins of abuse and the mishandling of abuse claims at every level.”

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also issued a on Oct. 6, calling the report an “indictment of the failures of leadership in the Church.”

“This history of unchecked abuse extending over the course of generations challenges our comprehension of how innocent persons could have suffered so terribly and their voices been ignored for so long,” O’Malley said.

Noting that the French bishops had commissioned the report, the cardinal said that the Church in France had taken the necessary first steps to deal with the scourge of sexual abuse.

He said that the outlined by French bishops earlier this year should be incorporated at all levels of authority.

He added that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was committed to “vigorous advocacy for the rights of survivors, and to abuse prevention education, transparency, accountability, and zero tolerance.”

“We cannot allow that one survivor goes unacknowledged or that one person would be in danger of abuse by a member of the Church,” O’Malley said.

“There remains a long road ahead of us in confronting abuse in our Church and in society at large. We will not tire in walking this journey,” he said.

Pope Francis: True freedom flows from the Cross of Christ

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2021 / 05:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that true freedom is found by opening one’s heart to the grace of Christ.

“The truest freedom, that from slavery to sin, flows from the Cross of Christ. We are free from slavery to sin by the Cross of Christ,” Pope Francis Oct. 6.

“Right there, where Jesus allowed himself to be nailed, making himself a slave, God placed the source of the liberation of the human person.”

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall for his general audience, Pope Francis pointed to the example of St. Paul, who he said experienced the mystery of God’s love when he wrote “I have been crucified with Christ” in his .

“In that act of supreme union with the Lord, he knew he had received the greatest gift of his life: freedom. On the Cross, in fact, he had nailed ‘his flesh with its passions and desires.’ We understand how much faith filled the Apostle, how great was his intimacy with Jesus,” the pope said.

“The Apostle’s testimony encourages us to progress in this life of freedom. The Christian is free, should be free, and is called not to return to being a slave of precepts and strange things,” he said.

Pope Francis noted that remaining free from sin can be a struggle, but he stressed that it is possible to make progress during one’s lifetime.

“How many people there are who have never studied, who do not even know how to read and write, but who have understood Christ’s message well, who have this freedom that makes them free. It is Christ’s wisdom that has entered them through the Holy Spirit in baptism,” Pope Francis said.

“How many people do we find who live the life of Christ better than great theologians, for example, offering a tremendous witness of the freedom of the Gospel?”

The pope’s address, dedicated to the theme “Christ has set us free,” was the 10th in his on Galatians.

At the beginning of the audience, was read out to pilgrims in various languages.

“The freedom that the Galatians had received -- and we, like them -- is the fruit of the death and resurrection of Jesus,” Pope Francis said.

St. Paul invited the Galatians with his letter to “to remain firm in the freedom they had received with baptism, without allowing themselves to be put once again under the ‘yoke of slavery,’” he said.

The pope explained that freedom makes one free to the extent to which it transforms one’s life and directs it toward the good.

“So as to be truly free, we not only need to know ourselves on the psychological level, but above all to practice truth in ourselves on a more profound level -- and there, in our heart, open ourselves to the grace of Christ,” he said.

“The journey of truth and freedom is an arduous one that lasts a lifetime … And it is a journey on which the Love that comes from the Cross guides and sustains us: the Love that reveals truth to us and grants us freedom. This is the way to happiness,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis discusses education with faith leaders on World Teachers’ Day

Vatican City, Oct 5, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Religious leaders from different faiths met at the Vatican on Tuesday to discuss education on World Teachers’ Day.

The interreligious meeting on Oct. 5 included Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Calvinist, Quaker, and evangelical representatives who gathered together with Pope Francis.

The group released a joint statement following the meeting urging teachers to commit to “researching new ways of understanding the economy and politics, as instruments at the service of people and the entire human family, and with a view to a holistic ecology, by teaching lifestyles that are more respectful of the environment.”

The meeting was part of the Global Compact on Education by Pope Francis in October 2020.

The religious representatives also called for forms of education that put “the human person at the center of every educational process” and respect “women’s dignity so as to build with them a future of justice and peace.”

Bartholomew I of Constantinople and , the grand imam of al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, were among the participants, along with from Tehran, Iran, and a representative of , the founding abbot of Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society.

Pope Francis addressed the religious leaders in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

“Religions have always had a close relationship with education, accompanying religious activities with educational, scholastic and academic ones. As in the past, so also in our day, with the wisdom and humanity of our religious traditions, we want to be a stimulus for a renewed educational activity that can advance universal fraternity in our world,” the pope .

“If in the past, our differences set us at odds, nowadays we see in them the richness of different ways of coming to God and of educating young people for peaceful coexistence in mutual respect.”

established Oct. 5 as in 1994.

The pope said that the key to a more fraternal world was the education of young people to appreciate one another “regardless of where he or she was born or lives.”

“If in the past, the rights of women, children and the most vulnerable were not always respected, today we are committed firmly to defend those rights and to teach young people to be a voice for the voiceless,” he said.

Pope Francis also stressed the need for educators to train future generations in “more sober and ecologically sustainable lifestyle.”

“Education commits us to love our mother Earth, to avoid the waste of food and resources, and to share more generously the goods that God has given us for the life of everyone. I think of what one thinker, not a Catholic, used to say: ‘God always forgives, we occasionally forgive. Nature never forgives,’” he said.

At the end of his speech, the pope asked each religious leader to spend a “brief moment of silence, asking God to enlighten our minds so that our dialogue will bear fruit and help us courageously to pursue the paths of new educational horizons.”

Vatican finance trial: Judges to rule whether to keep or scrap case in face of procedural missteps

Vatican City, Oct 5, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican finance trial involving Cardinal Angelo Becciu continued on Tuesday with two hours of legal debates that could potentially result in an abrupt end to the court case.

Judges adjourned the hearing until Wednesday morning, when they will give their ruling on whether to move forward with the trial after the defendants’ lawyers took issue with what they consider to be significant procedural missteps by the prosecution.

Tribunal judge Giuseppe Pignatone may order the prosecutor’s office to hand over missing materials that the ’ legal teams need to prepare their defenses, or he could order investigators to start over from scratch.

The trial is the culmination of more than two years of investigation by the Vatican into what happened in and around the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro purchase of an investment property in London between 2014 and 2018.

The investigation, due to four decrees from Pope Francis, was carried out with huge leeway for actions usually not permitted by Vatican law, including the use of wiretaps. If the court orders the investigation to begin again, these allowances would no longer be available to investigators.

The case is in jeopardy because of missing materials prosecutors have not made available to the defense attorneys. Most contested are the video files of interviews with Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, a suspect of the investigations who was not charged and is now a significant witness for the prosecution.

Defense lawyers say they need to review the recordings because a summary they were provided with is missing information.

They are also still waiting to receive copies of forensic evidence gathered from defendants’ phones and computers, which were due to be received on Aug. 9.

Alessandro Diddi, the deputy prosecutor and lead investigator on the case, has yet to follow the judge’s order to make the tapes available.

Diddi said on Oct. 5 that he would like to share the video recordings, but claimed that his hands were tied due to concerns about “privacy” for the people involved.

Several defense attorneys argued that if these procedural errors are not corrected, it is impossible for the trial to continue, because they do not have the information on which to form their case, and it should be thrown out.

Diddi later admitted that “maybe we made a mistake.”

Tribunal president Pignatone, together with two other Vatican judges, will now have to decide whether to push the trial through or let it collapse.

Diddi and Pignatone have clashed previously, going head-to-head for years during one of Rome’s largest anti-mafia trials, known as “Mafia Capitale.”

Disagreements between Diddi, a lawyer for one of the main defendants, and Pignatone, then Rome’s chief prosecutor, played out publicly during the trial.

3 Swiss Guards resign over Vatican vaccine mandate

Vatican City, Oct 5, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Three Swiss Guards have quit after refusing to comply with the Vatican’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement and three other guards have been suspended until they are fully vaccinated.

The , charged with protecting the pope, has required all 135 guards to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is a step further than Vatican City’s for a Green Pass, a digital or paper certificate proving one has either been vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus, or tested negative for COVID-19 within the past 48 hours.

Lt. Urs Breitenmoser, a spokesman for the Swiss Guard, the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève that three guards left on a “voluntary” basis.

He defended the vaccine requirement as “a measure in line with those adopted by other army corps around the world.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, Breitenmoser : “Three members of the Guard have chosen not to adhere to that request, voluntarily leaving the corps.’’

As of Oct. 1, all visitors and personnel who wish to enter Vatican City and its territories have been required to show a Green Pass.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, issued a on Sept. 28 stating that Vatican employees or officials who do not follow the regulation will not be allowed to enter their place of work and must be considered “unjustified absent.” Pay will be withheld for all days of unjustified absence.

Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, the president of Vatican City State, previously that the regulations were being implemented at the request of Pope Francis, who asked the authorities “to take all appropriate measures to prevent, control and combat the ongoing public health emergency in the Vatican City State.”

Under the new rules, Catholics going to Mass or confession in St. Peter’s Basilica, or in other churches on Vatican territory, will not need to have the COVID-19 pass.

Cardinal Turkson talks Biden, Holy Communion on HBO

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 18:26 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Peter Turkson appeared to reject claims that President Joe Biden should be denied Holy Communion over his staunch pro-abortion rights stand, in remarks to a U.S. news show Sunday that touched on many topics, including COVID-19 vaccines, the Afghanistan conflict, and clergy sexual abuse.

Turkson appeared on the Axios on HBO news program broadcast Oct. 3. Show host Mike Allen cited the debate over whether pro-abortion rights politicians like President Joe Biden should be denied Holy Communion. Allen cited an unnamed bishop who said, “The Eucharist is being weaponized.”

“The Eucharist should not in any way become a weapon,” said Turkson.

“Do you have any question that President Biden is a Catholic in good standing?” Allen asked. “Should he be served communion?”

Turkson responded: “If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin.”

“It sounds like you don’t think that should happen in the case of President Biden,” said the interviewer.

“No,” said Turkson. “You know, if, you know, a priest who’s distributing communion sees-- unexpected all of a sudden somebody he knows to have committed murder, he’s meant to protect their dignity and the respect of that person.”

“So it’s for extreme cases?”

“Yeah. Those, for extreme cases, okay?” Turkson replied.

Turkson, who was born in Ghana, is prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Debates about reception of Holy Communion by pro-abortion rights are somewhat unique to the American political context, where many politicians present themselves as devout Catholics but also support legal abortion. Elsewhere in the world, such political leaders are much less common.

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo to the U.S. bishops in his role as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that Catholic politicians who are “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” are considered to be formally cooperating in the grave sin of abortion, and in a “manifest” way.

In such cases, Ratzinger said, the pastor of the official must meet with them and admonish them, instructing them that they cannot receive Communion. If the politicians persist in their pro-abortion advocacy, the minister of Communion “must refuse to distribute it,” he said.

The U.S. bishops in June voted to draft a formal statement on what the Eucharist means in the Church. They have cited lack of understanding among Catholics about Church teaching and about worthiness to receive Holy Communion, and some discussion brought up the matter of prominent pro-abortion rights Catholic politicians.

In June, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), took to Twitter to dare the U.S. bishops to deny him Holy Communion over his support for contraception, legal abortion, and same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party has become strongly pro-abortion rights in recent decades and tensions have increased as a Republican-dominated Supreme Court appears set to change precedent mandating legal abortion nationwide.

Turkson’s other comments discussed a lack of action in global development efforts.

“We talk more than we do. We talk a lot, and we do very little,” he told Axios on HBO. “Some president, some head of state, says ‘When I go back, every parliamentarian in my country will use an electric car.’ It’s not happened.”

The Church tries to move people to action through “appeal and encouragement,” he said, adding “We’re going to try to bring the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth there.”

On the question of vaccine distribution, Turkson noted that Biden is trying to deliver on promises to vaccinate enough Americans. Global gatherings like G7 and G20 conferences witnessed “a lot of promises” about how many vaccine doses would be made available for Africa and other countries.

While he agreed that wealthy countries can and need to do more, he said, “I basically would wish to encourage heads of state and leaders in Africa to also explore traditional therapies for this.”

“If local heads of state were to promote local herbal medication, our dependence will not be 100% on vaccines,” he said, adding, “we need to diversify our therapies.”

When the host asked Turkson if he doubted that taking the vaccine, for most people, is “wise and helpful,” Turkson responded: “No, certainly.”

Allen framed Catholic teaching on the ordination of women as a matter of rights. Turkson told Allen that he never had a “personal struggle” with Catholic teaching on this point.

“Is that a question of rights? Not even men who are ordained consider that to be a right.”

On the matter of sexual abuse, the cardinal said that all the young people who enter seminary and convents are “products of a society.”

“I'm not blaming society for crime,” he said, adding that it is not necessary to be oblivious to “factors that influence the lives of people who come to become priests.”

“They come from certain backgrounds, and we don't know what has contaminated them from that background,” he said. Some could be victims of abuse themselves.

He advocated efforts to ensure prospective priests’ characters are fully developed and known before they are ordained and show abusive tendencies “to the embarrassment of the Church and everybody.”

Turkson, who is black, discussed racism. He said, “Certainly the Church can do more. There was a time when Church institutions owned slaves because it was the turn of the time, as it were.”

“What is past is past,” he said, while endorsing “Reparation if it can be made can be made.” There must also be a call for resolve “not to repeat past errors.

The interview touched on remarks about the Afghanistan conflict, in which he had said that not all eventualities were taken into account. He said the U.S. went into the country with “vengeance” and a “war posture” to get the “culprit.”

“If U.S. had gone in first not even with a militant posture but to talk, we'd be living with a completely different situation now,” said Turkson.

“I recognize the complexity of the situation. But this becomes a lesson for international diplomacy,” he said, encouraging more efforts to talk and seek reconciliation.

Pope Francis mourns ‘self-sacrificing’ cardinal who announced Benedict XVI’s election

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, who led the Vatican’s liturgy office for six years and was a priest under seven popes, died on Oct. 3 at the age of 94.

Medina was also the cardinal who announced to the world the election of Pope Benedict XVI on April 19, 2005.

He died in Chile, in his hometown of Santiago de Chile, and his funeral was celebrated on Monday in the city’s metropolitan cathedral.

Pope Francis sent a on Oct. 4 to Cardinal Medina’s relatives and to the Catholics of the dioceses of Rancagua and Valparaíso, which Medina led before taking up his position in the Vatican’s liturgy office.

Francis said that Medina was a “self-sacrificing” priest and bishop who “with fidelity, gave his life to the service of God and the universal Church.”

He added that he was praying for the eternal repose of the cardinal’s soul.

Born on Dec. 23, 1926, Medina was ordained a priest in 1954, after which he began teaching philosophy in the seminary and theology in the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He taught philosophy for 10 years and theology until 1994. From 1974 to 1985, Medina was pro-grand chancellor of the university.

He was also canon penitentiary of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile for many years and served as a judge in the ecclesiastical court.

Pope John XXIII named him a peritus (“expert”) at the Second Vatican Council. He was also later a member of the International Theological Commission and the drafting commission for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

He was the preacher at Pope John Paul II’s Lenten retreat in 1993, and in 1996 the pope named him pro-prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was prefect of the office from 1998 to 2002.

Medina wrote many books and articles on topics including spirituality and canon law.

In February 1998, John Paul II made him a cardinal. In 2005, Medina participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. As cardinal protodeacon, he Benedict’s election and bestowed the upon him during his inauguration Mass.

In 2011, Medina was criticized for comments he made about Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest who was later laicized for sexually abusing minors. Karadima was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011 and was being tried by civil authorities.

Medina, who had retired in 2002, expressed doubt that Karadima would be sent to prison for sexual abuse, drawing a distinction between children of age eight or nine and a 17-year-old boy, the age of one of Karadima’s victims.

“With all due respect to the laws of my country, a child of eight or nine is very different from a 17-year-old ... A 17-year-old youngster knows what he is doing,” Medina said at the time.

Fernando Batlle, one of Karadima’s victims, criticized the comments as “an attack” on him and those seeking truth and justice.

In 2006, Medina that Benedict XVI was preparing to sweep away restrictions on priests celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass.

“The publication of a motu proprio by the pope allowing for widespread celebration of the Mass in Latin according to the missal of St. Pius V is very near,” he said, months before Benedict XVI issued the .

5 things to know about the Vatican finance trial involving Cardinal Becciu

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

The second hearing in a historic Vatican finance trial is set for Tuesday after proceedings kicked off at the end of July.

The trial is the culmination of more than two years of investigation by the Vatican into what happened in and around the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro purchase of an investment property in London between 2014 and 2018.

The Vatican maintains that the deal was problematic and designed to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros.

The defendants in the trial have been adamant their actions were above board, and that Vatican authorities were in the know.

Now the Vatican is taking legal action against the people involved in the London deal -- and others accused of financial crimes -- on behalf of the injured parties: the Holy See, the Secretariat of State, and the IOR (commonly called the “Vatican bank.”)

As the next phase of the Vatican financial trial unfolds, here are five things to know.

This is the Vatican’s largest trial for financial crimes in the modern era, with 10 defendants and a laundry list of charges, including embezzlement, money laundering, abuse of office, misappropriation, and fraud.

There are some 30 lawyers just for the defense, and if every defendant gets to call multiple witnesses to the stand, the court can expect to spend a lot of time listening to witness testimony, even if things go smoothly. Then there are the witnesses for the prosecution and statements by the attorneys.

Since prosecutors and judges only work at the Vatican tribunal part time, this is potentially a recipe for a years-long trial.

The trial also makes history as the first time that a cardinal will be tried by lay judges in the Vatican court.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu used to work as the second-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the powerful curial department at the center of the investigation of financial malfeasance.

The cardinal has always denied all wrongdoing, telling journalists at the in July: “I am calm, I feel calm in conscience, I have the confidence that the judges will be able to see the facts well and my great hope is the certainty that they recognize my innocence.”

While the London deal is one of the Vatican’s biggest financial scandals in the last couple of years, not all of the prosecution’s charges are strictly related to that transaction.

Becciu’s charges of embezzlement and abuse of office are connected to accusations that he sent Vatican money to a charity run by his brother, and that he paid another defendant in the trial, Cecilia Marogna, to create dossiers of incriminating information on Vatican personnel.

Marogna, a self-described security consultant, has been charged with embezzlement for allegedly receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Secretariat in connection with Becciu, and then reportedly spending the money earmarked for charity on luxury goods and vacations -- which she denies.

René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, who formerly led the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, were not involved in the London property purchase, but have been charged for allegedly failing to stop the deal, which Vatican prosecutors say “should have been considered suspicious.”

The significant players in the London deal were defendants Raffaele Mincione and Gianluigi Torzi, who negotiated and brokered the Secretariat of State’s purchase, and the longtime Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso, who helped them.

Inside the Secretariat, Fabrizio Tirabassi oversaw investments and Msgr. Mauro Carlino worked with him.

Pope Francis has not been quiet about financial reform at the Vatican and has stepped in several ways during the investigation and trial -- whether to express a hope for a desired outcome or to change procedural norms.

He issued four decrees during the two-year pre-trial probe, overruling existing laws to allow prosecutors greater freedom in their investigation, including the use of wiretaps and the suspension of confidentiality rules for documents.

The pope also intervened by requiring Becciu to as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals on Sept. 24, 2020, after news reports emerged accusing Becciu of financial wrongdoing.

But in a recent interview with Spanish broadcaster COPE, Francis he hoped “with all my heart” that the cardinal is proven to be innocent.

“Besides, he was a collaborator of mine and helped me a lot. He is a person for whom I have a certain esteem as a person, that is to say, that my wish is that it turns out well,” he said.

Though the trial centers on the London property scandal, the case could become about much more, as the Vatican continues to grapple with issues of financial reform and the tribunal’s involvement.

In June, the financial monitoring body Moneyval the potential conflicts of time and interest by the judges and prosecutors involved in the trial, most of whom also have other jobs in the Italian legal system.

And the first hearing of the Becciu trial, which lasted seven hours, was filled with objections to procedural issues raised by the defense attorneys, who complained that they did not have enough time to read through 28,000 pages of evidence and important documents were inaccessible.

Following that hearing, the court’s president, Giuseppe Pignatone, ordered the prosecutors to provide missing documents to the defense. He also asked them to hand over video files of interrogations with Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, a suspect of the investigations who was never charged and is now a significant witness for the prosecution.

So far, the Vatican prosecutors have refused the president’s order, and the defense has only been given a summary of Perlasca’s testimony.

Lawyers for Cecilia Marogna said in a defense memo submitted last week that in autonomous and impartial judicial systems, “the refusal would have been immediately sanctioned,” the AP .

While the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said that the trial is about uncovering “judicial truth” in the London property scandal, it could also become a test case for the effectiveness of the Vatican’s judicial system.

Pope Francis, faith leaders issue carbon emissions appeal ahead of UN climate change conference

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and religious leaders from across the world appealed on Monday for countries to “achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

They made the appeal on Oct. 4 in a signed in the Vatican’s Hall of Benediction, which was decorated with plants to mark the occasion.

“The world is called to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, with wealthier countries taking the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions from poorer nations,” they said in the 2,000-word appeal signed by almost 40 faith leaders.

Pope Francis presented the signed text to Alok Sharma, president of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (), and Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio.

“It is important that all governments adopt a trajectory that will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C [2.7°F] above pre-industrial levels,” the leaders wrote.

“To achieve these goals of the [2016] Paris Agreement, the COP26 Summit should deliver ambitious short-term actions from all nations with differentiated responsibilities.”

Those present at the event included Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Russian Orthodox leader Metropolitan Hilarion, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar.

They had gathered at the Vatican for the meeting promoted by the British and Italian embassies to the Holy See. The summit brought together religious leaders and scientists ahead of the climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

The meeting saw brief addresses by faith leaders, as well as Alok Sharma.

“We need scientists, with their academic authority, to amplify further their voices in the public debate, and faith leaders to use their moral leadership to make the case for action,” he .

“This appeal does just that, with immense clarity and power.”

“Forty faith leaders have come together, and working with scientists, have created a powerful call to action for the world.”

When it was Pope Francis’ turn to speak, he said he had decided not to read his address aloud to leave for more time to hear from others.

In the of his address, shared with participants, he highlighted three concepts.

“Openness to interdependence and sharing, the dynamism of love and a call to respect. These are, I believe, three interpretative keys that can shed light on our efforts to care for our common home,” he said.

“COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations. We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness.”

Pope Francis said earlier this month that he hoped to travel to Scotland to take part in the conference.

“It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there,” he .

Francis has sought to galvanize efforts to protect the environment since his election in 2013. He issued the in 2015, ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, which negotiated the .

The Glasgow summit will encourage governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the .

The pope issued an unprecedented on the environment on Sept. 7 this year, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

“As leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behavior and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us,” the leaders of world’s three largest Christian communions .

Last week, the pope young climate activists attending the Youth4Climate event in Milan, Italy, to recognize that “technical and political solutions are not enough” to foster harmony between people and the environment.

The religious leaders attending Monday’s event each poured a cup of soil into a potted olive tree that will be planted in the Vatican Gardens.

They included representatives of Shi’a Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism.

In their joint appeal, they said: “Scientists have warned us that there might be only one decade left to restore the planet.”

“We plead with the international community, gathered at COP26, to take speedy, responsible, and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”

“We appeal to everyone on this planet to join us on this common journey, knowing well that what we can achieve depends not only on opportunities and resources, but also on hope, courage, solidarity, and goodwill.”

“In an age fraught with division and despair, we look with hope and unity to the future. We seek to serve the people of the world, particularly the poor and the future generations, by encouraging a prophetic vision, a creative, respectful, and courageous action for the sake of the Earth, our common home.”

Respect Life: Pope Francis’ 8 strongest statements against abortion

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2021 / 00:00 am (CNA).

While papal observers may sometimes adopt differing interpretations of Pope Francis’ statements on controversial topics, on the issue of abortion the pope has been unambiguously clear that the humanity of an unborn child must always be protected.

In recent years, Pope Francis’ public statements on abortion — often unscripted — have been more graphic and striking than even some of the pro-life statements of his predecessors, such as his comparison of the procedure to homicide and Nazi eugenics.

With rosary crusades for the protection of the unborn underway in October, and a looming U.S. Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is widely seen as the most direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade in the nearly five decades of legalized abortion in the United States, here is a look at some of the strongest papal statements on abortion. 

When a journalist from the Jesuit publication, America Magazine, asked the pope on Sept. 15 about “a woman’s right to choose” and giving Communion to politicians who have supported pro-abortion laws during an in-flight press conference, Pope Francis that “abortion is more than an issue. Abortion is murder.”

“Scientifically it’s a human life. The textbooks teach us that. But is it right to take it out to solve a problem? This is why the Church is so strict on this issue because accepting this is kind of like accepting daily murder,” Francis .

In a speech to a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis said that it was unfortunate to see “some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called 'essential services' provided in the humanitarian response” to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child," the pope .

Pope Francis compared abortion to “hiring a hitman” during his weekly catechesis.

“How can an action that ends an innocent and defenseless life in its blossoming stage be therapeutic, civilized or simply human? I ask you: Is it right to ‘do away with’ a human life in order to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman in order to solve a problem? One cannot. It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman,” he said.

The pope has repeated this line about the “hitman” many times since, including when by a Spanish television journalist in 2019 about the permissibility of abortion in the case of a woman who has been trafficked and becomes pregnant by rape.

The pope has said that abortion of children who are sick or disabled is like Nazi eugentics “but with white gloves.”

“I have heard that it is in fashion, or at least customary,  in the first months of pregnancy to have certain exams, to see whether the baby is not well, or has some problems. The first proposal in that case is: ‘Shall we do away with it?’ The murder of children,” Pope Francis said in a speech a family association.

“In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today we do the same thing, but with white gloves,” Pope Francis .

When asked about abortion for pregnant women amid the Zika virus scare, Pope Francis responded that abortion is “an absolute evil” and against doctors’ Hippocratic oath.

“Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That's what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil,” the pope in his in-flight press conference returning from Mexico.

“Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem. It is a medical problem. You kill one person to save another, in the best case scenario. … It's against the Hippocratic oaths doctors must take. It is an evil in and of itself,” he said.

In Pope Francis’ landmark environmental encyclical, , the pope emphasized that respect for creation and human dignity go hand in hand.

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” the pope wrote.

“How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” 

Pope Francis prayed at a cemetery for aborted babies during his papal trip to South Korea in August 2014. Stopping to pray in silence before the horde of journalists that document the pope’s every move during a papal trip, Pope Francis used this silent gesture to communicate the Gospel of life.

The pope also visited a cemetery for unborn children on the outskirts of Rome to pray on All Souls’ Day in 2018. 

In a speech to a group of gynecologists and obstetricians, the pope said that doctors “are called to care for human life in its initial stage” and asked them to remind people that “in all its phases and at any age, human life is always sacred.”

“Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world's rejection," Pope Francis .

Pope Francis’ strong statements mark a continuation of the Catholic Church’s clear pronouncements that abortion is a grave evil. Here are some other notable statements made over the decades since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.

Among Benedict XVI’s many pro-life statements, one that stands out was a speech he gave to bishops from Latin America on family and life issues in which he said that “children have the right to be born and to be raised in a family founded on marriage.”

“Children truly are the family's greatest treasure and most precious good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God's love,” he .

In John Paul II’s groundbreaking encyclical on the Gospel of Life, , the late pope defined the emergence of a “culture of death” and  a “war of the powerful against the weak” in which “a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden.”

“Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good …. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize,” John Paul II wrote.

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a , which was ratified and published by Pope Paul VI in 1974.

“Respect for human life is not imposed only on Christians: reason is sufficient to demand it,” the declaration stated.

“From the moment the egg is fertilized, a life is inaugurated that is not that of the father or mother, but of a new human being that develops on its own,” it said.

Eight years before the Roe v. Wade decision, the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, , described abortion and infanticide as “unspeakable crimes.”

“For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man,” it said.

Pope Francis: Greatness is not found in self-sufficiency but in trust in the Lord

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that recognizing one’s own frailty allows for the possibility to discover that true strength comes from placing all one’s hope in the Lord.

“This is how we become great: not in the illusory pretense of our self-sufficiency -- this does not make anyone great -- but in the strength of placing all our hope in the Father, just as the little ones do,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 3.

“Today let us ask the Virgin Mary for a great grace, that of smallness: to be children who trust the Father, certain that He does not fail to take care of us.”

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square from the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope said that Christian disciples must not only serve “the little ones,” but must also acknowledge their own smallness.

“Knowing that one is small, knowing that one is in need of salvation, is indispensable for receiving the Lord. It is the first step in opening ourselves up to Him,” he said.

“Often, however, we forget about this. In prosperity, in wellbeing, we have the illusion of being self-sufficient, of being enough for ourselves, of not needing God. Brothers and sisters, this is a deception because each one of us is in need, a little one. We have to look for our own littleness and recognize it.”

Pope Francis said that recognizing one’s own frailty allows for the possibility for growth in faith in the face of life’s challenges.

“If we think about it, we grow not so much on the basis of our successes and things we have, but above all in moments of struggle and fragility. There, in need, we mature; there we open our hearts to God, to others, to the meaning of life,” he said.

“When we feel small in the face of a problem, small in front of a cross, an illness, when we experience fatigue and loneliness, let us not be discouraged. The mask of superficiality is falling away and our radical frailty is re-emerging: it is our common base, our treasure, because with God frailty is not an obstacle but an opportunity.”

“A beautiful prayer would be this: ‘Lord, look at my frailties …’ and list them before Him. This is a good attitude before God. “

Pope Francis encouraged people to seek Jesus in caring for the poor and the sick.

“Those who seek God find Him here, in the little ones, in those in need: in need not only of material goods, but of care and comfort, such as the sick, the humiliated, the prisoners, the immigrants, the incarcerated,” he said.

“He is there. … Any affront to a little one, a poor person, a defenseless person, is done to Him.”

After praying the Angelus prayer with the crowd, the pope said that he was saddened by the recent violence that broke out in a prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where more than 100 people were killed by inmates belonging to revival gangs.

“May God help us heal the wounds of crime that enslaves the poorest, and help those who work every day to make prison life more humane,” he said.

Pope Francis also offered prayers for the people of Myanmar, who continue to suffer eight months after the military coup toppled the civilian government.

“I wish once again to implore God for the gift of peace for the beloved land of Myanmar: so that the hands of those who live there no longer have to dry tears of pain and death, but may cling to overcome difficulties and work together for the advent of peace,” the pope said.

The pope encouraged Catholics to renew their commitment to pray the rosary during the month of October and pointed to the example of Blessed Maria Antonia Samà and Blessed Gaetana Tolomeo, two recently beatified lay women who had great devotion to praying the rosary from their sick beds.

“Sustained by divine grace, they embraced the cross of their illness, transforming their pain into praise to the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

“Their sickbeds became a spiritual reference point and a place of prayer and Christian growth for many people who found comfort and hope there. Let us applaud the new Blesseds!”

Before the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the pope greeted the participants in a social sciences conference taking place in Vatican City.

“In these times of opulence, when it should be possible to put an end to poverty, the powerful with a one-track mind say nothing about the poor, the elderly, immigrants, the unborn and the seriously ill,” he said.

“Invisible to the majority, they are treated as disposable. And when they are made visible, they are often presented as an unworthy burden on the public budget. It is a crime against humanity.”

Pope Francis thanks Christian disability group for witnessing to ‘the heart of the Gospel’

Vatican City, Oct 2, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with people with mental disabilities and their families on Saturday and thanked them for their witness to the Gospel.

“Every person, even and especially the smallest and the most vulnerable, is loved by God and has a place in the Church and in the world,” Pope Francis said in the meeting on Oct. 2.

In an encounter with the French association “Foi et Lumière,” or Faith and Light, the pope said that the group’s message of love and acceptance is at “the heart of the Gospel.”

Foi et Lumière began 50 years ago with a pilgrimage for people with mental disabilities to the Marian shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

The movement has grown since then to have inclusive communities on five continents.

“The existence of Foi et Lumière was and is prophetic because often the most vulnerable people are discarded, considered useless,” Pope Francis said.

“And your witness is even more important today to fight the throwaway culture and to remind everyone that diversity is a treasure and must never become a reason for exclusion and discrimination.”

The pope commended the group for bringing together Christians from different communities, including Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox. He said that this “sign of communion” is a “concrete seed of unity.”

“It is precisely the most fragile people who become a source of reconciliation, because they call us all to a path of conversion,” he said.

During the papal audience in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, leaders of the association shared photos of their members who were unable to travel to Rome to take part in the meeting.

“The path you have travelled is long and full of fruits, but still today in the Church and in the world there are many who in their littleness and fragility are forgotten and excluded,” Pope Francis said.

“Therefore, I encourage you to continue, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, your welcoming presence; may your communities always be places of encounter, of human promotion and of celebration for all those who still feel marginalized and abandoned.”

“For families experiencing the birth of a child with a disability, may you be a sign of hope, so that no one closes in on themselves, in sadness and despair.”

Cardinal Gregory urges North American College’s new deacons to have ‘heart for charity’

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Wilton Gregory ordained 20 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College in Rome to the transitional diaconate on Thursday, urging them to have “a heart for charity.”

In a homily in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sept. 30, the archbishop of Washington recalled that charity is one of the essential elements of the office of deacon.

He said: “To be a deacon must first of all be an indication that you are a man of charity -- real and heartfelt compassion and concern for the poor, the neglected, and the marginalized members of our world.”

“A deacon without a heart for charity will be a hollow and worthless sign.”

Gregory, who took possession of his in Rome earlier this week, celebrated the ordination Mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter.

Concelebrants included two other U.S. cardinals: Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, grand master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Also concelebrating was Cardinal George Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney, Australia, and prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

The Mass was attended by hundreds of the seminarians’ family members and friends.

In his homily, Gregory noted that from the earliest days of Church history, deacons have been required to “demonstrate by their lives that they were men of integrity, responsible, holy, and trustworthy.”

He said that “public ministerial office for people of faith is no casual undertaking -- for the ancients and most certainly not for us.”

The Church, therefore, has always held its clergy to high standards of holiness and integrity, said the 73-year-old cardinal, who received his from Pope Francis on Nov. 28, 2020.

But Gregory acknowledged that no candidate for the diaconate is perfect.

“[These ordinandi] are not perfect -- perfection has never been a condition for ordination to any office in the Church. In fact, the Church consciously chooses men who may have flaws and weaknesses because God’s grace works most effectively, as St. Paul wisely reminded the Corinthians, in weakness so that God receives the glory rather than mere mortals,” he said.

During the ordination ceremony, the new deacons committed themselves to a life of prayer, celibacy, and obedience to their diocesan bishops.

When candidates make their promise of obedience, they place their joined hands between those of the presiding bishop.

Afterward, they prostrate themselves before the altar and kneel before the bishop as he lays his hands on their heads before saying the prayer of consecration.

The newly ordained deacons then put on the stole and dalmatic, the vestments associated with the diaconate.

The deacons will undergo a further year of theological studies and spiritual formation before ordination to the priesthood in their home dioceses.

Eleven members of their class were already ordained transitional deacons in recent months.

Pope Francis seminarians from the college, led by rector Fr. Peter Harman, at his general audience on Sept. 29.

He : “In a particular way my greeting goes to the seminarians of the Pontifical North American College and their families gathered for the ordination to the diaconate. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you!”

Pope Pius IX founded the in 1859. The institution has formed more than 5,000 priests for dioceses in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

The new transitional deacons are: Christian Joseph Chami (Diocese of Venice in Florida); Grant Allan Dvorak (Diocese of Bismarck); Bradley David Easterbrooks (Diocese of San Diego); Joseph Anthony Ferme IV (Archdiocese of Boston); Samuel Robert Gilbertson (Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis); Daniel Richard Hammer (Diocese of Duluth); Guillermo Antonio Hernandez (Diocese of San Diego); Zachary Robert Jones (Diocese of Sioux City); Bijoy Joseph (Archdiocese of Sydney); Alex Christian Kramer (Diocese of Des Moines); Andrew John Kwiatkowski (Archdiocese of Melbourne); Alex Kirby Lancon (Diocese of Lafayette); Jacob Michael Magnuson (Diocese of Bismarck); James Michael Morgan (Archdiocese of Washington); Matthew Gary Pearson (Diocese of Madison); Carlos Mauricio Portillo (Diocese of Arlington); Thomas Sullivan Robertson (Archdiocese of Washington); Paul Thomas Sappington (Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph) Mario Alberto Torres Capilla (Diocese of Tyler); and Alexander James Wyvill (Archdiocese of Washington).

Old Testament expert and philosopher from Germany win 2021 Ratzinger Prize

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

A philosopher and an Old Testament theologian from Germany have been named the winners of the 2021 edition of the Ratzinger Prize.

The Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation announced Friday that the annual award will go to Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz and Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger.

Pope Francis will present the award to the two recipients in a ceremony at the Vatican on Nov. 13.

The was launched 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 Benedict XVI.

Gerl-Falkovitz, 76, is a specialist on the German philosopher Edith Stein -- also known by her religious name, -- and the prominent intellectual Servant of God . She has also edited books of the complete works of both 20th-century Catholic figures.

She received her doctorate in philosophy in 1971 and was a professor of philosophy of religions and comparative religious sciences at the University of Dresden from 1993 to 2011.

Gerl-Falkovitz now leads the European Institute of Philosophy and Religion at the Pope Benedict XVI Philosophical-Theological University in Austria. In recent years she has been publicly critical of “gender theory,” which she said instrumentalizes the body.

Schwienhorst-Schönberger, 64, studied theology and Holy Scripture in Münster, Germany, and Jerusalem, Israel, and is considered one of the foremost experts on the Sapiential books in the Bible, especially the Song of Songs.

He taught exegesis of the Old Testament and Hebrew language at the University of Passau in Germany from 1993 to 2007, and is now a professor of the Old Testament at the University of Vienna.

Last year’s Ratzinger Prize winners Australian professor Tracey Rowland and French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, who will also receive the award on Nov. 13, after the prize ceremony for the 2020 edition was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Candidates for the prize are chosen by the scientific committee of the Ratzinger Foundation and presented to the pope, who approves the winners.

The scientific committee members are appointed by the pope, and are currently the cardinals Angelo Amato, Kurt Koch, Luis Ladaria, and Gianfranco Ravasi, as well as Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, who is president of the German Pope Benedict XVI Institute.

The Ratzinger Foundation also awards the “Expanding Reason” prize, now in its fifth edition, and the “Ratio et Spes” prize, now in its second year.

“Both awards aim at promoting dialogue between different scientific disciplines and philosophy and theology,” the foundation said on Oct. 1.

Limited in-person attendance at 2022 World Meeting of Families due to COVID-19

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

As the global situation regarding the COVID-19 virus continues to unfold, the Vatican said Thursday that the 2022 World Meeting of Families will consist of hybrid in-person, online, and diocesan events.

The international family meeting, which has been in the planning stages for more than three years, will take place in Rome on June 22-26, 2022.

In a press conference on Sept. 30, organizers explained that attendance at most of the Rome events will be limited to around 2,000 people, given the greater difficulty of international travel.

The 2,000 delegates will consist of families invited by bishops’ conferences and family associations to represent the local Churches.

Bishops are also being encouraged to organize their own local events in parallel with those happening in Rome.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the dicastery organizing the World Meeting of Families, said: “As announced by the Holy Father, this edition will not take place with a single meeting in Rome, but will be a real multicenter event, widespread in dioceses all over the world.”

He added that organizers hoped to make the meeting feel like everyone is together, even if everyone is not in the same place.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the vicar of Rome, said: “Choosing the city that holds the memories of the Apostles Peter and Paul as the main venue for the meeting highlights the original vocation of the Church of Rome which ‘presides over the communion of the Churches.’”

He continued: “In this context, the Diocese of Rome is working to ensure that all families in the world, especially those who will not be able to reach Rome, can equally participate in the meeting and live this extraordinary experience of faith.”

The events for the 10th World Meeting of Families, already by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall and be live streamed.

The , on June 22, will consist of a festival of families with Pope Francis. On the days of June 23, 24, and 25, there will be Mass, Eucharistic adoration, conference talks, and panels.

Saturday, June 25 will include Mass in St. Peter’s Square with Pope Francis, the meeting’s delegates, and other families from the Diocese of Rome.

The five-day gathering will conclude with the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, June 26.

Gabriella Gambino, an under-secretary at the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, said that the office had purposefully left Sunday’s schedule open to allow bishops around the world to celebrate Mass with families in their dioceses.

Rome diocese has also prepared seven in five different languages for diocesan bishops to use to prepare Catholics for next year’s gatherings.

“These catecheses constitute in themselves a journey of preparation for the meetings to be held both in Rome and in the individual dioceses,” Gambino said.

A for the 2022 World Meeting of Families has been launched and the official hashtag will be #WMOF22, organizers said on Sept. 30.

The theme of the 2022 gathering will be “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness.”

The official hymn of the meeting, unveiled on Thursday in a video, was written by Italian composer Fr. Marco Frisina. Called the song features nine languages.

Cardinal De Donatis said that one part of the diocesan preparations for the World Meeting of Families was offering support to three local charities assisting families in need: a food pantry, a mother and baby home, and a care center for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease.

The first World Meeting of Families took place in Rome in 1994 at the behest of Pope John Paul II. It was also held in the Eternal City in the year 2000. The meetings take place every three years and the most recent gathering was in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.

Cardinal Farrell said on Sept. 30 that an estimated 35,000 people attended the family meeting in Dublin.

The 2022 edition of the event will be held at the end of the , which marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ on love in the family, . The Year, which began on March 19, will last for 15 months, culminating with the gathering in Rome.

The Vatican published the meeting’s and earlier this year.

The , painted by the Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, was unveiled in July. Entitled “This mystery is great,” the image features the Wedding at Cana, the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Pope Francis: Pray that ‘every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization’

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is inviting Catholics around the world to pray in October that “every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization.”

He made the appeal in his October prayer intention, shared on Sept. 30.

“We pray that every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization, available to the mission, by being witnesses of a life that has the flavor of the Gospel,” reads the prayer intention, promoted by the .

The network released an accompanying , in which Pope Francis explained the rationale for the prayer intention.

Speaking in Spanish, the pope said: “Jesus asks us all, and you as well, to be missionary disciples. Are you ready?”

“It’s enough to be available to answer His call and to live united to the Lord in the most common daily things -- work, meeting other people, our daily duties, the chance events of each day -- allowing ourselves to be guided always by the Holy Spirit.”

“If Christ moves you, if you do things because Christ is guiding you, others will notice it easily.”

“And your testimony of life will inspire admiration, and admiration inspires others to ask themselves, ‘How is it possible for this person to be this way?’ or ‘What is the source of the love with which this person treats everyone -- the kindness and good humor?’”

Pope Francis the global network that promotes his monthly prayer intentions as a Vatican body at the end of 2020.

He elevated the status of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, through a papal decree called a .

The pope decreed that the network, founded in France in 1844 and focused on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, would now be a papal institution based at the Vatican. It is now known as the “Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network” Vatican Foundation.

Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said: “The pope’s intentions, which are presented each month, are part of the Holy Father’s prayer and discernment.”

“These prayer intentions, in the context of the that the Church is beginning, as the People of God, are an invitation to discern and recognize how the Spirit of the Lord is calling us to face the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church.”

“Let us not forget that the Synodal Process is in view of the mission, of a missionary Church ‘whose doors are open’ (, n.46) and which finds its source in prayer.”

Concluding his video address, the pope said: “Let us remember that the mission is not proselytism; the mission is based on an encounter between people, on the testimony of men and women who say, ‘I know Jesus, and I’d like you to know Him too.’”

“Brothers and sisters, let us pray that every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization, available to the mission, by being witnesses of a life that has the flavour of the Gospel.”

U.S. theologians appointed to Vatican’s International Theological Commission

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis appointed U.S. theologians on Wednesday to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission.

The body’s new members include , a spirituality professor, and , a theology professor, who both teach at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

, another appointee, has taught in the theology department at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, since 2010.

From Ukraine and Germany, Avvakumov researches areas including the papacy and the Eastern Churches, Latin and Byzantine ecclesiology and sacramental theology, and Russian and Ukrainian religious thought of the 19th and 20th centuries.

, also a new member, is a French-American currently teaching theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He is a priest of the Chemin Neuf institute of consecrated life and a member of the ecumenical Chemin Neuf Community. Vetö is also the director of the Cardinal Bea Center for Jewish Studies.

Young is an expert in the history of early Christianity, including scriptural interpretation, the history of asceticism and monastic thought, and the Christian cultures of ancient Syria and Armenia. She is also an expert on the Orthodox churches and ecumenical relations.

Huetter, who was born in Bavaria, southern Germany, teaches systematic and philosophical theology. More recently, he has worked on theological anthropology and the related topics of nature and grace, divine and human freedom, faith and reason. He also has a special interest in the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The (ITC) exists under and to advise the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Members are appointed by the pope for five-year terms, during which a particular theological question is studied and the results published.

The last five-year term ended in 2019, but the new commission’s start was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release from the ITC.

The 10th commission, which has 28 members, will end its term in 2026.

In addition to the on Sept. 29, Pope Francis renewed the terms of 16 members, among them the German theologian Marianne Schlosser and Italian priest , who was named secretary general of the ITC for its new term.

Among the new appointees is Dominican , a professor of theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, also called the Angelicum, in Rome.

Gaine, the former regent of Blackfriars, Oxford, is the acting director of the Angelicum’s Thomistic Institute, and holds the Pinckaers Chair in Theological Anthropology and Ethics.

The other new members of the ITC are Fr. Edouard Adé (Burkina Faso); Fr. Alberto Cozzi (Italy); Fr. Marek Jagodziński (Poland); Fr. Víctor Ronald La Barrera Villarreal (Colombia); Fr. Jorge José Ferrer, S.J. (Puerto Rico); Sr. Josée Ngalula (Democratic Republic of Congo); and Isabell Naumann (Australia).

The ITC’s first plenary session is expected to take place in 2022.

Pope Francis: ‘My intuitions, my perceptions and my spirituality’ come from Vatican II

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has reflected on the importance of the Second Vatican Council and the influence of its teachings on his life and spirituality.

In a new , published Tuesday, the pope said that for him and other young Jesuit priests in Latin America, Vatican II “had entered into our way of being Christians and of being Church and, in the course of my life, my intuitions, my perceptions, and my spirituality were naturally generated by the suggestions of the doctrine of Vatican II.”

“There was not so much need to cite the texts of the Council,” he said.

Pope Francis commented on the Council in a preface to the book . The Italian-language book was written by Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny and Italian theologian Fr. Christian Barone and will be published on Sept. 30 by the Vatican publishing house.

In his preface, the pope said he was grateful to Czerny and Barone for writing the book, which is about fraternity and his 2020 .

The book tries “to bring to light and to make explicit the profound link between the current social Magisterium and the statements of the Second Vatican Council,” he said.

He explained that the link did not always emerge at first sight, because “in the history of Latin America in which I have been immersed, first as a young Jesuit student and then in the exercise of the ministry, we have breathed an ecclesial atmosphere which, with enthusiasm, has absorbed and made the theological, ecclesial and spiritual insights of the Council its own, and has inculturated and implemented them.”

The Second Vatican Council, which took place from October 1963 to December 1965 was an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, convened by Pope John XXIII to bring about spiritual renewal in the Church as it faced the epochal changes of the 20th century.

The Council Fathers, in four sessions also attended by thousands of priests, religious, and lay people, produced that shape the Catholic Church today.

Pope Francis was a young man in his late 20s at the time Vatican II was taking place.

He said that for him and others his age, the Second Vatican Council “became our ecclesial and pastoral ecosystem, but we did not get into the habit of often quoting the conciliar decrees or dwelling on reflections of speculative type.”

The pope noted that today, after decades of changes in the world and the Church, key concepts from the Council and the foundations of its arguments need to be made more explicit.

The first part of the new book is an interpretation of Pope Francis’ social Magisterium, “bringing to light something that is a bit submerged between the lines,” Francis said, “that is, the teaching of the Council as a fundamental basis, a starting point, a place that generates questions and ideas and that therefore, also guides the invitation that I address today to the Church and to the whole world on fraternity.”

Today, he added, “we realize that there is a need not only for a Church in the modern world and in dialogue with it, but above all for a Church that places herself at the service of man, taking care of creation and announcing and realizing a new universal fraternity, in which human relationships are healed of selfishness and violence and are founded on mutual love, acceptance, solidarity.”

Pope Francis highlighted the importance of Vatican II in a in July, explaining why he was on the Traditional Latin Mass.

He said he was “saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”

To doubt the Council, he said, “is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro [with Peter and under Peter] in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

In his preface, Pope Francis said that the Magisterium, theology, pastoral practice, and leadership must always go together.

“Fraternity will be more credible if we also begin in the Church to feel that we are ‘all brothers’ and to live our respective ministries as a service to the Gospel and to the building up of the Kingdom of God and to the care of our common home,” he wrote.

Pope Francis to young climate activists: ‘Technical and political solutions are not enough’

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged young climate activists on Wednesday to recognize that “technical and political solutions are not enough” to foster harmony between people and the environment.

In a to the event in Milan, Italy, on Sept. 29, the pope highlighted the importance of education and individual responsibility.

He : “Technical and political solutions are not enough if they are not supported by the responsibility of each member and by an educational process that favors a cultural model of development and sustainability centered on fraternity and on the alliance between human beings and the environment.”

“There must be harmony between people, men and women, and the environment. We are not enemies: we are not indifferent. We are part of this cosmic harmony.”

Around 400 young “climate champions” from the 197 member countries of the are taking part in the Sept. 28-30 event.

On the opening day, 18-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gave an address sharply criticizing world leaders’ rhetoric on climate change.

“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” she said on Tuesday.

“This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”

The gathering is taking place ahead of the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference () in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 1-12.

Pope Francis said earlier this month that he hoped to travel to Scotland to take part in the conference.

“It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there,” he .

The pope issued an unprecedented on the environment on Sept. 7, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

“As leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behavior and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us,” the leaders of world’s three largest Christian communions .

In his video message, the pope praised young people for their “dreams and good projects,” as well as their concern for strengthening human relationships while safeguarding the environment.

He said: “It is a concern that is good for everyone. This vision is capable of challenging the adult world, for it reveals that you are prepared not only for action, but also for patient listening, constructive dialogue, and mutual understanding.”

“Therefore, I encourage you to combine your efforts through an extensive educational alliance to form decent, mature generations, capable of overcoming fragmentation and rebuilding the fabric of relationships so that we can achieve a more fraternal humanity.”

“It is said that you are the future, but in these matters, you are the present, you are those who are making the future today, in the present.”

The pope also sent a on Wednesday to the of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a 47-nation international organization founded in 1949 that is distinct from the European Union. The Assembly meets four times a year in Strasbourg, France.

The pope directed his message to participants in a high-level panel on “The environment and human rights: the right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.”

Referring to efforts to protect the environment , he said: “The Holy See is ... convinced that every initiative of the Council of Europe should not be limited only to the geographical area of this continent, but, starting from our beloved Europe, should reach out to the whole world.”

“In this sense, the decision that the Council of Europe wants to take to create a new legal instrument to link environmental care to the respect of fundamental human rights is viewed with interest.”

“There is no more time to wait, we must act. Any instrument that respects human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law, fundamental values of the Council of Europe, can be useful to face this global challenge.”

The pope said that the ecological crisis should not only inspire dialogue at all levels, but also strengthen individual and collective responsibility.

“We should therefore also talk about the duties of every human being to live in a healthy, wholesome, and sustainable environment,” he said.

“Instead, when we speak only of rights, we think only of what is due to us. We must also think about the responsibility to future generations, and the world we want to leave to our children and young people.”

Pope Francis accepts Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio’s resignation, names Columbus bishop as successor

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2021 / 05:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who was cleared of sexual abuse allegations by the Vatican at the start of this month.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) reviewed the results of a Church-led investigation into DiMarzio and that the allegations lacked “the semblance of truth,” according to a Sept. 1 from the New York archdiocese.

DiMarzio, who is 77 years old, is two years past the age at which bishops are required by canon law to submit their request to retire to the pope.

On Sept. 29, Pope Francis Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Columbus, Ohio, to lead the after DiMarzio. With 1.5 million Catholics, Brooklyn, which includes the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, is the fifth-largest U.S. diocese.

Brennan, 59, grew up in the Bronx and was a lifelong New Yorker before he was appointed bishop of Columbus in 2019.

He will be as the eighth bishop of Brooklyn on Nov. 30 at .

In a brief to the diocese on Sept. 29, Brennan said: “If you will be patient with me, I promise to give you my all.”

“I have a lot to learn from you, the priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn -- from your wisdom, your experience. I need your help,” he added.

He said that his collaboration with the priests of the Columbus diocese was “one of the greatest sources of strength and joy for me” and he “loved them as my brothers.”

The bishop asked for forbearance with his sadness at leaving his diocese, and to “see in it a sign of my great confidence in my eagerness to know and love you, to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the work of the Gospel.”

“For now, let’s be united in our fraternal prayers for one another,” he said.

Brennan is the oldest of five children and was raised in Lindenhurst, in Suffolk County, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from St. John’s University in Queens.

After his priestly ordination in 1989 in Huntington, New York, Brennan served as a parish priest, bishop’s secretary, and vicar general for the Diocese of Rockville Centre before being made an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 2012. He is bilingual, frequently celebrating Mass in Spanish, including in the Nassau County Correctional Facility.

DiMarzio was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of Newark in 1996. He served as bishop of Camden from 1999 until 2003, when he was installed as the bishop of Brooklyn. In his time in Newark, he overlapped with Theodore McCarrick, who served as archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000.

The allegations against DiMarzio were made in civil lawsuits, and related to the bishop’s time as a priest in the Newark archdiocese in the 1970s. In 2019, New Jersey suspended the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse lawsuits, allowing for a two-year window for lawsuits concerning older allegations.

Under rules implemented by Pope Francis in the May 2019 , the metropolitan archbishop investigates allegations of abuse against other bishops in his region. The Holy See authorized Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to the investigation, which he did through hiring an outside law firm.

The CDF reviewed the investigation results, concluding that the claims did not “have the semblance of truth.”

Bishop DiMarzio said on Sept. 1 that he had “fully cooperated with this inquiry, because I know I did nothing wrong.”

“I have prayed for a conclusion to this investigation, and these final results further verify, as I have consistently said, that these allegations have absolutely no merit,” he said.

Pope Francis: ‘It is Christ, with his grace, who makes us just’

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2021 / 04:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday underlined that “we do not become just through our own effort,” for “it is Christ, with his grace, who makes us just.”

Speaking at the in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Sept. 29, the pope reflected on “justification,” a doctrine fiercely contested at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

He said: “What is justification? We, who were sinners, have become just. Who justified us? This process of change is justification. We, before God, are just. It is true, we have our personal sins. But fundamentally, we are just. This is justification.”

The pope described the doctrine of justification as “a difficult but important topic,” noting that it had generated “a lot of discussion” among Christians, focused on the writings of St. Paul the Apostle.

He said that while the doctrine was “decisive for the faith,” it was hard to provide “an exhaustive definition.”

“In fact, God, through Jesus’ death -- and we need to underline this: through the death of Jesus -- destroyed sin and definitively granted us his pardon and salvation. Thus justified, sinners are welcomed by God and reconciled with Him,” he explained.

“It is as though the original relationship between the Creator and the creature before the disobedience of sin intervened has been restored. The justification wrought by God, therefore, allows us to recuperate the innocence lost through sin.”

In recent years, Catholics and Protestants have begun to overcome their divisions over justification.

In 1999, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation issued a landmark , concluding that Catholics and Lutherans were “now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.”

The pope’s address, dedicated to the theme “Life of faith,” was the ninth in his on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

At the beginning of the audience, was read out to pilgrims in various languages.

The pope highlighted what he said was a “novelty” in St. Paul’s teaching: that justification comes through grace.

“The Apostle is always mindful of the experience that changed his life: his meeting with the Risen Jesus on the way to Damascus. Paul had been a proud, religious, and zealous man, convinced that justification consisted in the scrupulous observance of the precepts of the law,” he said.

“Now, however, he has been conquered by Christ, and faith in Him has completely transformed him, allowing him to discover a truth that had been hidden: we do not become just through our own effort, no, it is not us, but it is Christ, with his grace, who makes us just.”

But the pope said it would be wrong to assume that Paul therefore rejected the Law of Moses that had so profoundly shaped his life.

“We must not, however, conclude that the Mosaic Law, for Paul, had lost its value; rather, it remains an irrevocable gift from God. It is, the Apostle writes, ‘holy’ (),” Francis noted.

“Even for our spiritual life, observing the commandments is essential -- we have already said this many times. But even here, we cannot count on our efforts: the grace of God that we receive in Christ is fundamental.”

The pope’s comments were notable as his previous general audience remarks on Jewish law aroused controversy. Rabbis wrote to him following his audience on Aug. 11, expressing concern that his words implied that Jewish law was obsolete.

Vatican Cardinal Kurt Koch to the Jewish leaders, assuring them that Francis’ remarks did not devalue the Torah.

Continuing his explanation of justification, the pope recalled the words of the Apostle James, that “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” ().

He said that James’ teaching, which Reformation leader Martin Luther sharply criticized, complemented that of Paul.

“For both, therefore, the response of faith demands that we be active in our love for God and in our love of neighbor,” he said.

He continued: “Justification incorporates us into the long history of salvation that demonstrates God’s justice: before our continual falls and inadequacies, he has not given up, but he wanted to make us just and he did so through grace, through the gift of Jesus Christ, of his death and resurrection.”

He recalled that he frequently described “God’s style” in three words: nearness, compassion, and tenderness.

“And justification is precisely God’s greatest nearness with us, men and women, God’s greatest compassion for us, men and women, the greatest tenderness of the Father,” he said.

“Justification is this gift of Christ, of the death and resurrection of Christ that makes us free. ‘But, Father, I am a sinner… I have robbed… I have…’ Yes, yes. But fundamentally, you are just. Allow Christ to effect that justification. We are not fundamentally condemned. Allow me to say, we are saints. But, fundamentally, we are saints: let us allow Christ’s grace to come and this justice, this justification, will give us the strength to progress.”

Concluding his catechesis, he said: “The power of grace needs to be coupled with our works of mercy which we are called to live to bear witness to how tremendous is God’s love. Let us move ahead with this trust: we have all been justified, we are just in Christ. We must effect that justice with our works.”

A precis of the pope’s catechesis was read out in . After each summary, he greeted members of each language group.

In his remarks to French-speaking pilgrims, the pope noted that Sept. 29 is the Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

“On this day when the Church celebrates the Holy Archangels, I ask St. Michael, protector of France, to watch over your country, to keep it faithful to its roots, and to lead your people along the paths of your people on the paths of ever greater unity and solidarity,” he said.

Greeting Catholics from the United States, the pope said: “In a particular way my greeting goes to the seminarians of the Pontifical North American College and their families gathered for the ordination to the diaconate. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you!”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a recent attack in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.

“I learned with sorrow of the news of the armed attacks last Sunday against the villages of Madamai and Abun, in northern Nigeria,” he said.

“I pray for those who have died, for those who were wounded, and for the entire Nigerian population. I hope that the safety of every citizen might be guaranteed in the country.”

The audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the Apostolic Blessing.

Pope Francis highlights ‘very painful errors’ as he marks Mexico’s independence anniversary

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis highlighted “very painful errors” committed in the past as he marked the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

In a addressed to Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera López, president of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, the pope said he hoped that the anniversary would be an “occasion to strengthen our roots and reaffirm the values that build the nation.”

“In order to strengthen our roots, it is necessary to reread the past, taking into account both the lights and shadows that have forged the country’s history. This look back necessarily includes a process of purifying memory, that is, to recognize the very painful errors committed in the past,” the pope wrote.

“For this reason, on various occasions, both my predecessors and I have asked forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all the actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelization.”

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote a to Pope Francis on Oct. 2, 2020, appealing for a public apology from the Catholic Church concerning atrocities committed against the indigenous population after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521.

Two hundred years ago, on Sept. 28, 1821, the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire from the Spanish Empire was ratified.

The day before, the Army of the Three Guarantees arrived in Mexico City, ending the Mexican War of Independence that broke out in 1810.

The three guarantees were that the Mexican Empire would be Catholic, independent, and unified. The guarantees were reflected in the Army’s .

The 1824 Constitution of Mexico “permanently” enshrined Catholicism as the country’s official religion. But it was replaced in 1857 by a liberal constitution limiting the Church’s rights, which was itself replaced in 1917 by a constitution severely restricting the Church’s role in Mexico, sparking a civil war.

In his letter, dated Sept. 16, the pope alluded to anticlerical violence, saying that “neither can we ignore the actions that, in more recent times, were committed against the Christian religious sentiment of a great part of the Mexican people, causing profound suffering.”

He added: “But we do not evoke the pains of the past to stay there, but to learn from them and to continue taking steps to heal the wounds, to cultivate an open and respectful dialogue that respects differences, and to build a much-desired fraternity, prioritizing the common good over particular interests, tensions, and conflicts.”

U.S. President Joe Biden sent a , also dated Sept. 16, marking the bicentenary.

“On behalf of the government and people of the United States of America, I congratulate Mexico and its people as you celebrate 200 years of independence,” he wrote.

“On this occasion, we join you in remembering Mexico’s road to independence, and reflect on the long and shared history of our two countries.”

In his letter, Pope Francis looked ahead to the 500th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which will fall in 2031.

The first Latin American pope, who in 2016, recalled an episode in 1810 in which the Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo, known as the Father of the Nation, took an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe from a shrine in the Mexican province of Guanajuato and adopted it as the of the independence movement.

“In this commemoration,” the pope wrote, “it is beautiful to remember that, as expressed by the Episcopal Conference of Mexico on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of national independence, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe taken by Fr. Hidalgo from the Shrine of Atotonilco symbolized a struggle and a hope that culminated in the ‘three guarantees’ of Iguala printed forever in the colors of the flag.”

The pope was referring to the Iguala Plan, issued by the army general Agustín de Iturbide in 1821, which proclaimed the “three guarantees.”

Reflecting on the apparitions of Our Lady to Juan Diego in December 1531, Pope Francis said: “Mary of Guadalupe, la Virgen Morenita, addressing herself in a particular way to the smallest and neediest, favored brotherhood and freedom, reconciliation and the inculturation of the Christian message, not only in Mexico but in all the Americas. May she continue to be for all of you the sure guide that leads you to communion and full life in her Son Jesus Christ.”

The pope concluded his message: “May Jesus bless all the sons and daughters of Mexico, and may the Holy Virgin watch over you and protect you with her heavenly mantle. And please do not forget to pray for me.”