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Washington D.C., Jan 18, 2019 / 12:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- More than 18,000 pro-life marchers filled the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington January 18 for the annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life. Lines had already formed by the time the doors to the area opened at 6:15 am. 56 min
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 12:45 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Senate yesterday passed a resolution saying it would be "unconstitutional" to consider membership in the Knights of Columbus a disqualifying criteria for public office. 1 day 11 min
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 12:35 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Farmers from across Italy brought their animals to the Vatican for a blessing Thursday, turning the street outside St. Peter's Square into a farmyard of horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, hens, sheep, rams, goats, geese, ducks, and rabbits. 1 day 21 min
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 11:10 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The pro-life movement must be one of mercy, said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City Thursday night, at the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. 1 day 1 hour
Atlanta, Ga., Jan 17, 2019 / 07:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Scientists and researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta are working on a birth control patch that would inject a contraceptive drug into women's skin through biodegradable microneedles. 1 day 5 hours
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 06:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- With a new online guide, the Vatican seeks to combat the "ugly business" of human trafficking, which is estimated to generate $150 billion dollars a year, by examining the different levels of its complex international supply chains to target this grave evil at its roots. 1 day 6 hours
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 04:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- For three days, at a set time and location, any furloughed government worker or federal contractor is eligible to receive up to $500 to help with rent, medical needs, or "essential home supplies." 1 day 8 hours
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 02:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Last weekend, John Moore arrived at the Washington Monument in the US capital, after a walking pilgrimage from San Francisco that began in April 2018, in time to attend Friday's March for Life. 1 day 10 hours
Vatican City, Jan 16, 2019 / 08:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Just over a month ahead of the much-anticipated February meeting on sex abuse, the Vatican said the summit's goal is for bishops to leave the meeting knowing clearly what it is they need to do to stop the abuse of minors. 2 days 4 hours
Vatican City, Jan 16, 2019 / 07:29 am (EWTN News/CNA).- God the Father will always be there for his beloved children, Pope Francis said Wednesday, with a reminder that the unconditional love of God is not limited by our own sense of guilt or unworthiness. 2 days 5 hours
Hagatna, Guam, Jan 16, 2019 / 07:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Archdiocese of Agaña has filed for bankruptcy in federal court in the wake of numerous sex abuse allegations. The move, decided upon in November, allows the archdiocese to avoid trial and to begin to reach settlements in millions of dollars' worth of abuse lawsuits. 2 days 5 hours
Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2019 / 06:38 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pro-life members of Congress this week sent U.S. President Donald Trump two companion letters requesting that he veto any legislation that would weaken current federal pro-life policies and promising to sustain any such veto. 2 days 6 hours
Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan 16, 2019 / 02:39 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Isle of Man's Abortion Reform Bill 2018 gained royal assent Tuesday, meaning women in the territory will soon be able to procure elective abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. 2 days 10 hours
Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2019 / 01:30 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Cardinal Donald Wuerl will not celebrate the Jan. 18 Mass for Life, to be held at a youth rally before the annual March for Life. Wuerl was until today scheduled to be the principal celebrant of the Mass. 2 days 11 hours

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From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

There are contingents of the Blue Helmets of the UN Mission in Central Africa (MINUSCA) who do not do their duty to protect civilians. This is the accusation launched by the Central African Bishops at the end of their Plenary Assembly, reported January 15, 2019, by Fides News Agency.

“We pay tribute to those contingents of MINUSCA that ensure the protection of civilians,” the statement of the bishops said. “However, we deplore the duplicity of some contingents that leave the situation deteriorate under their eyes, that take advantage of the situation, particularly the Moroccans in the east, the Pakistanis in Batangafo and the Mauritanians in Alindao. Such behavior only aggravates the already critical situation of the Country.”

The Bishops depict a dramatic picture of the conditions of the Country: “It is sad to note that beyond the capital and some cities, the State has a merely formal presence. Civil and military functions, even in areas where there are no armed groups, have no means to operate and their number is symbolic.”

Vast areas of Central Africa escape State control and are in the hands of armed groups who “repeatedly commit inhumane violence and serious human rights violations: rackets, arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, torture…” Rebel groups have come to the point of changing the demography of different locations (Kouango, Ippy, Bokolobo, Mbres, Botto, Batangafo, Alindao, Nzacko, Bakouma, Zémio, Mboki, Obo). The Bishops are wondering why there is massive concentration of armed groups in the east of the Country and why the populations of some areas have been forced to sign a document stating that they refuse the presence of the Central African armed forces.

To this is added the “porosity of borders to transhumance which increases instability in areas under the control of armed groups.” The arrival of shepherds from across the border creates conflicts with farmers, while the porosity of the borders facilitates arms trafficking and the arrival of mercenaries, in particular from Chad, Sudan, Cameroon, Niger, and Uganda. “We ask the governments of these countries to show humanity by helping the Central African Republic to emerge from anarchy for the good of all. In fact, a destabilized Country is an international problem,” the Bishops said.

The Church, which has seen several of its priests and faithful killed, reaffirms its commitment to peace and continues to bring the Light of Christ the Savior of the World. “Christ came to liberate man not only from his sins but also from the consequences of sin that crush him. “As Christians, Christ exhorts us to participate in his mission of the total liberation of man, beginning with the poorest and most marginalized.”

The post Central African Bishops Charge UN Not Protecting Civilians appeared first on ZENIT - English.

1 hour 35 min

Pope Francis on January 18, 2019, presided over the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, to begin the 52nd Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The theme chosen by the churches of Indonesia for this great Week of Prayer, which will be held from January 18-25, 2019, is “Justice and only Justice You Shall Follow” (See Deuteronomy 16:18-20).

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Constitution Commission of the World Council of Churches prepare jointly the theme and biblical texts for this important Week.

Traditionally, Popes have presided over Vespers for the closing (on January 25) not the opening, of this Week of Prayer in Rome, in the presence of representatives of the different Christian denominations.

However, Pope Francis will be in Panama for the World Youth Day from Wednesday, January 23 to Monday, January 28; hence the change in the Roman and ecumenical customs.

Following is the English translation of the Pope’s Homily, provided by the Vatican:

Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in which all of us are asked to implore from God this great gift. Christian unity is a fruit of God’s grace, and we must dispose ourselves to accept it with generous and open hearts. This evening I am particularly pleased to pray together with representatives of other Churches present in Rome, and I offer them a fraternal and heartfelt greeting. I also greet the ecumenical delegation from Finland, the students of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, who are visiting Rome to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Church. My greeting also goes to the young Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox students sponsored by the Committee for Cultural Collaboration with Orthodox Churches of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Book of Deuteronomy sees the people of Israel encamped in the plains of Moab, about to enter the land that God promised them. Here Moses, as a kind father and the leader appointed by the Lord, repeats the Law to the people, and instructs and reminds them that they must live with fidelity and justice once they have been established in the Promised Land.

The passage we have just heard shows how to celebrate the three main feasts of the year: Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks), Sukkot (Tabernacles). Each of these feasts requires Israel to give thanks for the good things received from God. The celebration of a feast calls for everyone’s participation. No one is to be excluded: “And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place which the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there” (Deut 16:11).

Each of these feasts requires a pilgrimage to the “place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there” (v. 2). There the faithful Israelite must come before God. Though the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt, lacking personal possessions, they are not to “appear before the Lord emptyhanded” (v. 16); the gift of each is to correspond to the blessing received from the Lord. In this way, all will receive their share of the country’s wealth and will benefit from God’s goodness.

It should not surprise us that the biblical text passes from the celebration of the three principal feasts to the appointment of judges. The feasts themselves exhort the people to justice, stating that all are fundamentally equal and all equally dependent on God’s mercy. They also invite all to share with others the gifts they have received. Rendering honor and glory to the Lord in these yearly feasts goes hand in hand with rendering honor and justice to one’s neighbor, especially the weak and those in need.

The Christians of Indonesia, reflecting on the theme chosen for this Week of Prayer, decided to draw inspiration from these words of Deuteronomy: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” (16:20). They are deeply concerned that the economic growth of their country, driven by the mentality of competition, is leaving many in poverty and allowing a small few to become immensely wealthy. This jeopardizes the harmony of a society in which people of different ethnic groups, languages, and religions live together and share a sense of responsibility for one another.

But that is not simply the case in Indonesia; it is a situation we see worldwide. When society is no longer based on the principle of solidarity and the common good, we witness the scandal of people living in utter destitution amid skyscrapers, grand hotels, and luxurious shopping centers, symbols of incredible wealth. We have forgotten the wisdom of the Mosaic law: if wealth is not shared, society is divided.

Saint Paul, writing to the Romans, applies the same thinking to the Christian community: those who are strong must bear with the weak. It is not Christian “to please ourselves” (15:1). Following Christ’s example, we are to make every effort to build up those who are weak. Solidarity and shared responsibility must be the laws that govern the Christian family.

As God’s holy people, we too constantly find ourselves on the threshold of entering the Lord’s promised kingdom. Yet, since we are also divided, we need to recall God’s summons to justice. Christians, too, risk adopting the mentality known to the ancient Israelites and contemporary Indonesians, namely that in the pursuit of wealth, we forget about the weak and those in need. It is easy to forget the fundamental equality existing among us: that once we were all slaves to sin, that the Lord saved us in baptism and called us his children. It is easy to think that the spiritual grace granted us is our property, something to which we are due, our property. The gifts we have received from God can also blind us to the gifts given to other Christians. It is a grave sin to belittle or despise the gifts that the Lord has given our brothers and sisters and to think that God somehow holds them in less esteem. When we entertain such thoughts, we allow the very grace we have received to become a source of pride, injustice, and division. And how can we then enter the promised kingdom?

The worship befitting that kingdom, the worship demanded by justice, is a celebration that includes everyone, a feast in which gifts received are available to and shared by all. To take the first steps towards the promised land that is our unity, we must, first of all, recognize with humility that the blessings we have received are not ours by right, but have come to us as a gift; they were given to be shared with others. Then, we must acknowledge the value of the grace granted to other Christian communities. As a result, we will want to partake of the gifts of others. A Christian people renewed and enriched by this exchange of gifts will be a people capable of journeying firmly and confidently on the path that leads to unity.

[00094-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

The post Pope Francis Presides Over Vespers to Begin 52nd Week of Christian Unity appeared first on ZENIT - English.

1 hour 45 min

“Taxpayer dollars should not pay for abortion. The majority of Americans, including many who consider themselves pro-choice, agree on this,” said Kat Talalas, spokeswoman on abortion for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responding on January 18, 2019 to the US Senate’s vote on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2019” (S. 109).

The Senate voted (48-47) in favor of the bill, but Talalas expressed deep disappointment that it did not receive the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate. The Senate held its vote on January 17, the day before the annual March for Life in Washington.

The bill would codify a permanent, government-wide policy against taxpayer subsidies for abortion and abortion coverage. It would also require health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act to disclose the extent of their coverage for abortion and the amount of any surcharge for that coverage to consumers. Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the USCCB, wrote to Congress prior to the vote, urging support for the legislation. Naumann said that “abortion is a false and violent response to an unplanned pregnancy that turns a woman in crisis and her unborn child against each other,” and that the federal government “should not force taxpayers to subsidize this violence.”

“The USCCB urges the House and Senate to work together to pass legislation that reflects the will of the American people, and prevents tax dollars from funding elective abortion,” Talalas said.

The post US: Bishops Lament Failure of Legislation to Limit Government Funding of Abortion appeared first on ZENIT - English.

1 hour 50 min

Representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Chairman of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met in the Holy Land January 12-17, 2019. Together, they have issued their annual communiqué in which they acknowledge the challenges and opportunities that Christians face in Israel. In the communiqué, the bishops call for prayer, pilgrimage, and practical solidarity on behalf of Christians in Israel to help keep hope for the future alive.

Noting that Israel was founded on the principle of equality for all citizens, representatives of bishops’ conferences from several countries, including the United States, acknowledged that Christians in Israel face challenges and opportunities. In the final communiqué of the Holy Land Coordination, the bishops called for prayer, pilgrimage, and practical solidarity to help Christians in Israel keep their hope for the future alive.

Nineteen bishops from Europe, the United States, Canada, and South Africa made the annual solidarity visit which included time spent in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, and villages meeting with Christian mayors, villagers, and migrants to hear of their stories of living and working in Israel.

In their communiqué, the bishops note that many Christians, along with Palestinian Arabs and migrants, face systematic discrimination and are marginalized. In particular, they noted that Israel’s Nation State Law passed in 2018 creates “a constitutional and legal basis for discrimination” against minorities and supported “all those challenging discrimination.”

After visiting a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) camp and school in Jenin, the bishops also called for their governments to help fund health care, education and other basic services for Palestinian refugees. This was in response to the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw funding for the Palestinians and call for the closing of UNRWA.

The bishops expressed admiration for their sisters and brothers in the Holy Land for not losing hope and committed themselves to help keep that hope alive.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops along with bishops from other nations on this solidarity visit continue to decry violence as a way to resolve conflict but instead strongly support a two-state solution in which the two democratic sovereign states of Israel and Palestine exist in peace.

The Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land has met every January since 1998 to pray and act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land.

The bishops’ 2019 communiqué is available at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/holy-land-coordination-communique-january-2019.cfm

The post Communiqué Addresses Christian Challenges in Middle East appeared first on ZENIT - English.

2 hours 1 min

“The events that we are experiencing in our Country at a political and social level do not leave us indifferent. Violence against people, the wounded, prisoners, and the dead that marked the period of political dialogue are deplorable and unacceptable”, say the Bishops of Togo, in a declaration published at the end of the General Assembly of the diocesan clergy of Lomé, reported January 14, 2019, by Fides News Agency.

With the new declaration, the Episcopal Conference of Togo renews its request to the majority and opposition to sit down at the negotiating table and to avoid any form of violence.

Since July 2017, Togo has been experiencing a profound political crisis following protests by the opposition against President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma in power since 2005. The demonstrators ask in particular to limit the mandates of the President to two and that this measure is retroactive so that Faure Gnassingbé does not run in the 2020 elections in order to try and get a fourth term.

Faure Gnassingbé came to power after the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who took power in 1967 following a coup.

A similar situation can be found in Gabon, led since 2009 by Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo, in power since 1967 until his death on 8 June 2009. His re-election in 2016 sparked protests. Following an illness in October, Bongo finds himself in convalescence in Morocco. On January 7 a group of soldiers attempted a coup, immediately foiled by the departments that remained loyal to the government.

In a statement of January 9, His Exc. Mgr. Basile Mve Engone, Archbishop of Libreville, condemned the attempt to change the regime by force. “Good politics is at the service of peace”, he said. “This means that in Gabon, even more than in the past, we must try to preserve peace, unity and social cohesion. We, therefore, say no to any form of physical, verbal and emotional violence”.

The post Togo and Gabon: Bishops Denounce Violence appeared first on ZENIT - English.

2 hours 15 min

Taking place in Soloy, in the Panamanian Diocese of David, from January 17-21, is the World Meeting of Indigenous Youth (WMIY), in preparation for the 2019 World Youth Day (WYD), in which more than 1,000 indigenous youths, from different parts of the world, are taking part.

Here is a translation of the text of the Holy Father Francis’ Video-Message sent to the participants in the Meeting.

* * *

 The Holy Father’s Video-Message

 Dear young people:

At the end of the World Youth Day in Krakow, in July of 2016, I said to the young volunteers: “We assume the memory of our past to build hope with courage.” And this is the motto that you chose for this World Meeting of Indigenous Youth, which has gathered you from January 17-21 of this year (Pre-Day of the WYD) in Soloy, Municipality of Ngabe-Bugle, Diocese of David, Panama.

I congratulate you because it’s the first time that a Pre-WYD Day is organized, specifically for young people of indigenous nations, of native peoples, at the world level. It’s an initiative for which I want to thank the Indigenous Pastoral Section of the Episcopal Conference of Panama, supported by CELAM.

Dear young people, I invite you to make this Meeting — which gathers hundreds of young people of different native peoples –, serve to reflect and celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ from the age-old richness of their native cultures. I exhort you to make it an opportunity to respond to the invitation, made to youth in other moments, to be grateful for the history of their peoples and courageous in face of the challenges that surround them, to go on full of hope in building another possible world. To return to the native cultures. To take charge of the roots, because from the roots comes the strength that will make you grow, flower and fructify. Moreover, it must be a way to show the indigenous face of our Church in the WYD environment, to affirm our commitment to protect our Common Home and to collaborate in the building of another possible world, more equitable and more human.

Without a doubt, the themes that, according to the agenda, will be the object of your reflection, will stimulate the search for answers, from the evangelical perspective, to the many and very scandalous situations of marginalization, exclusion, rejection and impoverishment to which millions of young people are condemned, especially young people of native nations in the world. May your action, the awareness of belonging to your peoples, be a reaction against this throwaway culture, against that culture of forgetfulness of the roots, projected towards an ever more liquid, more gaseous future, without foundation.

Boys and girls, take charge of your cultures! Take charge of your roots! But don’t stay there. Grow, flower and fructify from those roots. A poet said that “all that a tree has flowering, comes from what is underground” — the roots, but roots leading to the future, projected to the future. This is your challenge today.

It will be a joy for me to meet you in Panama. And while waiting for that moment, I wish you the best successes in the Meeting and I give you my Blessing.

Jatuaida, Jamorogodre.

 May God bless you!

[Original text: Spanish]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

 

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2 hours 20 min

The New Year’s meeting of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda with representatives of Churches and religious communities in Poland took place on January 18 in the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

“Our thoughts go first to Gdansk and the cruel murder, which the Mayor of that city, Pawel Adamowicz, became the victim of. Admittedly, similar criminal homicides were also made in other countries, and probably in the future no one is able to dissuade some mentally ill from committing similar acts motivated by alleged injustice – as convinced us Brother Roger’s murder, the founder of Taizé community – but the general atmosphere of hostility which is now born in our country cries out for repentance, confession of sins, forgiveness, and reconciliation,” said the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, in his speech.

“In spite of the differences of faith and ethnic origin, we create a national community of people of Polish land,” emphasized President of Poland Andrzej Duda in his speech. “I am very happy because our meeting is an important element of the existence of the Polish community, but above all it is a beautiful presentation of how it looks like, how colorful it is and how great is the tradition of our Polish community of citizens of the Republic, who live on Polish soil.”

The post Poland: President Meets with Church Leaders, Minority Groups appeared first on ZENIT - English.

2 hours 35 min

The 22nd Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland was celebrated on January 17, under the motto: I will not come in wrath (Hos 11:9). The main celebrations took place in Lodz.

“There are many points of contact between Judaism and the Catholic Church, which is why bringing the richness that is contained in Judaism every year has its deep meaning,” wrote Bishop Rafal Markowski, chairman of the Council for Religious Dialogue of the Polish Episcopate and the Committee for Dialogue with Judaism.

The organizers of the central celebration of the 22nd Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland were the Archdiocese of Lodz and the Jewish Religious Community in Lodz. They began with a prayer at the Jewish Cemetery in Lodz. Then, in the Dialogue Center, there was a symposium devoted to reading the Torah and the Bible, as well as the common everyday life of Jews and Christians. The celebrations ended with the Central Service of the Word of God in the Old Market Square, near the site of the Alte Szil Synagogue.

“We must be close to each other, we must meet together before God and together pray for unity and for peace in the world” – said Archbishop Grzegorz Rys, Metropolitan of Lodz.

The Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland was established by the Polish Episcopate in 1997 and has been celebrated since 1998. Its aim is to develop Christian-Jewish dialogue, as well as prayer and reflection on the relationships of both religions.

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2 hours 48 min

Pope Francis has sent today, Jan. 18, 2019, his condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack yesterday, Jan. 17, in Bogota, Colombia. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent the telegram on the Pope’s behalf.

In the Pope’s telegram, he expressed he was ‘deeply saddened,’ offered his spiritual closeness to all affected, and once again condemned the attack as ‘blind violence’ and as a ‘grave offense against the Creator.” The Holy Father extended his heartfelt condolences to all Colombians, in particular the families of the deceased and all those injured.

Pope Francis concluded, praying for God’s healing grace, and invoking upon the entire nation of Colombia divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s message:

* * *

Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez

Archbishop of Bogota

In face of the news of the cruel terrorist attack, which has sown pain and death in the City of Bogota, the Holy Father Francis expresses his most profound sympathy for the victims that have lost their life in such an inhuman action and offers prayers for their eternal repose. In these moments of commotion and sadness, he also wants his support and closeness to reach the numerous wounded, their families and the whole Colombian society.

Once again, the Holy Father condemns the blind violence, which is a very grave offense against the Creator, and he elevates his prayer to the Lord, to help persevere in the building of concord and peace in that country and in the whole world.

With these desires, His Holiness invokes upon all the victims, their families and the beloved people of Colombia the Apostolic Blessing.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State of His Holiness

[Original text: Spanish]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

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4 hours 7 min

A delegation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Chairpersons of Doctrinal Commissions, or the Representatives, of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences met Jan. 15-18, 2019, at Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was jointly prepared by the Office of Theological Concerns of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Roman Delegation consisted of Cardinal Luis F. Ladaria, SJ, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, Adjunct Secretary, Fr. Hermann Geissler, FSO, Head of the Doctrinal Section, and Fathers Walter Oxley and John Peter Jeromiyas, Officials. On the first day, Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See in Thailand, accompanied by Fr. Dario Pavisa, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature, also attended the meeting.

The Asian Bishops’ Conferences were represented by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the outgoing President of the FABC, Cardinal Charles Bo, the incoming President of the FABC, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of the FABC Office of Theological Concerns, Cardinal Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun (Laos Cambodia) and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo (Philippines); as well as by Archbishops Peter Liu Chen-Chung (Taiwan), Hyginus Kim Hee-joong (Korea) and Felix Machado (India); and by Bishops Bejoy D’Cruze, OMI (Bangladesh), Benny Travas (Pakistan), John Baptist Lee Keh-mien (Taiwan), Joseph Abella (Japan), Adrianus Sunarko, OFM (Indonesia), Valence Mendis (Sri Lanka), John Do Van Ngan (Vietnam), Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, SDB (Timor Leste), Joseph Chusak Sirisut (Thailand), Felix Lian Khen Thang (Myanmar) and Joseph Guo Jincai (China); and Fathers William LaRousse (Assistant Secretary General of the FABC), Clarence Devadass (Executive Secretary of the FABC Office of Theological Concerns), Paul Nguyen Thanh Sang (Vietnam), Antony Mariyan Pereira (Taiwan) and Zhang Qiu Lin (China).

On the first day the Delegation from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met some Bishops and Theologians of the FABC Office of Theological Concerns for a fraternal and open colloquium aimed at fostering mutual understanding and cooperation. Archbishop Di Noia offered a presentation on the recent document of the Congregation, Placuit Deo, on Some Aspects of Christian Salvation, followed by a discussion on its implications in Asia. Later the Theologians had an opportunity to bring to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the different contexts and challenges which they encounter in their service to the Church.

The following two days were dedicated to the conversations with the Representatives of the various Bishops’ Conferences. After Cardinal Gracias had given a cordial welcome, Cardinal Bo read the Message of His Holiness Pope Francis, in which the Holy Father highlighted that the goal of the gathering is “to reaffirm our common responsibility for the unity and integrity of the Catholic Faith and to explore new ways and methods to bear witness to the Gospel amid the challenges” of the vast continent of Asia that is marked by religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. Drawing attention to the call addressed to the whole Church in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium “to go forth”, the Successor of Peter stated that he is pleased “that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is actively supporting the important work of the Episcopal Conferences and especially of their Doctrinal Commissions, as they assist and foster the effective and fraternal cooperation among the Pastors of the Church in Asia”.

The different sessions were introduced with reflections on the following topics: The Role and Functions of Doctrinal Commissions in the Service of the Catholic Faith (by Cardinal Ladaria); The Meaning of Christian Salvation in the Midst of New Challenges in Asia (by Cardinal Tagle and Archbishop Di Noia); Living the Christian Faith in an Interreligious and Multicultural Context(Archbishop Machado); Evangelization in the Context of Asia (Bishop Lee and Bishop Guo).

The interventions elucidated practical means to make the Gospel message more relevant and effective in this vast continent expressing their determination to work together in fraternal collaboration for the common mission of the Church. The interactions and discussions contributed to clarifying questions and exploring creative ways to give witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On each day the Eucharistic con-celebration was an opportunity to pray together for the Church in Asia, and an informal gathering in the evening helped to strengthen ties of friendship. An atmosphere of cordiality and openness prevailed among the participants throughout the meeting. All the participants were grateful for the wonderful hospitality offered at the Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Centre in Bangkok.

The meeting provided a precious opportunity to enhance the collaboration between the Doctrinal Commissions of the Episcopal Conferences of Asia, the FABC Office of Theological Concerns and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It also served to promote the cooperation among the Doctrinal Commissions of this great continent, which continues to be enriched by the invaluable contribution of the Catholic Faith.

The post Chairpeople of Doctrinal Commissions of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Meet Delegation of CDF in Bangkok, Thailand appeared first on ZENIT - English.

7 hours 30 sec

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C – January 20, 2019

Roman Rite
Is 62:1-5; Ps 96:1-2,2-3,7-8,9-10; 1Cor 12:2-11; Jn2:1-11

Ambrosian Rite
Est 5:1-1c; Ps 44; Eph1:3-14; Jn2:1-11

  • A miracle of joy.

The fact that Jesus does his first miracle because his mother asks him in order to fulfill the joy of two spouses on the day they consecrated their love in His presence, is not casual.

The story is well known. Jesus and his disciples are invited to a wedding at Cana, a small town not far away from Nazareth. We know that also Mary, the costar of the story, was there. Toward the end of the meal, the Virgin Mary was the first to notice that wine was in short supply. Politely but decidedly, she asked her Son to intervene so that the joy of the two persons that on that day had consecrated their mutual love to God could continue.

It might be surprising that the Virgin was worried for something that common opinion would have considered if not superfluous at least of little importance. It would seem excessive to ask God Almighty to take care of the wine, even more, because they were almost the end of the wedding celebrations.  However, the Virgin Mother is a sensible and practical woman and knows the importance of the “small” joys in life.

I think that the first message of today’s gospel is: the first miracle of Jesus is a miracle of joy so that the serenity of a life under a caring Father, who has created for us sky and earth and all the things that in it, would not be coming to an end.

Divine love always does miracles, even to support the small joys of the human existence, and does it with such a generosity that we might consider a waste. Christ transforms the water kept in the six stone jars into wine. To make six stone jars of wine available at the end of a meal is indeed a sign of God’s munificence.

However, we must not forget Jesus’ apparently abrupt answer to the solicitude of his Mother: “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” (This appellation “Woman” doesn’t show a distancing from his Mother. It will be used also on the Cross when He will say “Woman, here is your son” to entrust the Apostle John, and with him all of us, to her). He adds immediately

My hour has not yet come”. Mary, who is not indifferent to what is happening the young couple, with her intercession of compassion anticipates the Hour of the Passion. Therefore, the Mother said to the servants “Do whatever he tells you”. These are the last words of Mary that are found in the gospels.  Her last words and her first (the ones pronounced at the Annunciation and the ones visiting Elisabeth) are the words that Mary our Mother offers to us to show the right way to relate with Christ.

I wonder if the Madonna knew that the reference to the “Hour” indicated that the nuptial event of Cana is a festive representation on whose background stands the Passion of her Son. At Cana water is transformed into wine. In Jerusalem, at the Last Supper when the Hour has arrived, wine will be “transformed” in blood.

The wedding at Cana is the sign of another Covenant, the New Covenant that will be sealed by the Cross. Mary will be the Woman of the Covenant sealed by the cross. Mary, whose faith is an example for us, is guided by the Son to a more adult faith. If her request was to find a solution to the embarrassment of the young couple and of their families, the miracle done by Jesus is for a revelation at a higher level. He reveals that he has come to restore for all men and women the capacity to be a true and happy family, a holy family. He is the foundation of it, the taste and the joy, the new wine hold back to the end, and in doing so he “revealed his glory” because “the Glory of God is the living man and the life of man is the vision of God” (Saint Irenaeus) in the infinite and eternal joy.

 

  • A positive answer, thanks to Mary.

Saint Louis Grignon de Montford wrote,” God has united all waters and called them sea; he has united all graces and called them Mary”. The Mother of all graces could not receive a negative answer from her Son. The Virgin Mother didn’t hesitate to say to the servants “Do whatever he tells you” even before she had a positive answer. She knows that a complete faith in Him is never disappointed. She is the living Gospel, she is God’s expert. To her, the mysteries of Redemption have been revealed.  Mary, humble servant freely docile to God’s Will, has listened to the divine Word. She welcomed it in her heart and under her heart and she has borne fruit. Because she was the first to listen to God and to do His will, Jesus listens to her and does her will doing an extraordinary miracle even before his hour has come.

We too must listen to God, welcome him in our existence and bear fruit. We must be the evangelizers of the wonders we have seen and received. Today’s gospel is not only a wedding story. The apostle John says that on that day Jesus revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in Him.

Glory indicates the deep being of a person that is revealed. Jesus begins to reveal who He really is. He is the one who gives the good wine, revealing that He is the true bridegroom everybody is waiting for, the Messiah. The wedding at Cana recalls the wedding between God and his people that had been announced by the prophets.

  • A miracle into another one

I think that I’m not mistaken if I say that the main miracle in today’s gospel is the presence of Jesus at Cana where He purifies and sanctifies the human love between man and woman entrenching it in His Love. The miracle of the water transformed in wine is a miraculous, simple and amazing sign of a terrestrial love transformed in celestial love.

    The mystery (a word that means also sacrament and “place of meeting” with God) of Cana is the first of the Christian miracles and pushes us to believe completely in Jesus, as did the disciples, and at the same time gives us also total faith in Mary and encourages us to imitate Her.

How can we imitate Mary? How can we have her firm faith in God? Living like Mary with the awareness that we belong to God, living a faithful life as she did.

With faith and by faith Mary said “yes” to the Angel and believed that she would be the Mother of God.

With and by a loving faith, Mary visited Elisabeth and praised the Almighty for all the wonders He did for the ones who have faith in Him.

With and by a joyful and anxious faith the Virgin Mother gave birth to her only Son.

With and by this faith she trusted Joseph and took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution.

With and by this faith she accepted her Son public life and accompanied Him to the Calvary remaining with Him under the Cross.

With and by faith she welcomed us as her children in the Son, despite the fact that we are guilty of His death on the Cross.

Let’s imitate Mary in this life of faith where prayer and action are linked together.

Mary is an example of faith because she is an example of contemplation and of love made prayer. Let’s contemplate Jesus as she did. With a love that becomes prayer, let’s watch the Word become flesh when he cries, plays, works, preaches, dies on the Cross and kills death shining at Resurrection.

Following the Virgin Mother’s example, let’s ask for miracles “visible” with the eyes of the body, like the one of water transformed in wine, and the Miracle “visible’ with the eyes of faith, Jesus Christ.

To help us to do so, let’s look up to the consecrated Virgins whose main duty is to be contemplative springs and teachers of loving prayer for all Christians, men, and women, children and adults.

It is a big duty for the Consecrated Virgins to cultivate the contemplation of Christ, living Truth, and to guide others to discover it.  In this way, the primacy of contemplating overdoing and of being over having will always be recognized.

The consecration of the Virgins is essentially to be and not to do. Their ministry is above all a “contemplative ministry”, a “ministry of prayer listening to the Word, and ministry of love” (Introduction to the Rite of Consecration of the Virgins, 1 and 2). In fact, the consecrated virgins in the world are a prophetic sign and testimony inside God’s people. To partake of God’s Grace they feed their life with the Body of the Groom, the meditation of the Word and regular prayer.                                               

 

PATRISTIC READING

Saint John Chrysostom (344/354– 407)

HOMILY XXIII

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee.”

Reading from the Gospel of John

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there

Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

[1.] Frequent and fierce is the devil in his attacks, on all sides besieging our salvation; we, therefore, must watch and be sober, and everywhere fortify ourselves against his assault, for if he but gain some slight vantage ground,1 he goes on to make for himself a broad passage, and by degrees introduces all his forces. If then we have any care at all for our salvation, let us not allow him to make his approaches even in trifles, that thus we may check him beforehand in important matters; for it would be the extreme of folly, if, while he displays such eagerness to destroy our souls, we should not bring even an equal amount in defense of our own salvation.

I say not this without a cause, but because I fear lest that wolf be even now standing unseen by us in the midst of the fold,2 and some sheep become a prey to him, being led astray from the flock and from hearkening by its own carelessness and his craft. Were the wounds3 sensible, or did the body receive the blows, there would be no difficulty in discerning his plots; but since the soul is invisible, and since that it is which receives the wounds, we need great watchfulness that each may prove himself; for none knoweth the things of a man as the spirit of a man that is in him. (1Co 2,11). The word is spoken indeed to all and is offered as a general remedy to those who need it, but it is the business of every individual hearer to take what is suited to his complaint. I know not who are sick, I know not who are well. And therefore I use every sort of argument and introduce remedies suited to all maladies,4 at one time condemning covetousness, after that touching on luxury, and again on impurity, then composing something in praise of an exhortation to charity, and each of the other virtues in their turn. For I fear lest when my arguments are employed on any one subject, I may without knowing it be treating you for one disease while you are ill of others. So that if this congregation were but one person, I should not have judged it so absolutely necessary to make my discourse varied; but since in such a multitude there are probably also many maladies, I not unreasonably diversify my teaching, since my discourse will be sure to attain its object when it is made to embrace you all. For this cause also Scripture is something multiform,5 and speaks on ten thousand matters, because it addresses itself to the nature of mankind in common, and in such a multitude all the passions of the soul must needs be; though all be not in each. Let us then cleanse ourselves of these, and so listen to the divine oracles, and with contrite heart6 hear what has been this day read to us.

And what is that? “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,” I told you the other day, that there are some who say that this is not the beginning. “For what,” says one, “if ‘Cana of Galilee’ be added? This shows that this was ‘the beginning’ He made ‘in Cana.’”7 But on these points I would not venture to assert anything exactly. I before have shown that He began His miracles after His Baptism, and wrought no miracle before it; but whether of the miracles done after His Baptism, this or some other was the first, it seems to me unnecessary to assert positively.

“And manifested forth His glory.”

“How?” asks one, “and in what way? For only the servants, the ruler of the feast, and the bridegroom, not the greater number of those present, gave heed to what was done.” How then did he “manifest forth His glory”? He manifested it at least for His own part, and if all present hear not of the miracle at the time, they would hear of it afterward, for unto the present time it is celebrated, and has not been unnoticed. That all did not know it on the same day is clear from what follows, for after having said that He “manifested forth His glory,” the Evangelist adds,

“And His disciples believed on Him.”

His disciples, who even before this regarded Him with wonder.8 Seest thou that it was especially necessary to work the miracles at times when men were present of honest minds, and who would carefully give heed to what was done? for these would more readily believe, and attend more exactly to the circumstances. “And how could He have become known without miracles?” Because His doctrine and prophetic powers were sufficient to cause wonder in the souls of His hearers, so that they took heed to what He did with a right disposition, their minds being already well affected towards Him. And therefore in many other places, the Evangelists say, that He did no miracle on account of the perversity of the men who dwelt there. (Mt 12,38 ch. 13,58, &c).

Jn 2,12. “After this, He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples; and they continued there not many days.”

Wherefore comes He with “His mother to Capernaum”? for He hath done no miracle there, and the inhabitants of that city were not of those who were rightminded towards Him but of the utterly corrupt. And this Christ declared when He said, “And thou, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be thrust down to hell.” (Lc 10,15). Wherefore then goes He? I think it was, because He intended a little after to go up to Jerusalem, that He then went to Capernaum, to avoid leading about9 everywhere with Him, His mother, and His brethren. And so, having departed and tarried a little while to honor His mother, He again commences His miracles after restoring to her home her who had borne Him. Therefore the Evangelist says, After “not many days,”

Jn 2,13. “He went up to Jerusalem.”

(He received baptism then a few days before the Passover. But on going up to Jerusalem, what did He added full of high authority; for He cast out of the Temple those dealers and money changers, and those who sold doves, and oxen, and sheep, and who passed their time there for this purpose.

2302 [2.] Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father’s house 10 “a den of thieves,” but this one,

Jn 2,16. (“Make not My Father’s house) a house of merchandise.”

They do not in this contradict each other but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as 11 (being made) “a den of thieves,” but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place 12 a second time.

“And wherefore,” says one, “did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them ‘Samaritan’ and ‘demoniac’? for He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out.” Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him. What say they?

Jn 2,18. “What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?”

Seest thou their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?

At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them “a den of thieves,” showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men’s calamities; at another, “a house of merchandise,” pointing to their shameless traffickings. “But wherefore did He this?” Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God 13 and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshiped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws; yet since it was likely that those years were forgotten through lapse of time, as not having been known to all because He was brought up in a poor and mean dwelling, He afterwards does this in the presence of all, (for many were present because the feast was nigh at hand,) and at great risk. For he did not merely “cast them out,” but also “overturned the tables,” and “poured out the money,” giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them, but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, 14 to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.

And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father; 15 for He saith not “the Holy House,” but “My Father’s House.” See, He even calls Him, “Father,” and they are not wroth; they thought He spoke in a general way: 16 but when He went on and spoke more plainly, so as to set before them the idea of His Equality, then they become angry.

And what say they? “What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?” Alas for their utter madness! Was there need of a sign before they could cease their evil doings, and free the house of God from such dishonor? and was it not the greatest sign of His Excellence that He had gotten such zeal for that House? In fact, the well-disposed 17 were distinguished by this very thing, for “They,” His disciples, it says,

Jn 2,17. “Remembered that it is written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

But the Jews did not remember the Prophecy, and said, “What sign showest Thou unto us?” (Ps 69,9), both grieving that their shameful traffic was cut off, and expecting by these means to stop Him, and also desiring to challenge Him to a miracle and to find fault with what He was doing. Wherefore He will not give them a sign; and before, when they came and asked Him, He made them the same answer, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Mt 16,4). Only then the answer was clear, now it is more ambiguous. This He doth on account of their extreme insensibility; for He who prevented 18 them without their asking, and gave them signs, would never when they asked have turned away from them, had He not seen that their minds were wicked and false, and their intention treacherous. 19 Think how full of wickedness the question itself was at the outset. When they ought to have applauded Him for His earnestness and zeal when they ought to have been astonished that He cared so greatly for the House, they reproach Him, saying, that it was lawful to traffic, and unlawful for any to stop their traffic, except he should show them a sign. What saith Christ?

Jn 2,19. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Many such sayings He utters which were not intelligible to His immediate hearers, but which were to be so to those that should come after. And wherefore doth He this? In order that when the accomplishment of His prediction should have come to pass, He might be seen to have foreknown from the beginning what was to follow; which indeed was the case with this prophecy. For, saith the Evangelist,

Jn 2,22. “When He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

But at the time when this was spoken, the Jews were perplexed as to what it might mean, and cast about to discover, saying,

Jn 2,20. “Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?”

“Forty and six years,” they said, referring to the latter building, for the former was finished in twenty years’ time. (Esd 6,15).

2303 [3.] Wherefore then did He not resolve the difficulty and say, “I speak not of that Temple, but of My flesh”? Why does the Evangelist, writing the Gospel at a later period, interpret the saying and Jesus keep silence at the time? Why did He so keep silence? Because they would not have received His word; for if not even the disciples were able to understand the saying, much less were the multitudes. “When,” saith the Evangelist, “He was risen from the dead, then they remembered, and believed the Scripture and His word.” There were two things that hindered 20 them for the time, one the fact of the Resurrection, the other, the greater question whether He was God 21 that dwelt within; of both which things He spake darkly when He said, “Destroy this Temple, and I will rear it up in three days.” And this St. Paul declares to be no small proof of His Godhead, when he writes, “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” (Rm 1,4).

But why doth He both there, and here, and everywhere, give this for a sign, at one time saying, 22 “When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I Am” (Jn 8,28); at another, “There shall no sign be given you 23 but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Mt 12,39); and again in this place, “In three days I will raise it up”? Because what especially showed that He was not a mere man, was His being able to set up a trophy of victory over death, and so quickly to abolish His long enduring tyranny, and conclude that difficult war. Wherefore He saith, “Then ye shall know.” “Then.” When? When after My Resurrection I shall draw (all) the world to Me, then ye shall know that I did these things as God, and Very Son of God, avenging the insult offered to My Father.

“Why then, instead of saying, ‘What need is there of “signs” to check evil deeds?’ did He promise that He would give them a sign?” Because by so doing He would have the more exasperated them; but in this way, He rather astonished them. Still, they made no answer to this, for He seemed to them to say what was incredible so that they did not stay even to question Him upon it, but passed it by as impossible. Yet had they been wise, though it seemed to them at the time incredible, still when He wrought His many miracles they would then have come and questioned Him, would then have intreated that the difficulty might be resolved to them; but because they were foolish, they gave no heed at all to part of what was said, and part they heard with evil frame of mind. And therefore Christ spoke to them in an enigmatical way.

The question still remains, “How was it that the disciples did not know that He must rise from the dead?” It was because they had not been vouchsafed the gift of the Spirit; and therefore, though they constantly heard His discourses concerning the Resurrection, they understood them not, but reasoned with themselves what this might be. For very strange and paradoxical was the assertion that one could raise himself, and would raise himself in such wise. And so Peter was rebuked, when, knowing nothing about the Resurrection, he said, “Be it far from Thee.” (Mt 16,22). And Christ did not reveal it clearly to them before the event, that they might not be offended at the very outset, being led to distrust His words on account of the great improbability of the thing, and because they did not yet clearly know Him, who He was. For no one could help believing what was proclaimed aloud by facts, while some would probably disbelieve what was told to them in words. Therefore He at first allowed the meaning of His words to be concealed; but when by their experience He had verified His sayings, He after that gave them understanding of His words, and such gifts of the Spirit that they received them all at once. “He,” saith Jesus, “shall bring all things to your remembrance.” (Jn 14,26). For they who in a single night cast off all respect for Him, and fled from and denied that they even knew Him, would scarcely have remembered what He had done and said during the whole time unless they had enjoyed much grace of the Spirit.

“But,” says one, “if they were to hear from the Spirit, why needed they to accompany Christ when they would not retain His words?” Because the Spirit taught them not, but called to their mind what Christ had said before; and it contributes not a little to the glory of Christ, that they were referred to the remembrance of the words He had spoken to them. At the first then it was of the gift of God that the grace of the Spirit lighted upon them so largely and abundantly; but after that, it was of their own virtue that they retained the Gift. For they displayed a shining life, and much wisdom, and great labors, and despised this present life, and thought nothing of earthly things, but were above them all; and like a sort of light-winged eagle, soaring high by their works; reached 24 to heaven itself, and by these possessed the unspeakable grace of the Spirit.

Let us then imitate them, and not quench our lamps, but keep them bright by alms-doing, for so is the light of this fire preserved. Let us collect the oil into our vessels whilst we are here, for we cannot buy it when we have departed to that other place, nor can we procure it elsewhere, save only at the hands of the poor. Let us, therefore, collect it thence very abundantly, if, at least, we desire to enter in with the Bridegroom. But if we do not this, we must remain without the bridechamber, for it is impossible, it is impossible, though we perform ten thousand other good deeds, to enter the portals of the Kingdom without alms-doing. Let us then show forth this very abundantly, that we may enjoy those ineffable blessings; which may it come to pass that we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, forever and ever. Amen.

1 ajformh`”.
2 or “sacred enclosure,” shkw`.
3 al. “words.”
4 Morel. and ms. in Bodl. read the passage thus: kinw`, pa`sin ajnqrwvpoi” oJmoivw” ajrmovzonta, kai; pa`sin ejpithvdeion pavqesin).
5 polueidh;”.
6 Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: ou(tw toi`” qeivoi” lovgoi” prosbavllwmen, kai; ou(tw meta; suntetrimmevnh” sfovdra th`” dianoiva” k.t.l..
7 Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read: ti; ga;r a]topon proskei`sqai ejn Kana`/, kai; mh; ajrch;n ei\nai tauvthn tw`n tou` AEIhsou` shmeivwn.
8 [admired and believed] Morel. and ms.
9 ejpisuvresqai.
10 Lc 19,46, uJmei`” ejpoihvsate k.t.l.. G. T.
11 lit. “called it.”
12 Or, “that He did this.” o(qen eijko;” deuvteron tou`to gegenh`sqai. al). pepoihkevnai
13 or, “adversary of God.”
14 or, “base persons,” ajgoraivwn.
15 th;n pro;” aujto;n sumfwnivan.
16 aJplw`”.
17 eujgnwvmone”.
18 al. “took to Him.”
19 u(poulon).
20 al. “were proposed to.”
21 Savile,  JO Qeo;”, “whether He was the One God”; but the article is not found in Ben. Morel. or mss.
22 [o]tan uJywQw`] Ben.
23 aujth`/ [genea`/] G. T).
24 al. “were drawn away.”

 

 

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11 hours 55 min

The United States will be sending more than 12,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, to Panama for the thirty-fourth annual celebration of World Youth Day (WYD). The global event, taking place January 22-27, 2019, in and around Panama City, is expected to draw over 1 million people from all 6 continents.

“The bishops of the United States and I joyfully walk with the young people and young adults of our country as fellow pilgrims,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and the WYD liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In all, 32 bishops from the U.S. are planning to attend the global event.

Bishop Caggiano will be one of 20 bishops who also have been invited by the Vatican to serve as English- and Spanish-language catechists in Panama, giving reflections to groups of pilgrims on the 2019 WYD theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). Other U.S. catechist bishops include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

Pope Francis arrives in Panama on Wednesday, January 23, with a special welcome ceremony planned for Thursday, January 24. He will also preside at a Via Crucis prayer service (January 25), a candlelight vigil and adoration (January 26), and the Closing Mass (January 27), where he will announce the location of the next international WYD in 2022.

While the pope and the WYD pilgrims meet in Panama this January, several dioceses and communities across the United States will be hosting “stateside celebrations” concurrent with the WYD events for thousands of young people in the U.S. There will be major gatherings for youth and young adults in California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State, and a multi-diocesan flagship event in Washington, D.C., called “Panama in the Capital” with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children Action Network, and many others. Details of these events can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm

“We pray in solidarity with the thousands of young people across the United States who are celebrating this experience digitally and stateside in their local communities,” noted Bishop Caggiano on the connection of the Panama pilgrims and those experiencing WYD at home.

On Wednesday, January 23, the USCCB will collaborate with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Knights of Columbus on a special one-day event called “Fiat Festival,” to be held at the Figali (Amador) Convention Center in Panama from 3:00 to 10:00 pm ET. The event will feature music, keynotes, panels, video, prayer, and a closing Holy Hour with Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Sean O’Malley. It will be live-streamed through FOCUS Catholic’s YouTube Channel.

For more information about World Youth Day and the U.S. engagement, go to www.wydusa.org and follow the USCCB’s social media channels throughout WYD.

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18 hours 8 min

The “Migrants and Refugees” Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development published two documents on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking, presented in the Vatican today, January 17.

Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, and the two Under-Secretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Father Michael Czerny and Father Fabio Baggio presented the two documents.

The first document is entitled “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking.” It’s the fruit “of a process of consultation of Episcopal Conferences, Catholic organizations and Religious Congregations.” It includes “a series of pastoral orientations to understand, recognize, prevent and overcome the flow of the human trafficking, to protect the victims and to promote the rehabilitation of survivors.”

The second document is entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope — Pope Francis’ Teachings on Migrants, Refugees and Trafficking.” This volume brings together the Pope’s teachings from the beginning of his pontificate to the end of 2017. A digital version is associated to it, with a research program that enables the regular updating of the site on the Pope’s teachings.

Zenit spoke to Fr. Czerny and Fr. Biaggio who noted there will be an important conference in April to deepen these themes.

Fr. Czerny also commented on how in North America, there are devastating realities of human trafficking that most people would be unaware of.

“Think of a young girl. One night she gets in a big fight with her parents. She leaves home, goes to take a bus to a major city. There is someone at the bus port, nice to her,” he said, as an example of how this happens to so many. After that, he noted, they are often on the street and after these experiences, never go back home and return to their lives before.

Fr. Biaggio, expressed that the problem also exists because there is demand. He noted that there would not be these perpetrators so intent on their illicit actions, if there were no ‘consumers,’ for what they were doing or offering.

“Sometimes we buy things, we buy them at a very low price, but we do not know what kind of work is behind these things,” he pointed out, yet, he continued, we do not ask if the supply chain has used forced labor or not, which unfortunately is one of the phenomena in the world today, in several countries.”

**

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Father Michael Czerny’s introduction at today’s meeting point in the Holy See Press Office:

Human trafficking, says Pope Francis, is an “atrocious scourge,” an “aberrant
plague,” an “open wound on the body of contemporary society.” This “global
phenomenon … exceeds the competence of any one community or country … We need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”1 Pope Francis’s harsh condemnations and ardent compassion fuel the Pastoral
Orientations on Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking is a very complex problem. Its forms are varied and changing, its victims very heterogeneous and so too the perpetrators. Such complexity requires multidisciplinary approaches to understand the phenomenon and its causes, and to identify the processes and persons involved in it – not only victims and perpetrators but also consumers, whether knowing or unwitting. Only then can appropriate responses be shaped.

To address trafficking and enslavement, during 2018 the Migrants & Refugees Section consulted partner organizations, researchers and practitioners working in the field. The Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options as well as enhanced coordination worldwide. The resulting draft was submitted to a second consultation with members of Bishops’ Conferences and other Church representatives. Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic thinking and courageous ministry. It will orient the work of the Migrants & Refugees Section and our partners.

After considering the legal definition of human trafficking that has been endorsed in international law, these Pastoral Orientations offer
● a reading: Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st
century? How can it remain so hidden?
● an understanding: How does the ugly, evil business of human trafficking
operate?
● and action orientations for the much-needed long-term struggle: What can be done to alleviate and eliminate human trafficking? How can it be done better?

Each section of the Orientations – there are ten – analyzes the cruel facts and
challenges of one facet of the phenomenon. It then suggests a range of responses.

For “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of 1 Pope Francis, Greeting to the OSCE Conference, 3 April 2017; Angelus, 30 July 2017; Address to Participants in the International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking, 10 April 2014; Message for the World Day of
Peace, 1 January 2015 human beings” says Pope Francis; “she wants to protect them from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery; she wants to assist them once they are freed.”2

The Pastoral Orientations are offered to Catholic dioceses, parishes and religious congregations, schools and universities, Catholic and other organizations of civil society and any group willing to respond. They are for planning and evaluating practical pastoral engagement as well as advocacy and dialogue. Key points are also offered for homilies, education and media.

The Holy Father prays that “God may liberate all those who have been threatened, injured or mistreated by trade and trafficking in human beings, and may bring comfort to those who have survived such inhumanity.” He appeals to each and every one “to open our eyes, to see the misery of those who are completely deprived of their dignity and their freedom, and to hear their cry for help.”3

The long-term goal is to prevent and ultimately dismantle this most evil and sinful enterprise of deception, entrapment, domination and exploitation. “This immense task, which requires courage, patience and perseverance, demands a joint and global effort on the part of the different actors that make up society.”4

The document will help the Church play its important role in this struggle.

Michael Czerny S.J.
Under-Secretary
17 January 2019

 

The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking can be found at https://migrants-refugees.va/trafficking-slavery/ in various languages and formats.

2 Address to Participants in the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking, 12
February 2018
3 Pope Francis, Message to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Day of Life, 17 June
2018. Unofficial translation
4 Pope Francis, Video Message to the Participants in the International Forum on Modern Slavery, 7 May 2018.

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1 day 1 hour

The “Migrants and Refugees” Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development published two documents on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking, presented in the Vatican today, January 17.

Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, and the two Under-Secretaries of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, Father Michael Czerny and Father Fabio Baggio will present the two documents.

The first document is entitled “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking.” It’s the fruit “of a process of consultation of Episcopal Conferences, Catholic organizations and Religious Congregations.” It includes “a series of pastoral orientations to understand, recognize, prevent and overcome the flow of the trafficking of persons, to protect the victims and to promote the rehabilitation of survivors.”

The second document is entitled “Lights on the Paths of Hope — Pope Francis’ Teachings on Migrants, Refugees and Trafficking.” This volume brings together the Pope’s teachings from the beginning of his pontificate to the end of 2017. A digital version is associated to it, with a research program that enables the regular updating of the site on the Pope’s teachings.

Zenit spoke to Fr. Czerny and Fr. Biaggio who noted there will be an important conference in April to deepen these themes.

Fr. Czerny also commented on how in North America, there are devastating realities of human trafficking that most people would be unaware of.

“Think of a young girl. One night she gets in a big fight with her parents. She leaves home, goes to take a bus to a major city. There is someone at the bus port, nice to her,” he said, as an example of how this happens to so many. After that, he noted, they are often on the street and after these experiences, never go back home and return to their lives before.

Fr. Biaggio, expressed that the problem also exists because there is demand. He noted that there would not be these perpetrators so intent on their illicit actions, if there were no ‘consumers,’ for what they were doing or offering.

“Sometimes we buy things, we buy them at a very low price, but we do not know what kind of work is behind these things,” he pointed out, yet, he continued, we do not ask if the supply chain has used forced labor or not, which unfortunately is one of the phenomena in the world today, in several countries.”

**

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Father Michael Czerny’s introduction at today’s meeting point in the Holy See Press Office:

Human trafficking, says Pope Francis, is an “atrocious scourge,” an “aberrant
plague,” an “open wound on the body of contemporary society.” This “global
phenomenon … exceeds the competence of any one community or country … We need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”1 Pope Francis’s harsh condemnations and ardent compassion fuel the Pastoral
Orientations on Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking is a very complex problem. Its forms are varied and changing, its victims very heterogeneous and so too the perpetrators. Such complexity requires multidisciplinary approaches to understand the phenomenon and its causes, and to identify the processes and persons involved in it – not only victims and perpetrators but also consumers, whether knowing or unwitting. Only then can appropriate responses be shaped.

To address trafficking and enslavement, during 2018 the Migrants & Refugees Section consulted partner organizations, researchers and practitioners working in the field. The Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options as well as enhanced coordination worldwide. The resulting draft was submitted to a second consultation with members of Bishops’ Conferences and other Church representatives. Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic thinking and courageous ministry. It will orient the work of the Migrants & Refugees Section and our partners.

After considering the legal definition of human trafficking that has been endorsed in international law, these Pastoral Orientations offer
● a reading: Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st
century? How can it remain so hidden?
● an understanding: How does the ugly, evil business of human trafficking
operate?
● and action orientations for the much-needed long-term struggle: What can be done to alleviate and eliminate human trafficking? How can it be done better?

Each section of the Orientations – there are ten – analyzes the cruel facts and
challenges of one facet of the phenomenon. It then suggests a range of responses.

For “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of 1 Pope Francis, Greeting to the OSCE Conference, 3 April 2017; Angelus, 30 July 2017; Address to Participants in the International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking, 10 April 2014; Message for the World Day of
Peace, 1 January 2015 human beings” says Pope Francis; “she wants to protect them from deception and solicitation; she wants to find them and free them when they are transported and reduced to slavery; she wants to assist them once they are freed.”2

The Pastoral Orientations are offered to Catholic dioceses, parishes and religious congregations, schools and universities, Catholic and other organizations of civil society and any group willing to respond. They are for planning and evaluating practical pastoral engagement as well as advocacy and dialogue. Key points are also offered for homilies, education and media.

The Holy Father prays that “God may liberate all those who have been threatened, injured or mistreated by trade and trafficking in human beings, and may bring comfort to those who have survived such inhumanity.” He appeals to each and every one “to open our eyes, to see the misery of those who are completely deprived of their dignity and their freedom, and to hear their cry for help.”3

The long-term goal is to prevent and ultimately dismantle this most evil and sinful enterprise of deception, entrapment, domination and exploitation. “This immense task, which requires courage, patience and perseverance, demands a joint and global effort on the part of the different actors that make up society.”4

The document will help the Church play its important role in this struggle.

Michael Czerny S.J.
Under-Secretary
17 January 2019

The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking can be found at https://migrants-
refugees.va/trafficking-slavery/ in various languages and formats.

2 Address to Participants in the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking, 12
February 2018
3 Pope Francis, Message to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the Day of Life, 17 June
2018. Unofficial translation
4 Pope Francis, Video Message to the Participants in the International Forum on Modern Slavery, 7 May 2018.

The post Calling for Global Effort, Pope Prays God Liberate the Human Trafficked, Help Those Deprived of Their Dignity appeared first on ZENIT - English.

1 day 2 hours
“The festivities of Christmas and the Epiphany, which we have celebrated just recently, have given us the opportunity to reflect once more on the event of the birth and manifestation of Christ on earth.”

Pope Francis stressed this on Jan. 17, 2018, when thanking and addressing the Directors and Staff of the Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican.

“His coming in our midst reveals to us the unthinkable closeness of God to man and the immense love He has for us,” he said, underscoring: “His presence gives meaning to our life and stimulates hope in us, helping us to look beyond everyday difficulties and problems.”

At the same time, the Pope reminded, it urges us to charity, to living our relations with a fraternal and merciful attitude, especially with people who suffer as a result of disease, abandonment and marginalization.

The attitude of closeness to people, Francis observed, is typical also of the security professionals’ work, who have the possibility of bearing witness to it every day.

“By vocation, you are specialists in closeness.”

Thanks to the valuable work of surveillance and maintenance of public order of those before him, the Holy Father recognized, “the visit of the pilgrims and tourists – each one with his or her own story – who come to Saint Peter’s Basilica from every part of the world.”

Their competence and wisdom in facing various situations, even the most critical, the Holy Father said, is commonly acknowledged.

“For this too, I pay homage to you,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded, entrusting each of them to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy. “May she always be close to your work and support your families,” he said, offering his blessing, wishing them a good new year, and reminding them to pray for him.

Here is the Vatican-provided English translation:

***

Address of the Holy Father

Mr. Chief of Police
Mr. Prefect and Mr. Director
Dear Officials and Agents!

It is always a pleasant appointment, this meeting at the beginning of the year with you, representatives of the Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican. I welcome you with affection and respect, and reiterate to all of you my deep gratitude for the commendable service you provide daily to the Apostolic See and to Vatican City. I thank the Chief of Police for the kind words he has addressed to me on your behalf; I welcome and congratulate the prefect Felice Colombrino and the director Luigi Carnevale, who have recently assumed their roles. And I greet each of you, offering sincere wishes for a new year rich in the human and Christian values that make life beautiful and fruitful.

The festivities of Christmas and the Epiphany, which we have celebrated just recently, have given us the opportunity to reflect once more on the event of the birth and manifestation of Christ on earth. His coming in our midst reveals to us the unthinkable closeness of God to man and the immense love He has for us. His presence gives meaning to our life and stimulates hope in us, helping us to look beyond everyday difficulties and problems. At the same time, it urges us to charity, to living our relations with a fraternal and merciful attitude, especially with people who suffer as a result of disease, abandonment and marginalization.

The attitude of closeness to people is typical also of your work, and you have the possibility of bearing witness to it every day. By vocation, you are specialists in closeness. Thanks to your valuable work of surveillance and maintenance of public order, you facilitate the visit of the pilgrims and tourists – each one with his or her own story – who come to Saint Peter’s Basilica from every part of the world. Your competence and wisdom in facing various situations, even the most critical, is commonly acknowledged; for this too I pay homage to you. I thank you very much for your professionalism and your generosity! I urge you to persevere and seek the best in your operational style, striving to welcome everyone with great patience and understanding, even in those moments when you feel the weariness or burden of unpleasant situations.

Your daily service is intended to keep watch over Saint Peter’s Square and Vatican appurtenances day and night; you are present in all weather conditions, favourable or adverse. When I think of your willingness and your spirit of sacrifice, I feel admiration and edification, and also a little shame when I think of the many people who declare themselves Christians and who do not live up your example. Also, I cannot forget, your effective collaboration in my pastoral visits to the parishes and other communities of Rome, as well as during my travels to other Italian locations. I am very grateful for all this.

The Chief of Police also spoke about the sense of belonging: there is the danger of losing it in this society. You protect the Square, you protect my trips, you protect many things, but I will ask you a favour: make an effort also to protect the cultural roots of the city, of the homeland, of culture. This civilization risks becoming “uprooted”, and we know that without roots one does not grow, and “what the tree has visibly in bloom thrives on what is buried beneath” (cf. F.L. Bernardez, Para recobrar). And make an effort in this: protect the roots, because it is the roots that give identity. Our identity is that of today, but it comes from the roots, and will be transmitted to our children, to our grandchildren, but always from the roots. Thank you for doing this.

Dear friends, I entrust each of you to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy. May she always be close to your work and support your families, to whom I address a special thought. I ask you, please, to pray for me; I wish you a happy new year and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to those dear to you. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

The post With Festivities & Epiphany Just Ended, Pope Reminds ‘Christ’s Presence Gives Meaning to Our Life & Hope, Helping Us Look Beyond Everyday Difficulties’ appeared first on ZENIT - English.

1 day 3 hours

Pope Francis has sent today, Jan. 17, 2019, his condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack on Tuesday, Jan. 15, on a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent the telegram on the Pope’s behalf.

In the Pope’s telegram, he expressed he was ‘deeply saddened,’ offered his spiritual closeness to all affected, and condemned the attack as a ‘senseless act of violence.’ The Holy Father extended his heartfelt condolences to all Kenyans, in particular the families of the deceased and all those injured.

Pope Francis concluded, praying for God’s healing grace, and invoking upon the entire nation of Kenya divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s message:

***

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the attack in a hotel complex in Nairobi, His Holiness Pope Francis assures all those affected by this senseless act of violence of his spiritual closeness. He extends heartfelt condolences to all Kenyans, in particular the families of the deceased and all those injured. Praying for God’s healing grace, His Holiness willingly invokes upon the entire nation the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

[Original text: English] [Vatican-provided text]

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1 day 5 hours

Pope Francis has warned against having a ‘perverse heart,’ stressing no one is immuned.

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the harsh ‘warning’ in today’s liturgy of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. Addressing the Christian community, he said: “Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.

The Holy Father asked: “What does it mean for a Christian to have a “perverse heart,” a heart that can lead to faintheartedness, ideology, and compromise? The Pontiff also noted how all the Church’s components, including “priests, nuns, bishops,” run this danger.

Explaining what this perversion entails, the Jesuit Pontiff focused on three items: hardness, obstinacy and seduction.

The Pope first spoke on hardness, stressing a ‘hard heart’ is a ‘closed’ heart, namely one “that does not want to grow, that defends itself, that is closed in on itself.”

The Holy Father acknowledged that in life this can happen for many reasons, including a great sorrow, it also has happened to saints.

“We can ask ourselves,” he said: “Do I have a hard heart, do I have a closed heart? Do I let my heart grow? Am I afraid that it will grow? And we always grow with trials, with difficulties, we grow as we all grow as children: we learn to walk [by] falling.

“From crawling to walking, how many times we have fallen!” he called on those before him to ask themselves: “But we grow through difficulties. Hardness. And, what amounts to the same thing, being closed. But who remains in this? “Who are they, father?” They are the fainthearted. Faintheartedness is an ugly attitude in a Christian, he lacks the courage to live. He is closed off…”

Turning to the second word of “obstinate,” Francis recalled that in the Letter to the Hebrews we read, “Exhort each other every day, as long as this today lasts, so that none of you may be obstinate.” He also recalled that this is “the accusation that Stephen makes to those who will stone him afterwards.”

Obstinacy, he noted, is “spiritual stubbornness.” An obstinate heart, he continued, is rebellious, stubborn and not “open to the Spirit” as it is closed in by its own thought. Francs said this characterizes “ideologues”, the proud and the arrogant.

“Ideology is a kind of obstinacy. The Word of God, the grace of the Holy Spirit is not ideology: it is life that makes you grow, always, [that makes you] go forward, and also opens your heart to the signs of the Spirit, to the signs of the times. But obstinacy is also pride, it is arrogance. Stubbornness, that stubbornness that does so much harm: closed-hearted, hard – the first word – those are the fainthearted; the stubborn, the obstinate, as the text says the ideologues are.”

“But do I have a stubborn heart?” he continued, recommending: “Each one should consider this. Am I able to listen to other people? And if I think differently, do I say, “But I think this…” Am I capable of dialogue? The obstinate don’t dialogue, they don’t know how, because they always defend themselves with ideas, they are ideologues. And how much harm do ideologues do to the people of God, how much harm! Because they close the way to the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Turning to the third word of “seduction,”: the seduction of sin, used by the devil, the “great seducer”, “a great theologian but without faith, with hatred”, who wants to “enter and dominate” the heart and knows how to do it.

“A perverse heart,” Francis summarized, “is one that lets itself be seduced and seduction leads him to obstinacy, to closure, and to many other things.”

With seduction,  Francis went on to stress, either you convert and change your life or you try to compromise. This unfortunately, he noted, is often done a little here and a little there, a little here and a little there.

“Yes, yes, I follow the Lord, but I like this seduction, but just a little…” And you’re starting to lead a double Christian life. To use the word of the great Elijah to the people of Israel at that moment: “You limp from both legs”. To limp from both legs, without having one set firmly. It is the life of compromise: “Yes, I am a Christian, I follow the Lord, yes, but I let this in…”.

This is what the lukewarm are like, he said, those who always compromise.

“Christians of compromise. We, too, often do this: compromise,” he acknowledged, Even when the Lord lets us know the path, even with the commandments, also with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but I prefer something else, and I try to find a way to go down two tracks, limping on both legs.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Holy Spirit, therefore, enlighten us so that no one may have a perverse heart: a hard heart, which will lead you to faintheartedness; a stubborn heart that will lead you to rebellion, that will lead you to ideology; a heart that is seduced, a slave to seduction.”

 

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1 day 6 hours

National Catholic Schools Week 2019 (CSW) will be observed in dioceses around the United States January 27–February 2, 2019. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

As Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Oakland, newly elected chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Young people today need Catholic education more than ever. In a world where truth, beauty, and goodness are considered all but subjective, the Way, Truth, and Life offered us in Jesus Christ are our only source of direction, clarity, and hope. Furthermore, being rooted in faith does not endanger the academic quality of Catholic schools, but in fact is their very motivation for excellence in all things.”

Nearly 1.8 million students are currently educated in 6,352 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that helps them become critical thinkers, strong communicators and active members of society, thus equipping them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. “Following Christ’s example of loving and serving all people, Catholic schools proudly provide a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. Since the inception of Catholic schools in our country, we have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity,” Bishop Barber said.

The observance of CSW began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and family gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety-nine percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent for more than 20 years.

For the second year, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will lead the Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools, in partnership with FACTS Management, January 29, 12 PM EST through January 30, 12 PM EST. This 24-hour period is one way to support development programs in Catholic schools throughout the country. Scheduled during National Catholic Schools Week, this Day of Giving is a perfect time for individuals to give to their local Catholic schools. In 2018, more than $850,000 was donated to 539 participating Catholic schools, six dioceses, and NCEA. For more information on the Day of Giving, please go to www.NCEA.org/csw/manygifts.
Catholic schools and the many members of Catholic school communities will share their Catholic Schools Week celebrations on social media using #CSW19. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the Secretariat of Catholic Education will also highlight Catholic education’s strengths, successes, and stories on their Twitter profiles: @NCEATalk and @USCCBCatholicEd, respectively. More information on the Committee on Catholic Education and other resources are available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/ and www.NCEA.org/csw.

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1 day 9 hours

The 2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, will draw more than 500 participants from around the country and seeks to equip current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy to cultivate God’s justice in their communities and around the world, the USCCB said on January 11, 2019. This year’s theme is “Let Justice Flow (cf. Am. 5:24): A Call to Restore and Reconcile.” Participants will focus on pressing domestic and international concerns such as racism, restorative justice, migration, and poverty. The final day of the gathering will be advocacy visits with representatives from the U.S. Congress.

The event will be February 2-5, 2019, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington DC, 20008.

Program and Speaker highlights include:
•  Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, who oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, and was instrumental in quickly organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, TX. As part of the Gathering, Sister Norma will receive the 2019 Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of Peoples Award, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
•  Bishop Shelton J Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Bishop Fabre will facilitate a panel discussion with diverse leaders onOpen Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, and its implications for Church and society.
•  Elizabeth Hinton, Ph.D., author of award-winning book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America and currently the John L. Loeb. Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department History and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States.
•  Fr. Maurice Henry Sands, the Executive Director for the Black and Indian Mission Office in Washington, DC. Fr. Sands is a full-blooded Native American and member of the Ojibway, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes, who are known together as Anishnaabe. Fr. Sands is passionate about addressing the issue of racism including as a Consultant to the USCCB Subcommittee on Native American Affairs and the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
•  Justice Janine P. Geske, previously a Distinguished Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School and Director of the Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative. A graduate of Marquette University Law School, she has been active in numerous civic and community activities. She frequently teaches at judicial, legal and community conferences on mediation, restorative justice, sentencing, evidence, the courts, and spirituality and work.
•  Elena Segura, Pastoral Migratoria founder, and Senior Coordinator for Immigration in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Elena will participate in the racism panel discussion to share how the Hispanic/Latino is affected by the evil of racism and how the Pastoral Migratoria program is an example of the Church’s witness on welcoming migrants as it seeks to build bridges among communities including the participation of clergy.
•  Daniel Philpott, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, who specializes in religion and global politics, with emphases on reconciliation, religious freedom, and theories of religious actors’ political behavior. He has also participated in faith-inspired reconciliation efforts in some of the world’s worst conflict zones, including Kashmir and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
•  A plenary session, “Immigrants and Refugees Building Communities of Hope with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” featuring representatives from several CCHD-funded community organizations engaged in the work of empowering immigrants and refugees, including a worker center in Saint Cloud, MN, a worker cooperative in Brooklyn, NY, and a parish ID program in Baltimore, MD.

Joining the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Bread for the World, and others.

More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.

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1 day 9 hours

Accredited international scientific studies on the demographic changes in Lebanon show that the decline of the Christian component will stop in the coming decades. These scientific projections were welcomed with relief in Lebanese ecclesial circles, Fides News Agency reported on January 11, 2019

The reassuring statistics regarding the demographic size of Christians in Lebanon are contained in the yearbook of International Religious Demography 2018, so much so that the Minister of Provisional Government Municipalities, Nihad al-Mashnuq – reports Lebanon Debate – wanted to bring the gift of the volume to Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, on the occasion of Christmas.

The last official census carried out in Lebanon is that of 1932. At that time, there were 875,252 inhabitants in the Land of Cedars, and 53 percent of them were Christians. All subsequent statistics on the composition of the Lebanese population from a religious point of view are based on studies and reports considered unofficial, even when they were drawn up on the basis of research with a high level of scientific reliability.

Every year the Yearbook of International Religious Statistics provides a global overview on the composition of the populations of the countries from the point of view of the different religious affiliations of the inhabitants, attaching in some cases also contributions and statistics with projections on future foreseeable changes in percentage ratios between the different religious components in the individual nations.

The Yearbook 2018, regarding Lebanon, takes into account the changes in the percentage consistency of the different Lebanese religious components on the basis of the emigration/immigration flows and on the changes in the fertility rate in the individual faith communities.

With regard to Lebanon, the figures reported in the 2018 yearbook show that the Country has been marked by strong processes of emigration of the Lebanese population in the last 35 years, both due to economic reasons, and internal and regional conflicts that have involved the Lebanese nation. In the period 1975-2011, the expatriates from Lebanon were more than 1 million 567 thousand, and of these, 46.6 percent were Christians and 53.4 percent Muslims.

According to the data provided, between 1971 and 2004 there was a decline in the fertility rate also in the Muslim population. Moreover, since the beginning of the Lebanon war in 1975 and until the mid-1980s, the rate of the emigration of Christians was much higher, but this trend stopped between 1984 and 2011. As a consequence, the division of immigrants on a religious basis, from 1975 to 2011, was found to be 46 percent Christian and 54 percent Muslim. Based on these findings, currently, Christians – Maronites and others – represent 38 percent of those entitled to vote in parliamentary elections in Lebanon. But according to scholars of demographic trends, this will stop and there will even be a slight inversion. Reports show that the Christian population has remained stable over the last two years, and is expected to increase from 38 percent to 40 percent in the next 19 years, reaching 41% in the next 34 years. The data are based on the data according to which the Lebanese population had reached quota 3 million 334,691 inhabitants in 2011, with 38.22 percent of Christians and 61.62 percent of Muslims. It is expected that in 2030 the Lebanese population will be able to exceed 4 million 486 thousand inhabitants, with 40.18 percent of Christians and 59.71 percent of Muslims. In the year 2045, it is estimated that the Lebanese population could exceed 5 million 386 inhabitants, 41.12 percent of Christians and 58.87 percent of Muslims.

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1 day 9 hours

It is not only to remember the time when the book appeared but to get up and show Pope John Paul II, his person, and his work. Let us get up and remind the 40th anniversary of Pope’s pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 – said Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, Metropolitan of Warsaw and chairman of the Council of the “Work of the New Millennium” Foundation during a press conference organized by the Foundation at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference on January 16, 2019.

Cardinal Nycz announced the motto of the 19th Papal Day, which will be celebrated on October 13, 2019: “Rise, let us be on our way”, which refers to the title of one of the books of Pope John Paul II.

“Celebrating the 50th anniversary of his episcopal consecration, Pope wrote the book ‘Rise, let us be on our way’, the title of which was taken from the Gospel according to St. Mark. It is not just to remember the time when the book appeared, but to get up and bring closer Pope, his person, and his work. Let us get up and remind the 40th anniversary of Pope’s pilgrimage to Poland in 1979. It became the inspiration for what happened a year later, i.e. Solidarity movement. We will have the opportunity to reflect on the work of the Pope just before the 100th anniversary of his birth, which falls in 2020. I encourage to bring closer the person and teaching of Pope John Paul II,” said the Metropolitan of Warsaw.

“John Paul II is still one of the fathers of the Church and the fathers of our Fatherland”, said Fr. Dariusz Kowalczyk, chairman of the Foundation’s Board. Then he said that the Papal Day celebrated in 2018 referred to the issue of fatherhood, understood in two dimensions: the family and the homeland. The money raised in 2018 in the whole country will finance scholarships for talented young people from poor families.

After the press conference, 40 presidents and mayors of the Papal Cities met at the Plenary Hall of the Seat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. There are 80 Papal Cities all over Poland.

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2 days 1 hour

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), through its Commission for Doctrine, has released a new document, titled Science and Catholic Faith. Illustrated with colorful posters, it is intended for students at the secondary school level, who, when learning about their faith, often ask the question, “Are faith and science compatible?”. It can be read on its own or can be used as a tool to support science and religious education courses.

The booklet is now available for purchase from CCCB Publications.

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2 days 2 hours

In response to the January 14, 2019, federal court ruling from Pennsylvania granting a nationwide injunction barring the broadened moral and religious exemption to the HHS mandate, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s court ruling freezing these common-sense regulations leaves those with conscientious or religious objections to the HHS mandate out in the cold. In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”

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2 days 2 hours

“For a Christian, to pray is simply to say ‘Abba’, to say “Papa”, to say ‘Dad’, to say ‘Father’ but with the trust of a child.”

Those words of simple encouragement to trust were at the core of Pope Francis’ commentary on the Lord’s Prayer during the January 16,2 2019, General Audience in Paul VI Hall.

“God looks for you, even if you do not seek Him. God loves you, even if you have forgotten about Him,” the Pope said. “God perceives in you a beauty, even if you think you have squandered all your talents in vain.”

The Holy Father made it clear that prayer can be simple and always comes back to a single word: “Abba.”  And, yes, “Abba” means “Father”, but most in the context of “dad” or “papa.” And it is in that context that Francis commends the Christian to speak with God.

“It is not only about using a symbol – in this case, the figure of the father – to link to the mystery of God; it is instead about having, so to say, all Jesus’ world poured into our heart,” Francis explained. “If we carry out this operation, we can pray the Lord’s Prayer with truth. To say ‘Abba’ is something much more intimate, and more moving than simply calling God ‘Father’.”

The Pope pointed out that the Gospel uses the term “Abba” in only a few occasions. It is Aramaic, as opposed to the Greek translation of Father than is typically used. But the Greek doesn’t capture the deeper sense of the word. The Holy Father explained:

“It is rare in the New Testament for the Aramaic expressions not to be translated into Greek. We must imagine that in these Aramaic words, the very voice of Jesus Himself remains as if “recorded”: they have respected Jesus’ language. In the first word of the Lord’s Prayer, we immediately find the radical newness of Christian prayer.”

The Holy Father’s Full Commentary

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2 days 2 hours

“Ecumenism isn’t an option,” affirmed Pope Francis, as the Week draws near of Prayer for Christian Unity.

During the General Audience  January 16, 2019, the Holy Father recalled the imminent opening of this Week  (on January 18). “Next Friday, with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, will begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, on the theme: ‘Justice, and Only Justice, You Shall Pursue.’”

 “Also this year, we are called to pray so that all Christians return to being one family, coherent with the Divine Will that desires ‘that they may all be one’ (John 17:21), he said, stressing that “Ecumenism isn’t an option.”

“The intention will be to mature a common and unanimous testimony in the affirmation of true justice and in the support of the weakest through concrete, appropriate and effective answers,” he continued.

On greeting the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, the Pontiff also mentioned this Week of Prayer: “Let us intensify our prayer and our penances, to hasten the hour when Jesus’ desire will find its full accomplishment: ‘Abba . . . that they may all be one!’”

“May God’s blessing descend upon your common steps and prayers for the reunification of the Church,” encouraged Pope Francis.

 

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2 days 4 hours

Pope Francis had special words of encouragement for Pilgrims from the Middle East during his January 16, 2019, General Audience in Paul VI Hall.

“I extend a cordial welcome to Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from the Middle East! Dear brothers and sisters, always remember that God Who is Love tells us His desire to be called ‘Abba’ Father, with the total confidence of a child who abandons himself into the arms of those who gave him life. Let us start again from this word and we will experience the joy of being children loved by God. May the Lord bless you!”

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2 days 5 hours

Holy See Press Office Director, Alessandro Gisotti, met journalists on January 16, 2019, to share additional information regarding the Summit on the Protection of Minors in the Vatican, Feb. 21-24, 2019. Prior to his meeting journalists, the following statement was published, noting elements foreseen in the encounter and noting that Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., former Director of the Holy See Press Office and current President of the Ratzinger Foundation, has been appointed by the Pope to moderate the sessions.

Statement (Working Translation Provided by the Vatican)

The February Meeting on the protection of minors has a concrete purpose: the goal is that all of the Bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors. Pope Francis knows that a global problem can only be resolved with a global response. The Pope wants it to be an assembly of Pastors, not an academic conference – a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.

It is fundamental for the Holy Father that when the Bishops who will come to Rome have returned to their countries and their dioceses that they understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims, and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried.

Regarding the high expectations that have been created around the Meeting, it is important to emphasize that the Church is not at the beginning of the fight against abuse. The Meeting is a stage along the painful journey that the Church has unceasingly and decisively undertaken for over fifteen years.

The Organizing Committee of the meeting gathered in Rome on Thursday, January 10, 2019.

At the end of the working session, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the Committee, who provided him with an update on the preparation of the meeting. It will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of common prayer and listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a final Eucharistic celebration. Pope Francis assured them of his presence for the entire duration of the meeting.

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2 days 5 hours

The January 16, 2019, General Audience was held at 9:20 in Paul VI Hall, where Pope Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

In his address in Italian, the Pope continued his catechesis on the “Lord’s Prayer”, focusing on the theme “Abba, Father!” (Bible passage: from the Letter of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Romans, 8: 14-16).

After summarising his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father addressed special greetings to the groups of faithful present. He then launched an appeal on the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins this coming Friday, 18 January.

The General Audience concluded with the recital of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

 

Catechesis of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Continuing the catechesis on the “Lord’s Prayer”, today we will start from the observation that, in the New Testament, the prayer seems to seek to arrive at the essential, to the point of being concentrated in a single word: Abba, Father.

We have heard what Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him, we cry, “Abba, Father” (8: 15). And to the Galatians, the Apostle says: “Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit Who calls out, “Abba”, Father (Gal 4: 6). Twice there returns the same invocation, in which all the newness of the Gospel is condensed. After having known Jesus and listened to His preaching, the Christian can no longer consider God as a tyrant to fear; he is no longer afraid but rather feels the trust in Him flourish in his heart: he can speak to the Creator, calling Him “Father”. The expression is so important for Christians that often it is conserved intact in its original form: “Abba”.

It is rare in the New Testament for the Aramaic expressions not to be translated into Greek. We must imagine that in these Aramaic words, the very voice of Jesus Himself remains as if “recorded”: they have respected Jesus’ language. In the first word of the Lord’s Prayer, we immediately find the radical newness of Christian prayer.

It is not only about using a symbol – in this case, the figure of the father – to link to the mystery of God; it is instead about having, so to say, all Jesus’ world poured into our heart. If we carry out this operation, we can pray the Lord’s Prayer with truth. To say “Abba” is something much more intimate, and more moving than simply calling God “Father”. This is why some have proposed to translate this original Aramaic word “Abba” with “Papa”, or “Dad”. Instead of saying “Our Father”, saying “Papa, dad”. We continue to say “Our Father”, but with the heart we are invited to say “Papa”, to have a relationship with God like that of a child with his father, who says “Papa”, and says “Dad”. Indeed these expressions evoke affection, they evoke warmth, something that is projected to us in the context of childhood: the image of a child completely wrapped in the embrace of a father who feels infinite tenderness for him. And for this reason, dear brothers and sisters, to pray well, we must arrive at the point of having a child’s heart. Not a sufficient heart: in this way one cannot pray well. Like a child in the arms of his father, his daddy.

But certainly, it is the Gospels that introduce us better to the meaning of this word. What does it mean for Jesus, this word? The “Lord’s Prayer” takes on meaning and color if we learn to pray it after having read, for example, the parable of the merciful father, in the fifteenth chapter of Luke (cf. Lk 15: 11-32). Let us imagine this prayer pronounced by the prodigal son, after having experienced the embrace of his father who has long awaited him, a father who does not remember the offensive works that he has said to him, a father who now simply makes him understand how much he has missed him. Then we discover how those words take on life, take on strength. And we ask: how is it possible for You, or God, to know only love? Do you not know hatred? No, God would answer, I know only love. Where in You is the vendetta, the demand for justice, the anger for your wounded pride? And God would answer: I know only love.

The father of that parable has in his way of acting something that reminds many of the heart of a mother. It is above all mothers who excuse their children, who cover up for them, whose empathy towards them is uninterrupted, who continue to love them even when they no longer deserve anything.

It is enough to evoke this single expression – Abba – for Christian prayer to develop. And Saint Paul, in his letters, follows this same road, and it could not be otherwise, as it is the road taught by Jesus in this invocation that is a force that attracts all the rest of the prayer.

God looks for you, even if you do not seek Him. God loves you, even if you have forgotten about Him. God perceives in you a beauty, even if you think you have squandered all your talents in vain. God is not only a father; He is like a mother who never ceases to love her creations. On the other hand, there is a “gestation” that lasts forever, well beyond the nine months of the physical one; it is a gestation that generates an infinite circuit of love.

For a Christian, to pray is simply to say “Abba”, to say “Papa”, to say “Dad”, to say “Father” but with the trust of a child.

It may be also that we find ourselves walking on paths far from God, as happened to the prodigal son; or that we fall into a solitude that makes us feel we are abandoned in the world, or even to make a mistake and be paralyzed by a sense of guilt. In those difficult moments, we can still find the strength to pray, starting from the word “Father”, but said with the tender meaning of a child: “Abba”, “Papa”. He will not conceal His face from us. Remember this well: perhaps someone has ugly things within themselves, things they do not know how to resolve, great bitterness for having done this or that… He will not conceal His face. He does not close up in silence. If you say “Father” to Him and He will answer you. You have a father. “Yes, but I am a delinquent…”. But you have a Father Who loves you! Say “Father” to Him, start praying in this way, and in the silence, He will tell you that He has never lost sight of you. “But, Father, I have done this…” – “I have never lost sight of you, I have seen everything. But I have always remained there, close to you, faithful to my love for you”. That will be the answer. Never forget to say “Father”. Thank you.

 

Greetings in various languages

French

I am pleased to welcome Francophone pilgrims, especially the young people of Bordeaux and Lyon. On the eve of the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I invite you to address our common Father, calling him Abba! God bless you!

English

I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups coming from Korea and the United States of America. In the context of the forthcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I offer a special greeting to the group from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. My cordial greeting also goes to the priest alumni of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

German

A warm welcome to German-speaking pilgrims. I greet in particular the delegation from Burgenland, accompanied by the bishop Msgr. Ägidius Zsifkovics, as well as the Festive Committee of the Cologne Carnival, together with Cardinal Rainer Woelki. God is our Father, and we can be completely sure of His faithful love for us. May the Holy Spirit make us true sons of God and guide us always.

Spanish

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims from Spain and Latin America. I encourage you to address God as a Father Who loves us and comes towards us. Do not tire of calling to Him; for He, as a good Father, comes to heal our wounds and to re-establish the joy of being His children. God bless you. Thank you.

Portuguese

Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Terrugem, welcome! The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity begins tomorrow; in those days, let us intensify our supplications and penances so that the hour when you find the fulfillment of Jesus will come: “Abbá …, ut unum sint – so that all may be one!” May God’s blessing descend upon your steps, and upon our joint prayers for the reunification of the Church.

Arabic

I extend a cordial welcome to Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from the Middle East! Dear brothers and sisters, always remember that God Who is Love tells us His desire to be called “Abba”, Father, with the total confidence of a child who abandons himself into the arms of those who gave him life. Let us start again from this word and we will experience the joy of being children loved by God. May the Lord bless you!

Polish

I cordially greet Polish pilgrims, especially the group from the Shrine of Saint Stanislaus, Patron of Poland, the bishop and martyr’s birthplace, who have come here to commemorate the anniversary of the visit Saint John Paul II made before his election to the See of Peter. Dear brothers and sisters, in communion with the saints, pray with filial trust: “Abba – Father”, asking His blessing for you, for your families and – in these days – for the young people I will soon meet in Panama. Please do not forget to pray for me. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Italian

I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am pleased to welcome the Pastoral Unit of Orbetello, the San Paolo Parish Oratory and the Schools of the district.

I greet the parish groups, in particular, those of Montoro and Talsano; the Jupiter Association of Capranica and the De Rosa Institute of Sant’Anastasia.

I address a special thought to the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds, of whom there are many.

I hope that, for all of you, this meeting may revive communion with the universal ministry of the Successor of Peter and, at the same time, be an opportunity for renewal and spiritual graces. I invoke upon you all the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus!

Appeal of the Holy Father

Next Friday, with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on the theme: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue”. This year too we are called to pray, so that all Christians may again become one family, consistent with the divine will that wants “that all may be one” (Jn 17: 21). Ecumenism is not optional. The intention will be to develop a common and consistent witness in the affirmation of true justice and in the support of the weakest, through concrete, appropriate and effective responses.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

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2 days 5 hours

Here is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the General Audience this morning:

***

Speaker:

Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, we now reflect on its very first words: “Our Father”. Saint Paul’s letters testify that the earliest Christians, guided by the Holy Spirit, prayed using the Aramaic word for “father” that Jesus himself had used: “Abba” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, then, we hear an echo of the voice of Jesus himself, who teaches the disciples that to pray is to share in his own intimate and trusting relationship with the Father. The parable of the prodigal son shows us most vividly how Jesus wants us to understand our heavenly Father and His infinite love, mercy and forgiveness. Indeed, there is also something maternal about this love of the Father, which accompanies and nurtures the development of our new life in Christ as his adoptive sons and daughters. All the newness of the Gospel, and the very heart of our prayer as Christians, is in some sense summed up in the one word: “Abba”. Even in the most difficult times in our lives, may we never be afraid to turn in trust and confidence to the Father, praying in the words that Jesus taught us: “Abba”, “Our Father”.

Speaker:

I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups coming from Korea and the United States of America. In the context of the forthcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I offer a special greeting to the group from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. My cordial greeting also goes to the priest alumni of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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2 days 8 hours

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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted

Students, Seminarians, and Parishioners are in Washington DC for the annual March for Life on this anniversary of Roe V. Wade.

Mass before departure for the March for Life in Dayton (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe)Mass before departure for the March for Life in Dayton (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe) Send off for March for Life participants in Dayton (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe)Send off for March for Life participants in Dayton (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe) Students from Seton High School leaving for Washington DC (Courtesy Photo)Students from Seton High School leaving for Washington DC (Courtesy Photo) Mass before the March for Life (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe)Mass before the March for Life (CT Photo/Jeff Unroe) Hundreds pack arena for Mass before the March for Life. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)Hundreds pack arena for Mass before the March for Life. (CT Photo/Greg Hartman)

LIVE COVERAGE FROM EWTN

 

Royalmont Academy students for Life (Courtesy Photo)Royalmont Academy students for Life (Courtesy Photo)
1 hour 59 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina Guidos

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For a few hours, Gio Gomez left the warmth of the Florida sun and headed north toward an arctic blast in Washington. She protected herself from the winter breeze while wrapped in a yellow and white Vatican flag outside the building of the Organization of American States, the place where diplomats and an array of officials from the three American continents Jan. 11 were weighing "the situation in Nicaragua."

She made the trek from her home in the Miami-Dade area to Washington, she told Catholic News Service, to show support for the Catholic clergy in the Central American nation of Nicaragua.

Her native country has, for almost a year, been undergoing a crisis involving a government accused by detractors, like Gomez, of killing and injuring its citizens, violating their human rights (as well as their right to free and fair elections), threatening independent media and usurping power.

In the middle of it all, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, from its bishops to the laity, has been in the thick of the drama. The country’s bishops attempted to dialogue with the government after massive protests and unrest erupted in April 2018 when Ortega administration officials announced a plan to reduce pensions as a cost-cutting measure while increasing employee contributions to the social security system.

Though the government rescinded the proposal, the violent reactions toward it yielded hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries after police and pro-government forces clashed with dissenting civilians.

The country, which had showed modest but stable economic growth, also plummeted financially, resulting in even more public demonstrations of discontent. Those demonstrations migrated beyond the borders of Nicaragua. They regularly occupy space on Twitter via the hashtag #SOSNicaragua and expanded abroad in places like Washington and Florida, where Nicaraguan expats who feel they cannot be heard at home, are urging multilateral organizations such as the OAS to act against the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, whom they largely blame for the crisis.

"Gentlemen, ladies, don’t be indifferent, they’re killing people," Gomez shouted in Spanish. She was with about 200 other Nicaraguan immigrants outside the OAS building in Washington, as the regional forum met to weigh what action, if any, to take.

Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the Washington-based OAS, an organization of 35 independent states from North, Central and South America, called for the urgent session in January to address the allegations against Nicaragua, an OAS member state.

During that meeting, Paulo Abrao, executive secretary for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH for its Spanish acronym), said the organization had determined that 325 Nicaraguans had died and at least 2,000 had been injured since anti-government demonstrations began in April 2018.

At least one of those deaths included the killing of a student from a Jesuit high school in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. Alvaro Conrado Davila, 15, a student at the Loyola Institute, died April 20, 2018, after being hit in the throat by a rubber bullet.  

But Nicaragua Foreign Minister Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres disputed the accusations against his government. In a scene reminiscent of the Cold War, he accused the OAS secretary-general during the meeting of being a pawn of the U.S., reminded representatives of member states gathered in the room of "Yankee troops" marching into other Latin American countries and of past interventionism in the region, and said if illegal action was taken against Nicaragua, they could be next.  

"The government of Nicaragua rejects and condemns this convocation," he said, accusing Almagro of supporting terrorist groups that advocate overthrowing legitimate governments such as the one run by Ortega and Murillo.

But even the legitimacy of the Nicaraguan government is in question. The Ortega administration, which has ruled the country for more than a decade, has been accused of using the country’s judicial system to quash any significant political opposition groups. The administration exerts control over all branches of government.

Moncada Colindres classified those opposing Ortega as terrorists or as paid actors of the "ultra-right" of the United States, posing as pacifist workers for nongovernmental organizations, he said, but intent on attempting a coup. He used the example of a priest in Nicaragua threatening violence against local police. Media reports said the priest was trying to calm the situation by marching through the streets with the Eucharist.

Though the relationship between the government and a church on the side of the Nicaraguan people seems tense at best, it wasn’t always so.

In a Jan. 3 telephone interview with CNS from Managua, Catholic journalist Israel Gonzalez Espinoza explained that in the past Catholic authorities had worked with the Ortega government, including in an effort that resulted in 2006 with getting a national law approved that banned abortion. The relationship between the church hierarchy and government was "cordial," Gonzalez said, and differences were discussed privately.

In 2014, the country’s bishops met with Ortega and presented him with a document, an "X-ray," of the country’s problems, Gonzalez said, including the need to guarantee free and fair elections in 2016. They also pointed out in the document the need to stop "political manipulation of religious symbols for political interest" and the "appropriation of terminology and values of the Catholic religion" incorporated into partisan slogans.

"They never received a response" from the administration, said Gonzalez, who covers the Catholic Church for the Spanish-language online site Religion Digital.

By the time the Nicaraguan bishops met with the Ortega administration last year to try broker peace and open a dialogue following the protests, government officials had dug in their heels.

"They just wanted to talk about the economic situation, that was their ‘war horse,’ saying that at the international level, Nicaragua was an economically stable country" and the government shouldn’t be questioned, Gonzalez said.

But since then, the economy contracted. The Inter Press Service news agency reported in September that "more than $900 million have fled the financial system" in Nicaragua since the conflict started. The economic instability seemed to fuel public shows of discontent.

Catholic churches have served as places of refuge during some of the clashes, especially since young Nicaraguans, many of them Catholic, have been involved in some of the demonstrations.

Prelates such as Managua Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Baez have come under fire and even physical attack by pro-government groups for speaking out against the Ortega administration. That’s what prompted Nicaraguans abroad, such as Gio Gomez, to seek help abroad, not just for other Nicaraguans, but also the Catholic Church as an institution in Nicaragua.

"Their rights are under attack," said Gomez, waving a blue and white Nicaraguan flag as OAS members left the building. Though no action was taken against the Ortega administration Jan. 11, the OAS is considering various upcoming diplomatic options.

Though OAS representatives from Venezuela and Bolivia backed Nicaragua, many seemed to side with Secretary-General Almagro, who offered strong rebuke during the meeting saying that the "grave" situation in Nicaragua prompted a deeper look at the country because democracy cannot exist amid repression and violation of human rights.

When a government openly violates basic human rights, he said, "it’s obvious that it has forgotten that sovereignty is rooted in the people."

Referencing the OAS meeting, Nicaragua’s Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes said to online news site Confidencial in early January that "if an observation has merit, I think it has to be evaluated well, and those things that need to be changed, well, they need to change, for benefit of the country."

 

– – –

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20 hours 34 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — About 1,000 young Catholic Australians left their homeland to participate in World Youth Day in Panama.

But, since they were in the neighborhood — well, make that hemisphere — about half of them made a visit to Washington prior to World Youth Day to take part in the annual March for Life. The other half made a pilgrimage to Mexico City to see the site where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego.

Why, though, would Australians want to participate in the march when American law plays no role in Australian law?

"What America does in this (issue) does affect the whole world," said Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia’s largest city, citing the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, and how state laws are affected.

Australian law, according to Archbishop Fisher, similarly makes distinctions on what belongs in the federal purview and what is germane to its states, such as New South Wales, where Sydney is located.

Abortion is still outlawed in Australia’s states, "but the courts have ruled that to save the life or health of the mother, an abortion may take place," he said.

"It’s hard in Australia to get late-term abortions," the archbishop said, defining "late-term" as the third trimester.

Australia’s biggest pro-life challenge is euthanasia, Archbishop Fisher said. A couple of states have already legalized the practices, and advocates of physician-assisted suicide would like to alter the law so that medical professionals "legally be required to cooperate" with any euthanasia wish, he added.

Another challenge for the Catholic Church in Australia is a Royal Commission report issued last year on clergy sex abuse.

The Royal Commission said the bishops should urge the Vatican to change canon law so that "the pontifical secret" — the confidentiality surrounding a canonical investigation and process — "does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse."

Further, the Royal Commission asked that the bishops urge the Vatican to eliminate the "imputability test" of canon law when dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse. This test means, in essence, that a person’s level of guilt for a crime is lessened to the degree that he or she was not aware that the action was wrong; if the imputability is diminished, canon law would recommend a lesser penalty for the guilty.

The commission also recommended the bishops work with the Vatican to amend canon law to remove the time limit for commencement of canonical actions relating to child sexual abuse, but the bishops, in a response to the report, said this was already the practice in Australia.

Archbishop Fisher said two Australian states have already made it law requiring for priests to break the seal of the confessional — a law that, as reported by Australia’s state broadcaster ABC, priests have said they will not follow.

The archbishop said it was presumptuous of the Royal Commission to think that one nation’s bishops would ask the church worldwide to "alter its universal teaching." He added he found it ironic that, following a recent case where a criminal defense attorney turned out to be a police informant, Australia’s legal community wants to "enshrine" lawyer-client confidentiality in Australian law, yet not extend "confessional privilege" to the church.

Changes in the law, Archbishop Fisher said, would not help uncover more abuse, but would likely hinder it, as any priest considering confessing to abuse would instead not confess to keep the abuse from being reported.

Be that as it may, he added, confession is an "underutilized" sacrament in Australia. There are "church centers in the cities where thousands" of Catholic go to confession, Archbishop Fisher said, "but in the parishes, it’s much, much less."

The archbishop said he hopes the Vatican meeting with the heads of bishops’ conferences worldwide on clergy sex abuse drives home a few points: "that it’s not Anglo-Saxon, it’s not a media beat-up and it’s of world proportions."

The problems surrounding the issue are "severe, they’re real and they’re universal" Archbishop Fisher said. "Sadly, I think there are bishops around the world who still do not get it," Archbishop Fisher said, but they should, he added, "learn from the American, the Irish and the Australian experience" before the issue comes knocking at their own door.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison

 

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Copyright © 2019 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.

23 hours 34 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican has created a set of pastoral guidelines to inspire and improve the church’s work in addressing the crime of human trafficking and the care of its victims worldwide.

The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released its "Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking" Jan. 17 at a Vatican news conference.

"Pope Francis’ insistent teaching on human trafficking provides the foundation for the present pastoral orientations which draw also from the longstanding practical experience of many international Catholic NGOs working in the field and from the observations of representatives of bishops’ conferences," the text said.

"While approved by the Holy Father, the orientations do not pretend to exhaust the church’s teaching on human trafficking; rather, they provide a series of key considerations that may be useful to Catholics and others in their pastoral ministry, in planning and practical engagement, in advocacy and dialogue," it said.

The Migrants and Refugees Section also released a separate publication, "Lights on the Ways of Hope," which compiles Pope Francis’ teachings on migrants, refugees and human trafficking.

"Its purpose is similar to that of the ‘Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,’ to serve one and all as an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment of the complex events" concerning the movements of people today, and as "a guide to inspire" people to look to the future with hope, the book’s introduction said.

The nearly 500-page volume collects more than 300 complete or excerpted speeches, messages and reflections by the pope on the three themes.

Additionally, the collection is available online at https://migrants-refugees.va/resource-center/collection/ with a robust search engine to help people who are looking to study more in-depth what the pope has said, Scalabrinian Father Fabio Baggio, the section’s undersecretary, said at the news conference.

While the printed volume compiles Pope Francis’ teachings from 2013 to the end of 2017 in Italian and English, the online version will offer other languages and be updated with more recent talks by Pope Francis as well as the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II on migrants, refugees and human trafficking, said Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, the section’s other undersecretary.

While the collected teachings offer a more academic service, the pastoral guidelines on human trafficking have the specific aim of inspiring action, aiding current efforts and reaching the long-term goal "to prevent and ultimately dismantle this most evil and sinful enterprise of deception, entrapment, domination and exploitation," Father Czerny said.

The International Labor Organization estimates there are more than 40 million victims of human trafficking around the world. It estimates 81 percent of victims are trapped in forced labor, 25 percent are children and 75 percent are women and girls. It also estimates that the trafficking of human beings for forced labor or sexual exploitation generates $150 billion a year, making it the third-largest crime industry in the world behind drugs and arms trafficking.

The complex and global nature of human trafficking requires a global and multidisciplinary response, the guidelines said.

"The booklet will help the church play its important role in this struggle," Father Czerny said, also announcing his office will host a three-day conference in April at the Vatican to discuss implementing the guidelines.

The orientations are "offered to Catholic dioceses, parishes and religious congregations, schools and universities, Catholic and other organizations of civil society and any group willing to respond," he said.

"They are for planning and evaluating practical pastoral engagement as well as advocacy and dialogue," adding that many of the points "should be read as proposals for policy" for governments.

"It is up to citizens to make it clear to their state that this is something that is going on within our borders" and requires action by the state, which is ultimately responsible for protecting the human rights and security of those within its borders, Father Czerny told reporters.

One area of concern, he said, is that the large numbers of migrants and refugees moving across borders are providing "fertile ground" for traffickers.

Looking specifically at North America’s border concerns regarding "caravans" of people escaping Central and South America, he said it is "very important to see that migration policy and trafficking are linked."

"The more difficult you make it for people to move, the more likely they are to be trafficked so that is a very important consideration if we are really concerned about human rights and human dignity," said Father Czerny.

While the church has been actively engaged on multiple levels and places in the fight against trafficking for many years, "this handbook is really the first coherent publication pulled together" on the subject, making it "an important step" in this battle, he said.

The guidelines present pertinent quotes and teachings from Pope Francis and detailed input from church leaders, scholars and experts working in the field of trafficking.

They offer a reading and analysis of "Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st century? How can it remain so hidden?" as well as an understanding of "How does the ugly, evil business of human trafficking operate?" Father Czerny said.

It concludes, he said, with action guidelines addressing, "What can be done to alleviate and eliminate human trafficking? How can it be done better?"

The 40-page booklet is available at https://migrants-refugees.va/resource-center/documents/ in formats suitable for professional reprints or for sharing online.  

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Copyright © 2019 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.

23 hours 46 min

Last year, a sold out crowd gathered to watch a demonstration by  Fr. Leo cooking  Penne Vodka. After dinner and a  night of fellowship, there was  and a friendly cookoff between the two priests, which featured ingredients such as turkey, Cincinnati’s Barbeque Grippo Potato Chips, and quail eggs.

Check out the video of Fr. Leo’s cooking demonstration:

1 day 2 hours
Seton High School's Life Squad March for Life in Washington DC (Courtesy Photo)Seton High School’s Life Squad March for Life in Washington DC (Courtesy Photo)

Thousands from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati attend the annual March for Life each January in Washington, D.C., marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion on demand.

Among the participants are area high school students and their chaperones, who make the journey to the nation’s capital by bus after a prayerful send-off. The 2019 send-off is scheduled for Jan. 17, 7 – 8 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church in Montgomery. Bishop Joseph R. Binzer will preside.

It’s an experience of solidarity and hope for those who take part, as evidenced in these student reflections:

“As a sophomore at Stephen T. Badin High School this isn’t my first March for Life, but it is my first time marching in our nation’s capital. Since I was little, I have always participated in the Butler County March for Life with my parish, Queen of Peace. We would march around the courthouse with signs and praying intentions for each lap around. We would finish with a song and the Lord’s Prayer. It was also great to see all of the churches in Hamilton, of different denominations, come together for this cause. Each year I chose the same sign to carry: “Adoption is the loving option.” My first and strongest feeling about abortion is the role the mother plays. I feel the love of my own mom every day by what she does for me and how she guides me through my life. So how can a mother take the life of her own child? There are options and I want to help communicate those to women who feel trapped, alone, and afraid. I also want to be the voice for that tiny baby who wants so badly to see his or her mom and live the life we all enjoy. I am super excited to go to D.C. in January and be a part of such a life changing event.”
Isabelle Helton, Stephen T. Badin High School, class of ‘21

“The March for Life is truly the most unique spectacle that I have ever been a part of. If I could describe my two experiences being there in just a few words, I would use the words ‘love,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘diversity.’ “The love I felt at the March in D.C . came in many different forms. From my friends and teachers that I spent the time with, to the heartfelt words of the speakers, to the smiles on the faces of everyone around me. The joy that radiated from the impromptu singing and uplifting chants by young people throughout the March was contagious. If I’ve ever seen love in action, it’s in the hearts and actions of those marching with me down Constitution Avenue. “The mere presence of the countless peaceful warriors assembled together in one of the most powerful cities on earth gave me a renewed hope in the possibility for change. Not just a change in policy or law, but a change of hearts and minds. Without hope, what is the point of any of this? Similarly, without any of this action, there would be no hope. Just as no baby formed in the womb is exactly alike, neither are any two pro-lifers. This was perhaps my most unexpected takeaway from my first March for Life three years ago. There is a misconception out there that pro-lifers are only old, white, Christian, male, red voters. Nothing could be further from the truth. The majority of people I saw were young, God-praising people. There were others holding ‘Atheists Against Abortion’ and ‘Feminists for Life’ signs among the crowd…Jews, Muslims, Latinos, blacks and whites, gay and straight, former Planned Parenthood executives, and those who survived their killing clinics… We are the pro-life generation, and we are here to stay.”
Vinny Ramundo, Senior Rockets for Life president, Archbishop McNicholas High School, class of ’19.

1 day 3 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Lauren Desberg

By Carl Peters

CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) — In recent months, violinist Alana Youssefian has performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Yale University and venues in Texas, California, Washington and Canada.

But she’s coming home to New Jersey — her hometown parish in particular — to record her first album.

The recording will take place at St. Rose of Lima Church in suburban Haddon Heights, where her mother still is involved in the parish music program.

Youssefian, 26, attended the parish school, sang in the parish children and teen choirs, and listened to the Spice Girls with her friends. She holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, Rice University and The Julliard School, and she makes her living as a traveling soloist, performing Bach, Haydn and Vivaldi.

She told the Catholic Star Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Camden, that her specialty is "historical performance," often working with musicians playing historical instruments.

Because of that, Youssefian easily can be viewed as the image of sophistication and high art. And she is given to saying things such as, "I can’t recommend Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas enough."

Don’t think stuffy though.

In her spare time, she reads escapist fiction and listens to the Rolling Stones and the Beastie Boys.

Moreover, those who have seen her on stage describe a magnetic and exuberant performer. One admirer has referred to her as a baroque Lady Gaga.

Pre-performance excitement is always overcome by "a feeling of pure joy," she said in an email interview.

Once a performance concludes, she said, "the joy is compounded with a feeling of gratefulness to my colleagues and audience for the support and love they give back to me."

"The most rewarding part of the job for me," she added, "is when someone comes up after a concert and says, ‘I used to think classical music was boring, but you changed my mind!’"

Youssefian grew up in an atmosphere of music and faith. Her mother is a pianist, her brother is a violinist and guitarist, and her father is a drummer and guitarist.

"My mother, Ellen Youssefian, has been involved in the music program at St. Rose Church since I was a baby, and she got me and my brother involved very young," Youssefian said.

She started playing the violin at the age of 4 and eventually learned to improvise while playing hymns during church services.

"My favorite memories of Saint Rose are centered around my time in the choir, sharing beautiful music with my friends and the church community. Music has its own language and its own ability to touch people," she said.

"My mom always told me and my brother that our music was a gift to be shared with the community, and I continue to remember that even in the craziness of the professional world," she added. "I definitely consider my music as an expression of my spirituality; it has always felt like something bigger than me. I’m thankful every day that I’ve been given a gift that can bring so much joy to those who experience it."

As a student at Oberlin Conservatory, Youssefian became interested in historical performance.

"The approach to the music and the sound the historical instruments produce is so alive, way more relative to singing and speech," she explained. "The historical repertoire also gave us some of the most beautiful sacred music you will ever hear."

The album she will record beginning Feb. 25 is titled "Brilliance Indeniable: Virtuoso Violin in the Court of Louis XV." It will feature never-before-recorded works for violin and chamber ensemble by the French composer Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, a virtuoso violinist in 18th-century Paris.

Youssefian will be joined by friends Stephen Goist on violin, Matt Zucker on cello and Michael Sponseller on harpsichord.

The violinist chose to record the album in St. Rose of Lima Church for personal and professional reasons. She calls the church "the home of my musical upbringing." Just as importantly, the church has excellent acoustics, which she considers better than a studio.

"The type of music we will be recording is for historical instruments, which sound especially beautiful in the resonance of a church," she said.

Youssefian also will perform music from the album she is recording during a concert at the church Feb. 28.

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Editor’s Note: More information about Youssefian can be found online at www.alanayoussefian.com.

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Peters is managing editor of the Catholic Star Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Camden.

 

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Copyright © 2019 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 17 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a second letter issued in mid-January about what he knew and didn’t regarding abuse allegations involving his predecessor, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Washington’s retired archbishop, apologized Jan. 15 for what he called a "lapse of memory," clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, but he had "forgotten" about it.

In the letter sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged that he became aware of the allegation against now-Archbishop McCarrick after receiving a report in 2004 about a different allegation, but the "survivor also indicated that he had observed and experienced ‘inappropriate conduct’ by then-Bishop McCarrick."

The former cardinal is now an archbishop, having stepped down from the College of Cardinals in July 2018 following accusations that he abused minors in the past. Other accusations followed about inappropriate behavior with seminarians. He has denied the accusations, but the Vatican is reportedly considering whether to laicize him. He now is living in a Capuchin Franciscan friary in Kansas.

Cardinal Wuerl was bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2004 and he said in the Jan. 15 letter that back then, he received a report from the Pittsburgh Diocesan Review Board, which reviews allegations of abuse, about a separate case and "at the conclusion of this report, the survivor indicated the ‘inappropriate conduct’" he observed by McCarrick.

Previously, Cardinal Wuerl had said in a Jan. 12 letter that when "the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was brought against Archbishop McCarrick, I stated publicly that I was never aware of any such allegation or rumors." But the context, he said, was in discussions about sexual abuse of minors, not adults. He said in the Jan. 15 letter that the survivor in the Pittsburgh case had asked that the matter be kept confidential, he heard no more about it, "I did not avert to it again," and "only afterwards was I reminded of the 14-year-old accusation of inappropriate conduct which, by that time, I had forgotten."

The latest letter from the cardinal came after the person who had brought up the "inappropriate conduct" allegations in Pittsburgh spoke with The Washington Post newspaper in mid-January to say that Cardinal Wuerl, indeed, knew about the concerns he had then voiced.  

Cardinal Wuerl, in the latest letter, said he apologized to this survivor "for any of the pain and suffering he endured" during the abuse he suffered, and also "from the actions of then-Bishop McCarrick."

He also said "it is important for me to accept personal responsibility and apologize for this lapse of memory. There was never the intention to provide false information."

Cardinal Wuerl has been under fire since an August 2018 report from a grand jury in Pennsylvania that painted a mixed record during his time as bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh as it pertained to handling abuse cases. The report has recently been under scrutiny, however, and since then there have been calls for the cardinal to step down from his current post.

Now 78, he had submitted his resignation to the Pope Francis when he turned 75, as required by canon law. The pope accepted it last fall and named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington; he’ ll remain in the post until a successor is named.

 

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1 day 20 hours

IMAGE: CNS photos/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the upcoming meeting on protecting minors, Pope Francis wants leaders of the world’s bishops’ conferences to clearly understand what must be done to prevent abuse, care for victims and ensure no case is whitewashed or covered up.

"The pope wants it to be an assembly of pastors, not an academic conference — a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering," Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, told reporters Jan. 16.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting on the protection of minors in the church "has a concrete purpose: The goal is that all of the bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors," Gisotti said, reading from a written communique in Italian and English.

"Pope Francis knows that a global problem can only be resolved with a global response," he said.

The pope announced in September that he was calling the presidents of the world’s bishops conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men’s and women’s religious orders to the Vatican to address the crisis and focus on responsibility, accountability and transparency.

Gisotti said, "It is fundamental for the Holy Father that when the bishops who will come to Rome have returned to their countries and their dioceses that they understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried."

He acknowledged the "high expectations" surrounding the meeting and emphasized that "the church is not at the beginning of the fight against abuse."

"The meeting is a stage along the painful journey that the church has unceasingly and decisively undertaken for over 15 years," he said.

In a separate communique, the Vatican press office said the meeting’s organizing committee met with Pope Francis Jan. 10. The committee members are Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, president of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The members informed the pope about their preparations for the gathering, which will include plenary sessions, working groups and moments of common prayer and "listening to testimonies."

Pope Francis has asked Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the former director of the Vatican press office, to moderate the plenary sessions.

The meeting will include a penitential liturgy Feb. 23 and a closing Mass Feb. 24, Gisotti said.

"Pope Francis guaranteed his presence for the entire duration of the meeting," the communique said.

The organizing committee has already informed participating bishops that they should prepare for the gathering by meeting with survivors of abuse.

"The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened. For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome to learn firsthand the suffering that they have endured," said the committee in a letter released to the public by the Vatican Dec. 18.

Without "a comprehensive and communal response" to the abuse crisis, the committee said, "not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world."

The members also had sent participants a questionnaire so they could "express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the church."

Pope Francis, they had said, "is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the church can be met. But each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency and holding everyone in the church accountable."

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1 day 23 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — To pray well, people need to have the heart of a child — a child who feels safe and loved in a father’s tender embrace, Pope Francis said.

If people have become estranged from God, feel lonely, abandoned or have realized their mistakes and are paralyzed by guilt, "we can still find the strength to pray" by starting with the word, "Father," pronounced with the tenderness of a child, he said.

No matter what problems or feelings a person is experiencing or the mistakes someone has made, God "will not hide his face. He will not close himself up in silence. Say, ‘Father,’ and he will answer,’" the pope said Jan. 16 during his weekly general audience.

After greeting the thousands of faithful gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope continued his series of talks on the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting on the Aramaic term, "Abba," which Jesus uses to address God, the father.

"It is rare Aramaic expressions do not to get translated into Greek in the New Testament," which shows how special, important and nuanced "Abba" is in reflecting the radical and new relationship God has with his people, the pope said.

St. Paul, he said, wrote to the Romans that they were now "children of God, for you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’"

Jesus teaches his disciples that "Christians can no longer consider God a tyrant to be feared," but instead feel a sense of trust growing in their hearts in which they can "speak to the creator, calling him ‘Father,’" the pope said.

The term "Abba," the pope said, "is something much more intimate and moving that simply calling God, ‘father,’" It is an endearing term, somewhat like "dad," "daddy" or "papa."

Even though the Lord’s Prayer has been translated using the more formal term, "Father," "we are invited to say, ‘papa,’ to have a rapport with God like a child with his or her papa."

Whatever term used, it is meant to inspire and foster a feeling of love and warmth, he said, like a child would feel in the full embrace of a tender father.

"To pray well, one must have the heart of a child, not a heart that feels adequate" or self-satisfied, he said.

People must imagine this prayer being recited by the prodigal son after he has been embraced by his father, who waited so long, who forgave him and only wants to say how much he missed his child, Pope Francis said.

"Then we discover how those words take on life, take on strength," he said.

People will then wonder, "’How is it possible that you, God, know only love? That you don’t know hate? Where inside of you is revenge, the demand for justice, the fury over your wounded honor?’ And God will respond, ‘I know only love.’"

The father of the prodigal son also displays the maternal qualities of forgiveness and empathy, the pope said. Mothers especially are the ones who keep loving their children, "even when they would no longer deserve anything."

"God is looking for you even if you do not seek him," he said. "God loves you even if you have forgotten him. God sees a glimpse of beauty in you even if you think you have uselessly squandered all of your talents."

"God is not just a father, he is like a mother who never stops loving" her child.

At the end of the general audience, in preparation for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25, Pope Francis said, "ecumenism is not something optional."

The purpose of the week of prayer and encounter, he said, is to foster and strengthen a common witness upholding "true justice and supporting the weakest through concrete, appropriate and effective responses."

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Copyright © 2019 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 photo/courtesy Mazur via catholicnews.org.uk

By Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Visiting with Christian communities in northern Israel and the northern Palestinian Territories has helped bishops participating in the annual Holy Land Coordination see "the great need" to promote an understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, said Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Ireland.

"There is … a need to devise ways for both people to understand that, ultimately and finally, for the common good of all, a permanent and sustainable solution is needed," said Bishop Treanor. "The kind of issues at stake here are not easily resolved, but some kind of solution has to be found. It is difficult to know when that will be achieved."

"It does not make sense that people living in such close proximity should be a source of conflict," he added.

He said every generation has the responsibility to take the necessary steps to promote mutual respect and understanding. Based on the Irish experience, he highlighted the important role the international community plays in finding solutions to such conflicts.

"The kind of problems faced here … are part of the human condition," Bishop Treanor said. "An emphasis must be on the role of the international community. The world has become more interdependent … and the international community must be involved so that people may live in peace and harmony."

The annual Holy Land Coordination includes bishops from North America, Europe and South Africa. Based this year in the northern Israeli city of Haifa Jan. 12-17, it has focused on the challenges and opportunities for Christians in Israel. The bishops visited Christian hospitals, schools and villages in Israel. They also met with Christian religious leaders, Christian mayors from Israeli towns, members of the Israeli Knesset, academics and internal refugees from the Melkite Catholic village of Ikrit.

The diverse meetings have helped highlight the "incomprehensible complexity" of the situation, said Bishop Treanor.

"We have also seen people working for peace and justice and the promotion of mutual understanding. Those are the ingredients for a sustainable solution and hope," he said.

On Jan. 13, the bishops celebrated Mass at the Church of the Visitation in the northern Palestinian village of Zababdeh and visited the Jenin refugee camp and a school run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.

The school has been adversely affected by the U.S. government’s withholding of funds to UNRWA, noted Archbishop Timothy Broglio, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.

"The cutoff of USA aid is a very aggravating factor, which makes life more difficult," he said, noting that class sizes have increased to about 45 students per classroom and job training and job promotion programs had to be closed. "Those are innocent people caught in a battle."

Job promotion is critically important in helping young Christians remain in the Holy Land, he said.

He also noted the importance of meeting with the Christian community in Israel to learn about their perspective.

"They are Israeli citizens and do form a bridge. They can be loyal members of Israel as well as loyal members of our faith tradition," he said.

Archbishop Broglio said that while Christians in Israel have opportunities, they also face challenges and discrimination such as the newly passed Nation State Law, which recognizes Israel as "the national home of the Jewish people." Opponents say the law reduces non-Jews to second-class citizens.

The bishops’ visit also inspires hope in the local Christian community that people abroad care about them and that will advocate for them to their governments.

In his homily at the Church of the Visitation in the West Bank, South Africa Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town told parishioners that the bishops understood the challenges they face and the importance of their presence in the Holy Land.

"We know and understand the difficult circumstances in which you live, and we also understand the important vocation you have of keeping the flame of Christianity alight in the place of the Messiah’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection," he said.

Catholics cannot remain silent in the presence of untruth, injustice, hatred and violence, Archbishop Brislin said.

"The promotion of truth, love, justice and peace are integral to the mission of the church. In the presence of untruth, injustice, hatred and violence we cannot remain silent. We have an obligation to witness to the kingdom. We cannot be silent, nor can we be neutral," he said.

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Copyright © 2019 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 17 hours

WASHINGTON–In response to Monday’s federal court ruling from Pennsylvania granting a nationwide injunction barring the broadened moral and religious exemption to the HHS mandate, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday’s court ruling freezing these common-sense regulations leaves those with conscientious or religious objections to the HHS mandate out in the cold. In a free country, no one should be forced to facilitate or fund things like contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, which go against their core beliefs. We pray that this decision will be appealed and that future courts will respect the free exercise arguments of the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others who simply seek the freedom to serve their neighbors without the threat of massive government fines hanging over their heads.”

2 days 21 hours

Founded as the first Cincinnati Catholic parish in 1819, this faith community has grown under various religious patrons, in two different locations, and in several sacred buildings. Today, St. Francis Xavier parish is a legacy of those first community of Catholic believers, now sponsored by the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) in the heart of the marketplace in downtown Cincinnati. The Church building at 611 Sycamore is a registered historic site and the Parish has been an apostolate of the Jesuit Fathers since 1845. The theme of this bicentennial celebration is “remember, rejoice, reach out.” The Parish motto, “Inward Reflection, Outward Action,” reflects the Jesuit charism of contemplatives in action. Catholic faith encourages prayer that leads to social action and the justice values we embrace as a community. Jesuits have ministered for the care of souls through preaching, sacraments, and social outreach since their founding by St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier in 1540.

January 20 • 1:00 PM
OPENING CEREMONIES
Concert, Ribbon Cutting, Historical Displays, Tours, Music, Heavy Appetizers
SPEAKER SERIES I Fr. Tom Kennealy, SJ
Concert, Ribbon Cutting, Historical Displays, Tours, Music, Heavy Appetizers

March 10 • 3:00 PM
LENTEN CONCERT
St. Ursula Academy Choir

March 17 • 6:00 PM
SPEAKER SERIES II
Fr. Dave Meconi, SJ
“Surrender and Resistance in Ignatian Spirituality”

March 31 • 6:15 PM
LENTEN CONCERT
All Saints Choir

May 19 • 10:30 AM
BICENTENNIAL MASS of THANKSGIVING
Most Rev. Joseph Binzer
Brunch Reception following

May 26 • 10:30 AM
MASS featuring Psalm 150 Brass Ensemble

June 23 • 11:30 AM
EXULTATE IN ARTES
“Rejoice in the Arts”
Live Celebration of Art and Music

October 6 • 6:00 PM
SPEAKER SERIES III
Sr. Therese Gillman, OSF

December 3 • 6:00 PM
CLOSING EVENT
The Feast of St. Francis Xavier
MASS
SPEAKER SERIES IV
Fr. Patrick Fairbanks, SJ
followed by the movie “Francis Xavier”

St. Francis Xavier Church is located at 611 Sycamore St., Cincinnati OH 45202. For a map, click here

2 days 21 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/FBI handout via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For nearly three months, parishioners at St. Peter Catholic Church in Cameron, Wisconsin, were praying for the safe return of one of their own — 13-year-old Jayme Closs.

When parishioners heard the news that she had escaped her abductor Jan. 10 and was safe, their prayers switched to gratitude.

The parish sign said, "Praise God Welcome Home Jayme," after its Mass times listing. It joined dozens of messages that had sprung up in signs and storefronts across the Wisconsin town and neighboring towns cheering the teen’s safety.

"Our prayers have been answered and God is good," parishioner JoAnn Trowbridge told the local NBC affiliate, WEAU, after Jan. 13 Mass at St. Peter. She also said she thinks their prayers may have been answered because "God got sick of us nagging him."

St. Peter, in the Diocese of Superior, is where Jayme attended religious education classes and Mass with her parents, James and Denise, who were murdered Oct. 15, 2018. Their funeral Mass was celebrated at the church Oct. 27.

Superior Bishop James P. Powers said in a Jan. 11 message to priests and parish leaders that he hoped all parishes would add a "thanksgiving petition to God" during Masses that Jayme was found alive and safe. He said that during her nearly three-month captivity, she had to endure "God knows what kind of physical and mental torture as we kept her in our prayers asking for her safe return."

"We now want to keep her in our prayers asking God’s healing touch on her body, mind and spirit," he said in a message posted on the Facebook page of the Catholic Herald, Superior’s diocesan newspaper.

Jake Patterson, 21, has been charged with couple’s murder and with kidnapping Jayme, both of which he has confessed to, according to a criminal complaint released Jan. 14 by the Barron County District Attorney.

Jayme was found in the town of Gordon, about 70 miles from her home in Barron, when she escaped the cabin in the woods where she had been held for 88 days and met a woman walking a dog who took her to a nearby home and called police.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told reporters when he announced the teen’s return that she was back through the "hope and the prayers in this community and what everybody did."

He also primarily praised the teen saying: "She took that first step. Taking that step was just unbelievable." He said when people talk about this kind of situation with their kids they need to advise them: "Never give up hope, keep your prayers alive. When you get into a situation, you never give up."

Jayme is currently staying with an aunt. Her grandfather told The Associated Press that she is "in exceptionally good spirits."

St. Peter Church will hold a special service of Thanksgiving for her return Jan. 20. During the parish’s Jan. 13 Mass, parishioners prayed for Jayme and her family and for all who had searched for the teen while she was missing.

They said they want her to know of their support in the weeks, months and years ahead, particularly that she can "handle this and get her life back together," as one parishioner put it.

– – –

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

– – –

Copyright © 2019 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

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Marking the Pontifical Academy for Life’s 25th anniversary, Pope Francis encouraged the research and advisory body to promote human solidarity and fraternity as part of its mandate to promote human life.

A sense of fraternity between people and nations has been weakened with an erosion of mutual trust and "remains the unkept promise of modernity," Pope Francis said.

"The strengthening of fraternity, generated in the human family by the worship of God in spirit and truth, is the new frontier of Christianity," the pope said in a letter addressed to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the pontifical academy.

Speaking to reporters at a Vatican news conference Jan. 15, Archbishop Paglia said the letter’s title, "The Human Community," indicated how the pope wants pro-life concerns to include a concern for human relationships — in the family, in society, among nations as well as with creation.

"Life is not an abstract universal concept, it is the human person," and the way human beings live embedded in a specific context interwoven with others, he said.

Christians must rebuild and strengthen human bonds and relationships, the archbishop said, because "the weakening of fraternity, whether we like it or not, contaminates all the human and life sciences."

The pope sent the letter to mark the 25th anniversary of the academy’s establishment by St. John Paul II on Feb. 11, 1994.

St. John Paul, the pope said, recognized the "rapid and sweeping changes taking place in biomedicine" and saw the need for greater research, education and communication aimed at demonstrating "that science and technology, at the service of the human person and his fundamental rights, contribute to the overall good of man and to the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation."

Pope Francis said the academy’s new statutes, issued in 2016, were meant to encourage its activities, expand its fields to include the rapid and complex discoveries and changes unfolding in science, medicine and technology, and recognize the social and relational effects of these new developments.

Today, the pope wrote, the human dimension is being lost.

"Mutual distrust between individuals and peoples is being fed by an inordinate pursuit of self-interest and intense competition that can even turn violent. The gap between concern with one’s own well-being and the prosperity of the larger human family seems to be stretching to the point of complete division," he wrote.

People’s estranged or strained relationship with others and with the earth is "the result of the scarce attention paid to the decisive global issue of the unity of the human family and its future," the pope said. It reflects the existence of an actual "anti-culture," which is not only indifferent to the community, it is "hostile to men and women and in league with the arrogance of wealth."

Progress has produced a "paradox," he said. Just when humanity has developed the economic and technological resources that make caring for the whole human family and its home possible, "those same economic and technological resources are creating our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares."

People’s awareness of this paradox often leaves them "demoralized and disoriented, bereft of vision," he said, and in even greater need of the hope and joy offered by Christ and of a taste for the beauty of a life lived in fraternity with others on the earth as a common home.

"It is time for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples," Pope Francis wrote. "We know that the faith and love needed for this covenant draw their power from the mystery of history’s redemption in Jesus Christ."

But, he wrote, Christians must reflect whether they have been "seriously focused on the passion and joy of proclaiming God’s love for the dwelling of his children on the earth? Or are they still overly focused on their own problems and on making timid accommodations to an essentially worldly outlook?"

"We can question seriously whether we have done enough as Christians to offer our specific contribution to a vision of humanity capable of upholding the unity of the family of peoples in today’s political and cultural conditions," he said.

Perhaps, he said, "we have lost sight of its centrality, putting our ambition for spiritual hegemony over the governance of the secular city, concentrated as it is upon itself and its wealth, ahead of a concern for local communities inspired by the Gospel spirit of hospitality toward the poor and the hopeless."

The Pontifical Academy for Life has an important role to play in facing this difficult challenge, the pope said. Its scientific community has shown for the past 25 years how it can enter into dialogue with the world and "offer its own competent and respected contribution."

"A sign of this is its constant effort to promote and protect human life at every stage of its development, its condemnation of abortion and euthanasia as extremely grave evils that contradict the spirit of life and plunge us into the anti-culture of death," the pope wrote.

"These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time," he said.

Pope Francis expressed his hope that the academy would be "a place for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good," a dialogue unafraid of advancing "arguments and formulations that can serve as a basis for intercultural and interreligious, as well as interdisciplinary, exchanges" along with discussions about human rights and duties, "beginning with solidarity with those in greatest need."

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Editors: The pope’s letter, "Humana Communitas" can be found in English at: http://www.academyforlife.va/content/dam/pav/documenti%20pdf/ 2019/LETTERA%20PAPA%2025anni/HC%20ENG_DEF_ENG_.pdf

– – –

Copyright © 2019 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 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
Posted
Francesco Zanardi, head of an Italian organization of clerical abuse victims, said, “You would think that pedophile priests don’t exist in Italy! ... 18 years after the scandals broke, the problem is still unresolved.” 7 hours 54 min
The human rights organization has 47 member states; the organization’s leader, Thorbjorn Jagland said he and the Pope discussed efforts to combat the sexual abuse of minors. 7 hours 54 min
At a Mass celebrated in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae on January 17, Pope Francis warned against stubbornness of heart. 7 hours 54 min
Roméo Dallaire, a former Canadian general and senator who was in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, met with Pope Francis to discuss their mutual opposition to child soldiers. “The Dallaire Initiative stands proudly with Pope Francis on his call for a more peaceful world and the elimination of the use of children in conflict worldwide,” his organization tweeted after their January 17 meeting. 7 hours 54 min
“I pray this step and our continued commitment to child protection will send a clear message to the faithful of this local Church that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and that those in positions of authority, namely bishops, will be held accountable for keeping the Church safe, especially for children and others who may be vulnerable,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said. 8 hours 54 min
The southern African nation of 14 million (map) is 75% Protestant and 7% Catholic. 8 hours 54 min
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the parish priest issued statements following the shooting at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church. 8 hours 54 min
The majority of Americans, however, describe themselves as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life,” and only 42% say that life begins at conception, according to an annual Marist Poll. 8 hours 54 min
A lengthy review in L’Osservatore Romano’s Italian edition (p. 4) expressed hope that Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia’s new book would help reawaken the desire for heaven in the Catholic imagination. Archbishop Paglia, 73, is president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and grand chancellor of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. 8 hours 54 min
The 37-page document, “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking,” was published by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugee Section. 9 hours 54 min
“This is a time of uncertainty, and I do think we should pray for our politicians and our leaders, that the Lord will guide them in order to find some kind of active plan and also that people will really get behind them in it,” Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said after the House of Commons, in a 432-202 vote, rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the EU. 9 hours 54 min

In a front-page editorial, the Vatican newspaper’s new editor described the centenary of the founding of the Partito Popolare Italiano (Italian Popular Party) on January 18, 1919, as the first of the important historical anniversaries of 2019.

9 hours 54 min

In 1908, Rev. Paul Wattson, then an Anglican religious in Graymoor, New York, began a Church Unity Octave with the support of Anglican and Catholic prelates, including Cardinal William O’Connell of Boston.

11 hours 54 min
1 day 7 hours
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, 54, was installed as bishop of Jalandhar in 2013. He was arrested and charged with rape last year. 1 day 7 hours
Kachin State (map), according to census data, is 64% Buddhist and 34% Christian, although the report describes it as a Christian-majority state. Myanmar as a whole is is 88% Buddhist, 6% Christian, and 4% Muslim. 1 day 8 hours
North Sumatra (map) is an Indonesian province that is 60% Muslim and 37% Christian. 1 day 8 hours
The Bangsamoro Organic Law, if approved by voters, will establish a region officially known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (map). 1 day 8 hours
The nation of 5.8 million is 25% Catholic, 25% Protestant, and 15% Muslim, with 35% retaining indigenous beliefs. Pope Francis made an apostolic journey to the conflict-torn nation in November 2015. 1 day 8 hours
Mosul was the largest Iraqi city conquered by ISIS in 2014; Iraqi troops retook the city in 2017. 1 day 8 hours
Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, 68, was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in 2010. 1 day 8 hours
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that “the enforcement of compulsory school attendance, to prevent social isolation of the applicants’ children and ensure their integration into society, was a relevant reason for justifying the partial withdrawal of parental authority.” 1 day 8 hours
Preaching to his brother bishops, the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos, said that “the Church as God’s people is a synodal Church, it walks together, to proclaim and witness [to] the Gospel. The synodal Church is a concept that is easy to express with words, but it is not so easy to put into practice ... Synodality belongs to the whole Church and to all the members of the Church.” 1 day 8 hours
A delegation of Chilean bishops has met with Pope Francis, a year after the Pontiff visited the nation. 1 day 8 hours
Mother Mary Claude Oguh recounted that a few years ago, she “tried to close one of their convents in a troubled region of Nigeria where the security of the sisters could not be guaranteed. Her own sisters declined to move. They told her, ‘But we have our children here in the school. We wouldn’t want to leave them and move.’” 1 day 8 hours
In 1219, St. Francis of Assisi met with Egyptian Sultan Al-Malik al-Kamil. 1 day 8 hours
The president issued a proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, which commemorates the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. 1 day 8 hours
An estimated 100 Christians died, and 50,000 fled their homes, during a 2008 anti-Christian pogrom in the eastern Indian state of Odisha (Orissa). 1 day 9 hours
Bishops from over a dozen nations are visiting the Holy Land—an annual visit under the auspices of the Holy Land Coordination Group. 1 day 9 hours
The bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church plan legal action in India’s courts in response to “wrong and malicious news” that has appeared online. The bishops said that anti-Catholic groups have engaged in “character assassination,” posting false stories that allege misconduct by the bishops. 1 day 13 hours
Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak of Bjelovar-Krizevci, Croatia, faces criminal charges for endangerment after he accidentally shot a hunting companion. The bishop, an avid hunter, wounded his friend in the leg. 1 day 13 hours
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was scheduled to preside at Mass a the rally preceding the annual March for Life, will be replaced by Archbishop Christopher Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the US. Cardinal Wuerl is facing heavy criticism because of his claim—now retracted—that he was unaware of sex-abuse charges against his predecessor, former cardinal McCarrick. 1 day 14 hours
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster presided at a January 13 Mass at Farm Street Jesuit Church in London, welcoming members of the “LGBT Catholic Westminster Pastoral Council.” The cardinal also presided at a welcoming Mass last year for the group, which he has charged with outreach to homosexuals. 1 day 14 hours
1 day 14 hours
Meeting on January 17 with members of the Italian police unit that patrols St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that Christians should “live our relationships with a fraternal and merciful attitude, especially with people who suffer from sickness, abandonment, and marginalization.” The Inspectorate of Public Security coordinates with the Vatican’s own security officials to guard the Pope and the public approaches to Vatican territory. 1 day 14 hours
Speaking in Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Francis continued his reflections on the Lord’s Prayer during his January 16 general audience (video). 2 days 7 hours
The Pope’s apostolic journey to Chile and Peru, the 22nd foreign trip of his pontificate, took place in January 2018. 2 days 7 hours
Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona, 73, delivered the opening address at the January meeting of India’s Latin-rite bishops. He added, “In our situation, people do not properly understand and appreciate the orthodox formulations ... Hindus say all rivers will go to the ocean so also all people of different religions will go to God. Jainism and Buddhism affirm that one is one’s own saviour by one’s own effort. These views do need to be seriously considered as we affirm the vicarious role of Christ and his sacrifice.” 2 days 8 hours
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople formally recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on January 6 and has now released the full text of the decree in an English translation. 2 days 8 hours
The jihadist group Al-Shabaab was founded in 2006 and is most active in Somalia and Yemen. Kenya, an East African nation of 48 million (map), is 60% Protestant, 23% Catholic, and 11% Muslim. 2 days 8 hours
Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz celebrated the funeral Mass of Pawel Adamowicz, who was assassinated while addressing a fundraiser for sick children. 2 days 8 hours
The Jesuits’ USA Northeast Province has released the names of Jesuits credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. 2 days 8 hours
Pope Francis made his remarks in a message to participants in a meeting between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the leadership of the Federation of the Asian Bishops’ Conferences. On January 15, participants began discussions on Asian bishops’ “responsibility for promoting and safeguarding the doctrine of the faith, considering the specific challenges that face the continent of Asia today.” 2 days 8 hours
The executive order was one of the first actions taken by Gov. Mike DeWine, who assumed office on January 14. 2 days 9 hours
Click here for US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone’s decision in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Trump. 2 days 9 hours
Quoting Hamlet, Martin Buber, C. S. Lewis, and the Polish poetess Wislawa Szymborska, the new editor (Andrea Monda) concludes, “Precisely by virtue of the incarnation, the Christmas surprise is not limited to that night in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but rather, it is what takes place each day in all the places of the world when a human being is born.” 2 days 9 hours
Public Health England, a government agency, issued the “Prevention concordat for better mental health” in 2017. The English and Welsh bishops’ conference tweeted on January 15 that Bishop Richard Moth is “proud to be a signatory” and “looks forward to further supporting national and local initiatives.” 2 days 9 hours
Cardinal Walter Kasper has charged that critics of Pope Francis are using the sex-abuse scandal to advance their own agenda, pushing for the removal of the Pontiff and a new conclave. “There are people who simply don’t like this pontificate,” he told a German radio audience. “They want it to ends as soon as possible.” 2 days 14 hours
At his weekly audience on January 16, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that the work of ecumenism is “not something optional,” and prayers for Christian unity are needed—particularly during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will begin January 18. 2 days 14 hours
Father Federico Lombardi, the retired director of the Vatican press office, will act as moderator during February meetings to discuss the sex-abuse crisis, the Vatican has announced. The meetings—which will bring together leaders from all the world’s episcopal conferences—will include testimony from victims and a penitential liturgy, as well as discussions by the full assembly and smaller working groups. On January 16, Pope Francis met with members of the organizing committee for the event, who outlined their plans. 2 days 14 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted

WASHINGTON--The United States will be sending over 12,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 35, to Panama for the thirty-fourth annual celebration of World Youth Day (WYD). The global event, taking place January 22-27, 2019, in and around Panama City, is expected to draw over 1 million people from all 6 continents.

“The bishops of the United States and I joyfully walk with the young people and young adults of our country as fellow pilgrims,” said Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and the WYD liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In all, 32 bishops from the U.S. are planning to attend the global event.

Bishop Caggiano will be one of 20 bishops who also have been invited by the Vatican to serve as English- and Spanish-language catechists in Panama, giving reflections to groups of pilgrims on the 2019 WYD theme, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). Other U.S. catechist bishops include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

Pope Francis arrives in Panama on Wednesday, January 23, with a special welcome ceremony planned for Thursday, January 24. He will also preside at a Via Crucis prayer service (January 25), a candlelight vigil and adoration (January 26), and the Closing Mass (January 27), where he will announce the location of the next international WYD in 2022.

While the pope and the WYD pilgrims meet in Panama this January, several dioceses and communities across the United States will be hosting “stateside celebrations” concurrent with tWYD events for thousands of young people in the U.S. There will be major gatherings for youth and young adults in California, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State, and a multi-diocesan flagship event in Washington, D.C., called “Panama in the Capital” with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children Action Network, and many others. Details of these events can be found at http://www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/stateside-wyd-celebrations.cfm

“We pray in solidarity with the thousands of young people across the United States who are celebrating this experience digitally and stateside in their local communities,” noted Bishop Caggiano on the connection of the Panama pilgrims and those experiencing WYD at home.

On Wednesday, January 23, the USCCB will collaborate with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) and the Knights of Columbus on a special one-day event called “Fiat Festival,” to be held at the Figali (Amador) Convention Center in Panama from 3:00 to 10:00 pm ET. The event will feature music, keynotes, panels, video, prayer, and a closing Holy Hour with Bishop Robert Barron and Cardinal Sean O’Malley. It will be livestreamed through FOCUS Catholic’s YouTube Channel.

For more information about World Youth Day and the U.S. engagement, go to www.wydusa.org and follow the USCCB’s social media channels throughout WYD.
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Keywords: World Youth Day, Panama, USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Knights of Columbus, FOCUS

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

1 day 9 hours

WASHINGTON—National Catholic Schools Week 2019 (CSW) will be observed in dioceses around the country January 27–February 2. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.,” focuses on the important spiritual, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education firmly rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

As Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Oakland, newly elected chairman of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Catholic Education said, “Young people today need Catholic education more than ever. In a world where truth, beauty and goodness are considered all but subjective, the Way, Truth and Life offered us in Jesus Christ are our only source of direction, clarity and hope. Furthermore, being rooted in faith does not endanger the academic quality of Catholic schools, but in fact is their very motivation for excellence in all things.”

Nearly 1.8 million students are currently educated in 6,352 Catholic schools in cities, suburbs, small towns and rural communities around the country. Students receive an education that helps them become critical thinkers, strong communicators and active members of society, thus equipping them for higher education, a competitive work environment, and most importantly, living a Christian life of virtue in a challenging society. “Following Christ’s example of loving and serving all people, Catholic schools proudly provide a well-rounded education to disadvantaged families, new arrivals to America and to all who seek a seat in our schools. Since the inception of Catholic schools in our country, we have always sought to welcome families of all backgrounds while maintaining our principles and teaching in a spirit of charity,” Bishop Barber said.

The observance of CSW began in 1974. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses, and family gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety nine percent of Catholic school students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent for over 20 years.

For the second year, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) will lead the Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools, in partnership with FACTS Management, January 29, 12 PM EST through January 30, 12 PM EST. This 24-hour period is one way to support development programs in Catholic schools throughout the country. Scheduled during National Catholic Schools Week, this Day of Giving is a perfect time for individuals to give to their local Catholic schools. In 2018, more than $850,000 was donated to 539 participating Catholic schools, six dioceses and NCEA. For more information on the Day of Giving, please go to www.NCEA.org/csw/manygifts.
Catholic schools and the many members of Catholic school communities will share their Catholic Schools Week celebrations on social media using #CSW19. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the Secretariat of Catholic Education will also highlight Catholic education’s strengths, successes and stories on their Twitter profiles: @NCEATalk and @USCCBCatholicEd, respectively. More information on the Committee on Catholic Education and other resources are available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catholic-education/ and www.NCEA.org/csw.

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Keywords: National Catholic Schools Week, Bishops Michael C. Barber, SJ., Committee on Catholic Education, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, schools, education, National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Day of Giving, Secretariat of Catholic Education, learn, serve, lead, succeed.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

2 days 9 hours