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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
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IMAGE: CNS photo/Edgard Garrido, Reuters

By David Agren

CUERNAVACA, Mexico (CNS) — An Archdiocese of Mexico City editorial condemned Mexican companies wishing to work on the proposed wall being built on the U.S.-Mexico border as “traitors” and called on authorities to castigate any company that provides services for fencing off the frontier.

“What’s regrettable is that on this side of the border, there are Mexicans ready to collaborate with a fanatical project that annihilates the good relationship between two nations that share a common border,” said the March 26 editorial in the archdiocesan publication Desde la Fe.

“Any company that plans to invest in the fanatic Trump’s wall would be immoral, but above all, their shareholders and owner will be considered traitors to the homeland,” the editorial continued. “Joining a project that is a grave affront to dignity is like shooting yourself in the foot.”

President Donald Trump ran on a promise of constructing a wall between the United States and Mexico and has signed an executive order to begin building the barrier on the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

The Mexican government has repeatedly said it will not pay for any border wall. Security analysts say illegal merchandise mostly crosses through legal ports of entry and express doubts a wall would keep out drugs, as Trump insists. Catholics who work with migrants transiting the country en route to the United States express doubts, too, saying those crossing the frontier illegally mostly do so with the help of human smugglers, who presumably pay bribes on both sides of the border.

Some Mexican companies have mused about working on the wall, though others such as Cemex — whose share prices surged on speculation it would provide cement for the wall — told the Los Angeles Times that it would not participate in the building of a border barrier.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso has urged company officials to use their conscience when considering work on the wall, though the archdiocesan editorial said, “What is most surprising is the timidity of the Mexican government’s economic authorities, who have not moved firmly against these companies.”

Desde la Fe has previously blasted Trump’s proposed policies. In September 2015, it called Trump “ignorant” and a “clown” and blasted Mexican government passivity in defending its migrants as “unpardonable.”

Father Hugo Valdemar, Archdiocese of Mexico City spokesman, told Catholic News Service some conservative Catholics in Mexico viewed Trump’s positions on pro-life issues favorably and were still angry the U.S. ambassador to Mexico marched in the annual pride parade. But he said he knew of no one in Mexico that openly supported the U.S. president.

“What we see from him is an authentic threat and an unstable person,” Father Valdemar said.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 hours 14 min

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Acknowledging correspondence and treating victims with respect is the very least church officials can offer, said survivors of clergy sex abuse.

Never letting a letter or email languish unanswered was such a key “best practice” of showing care and concern for victims of sexual abuse by clergy and religious that Marie Collins, an Irish survivor, stepped down from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors over the issue.

When it comes to whether an office should respond to a victim, “There’s an amazing ability to take whatever is simple” and make it sound “as if it’s highly complex,” said Declan Murphy, who was abused as an adolescent by two Christian Brothers in Dublin in the 1960s. Murphy, who was in South Korea, spoke to Catholic News Service via Skype in mid-March.

It’s a “basic courtesy” to respond, even if it is just a brief acknowledgment of receiving the letter with a general time frame of intended follow-up. “That’s the way most people work when they value and respect a person,” he said.

However, “if your starting point is not wanting to do it, you will drag in lots of reasons” to justify why writing back cannot or should not be done, he said.

After 38 years of keeping his abuse hidden from everyone and “coping on my own,” Murphy said he was back to relying on his own resilience, with the support of family, to make sure his voice was heard with repeated calls and arranging meetings with church leaders after he came forward in 2006.

The most hurtful response he got, he said, was telling a high-level church representative about being raped for three years by two religious priests and “he looked at me in the eye and said, ‘I can’t help you,'” in “a cold and callous” way.

That kind of dismissal only made sense, Murphy said, for someone who looks at the issue from a legal or organizational point of view, in which different people are responsible for their own separate jurisdictions — and the problem gets volleyed back and forth over ecclesial lines.

In every situation, he said, the thing that hurt most “was the fundamental lack of respect for me as a human being whose childhood was taken away.”

“No one can go back and fix what happened to me,” Murphy said, and “I try to remain fair, articulate and balanced. But what I’ve seen is horrendous” when it comes to how people have responded to his coming forward.

Murphy said he had three objectives in all of his efforts to reach out to the church: “Somebody to listen to my story; I wanted them to believe me and say ‘I’m sorry’; and I wanted my costs back,” meaning medical and legal costs incurred since 2006, the year his health broke down and he revealed the past abuse.

The best responses he received, he said, were when someone said he was going to do something and then actually did it. Another time, the same person “sent a Christmas card. It was a small gesture, but it showed a human side.”

Church leaders and personnel should not be driven by legal concerns, fears of litigation or self-interest, he said, but by a pastoral compassion that asks, “What can we do to help you? Tell us what you need.”

Helen McGonigle, a lawyer living in western Connecticut, told CNS in a series of emails that she faced so many “obstructionist tactics at the local level in the secular legal system, what choice do we have but to turn to the Vatican, canon law and natural law,” since the sexual violence against children is a crime against nature.

McGonigle and her sister, who later died from a prescription drug overdose in 2005, were victims of late-Norbertine Father Brendan Smyth when he was assigned to Rhode Island.

He was ordained and assigned to ministry in Northern Ireland, Ireland, Rhode Island, North Dakota and other places, despite the knowledge and complaints by other religious that he had molested children, as found in an independent Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. He died in prison one month after starting his sentence for 117 counts of children molestation in Ireland and Northern Ireland over four decades.

Because Father Smyth was a member a religious order, based out of an abbey in Ireland and was sent to multiple dioceses, McGonigle wrote to numerous jurisdictional bodies in her efforts to gain information and help.

“I tried the local route in every imaginable way and felt the need to circumvent” the appropriate channels after letters went unanswered and questions and requests went unaddressed. Her civil suit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations.

However, when recipient offices at the Vatican denied having “competence” in the matter and redirected her to other authorities, McGonigle said she felt “that an internal strategy of leaving survivors twisting in the wind seems to have been adopted by the Vatican.”

There is no way to know how many survivors are ever able to bring themselves to write or even bother, she said, which is why “those who do choose to write should be acknowledged in some way and provided some measure of assurance that their concerns are being listened to. After having been raped and our rights trampled upon, it is the very least these people could do. Are they beyond compassion?”

The most helpful responses, she said, came from a priest in North Dakota who confirmed facts “in an open and candid way.” In fact, she said when news broke in 1994 of Father Smyth’s crimes, the Diocese of Fargo “went door to door in their outreach campaign.”

McGonigle said she wrote to church leaders, not to be “listened to,” but to do “the right thing. I did feel it was right to make an attempt to do my part in exposing Smyth’s crimes and requesting honesty and transparency” in her right to know the truth.

The very heart of the correspondence, however, is not just about eliciting a reply letter, she said: “What survivors want to see is action, child protection, perpetrators prosecuted and removed.”

“Action goes a lot farther than any one letter,” McGonigle said.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

3 hours 12 min

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Following the resignation of a prominent member and abuse survivor, a pontifical commission charged with addressing issues related to clergy sex abuse vowed to continue to seek input from victims and survivors.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the resignation of Marie Collins was a “central topic” of its March 24-26 plenary assembly, and it “expressed strong support for her continuing work” to promote healing for abuse victims and ensuring best practices for prevention.

“Commission members have unanimously agreed to find new ways to ensure its work is shaped and informed with and by victims/survivors. Several ideas that have been successfully implemented elsewhere are being carefully considered for recommendation to the Holy Father,” the commission said in a March 26 statement published by the Vatican.

Among the main concerns addressed by the commission was outreach out to victims, an issue first raised by Collins shortly after she resigned from her position.

In an editorial published online March 1 by National Catholic Reporter, Collins said an unnamed dicastery not only refused to respond to letters from victims, it also refused to cooperate on the commission’s safeguarding guidelines.

In its statement, the commission emphasized Pope Francis’ letter to the presidents of the bishops’ conferences and superiors of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, in which he called for their close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programs of education, training and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse,” the pope wrote Feb. 2, 2015.

Commission members spoke again of their willingness to work together with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith communicating a “guidelines template” to episcopal conferences and religious congregations, both directly and through the commission website, the statement said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

4 hours 29 min

Deacon ordination mainLent is a time for renewal and a time for discernment: What is God calling me to do?

The Diaconate is the foundation of the ministry of the Order of Deacon: a divine vocational call. A call to vocation is a grace from God. There are many ways in which this grace may present itself: through an invitation on the part of priests, deacons, and the faithful who suggest to you that you might consider entering the diaconate. Through a personal conviction that arises from your own personal prayer life or the pastoral activity you are already engaged in for the sake of building up the kingdom of God.

Take the first step in informational meetings about becoming a Deacon. Three meetings will be held:

Northern Region: Tuesday, March 28, 6:30 pm at St. Michael parish, Ft. Loramie

Cincinnati: Tuesday, April 4 at 7 pm, St. Ignatius parish in Montfort Heights

Dayton: Thursday, April 6 at 7 pm, St. Helen parish in Dayton

For more information and to register, please contact Deacon Mark Machuga, Director of the Office of the Diaconate at (513) 421-3131, ext. 2641 or deaconoffice@catholiccincinnati.org.

13 hours 6 min

lentartEditor’s Note: The deacons of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are offering daily reflections and prayer guidance for Lenten observance. These will appear each day during Lent until Holy Week.

March 27 – Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Thought for the Day: The prophet Isaiah tells us Thus says the LORD: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create.

Pray for: Those struggling with past wounds and hurts that keep them from rejoicing with the Lord.

Action: Are there some past wounds that keep me from the Lord, or in a relationship? Write down those wounds and take them to the cross and pray for healing.

March 28 – Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Thought for the Day: “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Pray for: Caregivers in their daily work helping others

Action: Think about something you are afraid to ask for help, or think about someone you know that needs help. Put yourself in the sick man at Bethesda’s shoe’s and ask for help, or take someone to the pool and help them in their struggle.

March 29 – Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Thought for the Day: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.

Pray for: A deepening friendship with Christ.

Action: Whatever your vocation, take Jesus Christ with you. Look to Christ when making decisions. Walk with Christ in every aspect of your life.

1 day 11 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Pope Francis asked 45,000 children preparing for confirmation to promise Jesus they would never engage in bullying.

Turning stern during a lively and laughter-filled encounter March 25, Pope Francis told the youngsters he was very worried about the growing phenomenon of bullying.

He asked them to be silent and reflect on if there were times when they made fun of someone for how they looked or behaved. And, as a condition of their confirmation, he made them promise Jesus that they would never tease or bully anyone.

The pope ended his daylong visit to Milan by participating in an expanded version of the archdiocese’s annual encounter for pre-teens preparing for confirmation. An estimated 78,000 people filled the city’s famed San Siro soccer stadium; the archdiocese expects to confirm about 45,000 young people this year.

A boy named Davide asked the pope, “When you were our age, what helped your friendship with Jesus grow?”

First of all, the pope said, it was his grandparents. One of his grandfathers was a carpenter, who told him Jesus learned carpentry from St. Joseph, so whenever the pope saw his grandfather work, he thought of Jesus. The other grandfather taught him to always say something to Jesus before going to sleep, even if it was just, “Good night, Jesus.”

His grandmothers and his mother, the pope said, were the ones who taught him to pray. He told the kids that even if their grandparents “don’t know how to use a computer or have a smartphone,” they have a lot to teach them.

Playing with friends taught him joy and how to get along with others, which is part of faith, the pope said. And going to Mass and to the parish oratory also strengthened his faith because “being with others is important.”

A couple of parents, who introduced themselves as Monica and Alberto, asked the pope’s advice on educating their three children in the faith.

Pope Francis borrowed little Davide’s question and asked the parents to close their eyes and think of the people who transmitted the faith to them and helped it grow.

“Your children watch you continually,” the pope said. “Even if you don’t notice, they observe everything and learn from it,” especially in how parents handle tensions, joys and sorrows.

He also encouraged families to go to Mass together and then, if the weather is nice, to go to a park and play together. “This is beautiful and will help you live the commandment to keep the Lord’s day holy.”

An essential part of handing on the faith, he said, is teaching children the meaning of solidarity and engaging them in the parents’ acts of charity and solidarity with the poor. “Faith grows with charity and charity grows with faith,” he said.

Before going to the soccer stadium, Pope Francis celebrated an afternoon Mass for the feast of the Annunciation in Milan’s Monza Park.

The annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary took place in her home in a small town in the middle of no where, which is a sign that God desired to meet his people “in places we normally would not expect,” the pope said in his homily.

Just as “the joy of salvation began in the daily life of a young woman’s home in Nazareth,” he said, God wants to be welcomed into and given life in the homes of all people.

God is indifferent to no one, the pope said, and “no situation will be deprived of his presence.”

Tens of thousands of people gathered on a warm spring day for the Mass amid the new leaves and fragile buds on the trees of the park.

Pope Francis used Milan’s Ambrosian rite, a Mass that differs slightly from the Latin rite used in most parts of the world. Some of the differences included the pope blessing each of the readers and not only the deacon who proclaimed the Gospel, and the Creed being sung after the offertory, rather than after the homily.

In his homily, the pope said that like Mary at the Annunciation, people today naturally wonder how God’s promises could be fulfilled. “But how can this be?” Mary asked.

The same question arises “at a time so filled with speculation. There’s speculation on the poor and migrants, speculation on the young and their future,” the pope said. “While pain knocks on many doors, while young people are increasingly unsatisfied by the lack of real opportunities, speculation is abundant everywhere.”

Finding and living the joy of the Gospel, he said, is possible only following the path the Angel Gabriel led Mary on when he told her she would bear God’s son. People must remember the great things God has done and remember that they belong to the people of God, a community that “is not afraid to welcome those in need because they know the Lord is present in them.”

Finally, he said, they must have faith in the “possibility of the impossible,” demonstrating the same “audacious faith” that Mary showed.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

1 day 23 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — Visiting Milan, the center of Italian fashion and finance, Pope Francis spent the morning with the poor and those who minister to them.

He had lunch at the city’s historic San Vittore prison, where all 893 inmates — men and women — are awaiting trial.

But Pope Francis began his visit March 25 on the outskirts of the city, at the “White Houses,” a housing development for the poor built in the 1970s. Three families welcomed the pope into their apartments: Stefano Pasquale, 59, who is ill and cared for by his 57-year-old wife, Dorotee; a Muslim couple and their three children from Morocco; and the Onetes.

Nuccio Onete, 82, was home for the pope’s visit, but his wife, Adele, was hospitalized with pneumonia three days earlier, so the pope called her on the telephone.

The people of the neighborhood gave Pope Francis a handmade white stole, which he put on before addressing the crowd.

The fact that it was homemade, he said, “makes it much more precious and is a reminder that the Christian priest is chosen from the people and is at the service of the people. My priesthood, like that of your pastor and the other priests who work here, is a gift of Christ, but one sewn by you, by the people, with your faith, your struggles, your prayers and your tears.”

Arriving next at Milan’s massive Gothic cathedral, Pope Francis met with the archdiocese’s pastoral workers and responded to questions from a priest, a permanent deacon and a religious sister, urging them to trust in God, hold on to their joy and share the good news of Christ with everyone they meet.

“We should not fear challenges,” he said. “It is good that they exist” and Christians must “grab them, like a bull, by the horns.”

Challenges “are a sign of a living faith, of a living community that seeks the Lord and keeps its eyes and heart open.”

Asked by Father Gabriele Gioia about evangelization efforts that do not seem to result in “catching fish,” Pope Francis said the work of an evangelizer — of all Christians — is to set out and cast the nets. “It’s the Lord who catches the fish.”

Preoccupation with numbers is never a good thing, Pope Francis said.

Responding to Ursuline Sister Paola Paganoni, who spoke of the challenge of reaching out when so many orders are experiencing an aging and declining membership, the pope spoke as a Jesuit, saying, “The majority of our founding fathers and mothers never thought they’d be a multitude.”

Rather, he said, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to the real needs of their time and “to build the church like leaven in the dough, like salt and light for the world.”

Just think, he said, a dish with too much salt would be inedible. And, “I’ve never seen a pizzamaker who took a half kilo of yeast and 100 grams of flour to make a pizza. No, it has to be the opposite” proportion. Christians must be concerned with being leaven in society more than with being a majority.

It is not up to the pope to tell religious orders what their focus should be, he said. They must look to their founding charisms and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But in all they do, he said, “ignite the hope that has been extinguished and weakened by a society that has become insensitive to the pain of others. Our fragility as congregations can make us more attentive to the many forms of fragility that surround us and transform them into spaces of blessing.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 5 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity, who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, doesn’t mince words when it comes to the American Health Care Act, which was short of votes and withdrawn by House Republicans late March 24.

Two days before the GOP legislation was set for an initial vote in Congress and then delayed due to last-minute wrangling and efforts to gain support, she described the bill as a disgrace, a pro-life disaster, a huge step back, catastrophic for Catholic social teaching and something that would do incredible damage.

The woman religious, who heads an organization of more than 600 hospitals and 1,400 long-term care and other health facilities in the United States, has a vested interest in the nation’s health care and she also knows the ins and outs of health care legislation from working behind the scenes “forever” — as she describes it — on the Affordable Care Act.

At the time that the ACA was being drafted, some Catholic organizations opposed key elements of the measure. Once it became law, more than 40 lawsuits were filed to challenge the subsequent Department of Health and Human Service’s mandate requiring that insurance plans include coverage for artificial birth control, sterilization and drugs that lead to abortions.

Sister Keehan is quick to point out that the health care legislation signed into law seven years ago is far from perfect, but she says it was an “incredible step forward.”

“I do recognize the political conflict and the imperfections in the bill, but when you can make insurance that much better for people who have it and give 20 million Americans insurance, that is a huge step forward,” she told Catholic News Service March 21 in her Washington office.

At a 2015 Catholic Health Association gathering in Washington, President Barack Obama thanked Sister Keehan for her steadiness, strength and “steadfast voice.”

“We would not have gotten the Affordable Care Act done had it not been for her,” he said.

The immediate repeal and replacement of the ACA was a key promise of President Donald Trump’s campaign, but the GOP health care measure has faced opposition from both conservative and moderate Republicans. Trump told House Republicans that he will leave ACA in place and move on to tax reform if they do not support the new health care legislation.

Watching the GOP efforts to repeal and replace the ACA has been hard for Sister Keehan mainly because she and other health care leaders were not consulted in the process.

“We should never, ever throw together a bill that’s going to be such a profound impact on the people of this country in this short of time and without any input from those who care for them,” she said.

The work on these two health care bills couldn’t have been more different, she pointed out, noting that prior to the ACA launch she felt like she “lived in committee rooms” because she was constantly meeting with committees, groups and subgroups at the White House and Congress.

With the GOP health care plan, she said there wasn’t any opportunity for hospital groups or the American Medical Association to give any advice.

“We’ve just been dismissed,” she said, noting that she attended a few small group meetings on Capitol Hill but “they were not meetings to get our input on what ought to be done with the bill but meetings to tell us what was going to be done.”

“This has just been railroaded through Congress,” she added.

While the U.S. bishops have applauded pro-life elements of the American Health Care Act, they also have criticized other elements and expressed concern for its impact on the disadvantaged.

In a March 17 letter to House members about the GOP measure, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said the inclusion of “critical life protections” in the House health care bill is laudable, but other provisions, including those related to Medicaid and tax credits are “troubling” and “must be addressed.”

He said the bill’s restriction of funds to providers that promote abortion and prohibiting federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that provide abortion “honors a key moral requirement for our nation’s health care policy.” But he also criticized the absence of “any changes” from the current law regarding conscience protections against mandates to provide certain coverage or services considered morally objectionable by employers and health care providers.

“The ACA is, by no means, a perfect law,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Catholic bishops of the United States registered serious objections at the time of its passage. However, in attempting to improve the deficiencies of the ACA, health care policy ought not create other unacceptable problems, particularly for those who struggle on the margins of our society.”

Main provisions of the new House bill include: eliminating the mandate that most individuals have health insurance and putting in its place a new system of tax credits; expanding Health Savings Accounts; repealing Medicaid expansion and transitioning to a “per capita allotment”; and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage or charging more money to patients based on pre-existing conditions.

Sister Keehan said she thanked Bishop Dewane for his letter to Congress and said the bishops had carefully gone through the legislation measure by measure on a number of issues. She also noted that she knows people in the pro-life community either think the new bill is strong enough or not doing enough.

As she sees it, the bill is “a pro-life disaster in the fact that when you take health care away from people, you take life.”

“If you want to really, really strengthen the pro-life culture in this country, you make sure people know that their lives and the lives of their children are so valued by our country,” she said, which means providing quality maternity and pediatric care and offering programs like Head Start and food stamps.

Although she said under the ACA no federal funds could be spent on abortion, a nonpartisan government agency in an assessment of the law in 2014 said abortion coverage was available in some plans. Sister Keehan also said the law included help for pregnant mothers to get drug rehabilitation, housing and maternity care, which are not included in the new bill.

“I don’t find this a pro-life bill at all from every perspective,” she added about the new measure.

When asked if there was a silver lining with people at least talking about the need to provide insurance for all Americans, Sister Keehan said the health care crisis for so many people doesn’t give “the luxury of time.”

“To be the only industrialized nation in the world that does not guarantee all its citizens health care is a disgrace,” she said, adding: “We are at a real crossroads in our country’s sense of its responsibility to its people.”

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 22 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Live Catholic Headlines
Posted
Vatican City, Mar 27, 2017 / 11:26 am (EWTN News/CNA).- After a victim who suffered past clerical abuse resigned from the Vatican's anti-abuse commission, the group is aiming for more effective ways to communicate with survivors and include them in its work. 7 hours 13 min
Irondale, Ala., Mar 27, 2017 / 05:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- It was September 1987, and Pope John Paul II had just arrived in Los Angeles after traveling around the United States. The Pope was greeted in the City of Angels by a closed-door meeting with a group of progressive bishops who had a bone to pick with several Church traditions. 13 hours 38 min
Rome, Italy, Mar 27, 2017 / 01:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- A veteran Vatican official praised EWTN foundress Mother Angelica as a pioneer of the New Evangelization, saying the way in which the Church speaks to the men and women of today wouldn't be the same without her influence. 17 hours 37 min
Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2017 / 09:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Bishop Patrick James Byrne was born in the United States, but he died on a forced march in the harsh Korean snows under the watch of communist soldiers. 1 day 9 hours
Vatican City, Mar 26, 2017 / 05:52 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a key time to open ourselves to the light of Christ and let go of all the "false lights" that lead us away from him, taking us instead down a path of darkness marked by our own selfishness. 1 day 12 hours
San Francisco, Calif., Mar 26, 2017 / 05:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In 2013, Beyonce Knowles topped GQ's list of "The 100 Hottest Women of the 21st Century." 1 day 13 hours
Milan, Italy, Mar 25, 2017 / 07:31 am (EWTN News/CNA).- During his daytrip to Milan Saturday, Pope Francis told the diocese's priests and religious not to fear the challenges that come with their ministry nor the increasing number of empty convents, urging them instead to focus on the core of their mission: bringing Christ to his people. 2 days 11 hours
Austin, Texas, Mar 25, 2017 / 07:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Among the targets of Texas pro-life advocates are so-called 'wrongful birth' lawsuits and Planned Parenthood's alleged involvement in the sale of unborn baby parts. Both are finding some success in the State Senate. 2 days 11 hours
Milan, Italy, Mar 25, 2017 / 03:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation in Milan, telling mass-goers that even today God is still searching for hearts like Mary's that are open to welcoming his invitation and providing hope, even when it's hard. 2 days 15 hours
Milan, Italy, Mar 25, 2017 / 02:54 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In last meeting during his daytrip to Milan, Pope Francis issued a harsh criticism of bullying in schools, asking youth to make a promise to him and to Jesus to never bully others, and telling teachers to be aware of the problem. 2 days 15 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
Posted

A delegation of the European Parliament leadership visited Norcia, Italy on March 24, to see the devastated basilica of St. Francis and discuss restoration plans.

7 hours 37 min

An editorial in the newspaper of the Mexico City archdiocese has argued that helping to build the border wall proposed by American President Donald Trump would be immoral.

7 hours 45 min

Pope Francis met on March 27 with a group of bishops from western Canada who were completing their ad limina visits.

7 hours 51 min

A Christian graveyard was vandalized in India’s state of Uttar Pradesh, after a local Hindu-nationalist group issued charges that Christians were using pressure tactics to make converts.

7 hours 54 min

The Catholic faithful have “a serious, human, and societal responsibility” to protect human life, a spokesman for the Mexican hierarchy said in a message for the national Day for Life.

8 hours 35 min

Instead of closing parishes because of a shortage of priests, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich has proposed to appoint lay people to administer parishes.

8 hours 39 min

A Pennsylvania court has cleared the way for a re-trail of a Philadelphia priest who conviction on child-endangerment charges was overturned by the state’s top court.

8 hours 47 min

A number of top Vatican leaders attended a March 23 seminar hosted by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), in an unmistakable show of support for the commission.

14 hours 1 min

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading at Mass (Jn. 9:1-41), Pope Francis said during his March 26 Angelus address that the healing of the man born blind “causes us to reflect on our faith in Christ, the Son of God, and at the same time, also refers to Baptism.”

17 hours 15 min

115 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, including 90 diocesan priests, were beatified in Almería on March 25.

17 hours 26 min

On March 25, Pope Francis traveled to Milan, Italy’s second-largest city and Europe’s largest diocese, in the 13th apostolic journey of his pontificate within Italy.

17 hours 43 min

Pope Francis received George Konrote, Fiji’s president since 2015, at the Apostolic Palace on March 24.

18 hours 49 min

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

Pope Francis gave his blessing by telephone to Adele Agogini, 81, who wanted to welcome the Pontiff to the Forlanini suburb of Milan together with her husband, Nuccio Oneta, 82.

During his visit to Milan on March 25, 2017, “as a priest,” the Pope wished to begin by meeting three families of the “Casa Bianche” area.

During the visits, we hear the Pope say: “Mrs Adele,” as he speaks on the telephone in a video published by TV2000.

“Good morning. How do you feel? Ailments and pains must be offered to the Lord. I embrace you.”

The elderly couple live on the third floor of number 32 of the Case Bianche. They were married religiously 61 years ago, and have a daughter, Giovanna, 51. They are a Catholic couple who take part in Mass every day through the television and often receive Communion. Adele is almost completely blind and Nuccio has been suffering since 2006 from a tumor of the throat, which has been partially reduced by radiotherapy. However, he has serious lung problems and there is fear of a metastasis. With their simple and profound faith, they were happy to prepare themselves to receive the Pope.

10 hours 55 min

Veronique Vogel, who serves as head of projects in Asia for international Catholic charity Aid to the Church In Need, recently returned from a fact-finding visit to the Church in Odisha State. That is where, in 2008, in Kandhamal, Hindu mob violence led to the killing of close to 100 Christians and the displacement of thousands. Maria Lozano spoke to Vogel about her experience:

***

What is the general situation now in Odisha?

After some years the situation has now improved. There is no more violence. Most of the people have come back to their villages or have been resettled nearby. However, there is still fear in the heart of the Christians—both Catholics and Protestants—because they know that an eruption of violence can happen anytime. They are aware that the people who instigated the violence against them were people from outside their region—individuals motivated by the Hindu nationalist party BJP’s fundamentalist ideology. So they know that, as long as the BJP is in control of India’s central and local governments [and recent elections solidified the party’s hold on power], it can happen again.

How did the outsiders stir up tensions?

They did so in two ways. For one, agitators provoked the anger of so-called tribals, indigenous people, against the community of low-caste Christians, called dalits. Mostly land owners, the tribals were told that the dalits would compete with them for land ownership. Mistrust was created. Second, fundamentalist Hindus manipulated local Hindu villagers to turn on their Christian neighbors, with whom they had been living in peace.

What are the biggest challenges for the Church in Odisha?  

One of the biggest challenges is interreligious dialogue. The Church has maintained a dialogue with the Hindus, even the more radical ones, in order to make people understand that the Catholic Church is working for the best of all the people and it is not there to put one group above the other. The Church believes that this mosaic of religions in Odisha—Hindus, Christians and some Muslims—may be a tool for harmony and peace. And it is not because you belong to a religion other than Hinduism that you are not an Indian. Hindu fundamentalists try to impose the very dangerous idea that to be a true Indian you have to be a Hindu.

A positive impact of and exchange between the Hindu (local) government and the Catholic Church is that the Christians having suffered from the violence in 2008 will now be granted increased compensation for their losses.

Are there also challenges within the Catholic Church itself?

Yes, an internal challenge for the Indian Catholic Church in some parts of the country is to do a better job embracing faithful coming from different backgrounds, especially in the context of the country’s caste system. Then there is the urgent need for the ongoing formation of both clergy and laity for two reasons: first, the faith is still young in some places; and second, even if the faith is strong, knowledge needs to be deepened. Better and ongoing formation help clergy and laity—who are often called upon to be first responders—respond more effectively when in a village people are spreading wrong information about Christians. They can set the record straight, which is also a way of keeping the peace.

***

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS);www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)

11 hours 14 min

At 5:45 p.m. Saturday, March 25, 2017, Pope Francis met with Confirmation candidates and recently confirmed in the Meazza-San Siro Stadium of Milan, during his one-day pastoral visit to the northern Italian city.

The President of the establishment, Toberto Ruozzi, received the Pope at the entrance of the Stadium. In the course of the meeting, the Pontiff answered some questions posed by a Confirmation candidate, by a married couple and by a catechist.

Here is a translation of the questions posed and the Holy Father’s answers:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Answers to Some Questions

A Young Person’s Question:

Hello, I’m David and I come from Cornaredo. I would like to ask you a question: When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?

Pope Francis:  Good evening! David has asked a very simple question, which is easy for me to answer, because I must only remember somewhat the times when I was your age. And his question is: “When you were our age, what helped you to grow in friendship with Jesus?” There were three things, but with a thread that unites all three. The first thing that helped me was my grandparents. “But, Father, how can grandparents help one to grow in friendship with Jesus?” What do you think? Can they are can’t they?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: But grandparents are old!

Young people: No!

Pope Francis: No? They aren’t old?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: They are old . . . Grandparents are of another time: grandparents don’t know how to use a computer, they don’t have mobile phones . . . I ask once again: can grandparents help you to grow in friendship with Jesus?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: And this was my experience: my grandparents spoke to me normally of the things of life. One grandfather was a carpenter and he taught me how Jesus, learned the same craft with work and so, when I looked at my grandfather, I thought of Jesus. My other grandfather told me never to go to bed without saying a word to Jesus, to say “good night” to Him. My grandmother taught me to pray and also my mother – my other grandmother, the same . . . The important thing is this: grandparents have the wisdom of life. What do grandparents have?

Young people: The wisdom of life

Pope Francis: They have the wisdom of life. And with that wisdom they teach us how to get close to Jesus. They did it for me – first the grandparents. An advice: talk with your grandparents. Talk, ask all the questions you wish. Listen to your grandparents. In this time, it’s important to talk with your grandparents. Have you understood?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: And you, those of you who have living grandparents, do you make an effort to talk, to ask them questions, to listen to them? Will you make the effort? Will you do this work?

Young people: Yes . . .

Pope Francis: You’re not very convinced. Will you do it?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: Grandparents – then it helped me very much to play with friends, because to play well, to play and feel the joy of a game with friends, without insulting one another, and to think that Jesus played like this . . . But, I ask you: Did Jesus play or not?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: But He was God! God no, He can’t play . . . did Jesus play?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: You are convinced. Yes, Jesus played, and He played with others. And it does us good to play with friends, because when the game is clean, one learns to respect others, one learns to be a team, to work together. And this unites us to Jesus — to play with friends. However, there is something that I believe one of you said — does quarrelling with friends help to know Jesus?

Young people: No!

Pope Francis: What?

Young people: No!

Pope Francis: OK. And if one quarrels, because it’s normal to quarrel, but then one apologies, the story is finished. Is this clear?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: It helped me very much to play with friends. And a third thing that helped me to grow in friendship with Jesus was the parish, the Oratory, to go to the parish, to go to the Oratory, to meet with others: this is important! Do you like to go to the parish?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: Do you like . . . but tell the truth – do you like to go to Mass?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: [laughs] I’m not sure . . . Do you like to go to the Oratory?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: Ah yes, you like this. And these three things will make you – truly, this is advice that I give you – these three things will make your friendship with Jesus grow: to talk with grandparents, to play with friends and to go to the parish and to the Oratory because, with these three things, you will pray more. [Applause] And prayer is the thread that unites things. Thank you. [Applause]

**

Question of Two Parents

Good evening. We are Monica and Alberto, and we are parents of three, the last of whom will receive Holy Confirmation next October. The question we would like to ask you is this: how can we transmit to our children the beauty of the faith? Sometimes it seems so complicated to be able to speak of these things without becoming boring and banal or , worse yet, authoritarian. What words should we use?

Pope Francis: Thank you. I had these questions before . . . Yes, because you sent them to me, and to be clear in the answer, I took some notes, I wrote something, and now I would like to answer Monica and Alberto.

1: I think this is one of the key-questions that touches our life as parents: the transmission of the faith, and it also touches our life as Pastors, and as educators – the transmission of the faith. And I would like to ask you this question. And I invite you to recall who were the persons who left an imprint on your faith and what of them remained most imprinted in you? What the children asked me I ask you. Who were the persons, the situations, things that helped you to grow in the faith, the transmission of the faith. I invite you parents to become children again in your imagination for a minute, and to recall the persons who helped you to believe. “Who helped me to believe?” Father, mother, grandparents, a catechist, an aunt, the parish priest, a neighbor, perhaps . . . We all bear in our memory, but especially in the heart, someone who has helped us to believe. Now I pose a challenge to you. A minute’s silence . . . and each one think: who helped me to believe? And I respond for my part, and to respond in truth I must go back with the memory to Lombardy . . . [loud applause]. I was helped to believe, to grow a lot in the faith, by a priest of the diocese of Lodi; a good priest who baptized me and then during my whole life, I went to him: sometimes more often, at others less . . .; and he accompanied me until I entered the noviciate [of the Jesuits]. And I owe this to you, Lombardians, thank you! [Applause] And I never forget that priest, never, never. He was an apostle of the Confessional, an apostle of the Confessional – merciful, good worker. And so he helped me grow.

Has everyone thought of the person? I have said who helped me. And you will ask the reason for this little exercise. Our children look at us constantly, even if we don’t realize it; they observe us all the time and meanwhile they learn. [Applause] “Children look at us”: this is the title of a 1943 film of Vittorio De Sica. Look for it. Look for it. “Children look at us.” And, between parenthesis, I would like to say that the Italian film of the post-War and a bit later was, generally, a true “catechesis” of humanity. I close the parenthesis. The children look at us, and you can’t imagine the anguish a child feels when the parents quarrel. They suffer! [Applause] And when parents separate, they pay the price. [Applause] When a child is brought into the world, you must be conscious of this: we take on the responsibility to make the faith grow in this child. It will help you very much to read the Exhortation Amoris laetitia, especially the first chapters on love, marriage, the fourth chapter, which is truly key. But don’t forget: when you quarrel, the children suffer and don’t grow in the faith. [Applause] Children know our joys, our sadness and worries. They are able to understand everything, they note everything and, given that they are very, very intuitive, they draw their conclusions and their teachings. They know when we set traps for them and when we don’t. They know it. They are very clever. Therefore, one of the first things that I will say to you is: take care of them; take care of their heart, of their joy and of their hope. Your children’s “little eyes” gradually memorize and read with the heart how faith is one of the best legacies that you have received from your parents and your ancestors. They realize it. And if you give the faith and live it well, there is transmission. Show them how the faith helps you to go on, to face the many dramas we have, not with a pessimistic but a confident attitude; this is the best witness we can give them. There is a saying: “The wind took away the words,” but what is sowed in the memory, in the heart, remains forever.

2: Another thing – in different parts, <of the world>, many families have a very beautiful tradition of going to Mass together and afterwards, they go to a park, they take the children to play together. Thus the faith becomes an exigency of the family with other families, with friends, family friends . . . This is good and it helps to live the Commandment to sanctify the feasts. Not only to go to church to pray or to sleep during the homily – it happens! –, not only, but then to go and play together. Now that the good days are beginning, for instance, on Sunday after having gone to Mass as a family, it is good if you can go to a park or Square to play, to be together a bit. In my land this is called “dominguear,” to spend Sunday together. However, our time is somewhat a bad time to do this, because so many parents, to feed their family, must also work on holidays. And this is awful. I always ask parents, when they tell me that they lose their patience with the children – I ask first: “But how many are they?” – “Three, four,” they say. And I ask them a second question: “Do you play with your children? … Do you play?” And they don’t know what to answer. In these times parents can’t, or they’ve lost the habit of playing with their children, of “losing [spending] time” with the children. A father once said to me: “Father, when I leave to go to work, they are still in bed, and when I return in the late evening, they are already in bed. I see them only on holidays. It’s awful. It’s this life that takes away one’s humanity! But keep this in mind: play with the children, “lose [spend] time” with the children and also transmit the faith. It’s gratuitousness, the gratuitousness of God.

3: And one last thing: the family’s education in solidarity. This is to transmit the faith with education in solidarity, in the works of mercy. Works of mercy make faith grow in the heart. This is very important. I like to put the accent on celebration, on gratuitousness, on seeking other families and living the faith as an area of family enjoyment. I think it is also necessary to add another element. There is no celebration without solidarity, as there is no solidarity without celebration, because when one is supportive, one is joyful and transmits joy.

I don’t want to bore you: I will tell you something that I learnt in Buenos Aires. It was lunchtime, a mother with three children – six, four and a half and three years old; then she had two more. Her husband was at work. They were at lunch and were in fact eating cutlets alla Milanese, yes, because she told me so, and each one of the children had one on his plate. Someone knocked at the door. The eldest one went, opened the door saw <who was there> and returned and said: “Mother, it’s a poor man, he asks for something to eat.” And the wise mother asked the question: “What shall we do? Do we or do we not give?” – “Yes, Mother, let’s give, let’s give!” There were other cutlets there. The mother said: “Ah, very good: let‘s take two buns” each one cut his in half and we will have two buns” – “Mother, but there are those <there>!” “No, those are for dinner.” And the mother taught them solidarity, but the kind that costs, not the one that <is easy>! This, for instance, would be enough, but it will make you laugh to know how the story ended. The week after, the mother had to go out to do the shopping, in the afternoon, about four o’clock, and she left the three children alone, they were good, for an hour or so. She left. When the mother returned, they weren’t three but four! There were the three children and a tramp [he laughs] who had asked for alms and they made him come in, and they were drinking a caffe latte together … But this is an end to laugh a bit . . . To educate in solidarity, namely, in the works of mercy. Thank you.

**

A Catechist’s Question

Good evening, I am Valeria, mother and catechist of a parish of Milan at Rogoredo. You have taught us that to educate a youth there must be a village: our Archbishops has also spurred us these years to collaborate, so that there is collaboration between the educating figures. So we want to ask your advice, so that we can open ourselves to a dialogue and a discussion with all the educators that have something to do with our young people . . .

Pope Francis:

I would recommend an education based on thinking-feeling-doing, namely an education with the intellect, with the heart and with the hands — the three languages. Educate to harmony of the three languages, to the point that young people, boys and girls can think about what they feel and do, feel what they think and do and do what they think and feel. Do not separate the three things, but all three <must be> together. Do not educate only the intellect: this is to give intellectual notions, which are important, but without the heart and without the hands it’s of no use, no use. Education must be harmonious. However, one can also say: educate with contents, ideas, with attitudes of life and with values. It can also be said like this, but never educate only with notions, with ideas, for instance. No. The heart must also grow in education, and also “doing,” the attitude, the way of behaving in life.

With reference to the previous point, I remember that once there was a pupil in a school who was a phenomenon at playing soccer, but a disaster in his conduct in the class. He was given a rule that, if he didn’t behave well he would have to abandon soccer, which he liked so much! Given that he continued to misbehave, he was two months without playing and this made things worse. Be careful when you punish: that boy worsened. It’s true, I knew this boy. One day the coach spoke with the Directress and he explained: “Things aren’t going well! Let me try,” he said to the Directress, and he asked if the boy could play again. “Let’s try,” said the lady. And the coach made <the boy> captain of the team. Then that boy, that boy felt regarded, he felt he could give his best and he began, not only to behave better, but to improve in everything. This seems very important to me in education – very important. Among our students there are some who come for sports and not so much for the sciences and others are better in art rather than in mathematics, and others <are better> in philosophy than in sports. A good teacher, educator or coach knows how to stimulate the good qualities of his pupils and not neglect the others. And there is the pedagogical phenomenon that is called transfer: doing something good and pleasingly, the benefit is transferred to the other. To see where I give more responsibility, where one likes it more, and one will do well. And it is always good to stimulate, but children also have the need to enjoy themselves and to sleep. To educate only, without the area of gratuitousness isn’t good.

And I end with this. There is an awful phenomenon in education in these times, which worries me” bullying. Please . . . [hint of applause] No, no! I haven’t finished yet. Please, for the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation, promise the Lord that you will never do this and never allow that it be done in your college, in your school, in your district. Understood?

Young people: Yes! [Loud applause]

Pope Francis: You promise me: never, never make fun of, never mock a school companion of the district . . . Do you promise this, today?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: The Pope isn’t happy with the answer . . . Do you promise this?

Young people: [Very loudly] Yes!

Pope Francis: Good. You have said this “yes” to the Pope. Now, in silence, think what an awful thing this is, and think if you are able to promise this to Jesus. Do you promise Jesus never to engage in bullying?

Young people: Yes!

Pope Francis: To Jesus.

Young people: [Loudly] Yes!

Pope Francis: Thank you. And may the Lord bless you! Congratulations to you [the youngsters who did the choreography in the field]: you were good!

Let us pray together: Our Father . . . [Blessing]

Pope Francis: Please, I ask you to pray for me. And before leaving, a question: with whom should we speak more at home?

Young people: With grandparents!

Pope Francis: Good! And you, parents, what must you do a bit more of with your children?

Parents: Play!

Pope Francis: Play. And you educators, how must you carry education forward, with what language? With that of the head, with that of the heart and with that of the hands!

Thank you and farewell!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

At the end of the meeting at 7:00 pm, the Holy Father went to the Milan-Linate airport from where, at 7:40 pm, he exchanged farewells with those that received him in the morning, before departing to Rome.

 

1 day 28 min

 

PHOTO.VA - L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

@Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

 

It was Pope Francis’ last meeting at Milan: at the end of his one-day, pastoral visit, March 25, 2017, when he met with 45,000 young people, namely recently confirmed and confirmation candidates, in San Siro Stadium, in the open atmosphere of a match. Some 78,000 people, including parents and catechists, received the Pope in one of Europe’s largest stadiums.

Raging as supporters, the tens of thousands of young people chanted “Francesco! Francesco!” in a thunder of acclamations at the Pope’s entrance — a burst of enthusiasm that the Pontiff had to channel, calling for silence to open the meeting.

In an exchange interrupted by constant applause, Pope Francis answered the questions of a young Confirmation candidate, two parents and a catechist.

The Pontiff explained how his friendship with Jesus grew in his youth, thanks to three elements: grandparents, who are “old” and “of another time,” who “don’t use computers,” he joked, but who have “the wisdom of life.”

“My grandfather said to me that I must never go to bed without saying a word to Jesus, without saying “good night,” confided the Pope. “Talk with grandparents, ask questions, listen . . . have you understood?,” he encouraged while the energetic young people expressed their assent.

“A second thing helped me, added the Pontiff, to play with friends . . . without insulting, it’s what Jesus did . . . this teaches to respect others.” And a third element is the parish.

Addressing the parents, the Holy Father noted: “Our children look at us constantly . . . They observe us all the time and thus they learn.” And to be avoided: “You can’t imagine the anguish of children when parents quarrel . . . they suffer!

“When one gives life to a child, it’s important to be conscious of that: we take on the responsibility of making faith grow in that child,” he continued, recommending that they teach children solidarity.

The Pope also encouraged to go to Mass as a family and then to go and play in a park “to spend Sunday together.” “Today, parents have lost the habit of playing with their children, of spending time with their children,” he regretted.

Before the catechist, the Holy Father pleaded for an education founded on “thinking-doing-feeling,” that is, the harmony of the three languages of head, hands and heart.

Finally, he made an appeal against school bullying, asking young people to promise “never to do that and never to let that be done.” “Promise this to Jesus!” he stressed, unleashing a new round of applause and ovations.

 

On the lawn of San Siro, the young people also performed gigantic choreographies, among others, around themes of the heart and of Christ.

 

1 day 28 min

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus address today at noon to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square:

****

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

At the center of the Gospel, this Fourth Sunday of Lent, are Jesus and a man blind from birth (Jn 9: 1-41). Christ restores his sight and works this miracle with a kind of symbolic ritual: first, he mixes the earth with saliva and rubs it on his eyes; then, orders him to go and wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. The man goes, washes, and regains his sight. With this miracle, Jesus reveals himself as light of the world; and blind from birth is each of us, that we were created to know God, but because of sin, [we] are like the blind, we need a new light, that of faith, that Jesus has given us. In fact, the blind man of the Gospel regaining his vision opens to the mystery of Christ. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

This episode causes us to reflect on our faith in Christ, the Son of God, and at the same time, also refers to Baptism, which is the first sacrament of the faith, the sacrament that makes us “come to light” by the rebirth from ‘water and the Holy Spirit; as it happened to the man born blind, who opened his eyes after being washed in the Pool of Siloam. The man born blind and cured is when we do not realize that Jesus is “the light of the world,” when we look elsewhere when we prefer to rely on small lights when fumbling in the dark. We too have been “enlightened” to Christ in Baptism, and then we are called to behave as children of light. This requires a radical change in thinking, an ability to judge men and things according to a new scale of values, which comes from God. The sacrament of Baptism, in fact, demands a choice, firm and decided, to live as children of light, and to walk in the light.

What does it mean to walk in the light? It means first of all abandon the false ‘lights’: the cold and foolish light of prejudice against others, because the prejudice distorts reality and loads us with aversion towards those who we judge without mercy and condemn without cause. This is everyday life! When we talk of others, we don’t walk in the light, but walk in the shadows. Another false ‘light,’ so seductive and unclear, is self-interest: if we evaluate people and things based on the criterion of how they are useful to, our pleasure, our prestige, we make the truth in relationships and situations. If we walk this path of searching only personal interests, we walk in the shadow…

May the Blessed Virgin, who first welcomed Jesus, light of the world, grant us the grace to welcome again this Lent the light of faith and rediscover the inestimable gift of Baptism. And that this new enlightenment may transform us, in attitudes and actions, starting from our poverty and littleness, to be bearers of a ray of Christ’s light.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday in Almería (Spain), José Álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre, and 114 companions, martyrs, were beatified . These priests, religious and lay people have been heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of peace and fraternal reconciliation. Their example and their intercession sustain the Church’s involvement in building the civilization of love.

I greet all of you, coming from Rome, Italy and other countries, in particular the pilgrims from Córdoba (Spain), the youth of Saint-Jean de Passy Paris College, the faithful of Loreto, the faithful of St. Helens Rende, Maiori, Poggiomarino and adolescents of the deanery “Roman-Vittoria” in Milan. And speaking of Milan, I would like to thank the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan [Cardinal Angelo Scola] and all the people for the warm welcome yesterday. Actually, I felt at home, and [felt] this [way] with everyone, believers and non-believers. Thank you so much, dear Milan, and I’ll tell you something: I’ve found that it’s true what they say: “In Milan, they welcome you with heart in hand!”.

I wish you all a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

 

1 day 11 hours

“Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37): thus ends the Angel’s answer to Mary. When we believe that everything depends on our capacities, on our strengths, on our myopic horizons, when, instead, we are ready to allow ourselves to be helped, to let ourselves be counseled, when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become possible.”

Pope Francis said this while reflecting on how God can make the impossible, possible, during his homily in Monza Park today, March 25, 2017, when making a pastoral one-day visit to the northern Italian city of Milan.

Below is a Zenit working translation of the Holy Father’s homily:

***

The Holy Father’s Homily

We just heard the most important announcement of our history: the Annunciation to Mary (cf. Luke 1:26-38) – a dense passage, full of life, which I like to read in the light of another announcement: that of the birth of John the Baptist (cf. Luke 1:5-20). Two announcements that follow one another and that are united; two announcements that, when contrasted, show us what God gives us in His Son.

The annunciation of John the Baptist happened when Zechariah, the priest, ready to begin the liturgical ceremony enters the Sanctuary of the Temple, while all the assembly is outside waiting. The Annunciation of Jesus, instead, happened in a lost place of Galilee, in a peripheral city and without a particularly good reputation (cf. John 1:46), in the anonymity of the home of a girl called Mary.

A contrast, that doesn’t count for little, which indicates that the new Temple of God, the new encounter of God with His people will take place in places that we generally do not expect, in the margins, in the periphery. There, they will meet, there they will encounter one another, God will become flesh there to walk together with us from the womb of His Mother. Now He will no longer be in a place reserved for a few while the majority remains outside in expectation. Nothing and no one will be indifferent to him, no situation will be deprived of His presence: the joy of Salvation began in the daily life of the home of a girl of Nazareth.

God Himself is the one who takes the initiative and chooses to insert Himself, as He did with Mary, in our homes, in our daily struggles, full of anxieties together with desires. And it is in fact within our cities, our schools and universities, squares and hospitals that the most beautiful announcement we can hear is fulfilled: “Rejoice, the Lord is with thee!” It is a joy that generates life, that generates hope, that is made flesh in the way we look at the morrow, in the attitude with which we look at others. It is a joy that becomes solidarity, hospitality, and mercy towards all.

Like Mary, we can also be at a loss. “How will this come about” in times so full of speculation? There is speculation about life, about work, about the family. There is speculation about the poor and about migrants; there is speculation about young people and about their future. All seems to be reduced to numbers, forgetting, on the other hand, that the daily life of so many families is tinged with precariousness and insecurity. While grief knocks at many doors, while so many young people grow dissatisfied due to the lack of real opportunities, speculation abounds everywhere.

The dizzying rhythm to which we are subjected certainly seems to rob us of hope and of joy. The pressures and the impotence in face of so many situations seem to wither the mind and make us insensitive in face of the innumerable challenges. And, paradoxically, when everything is accelerated to build – in theory – a better society, in the end there is no time for anything or anyone. We lose time for the family, time for the community, we lose time for friendship, for solidarity and for remembering.

It will do us good to ask ourselves: How is it possible to live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?

These two questions touch our identity, the life of our families, of our countries <and>of our cities. They touch the life of our children, of our young people and they exact on our part a new way of situating ourselves in history. If Christian joy and hope continue to be possible we cannot, we do not want to remain before so many painful situations as mere spectators who look at the sky hoping that “it will stop raining.” All that is happening exacts from us that we look at the present with audacity, with the audacity of one who knows that the joy of salvation takes shape in the daily life of the home of a girl of Nazareth.

In face of Mary’s bewilderment, in face of our bewilderment, there are three keys that the Angel offers us to help us to accept the mission that is entrusted to us.

  1. Evoke the memory. The first thing the Angel does is to evoke the memory, thus opening Mary’s present to the whole history of Salvation. He evokes the promise made to David as fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is daughter of the Covenant. We also are invited today to remember, to look at our past so as not to forget from where we came, so as not to forget our ancestors, our grandparents and all that they went through to come to where we are today. This land and its people have known the grief of two world wars and sometimes have seen their merited fame for industry and civilization polluted by unruly ambitions. The memory helps us not to remain prisoners of discourses that sow fractures and divisions as the only way to resolve conflicts. To evoke the memory is the best antidote to our disposition in face of the magical solutions of division and estrangement.
  1. Belonging to the People of God. Memory enables Mary to appropriate her belonging to the People of God. It does us good to remember that we are members of the People of God! Milanese, yes, Ambrosians, certainly, but part of the great People of God – a people made up of a thousand faces, histories, provenances, a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic people. This is one of our riches. It is a people called to welcome differences, to integrate them with respect and creativity and to celebrate the novelty that comes from others; it is a people that is not afraid to embrace the confines, the frontiers; it is a people that is not afraid to give hospitality to one in need because it knows that its Lord is present there.

3.The possibility of the impossible.

“Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37): thus ends the Angel’s answer to Mary. When we believe that everything depends on our capacities, on our strengths, on our myopic horizons, when, instead, we are ready to allow ourselves to be helped, to let ourselves be counseled, when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become possible. These lands know this well that, in the course of their history, have generated so many charisms, so many missionaries, so much richness for the life of the Church! The many times that, overcoming sterile and divisive pessimism, they opened themselves to God’s initiative and became signs of how fruitful a land can be that is not closed in its own ideas, in its limitations and in its capacities and opens to others.

As yesterday, God continues to seek allies, He continues to seek men and women capable of believing, capable of remembering, of feeling part of His people to cooperate with the Spirit’s creativity. God continues to tread our suburbs and streets. He pushes Himself in every place in search of hearts capable of listening to His invitation and make it become flesh here and now. Paraphrasing Saint Ambrose in his comment on this passage, we can say: God continues to seek hearts like Mary’s, willing to believe even in altogether extraordinary conditions (cf. Esposizione del Vangelo sec. Luca II: 17: PL 15, 1559). May the Lord make this faith and this hope grow in us.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

At 5:00 pm, at the end of the Holy Mass, the Holy Father went by car to the Meazza-San Siro Stadium for the meeting with recently confirmed young people.

***

One can watch here, via the Vatican YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/vatican?hl=it&gl=IT

 

2 days 1 hour

At 5:30 pm today, March 25, 2017, Pope Francis met with recently confirmed young people in the Meazza-San Siro Stadium of Milan. Roberto Ruozzi, President of the Stadium, received the Pope at the entrance of the establishment.

In the course of the meeting, the Pontiff answered some questions posed by a recently confirmed young man, a married couple and a catechist.

This was the last event on the Pope’s itinerary during his pastoral visit to the northern Italian city before returning to Rome.

Here is a working Zenit translation of the questions posed to the Holy Father and his prepared responses. However, the Holy Father spoke off-the-cuff. Therefore, Zenit will bring our readers his improvised responses to the questions posed once the text has been released and has been translated:

PHOTO.VA - L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO

@Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

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The Holy Father’s answers to some questions asked by a boy

When you were our age, what helped you to have your friendship with Jesus grow?

1: Grandparents 

2: Friends

3: The Parish

Question of a Married Couple

How can we transmit the beauty of the faith to our children? Sometimes it seems truly difficult to be able to talk about this subject without being boring or banal in sharing the faith with them.

  1. I think this is one of the key questions that touches our life as parents, as Pastors, as educators. And I would like to address it to you. I invite you to recall who were the persons that left an imprint on your faith and which of them remained most imprinted. I invite you parents to become children again for a minute and to recall the persons that helped you to believe. Father, mother, grandparents, a catechist, an aunt, the parish priest, a neighbor, perhaps . . . We all have in our memory, but especially in our heart, someone who helped us to believe.

You will ask me for the reason for this little exercise. Our children look at us constantly, even if we don’t realize it, they observe us all the time and meanwhile they learn. “Children look at us,” I believe is the title of a film. They know our joys, our sadness and worries. They understand everything and, given that they are very intuitive, they draw their conclusions and their teachings. They know when we set traps for them and when we don’t. Therefore, one of the first things I’ll say to you is: take care of them, take care of their heart, of their joy and of their hope. Your children’s “little eyes” memorize and read gradually with the heart how the faith is one of the best legacies that you have received from your parents, from your ancestors.

Show them how the faith helps you to go on, to face the many dramas we have, not with a pessimistic but a confident attitude, this is the best witness we can give them. There is a saying: “The wind took the words,” but what is sown in the memory, in the heart, stays for ever.

  1. In different parts, many families have a very beautiful tradition, and it is to go to Mass together and afterwards they go to a park, <and> take their children to play together. So that faith becomes a exigency of the family with other families. This is good and it helps to live the Commandment to sanctify the feasts. Now that the good days are beginning, for instance, on Sunday after having gone to Mass as a family, it is a good thing if you can go to a park or square to play, to be together recovering a beautiful tradition that in Buenos Aires we call “dominguear,” namely, “enjoying Sunday,” — the best day to visit the family, to be more relaxed. I believe there is something good to rediscover in this and to appreciate. Faith is lived in a family environment that promotes gratuitousness, spending time together. This doesn’t require money; on the contrary, it is an invitation to bless out being together, which is something good. We can be lacking so many things, but we are united and this is a very good teaching we can give.
  2. The family’s education in solidarity. I like to put the accent on celebration, on gratuitousness, on seeking other families and living the faith as an area of family enjoyment. I believe it is also necessary to add another element. There is no celebration without solidarity – as there is no solidarity without celebration. I remember once, a mother at lunchtime heard someone knocking at the door: it was a child asking for something to eat. That day they were having “cutlets alla Milanese.” She had all her children eat and there was enough for that child. We must not give what is superfluous to us, but have others share in what we have. Children learn this at home. Faith grows with charity and charity increases with faith. One does not exist without the other and they are complementary. And this helps us to see that life with faith is good, with its difficulties, certainly, with its problems, but good.

A Catechist’s Question

Our Archbishop has been encouraging us for some time to build “educating communities,” where fraternal sharing between catechists, coaches, parents and teachers supports the common educational task. What advice can you give us to open ourselves to listening and to dialogue with all the educators who have something to do with our youngsters?

  1. Education based on thinking-doing-feeling (head-hands-heart) — knowledge is multi-form, it is never uniform. Many times professors — and it’s OK – believe that their subject is the most important of all. We are somewhat jealous of our things, and we don’t realize that we all “sharply draw” the same child or youngster. Therefore, it is essential to come to an agreement to show that all disciplines are important and that the more they are developed, the richer the education is.
  2. With reference to the previous point, I remember that once in a school there was a pupil who was a phenomenon in playing soccer and a disaster in his conduct in class. A rule that was given to him was that if he didn’t behave well he would have to leave soccer. Given that he continued to behave badly he stayed two months without playing, and this made things worse. One day the coach spoke with the Directress and he asked her if the boy could play again. He made him captain of the team. Then <the boy> felt considered, he felt he could give his best and he began not only to behave better but to improve in everything. This seems very important to me in education. Among our students there are some who come for sport and not so much for the sciences and others for philosophy more than for sport. A good teacher, educator or coach knows how to stimulate the good qualities of his pupils and not neglect the others, always seeking complementarity. No one can be good in everything, and we must say this to our pupils: we are complementary – we cannot forget this principle.
  3. Another aspect that I think is important is education for projects. To be able to teach to work in a polyhedral and not linear way – that they can study the same phenomenon from different perspectives and make proposals. Yes, make proposals for improvement, so that they feel participants of their education. 
  4. Sometimes I see educational programs that want to make supermen and superwomen of the students. From childhood they subject them to very intense agendas and pressures. It’s good to stimulate them but, be careful: children also need to play, to amuse themselves, to sleep. This is part of their growth. There are children’s agendas that seem more like those of a businessman. Pauses, rest, play and even frustration are an important part of growth.
  5. Recover wonder to balance determinism. Technology offers us many things and enables our youngsters to know a lot instantly. They have access to information that we would never have imagined. Often when speaking to some of them I am astounded by the things they know, or they look for it afterwards and with no problem, say to you: “I’ll look it up now . . .” This offers them many instruments and possibilities. However, there is something that technology can’t give: compassion. This is learnt only between humans, with others.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation of prepared Q & A by Virginia M. Forrester]

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father went to the Milan-Linate airport from where, at 6:30 pm he took leave of the personalities that received him in the morning, to return to Rome. He is due to land in the Rome-Fiumicino airport at 7:30 pm. Then the Pope will return to the Vatican.

 

 

 

 

 

2 days 5 hours

In the “Forlanini” district of the “Case Bianche” – the “White Houses” – in the suburb of Milan, Pope Francis met three different family realities, shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The popular suburb, marked by situations of social malaise, was the first stage of the Pope’s day in the capital of Lombardy.

The Holy See published information about the families visited by the Pontiff: one Italian family of which, the husband is bedridden, a Muslim family of Morocco and an Italian Catholic elderly and sick couple.

 

Suffering Husband

The Dorotea (Dori) Falcone and Stefano (Lino) Pasquale family, 56 and 59 respectively, who live on the 4th floor at no. 38, were married civilly in Savona 38 years ago; they have been living at the “Case Bianche” for a long time. Lino had problems with alcohol when he was young and it’s not known if because of that, he had a serious accident, which left him physical consequences and caused epileptic seizures. His physical and mental state regressed progressively and, since 2013, he is bedridden, with frequent loss of consciousness. His wife, Dori, has cared for him all these years with particular devotion, serving him as nurse and assistant each time he has been hospitalized. Since 2013, this assistance is day and night. For her, Pope Francis’ visit was of immense joy. It is difficult to know what this meeting meant for Lino, but he accepts calmly all that Dori suggests to him.

A Moroccan Family

The family of Mihoual Abdel Karim and his wife, Tardane Hanane, live on the second floor of no. 40 of ‘Case Bianche’ with their three children: Nada 17, Jinane 10 and Mahmoud 6. They come from Morocco and have been in Italy: Karim, since 1989 and his wife, Hanane, since 1997. They married in Marrakech in 1996. Since 1990, Karim has been working in a pharmaceutical company and both have been living in the suburb since 2008. There is good understanding between them  and, notably, they help the Muslim family of Mohamed and Samira, organizer of an Arab school established for the young people in the parish on Saturday mornings. They are Muslims and open, cooperative, happy to receive Pope Francis at their home.

An Elderly and Sick Catholic Couple

The third family lives on the 3rd floor at no. 32: Nuccio Oneta and Adele Agogini, 82 and 81 respectively. They were married religiously 61 years ago. They have a daughter, Giovanna, 51. He worked for a long time as a postman. They are a Catholic couple who take part in the Mass everyday on television and receive Communion often. Adele is almost completely blind and since 2006, Nuccio has been suffering from a tumor of the throat, which radiotherapy has partially reduced. However, he has serious problems with his lungs and there is fear of metastasis. With their simple and profound faith, they were happy to receive the Pope.

 

2 days 7 hours

 

“I enter Milan as priest.” With these words, Pope Francis started his pastoral visit in the Milanese Archdiocese on Saturday, March 25, 2017. It was from the periphery of a popular suburb, marked  by social malaise that he entered the capital of Lombardy.

After landing by helicopter around 8:15 a.m., the Pontiff was welcomed at the Milan-Linate airport by two children who gave him flowers, as well as by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan; Roberto Maroni, President of the Lombardy Region; Luciana Lamorgese, Prefect of Milan; and Giuseppe Sala, Mayor of the city. Before leaving the airport, the Pope spontaneously approached the crowd held back by barriers, and greeted and exchanged words with the Milanese.

From there he went to the Forlanini-“Case Bianche” suburb, in the southeastern periphery of Milan, where he visited three families – two Italian and one Moroccan – in their apartments. During this stage, marked by walkabouts, the Pontiff also met representatives of the Roms, of Muslims, of immigrants, and of residents of the suburb.

A thousand people – more than 420 families – dwell in the “Case Bianche.” The popular suburb has suffered from marginalization for decades, with numerous situations of social malaise.

“I thank you for your very warm welcome. It is you who receive me at the entrance of Milan, and it is a great gift for me: to enter the city seeing faces, families, a community,” said the Pope to them.

The Holy Father also thanked them for the two gifts they gave him: “The first is a stole, a typically priestly sign, which touches me very especially because it reminds me that I come here in your midst as priest, I enter Milan as priest,” he said.

This stole, woven by residents ”in a craftsman-like way,” stressed the Pope who was wearing it, reminds that a priest is “at the service of the people”: “my priesthood, as that of your parish priest and of the other priests who work here, is a gift of Christ, but it is “woven” by you, by our people, with their faith, their sufferings, their prayers, their tears . . . I see that in the sign of the stole.”

Mary’s Haste and that of the Church

Then the Pope picked up the second gift, a restored picture of the Virgin Mary of the district: “I know that the Virgin welcomes me in Milan, above the Duomo, but thanks to your gift, the Virgin Mary welcomes me already here, at the entrance,” he continued.

“Mary’s haste” at the Visitation, “is the haste, the solicitude of the Church, who does not remain in the center, but goes to encounter all, in the peripheries; she also goes to encounter non-Christians and non-believers . . .  and brings everyone to Jesus, who is the love of God made flesh, who gives meaning to our life and saves us from evil,” added the Pope.

“The restoration is significant: your Holy Virgin was restored, as the Church is always in need of being “restored,” because she is made up of us, who are sinners.” And the Pontiff encouraged: “Let us allow ourselves be restored by God, by His mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be cleansed in our heart, especially in this Season of Lent,” he said. It is about “allowing oneself to be cleansed by God’s mercy to witness the holiness of Jesus.”

Inviting the faithful to a “good Confession” and the confessors to be “merciful,” the Holy Father concluded by praying a “Hail Mary” with the crowd.

At the end of the visit, during which he blessed many sick and handicapped persons, the Pope returned to the Duomo of Milan to meet with priests and consecrated persons.

2 days 7 hours

During his pastoral visit to the northern Italian city of Milan today, March 25, 2017, Pope Francis arrived at the San Vittore prison around noon. He is the first pope to visit the prison since its foundation in 1879. Its 893 inmates have available to them two priests, one deacon, 10 sisters and four seminarians.

Every Sunday, four Masses are celebrated in the facility. The rosary is also recited there during the week.

On the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit, the prisoners had prepared themselves, above all, by sending the Pontiff letters, in which they described their situation, their feelings of guilt, their relationship to God, their faith, and their joy about the Pope’s visit.

Arriving at the prison, the Pope was received by various representatives, including its director and chaplain.

Once inside, the Pope greeted the 80 prisoners, and had lunch with the detainees. Afterwards, Pope Francis went to Monza Park, where he celebrated Mass at 3 pm.

All photos courtesy of  L’Osservatore Romano – Photo.va

2 days 11 hours

“As pastors, we cannot avoid forming discernment in a very insidious scenario, in a culture of abundance, which presents many possibilities as valid and good, in which our young people are exposed to continuous ‘zapping,’ being able to navigate in two or three screens, various virtual scenarios, at the same time.”

Pope Francis made this appeal to religious who he met with this morning during his pastoral visit to the northern Italian city of Milan, with whom he met in the city’s Duomo.

“Whether we like it or not,” he encouraged, “it is the world in which they are inserted and it is our duty as pastors to help them to cross this world. Therefore, I think it is important to teach them to discern, so that they have the tools and elements that help them to walk the path of life, without the Holy Spirit that is in them being extinguished. ”

“When we are children,” said the Pontiff, “it is easy for the father and the mother to tell us what to do, and that is fine. But as we grow up amid a multitude of voices which all ‘seem’ to be right, the discernment of what brings us to the Resurrection, to life and not to a culture of death, is crucial. ”

The Holy Father shared these thoughts in the medieval Gothic cathedral during the encounter where he was asked questions by the city’s clergy. Diocesan priest, Gabriele Gioia, asked him how one is to face secularization and the evolution of plural, multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious society.

The Pope noted that “in every age since the early Christians has had multiple challenges” and recalled the episode of Peter in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea.

“We must not fear challenges and it is good that they exist. They are a sign of a living faith, of a community that seeks the Lord and has eyes and an open heart,” he said.

“Rather,” he warned, “let us fear a faith without challenges which is considered complete as if everything had been accomplished.” Because the challenges “help us to make our faith not become ideological.”

And for “multicultural, multireligious and multiethnic” societies, he pointed out that the Church’s history has much to teach us about the culture of diversity, because “the Holy Spirit is the master of diversity.”

Francis invited everyone to look at dioceses, religious communities, congregations, with so many charisms and ways of bringing to life the experience of believers.

“The Church,” said the Pope, “is an experience with many forms, one, but with many forms.”

The Holy Father also pointed out that the Gospel is enriched by its four versions. He therefore invited not to confuse unity with uniformity, plurality with pluralism.

“Everything that does not assume ‘human drama’ can be a very clear and distinguished theory, but not consistent with Revelation and therefore, ideological,” he said, speaking on the necessity of faith to be truly Christian and never illusory.

After speaking with priests and consecrated persons, the Pope recited the Angelus prayer outside the Duomo.

Before reciting the midday prayer, the Pontiff observed to those gathered in the square that the fog had cleared and that some had even predicted rain.

However, gesturing toward the clear blue sky, he pointed out, smiling: “I don’t see it.”

Afterward, he visited the inmates of the San Vittore Prison, joining them for lunch, and then celebrated Mass in Monza Park.

The Holy Father’s last event before returning to Rome was a meeting with recently confirmed young people in the Meazza-San Siro of Milan Stadium.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: to be made available soon as Vatican has released text and we can provide you with its full translation

2 days 12 hours

Pope Francis visited the northern Italian city of Milan today, March 25, 2017, and below is the Vatican-provided program of the Pontiff’s day trip:

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07:10: Departure from Roma-Fiumicino airport

08:00: Arrival at Milano-Linate airport

08:30: Visit to the Forlanini quarter – “White Houses” of Milan
Meeting with two families in their respective apartments
Meeting with residents in the square of the “White Houses”
Greeting
Encounter with representatives of Rom, Islamic and immigrant families and inhabitants

10:00:   Meeting with priests and consecrated persons in the Duomo
Greetings from Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan
Answers to questions from priests

11:00:  Angelus prayer and blessing in the Duomo

11:30: Visit to the San Vittore Prison

12:30: Lunch with a hundred detainees in the Terzo Raggio of the San Vittore Prison

13:45:  Transfer by car to Monza Park

15:00:  Holy Mass in Monza Park
Homily
At the end, thanks to Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan

16:30:  Transfer by car to the Meazza-San Siro di Milano Stadium

17:30:  Meeting with recently confirmed young people at the Meazza-San Siro di Milano Stadium
Answers to questions from a recently confirmed person, a parent and a catechist

18:30:  Farewell and departure from Milano-Linate airport

19:30:  Arrival at Roma-Fiumicino airport

[Vatican-provided program]

***

On the NET:

One can watch here, via the Vatican YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/vatican?hl=it&gl=IT

 

2 days 16 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From:
Posted
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] met for its eighth Plenary Assembly from March 24-26, 2017. The resignation of founding member Marie Collins was a key topic on the agenda. The Commission expressed its gratitude to her and supported her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. During the Plenary the Commision also discussed  the importance of responding directly and compassionately to victims/survivors when they write to offices of the Holy See. The Plenary Assembly followed the Education Day on March 23, at the Gregorian University, co-sponsored in partnership with the Centre for Child Protection and the Congregation for Catholic Education.   Please find below the Concluding Statement  The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] met for its eighth Plenary Assembly from March 24-26, 2017.  A central topic in this Plenary Assembly was the resignation of founding member Marie Collins. The Commission members expressed strong support for her and her continuing work to promote healing for victims of abuse and the prevention of all abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.  They also expressed their particular gratitude that Marie Collins has agreed to continue working with the Commission’s educational programs for new bishops and the offices of the Roman Curia. Commission members have unanimously agreed to find new ways to ensure its work is shaped and informed with and by victims/survivors. Several ideas that have been successfully implemented elsewhere are being carefully considered for recommendation to the Holy Father. The Commission discussed the importance of responding directly and compassionately to victims/survivors when they write to offices of the Holy See.  Members agreed that acknowledging correspondence and giving a timely and personal response is one part of furthering transparency and healing.  They acknowledged that this is a significant task due to the volume and nature of the correspondence and requires clear and specific resources and procedures. They have agreed to send further recommendations to Pope Francis for consideration. This Plenary Assembly followed the Education Day on March 23, at the Gregorian University, co-sponsored in partnership with the Centre for Child Protection and the Congregation for Catholic Education.  Titled “Safeguarding in schools and homes: learning from experience worldwide”, it had a particular focus on Latin American countries that have large Catholic school systems, and presentations concerning efforts in Australia and Italy.  The academic seminar was attended by more than 150 people.  These included prefects and representatives from Vatican dicasteries including the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin, seminary rectors, educators, formators and authorities from Italian State Police and the Vatican gendarme who are all seen as key collaborators in the PCPM’s educational efforts.  The Commissioners reiterated their sincere gratitude to the invited guests and speakers:  Fr Friedrich Bechina, FSO, Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Mónica Yerena Suárez - Provincia Marista de México Central; Fr Wilfredo Grajales Rosas, SDB – Director del Instituto Distrital para la Protección de Niños, Niñas, Adolescentes y Jóvenes, Bogotá, Colombia; Juan Ignacio Fuentes, CONSUDEC Argentina; Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth Justice and Healing Commission, Australia and Dott. Giovanni Ippolito, Direttore Tecnico Capo Psicologo, Questura di Foggia.  The speakers were also invited to address the opening session of the PCPM Plenary Assembly.   The Commission members continue the work entrusted by Pope Francis to assist local Churches with their responsibility for the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults (Statutes, art. 1).  As our Holy Father wrote to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, “I now ask for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors. The work I have entrusted to them includes providing assistance to you and your Conferences through an exchange of best practices and through programmes of education, training, and developing adequate responses to sexual abuse” (2 February 2015).  The Commission is also receiving representatives of bishop’s conferences around the world who are in Rome for their Ad Limina visits. Commissioners continue to visit episcopal conferences and local churches throughout the world to assist in policy development and implementation of best practices to create a safer environment. So far this year, these include workshops with the Church leadership, formators, catechists and child protection officers in Zambia and Colombia. Members are currently preparing to present to the first European Conference on Formation and Prevention in Seminaries co-organized by the Archdiocese of Florence and the Centre for Child Protection of the Gregorian University, and the upcoming meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Bangkok, Thailand this Spring, and the May meeting of the Directors of CELAM and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean Islands. An essential element of these presentations is the PCPM Guidelines template. The Holy Father wrote, “every effort must also be made to ensure that the provisions of the Circular Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated 3 May 2011 are fully implemented” (2 February 2015).  Thus, at the plenary meeting, the members spoke again of their willingness to work together with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith communicating a “Guidelines Template” to episcopal conferences and religious congregations, both directly and through the CommissionWebsite (www.protectionofminors.va). (from Vatican Radio)... 14 hours 9 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday during the Angelus in a sunny St Peter’s Square took inspiration from the Gospel reading in which Jesus restores the sight of the blind man. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report: With this miracle the Holy Father explained, “Jesus reveals himself as light of the world”. Each of us, the Pope said, is blind from birth, in that, “we were created to know God, but because of sin we are like the blind, we need a new light, that of faith, that Jesus has given us.” In fact, Pope Francis went on to say, “the blind man of the Gospel regaining his vision is opened up to the mystery of Christ.” This man represents us when we do not realize that Jesus is "the light of the world" and when we look elsewhere when we prefer to rely on small lights when fumbling in the dark,” the Pope said. We too, he continued, have been "enlightened" to Christ in baptism, and then we are called to behave as children of light.” Posing the question, “What does it mean to have true light and to walk in the light?, the Holy Father answered by saying, “it means first of all to abandon false lights.” Another false light, Pope Francis noted, is self-interest: “if we evaluate people and things based on the criterion of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we are not being truthful in relationships and situations.” Following the recitation of the Marian prayer the Pope remembered José Álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre, and one hundred and fourteen companion martyrs who were beatified on Saturday in Spain. He said, “these priests, religious and lay people have been heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of peace and fraternal reconciliation. Their example and their intercession sustain the Church's involvement in building a civilization of love.” Pope Francis also recalled his one day pastoral visit to Milan on Saturday expressing his thanks to the organisers and those who took part, both believers and non-believers, adding, it felt home.       (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 10 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up his one-day pastoral journey to the northern Italian city of Milan with an encounter with newly confirmed youngsters. At the end of his busy day in the city, the Pope travelled to the football stadium of San Siro where he was welcomed by almost 80,000 people, including parents, god-parents, catechists, teachers and volunteers. The Pope took questions from some of those present and in his off-cuff answers he focused on the importance of education and formation. A good teacher he said knows how to enhance and promote the qualities of his pupils without neglecting the person as a whole. “Education is “head-hands-heart” he said. He reminded teachers and trainers that “children also need to play, to have fun, to rest.” The Pope concluded the encounter with a strong appeal to defeat ‘bullying’: “Please be careful, be on the look-out for the phenomenon of bullying” he said and invited the tens of thousands of boys and girls to reflect in silence and ask themselves whether there is someone in their school or in their community that teases them for whatever reason or whether they themselves are mean and even aggressive towards others. “This is bullying” he said and asked them to promise the Lord never to be bullies or to allow others to be victims of bullies.   (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 3 hours
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Monza Park for the people of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy on Saturday during a pastoral visit, reflecting on the annunciation of Jesus as a message of joy at the peripheries of society. The Holy Father invited them to be joyful members of God’s people and to avoid “speculating” on the future of others. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:   Two were the questions Pope Francis put to the people gathered for Mass in Monza Park: “How can we live the joy of the Gospel today within our cities? Is Christian hope possible in this situation, here and now?” The Holy Father said these two questions “touch our identities” and “require of us a new way of seeing our place in history”. He was reflecting on the difference between the two annunciation stories in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel: that of John the Baptist (Lc 1,26-38), which took place in the inner sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, and that of Jesus (Lc 1,5-10). He said the annunciation of Jesus’ birth to Mary by the Angel Gabriel took place in Galilee: “a peripheral city with a less-than-excellent reputation (Jn 1,46)”. The Pope said the contrast indicates that “God’s new encounter with His people will take place in places we would not normally expect: on the margins and peripheries”. He said, “It is God Himself who takes the initiative and chooses to enter – as Mary did – in our houses and daily struggles, full of anxiety and desires.” Pope Francis said finding joy in our daily lives can be a challenge due to the speculation or taking advantage of others. “Some people speculate on life, on work, and on the family. They speculate on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, on the other hand leaving the daily life of families to be discolored by precariousness and insecurity.” The keys to finding joy in our mission, the Pope said, are “memory, belonging, and seeing the possible in the impossible”. “The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke her memory, in this way opening Mary’s present to the whole of Salvation History. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.” This memory, the Holy Father said, allows Mary to recognize her belonging to the People of God. He said the Archdiocese of Milan is inhabited by “a people called to welcome differences and integrate them with respect and creativity, celebrating the newness offered by others. It is a people unafraid of embracing borders.” Third, Pope Francis reminded Milan’s pilgrims that “Nothing is impossible for God” (Lc 1,37). “When we open to allowing ourselves to be helped or counseled and when we open ourselves to grace, it seems that the impossible begins to become reality.” In conclusion, the Pope said, “As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognizing themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 7 hours
(Vatican Radio) One of the highlights of Pope Francis ’ 1-day pastoral journey to the Italian city of Milan is his visit to the city’s main detention center, the San Vittore Prison . Shortly after midday and the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope travelled to the prison where he was welcomed by the director,Gloria Manzelli, and by the prison chaplain, don Marco Recalcati. San Vittore currently hosts over 900 inmates – both men and women – as well as a number of infants who live with their detained mothers in a special unit. The Pope met briefly with them before exchanging greetings with a large group of the San Vittore staff and volunteers. The building, designed by the engineer Francesco Lucca, takes inspiration from the 18th century Panopticon with 6 wings with three floors each. Moving through these wings, the Pope was given the opportunity to shake hands with some 80 people representing all the different categories of inmates, before going on to meet those who are detained in a “protected” environment. In the third wing, Pope Francis sat down for lunch with some 100 prisoners and treated to a typically Milanese cuisine, including rice with saffron and steaks “alla Milanese” prepared by some of  the inmates themselves. The visit concluded with an exchange of gifts and the blessing of cards with the prisoners’ names on them to be taken away by the Pope. Throughout his pontificate Pope Francis has highlighted the predicament of prisoners and urged political leaders across the world to respect the dignity of inmates and offer them amnesty whenever possible. In many occasions he has called for a criminal justice system that is not exclusively punitive, but is open to the hope and the possibility of re-inserting the offender into society. Pope Francis has also called for a world-wide abolition of the death penalty and said he opposes life in prison without parole. Underlining his deep concern for prisoners the Pope concluded the Holy Year of Mercy with a special Jubilee Mass for some 1,000 prisoners from 12 countries and their families, as well as prison chaplains and volunteers in St. Peter's Basilica.   (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 9 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday is making a one day pastoral visit to Milan. This morning he paid a call on Milan’s Duomo and traveled to the peripheries of the city to meet with immigrant families. Listen to our report:   For the curious pilgrim or tourist a trip to Milan is not complete without a visit the “Duomo” or Cathedral Church. And it was here in front of this iconic building that Pope Francis recited the Angelus on Saturday greeted by thousands of well- wishers. A short time earlier inside this magnificent building, the Pope met with priests and consecrated persons, listening to their questions and offering words of advice. During the question and answer session the Holy Father said that in a world that is multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic,  the Church, over its entire history, has had much to teach us and to help us towards a culture of diversity. The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis noted “is the master of diversity.” The Pope also underlined the importance of prayer and of service in the church; service by priests, religious and consecrated to the poor and to the Word of God. Responding to a question from a religious mother who asked how it was possible to continue to be a significant presence today despite being fewer and older, the Pope said, that it was most important not to become resigned to one’s fate. He said that realities today were a challenge, but religious orders who were in the minority were being invited to rise again like yeast with the help of the Holy Spirit, who also inspired the hearts of their founders. This one day pastoral visit began on Saturday morning with the Holy Father’s going out to Milan’s peripheries to meet with Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of the city. Greeting the crowds of people that had gathered to see him, he told them that the Church “always needs to be restored” because he added, it is made by us, who are sinners.” Let us be restored, he said by God’s mercy. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 11 hours
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Saturday greeted the Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of Milan at the beginning of his one-day pastoral visit to the city. Upon his arrival, residents gave the Holy Father two gifts: a priestly stole and a picture of a statuette of the Madonna. Pope Francis thanked them for their gifts and said it was important for him to be welcomed to Milan by a community of families. He said the stole was a reminder that he comes “as a priest: I come to Milan as a priest”. He also recognized that it had been handmade by several residents of the Forlanini quarter: “It’s a reminder that the Christian priest is chosen from among the people and at the service of the people. My priesthood…is a gift from Christ, but it is ‘woven’ by you, by our people with their faith, labours, prayers, and tears.” Pope Francis then said the statuette of Our Lady is a sign of his being welcomed to Milan by the Madonna. “It reminds me of Mary’s care, who ran to meet Elizabeth. This is the care and concern of the Church, which does not remain in the city centre waiting but comes to meet all at the peripheries; she goes also to meet non-Christians and non-believers…; and she brings Jesus to all, he who is the love of God made flesh and gives meaning to our lives and saves us from evil.” Afterwards, the Holy Father made his way to Milan’s Duomo Cathedral to meet with priests and consecrated men and women. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 12 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has arrived in Milan in Northern Italy for a one day pastoral visit. The Pope departed from Rome’s Fiumicino airport earlier this morning. Thousands of people turned out to meet the Holy Father as he travelled by "Pope Mobile" to meet with the Rom, Islamic, and immigrant families of the ‘White Houses’ in the Forlanini quarter of the city. Later this morning after speaking with priests and consecrated persons, he will visit the inmates of the San Vittore Prison for lunch and then celebrate Holy Mass in Monza Park. The final appointment of the day is a meeting with several recently confirmed young people in the Meazza-San Siro di Milano Stadium. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 14 hours