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(Vatican Radio) At a briefing for journalists at the Holy See press office on Monday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke gave details of Pope Francis’ forthcoming three day visit to the republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It’ll be his 16th pastoral visit outside Italy and it’ll be focused on the themes of peace and brotherhood, following on from the message of peace that he took with him to the neighbouring republic of Armenia last June. Listen:  The Pope is scheduled to leave the Vatican on Friday morning, headed for the Georgian capital Tbilisi. His first encounter there will be with the president, with government authorities and representatives of civil society gathered at the imposing presidential palace. From there he goes on to meet the country’s Orthodox leader Patriarch Elia, who was also on hand for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the newly independent nation back in 1999. The final event on Friday will be a visit to the Syro-Chaldean church of St Simon the Tanner, one of three different rites making up the small Catholic community in the former Soviet nation. The pope will join Syro-Chaldean bishops from around the world there to pray for peace in Syria and Iraq. Pope Francis begins the following day with Mass at a stadium in Tbilisi named after one of Georgia’s most famous footballers. Significantly, a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate will also be present at the Mass, a sign of growing friendship despite the many doctrinal difficulties that continue to divide leaders of the two Churches. In the afternoon, the Pope will meet with priests, religious and seminarians at one of the two Catholic parishes in the capital, before greeting several hundred disabled and vulnerable people being cared for by members of the Camilian order.  The Pope’s final event in Georgia will be a visit to the patriarchal cathedral in the nearby ancient city of Mtshketa, listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. On the final day of the trip, Pope Francis flies from Tbilisi to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan where he’ll celebrate Mass for the tiny Catholic community at the only parish church run by the Salesian order. In the afternoon he’ll make a courtesy visit to the president and meet the region’s Muslim leader, Sheik  Allashukur Pashazade, before taking part in an interfaith encounter with representatives of all the other religious communities in the country. (from Vatican Radio)... 12 min 23 sec
(Vatican Radio)  Today, Monday 26 September 2016, the Holy Father received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, who subsequently met with His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. In a statement, the Holy See's Press Office said during the "cordial discussions,"  the good relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were evoked, "with particular reference to the important contribution of the Catholic Church in the life of the nation, with its institutions in the educational, social and healthcare spheres, as well as in development and the reduction of poverty. In this context, mutual satisfaction was expressed for the signing of the framework Agreement between the Holy See and the State, which took place on 20 May this year." Particular attention was paid, the comunique continues, "to the serious challenges placed by the current political challenge and the recent clashes that have occurred in the capital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration between political actors and representatives of civil society and religious communities, in favour of the common good, through a respectful and inclusive dialogue for the stability of peace in the country." Finally, the Parties focused on the persistent violence suffered by the population in the east of the country, and on the urgency of cooperation at national and international levels, in order to provide the necessary assistance and to re-establish civil co-existence. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 hours 3 min
(Vatican Radio) Keeping the central truth of our faith – that Jesus Christ is Our Divine Lord, that He died and is risen from the dead, never to die again – front and center in our lives, so as to witness always and everywhere to His divine Lordship and victory over death: this was the central theme and focus of Pope Francis’ homily on Sunday morning, which he delivered during the Mass he celebrated to mark the Jubilee of Catechists – on Sunday the 26 th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Jubilee of Catechists in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Click below to hear our report “This centre around which everything revolves, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this,” Pope Francis said. The Pope went on to explain how the Readings of the Day, especially the Sunday Gospel, which contained the parable of the pauper, Lazarus, and the rich man, teaches us how the Lord looks at and cares – through us – for those who are neglected and discarded by the world – and how he gives us the opportunity, the mission and the duty to bring the Good News to those most in need of it. The Holy Father went on to say, “On this Jubilee for Catechists, we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and centre: the Lord is risen. Nothing is more important;  nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centrepiece, if it is saturated by the Paschal proclamation. If it remains in isolation, however, it loses its sense and force.” “And so, dear catechists, dear brothers and sisters,” concluded Pope Francis, “may the Lord give us the grace to be renewed every day by the joy of the first proclamation to us: Jesus died and is risen, Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 2 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered prayers and encouragement to deaf people everywhere on Sunday – the World Day of the Deaf, which marks the close of the International Week of the Deaf . “I want to salute all deaf persons – some of whom are here [at the Angelus ] – and encourage them to give their part for a Church and for a society that are both ever more ready and willing to welcome everyone.” First launched in 1958 in Rome, the International Week of the Deaf takes place annually in the last full week of September, and is the only week in a year that sees highly concerted global action to raise awareness about the needs of deaf people and the contributions of the deaf community to broader society. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 3 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, following a Mass to mark the Jubilee of Catechists celebrated as part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy . In remarks to the faithful ahead of the mid-day prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father recalled the beatification – which took place in the German city of Würzburg on Saturday – of the Servant of God, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig CMM , a Czech-born priest who ministered in Austria and was martyred in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. “[Saturday], in Würzburg,” said Pope Francis, “Engelmar Unzeitig, priest of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, was proclaimed Blessed.” The Holy Father went on to say, “Killed in hatred of the faith in the extermination camp of Dachau, he opposed hatred with love, and answered ferocity answered with meekness: may his example help us to be witnesses of charity and hope even in the midst of trials.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 3 hours
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis offered prayers for slain Mexican priests on Sunday, and put his support behind the ongoing pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican Bishops. Speaking with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, following Mass to mark the Jubilee of Catechists celebrated as part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and ahead of the traditional noonday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said, “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.” The Holy Father went on to say, “I assure my prayer for the dear Mexican people, that the violence, which has in recent days reached even several priests, might cease.” Two priests were abducted and murdered in Poza Rica, Veracruz state, and a third priest was found dead later on Sunday . Their abductions and murders took place at a time in which Church leaders have been calling for increased protection for clergy, as the Church in Mexico advocates in defence of traditional marrigage while the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto pushes for a change in the law to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages. 14 priests have been killed since Peña Nieto took office in 2012, along with scores of thousands of kidnappings and homicides since that same year, most of which are related to the ongoing violence between rival drug cartels in the country. Watch our video report of the Pope's Angelus prayer: (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 3 hours
Pope Francis on Saturday sought to comfort relatives and close friends of the more than 80 victims of the attack in Nice in July, who were run down by a man driving a truck as they celebrated France's national day. The pope began his solemn address by apologising for not speaking French because he said his was not "bon". Then, shifting to Italian, he urged those who were "attacked by the demon" to respond with "forgiveness, love and respect for your neighbour" rather than giving in to the temptation to react with hate and violence. Among the some 1,000 people who attended the ceremony were members of Nice's Jewish community and a local Muslim imam. "It makes me happy to see that inter-religious relations are very vibrant among you, and this cannot but soothe the wounds left by this dramatic event," Francis said. Islamic State (IS) militants claimed responsibility for the July 14 Nice attack. Less than two weeks later, IS militants killed an elderly French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, in his church, prompting the pope to declare the "the world is at war". But the pope also insisted the war was not a religious one, and that it was wrong to "identify Islam with violence", suggesting instead that the lack of economic opportunities for young people in Europe was one of the causes of terrorism. After speaking briefly, the pope descended from the pulpit and spent more than 45 minutes meeting those who attended the ceremony, many of whom were in tears.... 2 days 4 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday held an audience with the “Hospital Sisters of Mercy,” and encouraged them in their mission despite challenges posed by secular culture. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: Delivering his address in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the sisters, and said they are “a concrete sign of how to express the Father’s mercy”. He recalled how Servant of God Teresa Orsini Doria Pamphili Landi, a noble lay woman who was supported by two priests, established the congregation in accord with Jesus’ call to care for the sick. In the face of the weakness brought about by illness, “distinctions of social status, race, language, and culture cannot exist,” the Pope said. “All of us become weak, and we must entrust ourselves to others.” Pope Francis stressed the Church’s commitment and responsibility towards those who suffer, and reflected on the particular charism of the sisters, which is to care for those in hospitals. He urged the sisters to persevere in their work, despite the difficulties they may face. “At times, in our days, a secularist culture aims to remove even from hospitals every religious reference,” including the sisters themselves, he said. Despite this, the Holy Father encouraged the sisters to never tire of “being friends, sisters, and mothers to the sick,” and reminded them that “prayer is the life-blood which sustains [their] evangelizing mission.” Finally, the Holy Father reminded the sisters of how Jesus is always present in the person who lies suffering in the hospital bed. “The closeness to Jesus, and to the weakest, is your strength.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 4 hours
(Vatican Radio) The Holy Father has appointed the Card. Telesphore Placidus Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi (India), as his special envoy to the XI Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), to be held in Colombo (Sri Lanka) from November 28 to December 4, 2016. The Plenary Assembly is the supreme body of the FABC, where all committees and officers are answerable to it. The Plenary Assembly meets in ordinary session every four years. Membership of the Plenary Assembly comprise of all presidents of member conferences or their officially designated episcopal alternates and bishop-delegates elected by member conferences. The 10th Plenary Assembly of the FABC was held in Xuan Loc Pastoral Centre, Dong Nai Province, northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, December 2012. On that occasion, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila was the Papal legate to the Assembly, communicating the message of Pope Benedict XVI to the Asian bishops. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 4 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message marking the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Quilmes in Argentina. “I know that you are preparing enthusiastically for this anniversary,  and I join you in thanksgiving to God for the gifts received from His divine goodness,” – Pope Francis wrote to Bishop Carlos José Tissera – “He has remained faithful, giving you shepherds, from the first bishop, Jorge Novak, to this day; many priests and consecrated persons have given their lives to make Christ present among you. This fills me with joy.” Pope Francis said he urged the people of the Diocese to be attentive to the Lord “passing before them,” and to help Him present in those who are “oppressed, exploited, disillusioned, sick, or suffering because of any other needs.” Pope Francis also sent a message to the Diocese of San Carlos de Bariloche to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Argentinian town, Ingeniero Jacobacci. Noting the damage to the town once caused by the Puyehue volcano in nearby Chile, Pope Francis said “after the ashes came the cloud of solidarity and a renewed effort to move forward,” and he noted the “creative solidarity” expressed by the town’s citizens. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 23 hours

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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted
From left are seniors Kaitlyn Dick, Aaron Helson and Alexandra Hensley. (Courtesy Photo)From left are seniors Kaitlyn Dick, Aaron Helson and Alexandra Hensley. (Courtesy Photo)

Three Badin High School seniors have been named Commended Students in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Seniors Kaitlyn Dick, Aaron Helson and Alexandra Hensley scored in the top five percent of the more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 scholarship competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

While they will not continue in the 2017 competition for National Merit awards, they are among only 34,000 students in the country who will receive a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognizing their excellent performance on the test.

Badin senior David Berg had previously been recognized as a semifinalist in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship competition.

Badin Principal Brian Pendergest said “Having four students earn National Merit recognition underlines the quality of education these students have received and the importance they place on doing well in school. They will take these skills and values with them and do well at the next level.”

Kaitlyn Dick is the daughter of Jeff and Kathy Dick of Fairfield and a graduate of Sacred Heart School. She plans to major in pre-med in college and is looking at the University of Dayton, the University of Kentucky, Indiana University and Xavier University as her top choices.

Aaron Helson is the son of Jay and Cynthia Helson of West Chester and a graduate of Immanuel Lutheran School. He plans to major in math in college and is looking at the Ohio State University and Ohio University as his top choices.

Alexandra Hensley is the daughter of Steven and Amy Hensley and a graduate of St. Peter in Chains School. She plans to major in political science and public policy in college and is looking at the University of Chicago, Indiana University, the Ohio State University and the University of South Carolina as her top choices.

41 min 12 sec

rb2Schedule for Friday September 23rd Saturday September 24th

Archbishop Alter (Kettering) 52 vs. Bishop Fenwick (Franklin) 3

Bishop Fenwick (Franklin) 3 at  Archbishop Alter (Kettering) 52

Carroll (Dayton) 7 at Chaminade Julienne (Dayton) 38

Catholic Central (Springfield) 14 at Northeastern (Springfield) 21

Chaminade Julienne (Dayton) 38 vs. Carroll (Dayton) 7

Elder 42 vs. USO (University Prep/Sci-Tech/Obama Academy-Pittsburgh PA) 0

LaSalle 20 at Winton Woods 13

Lehman (Sidney) 48 vs. Perry (Lima) 20

McNicholas 27 vs. Purcell Marian 6

Moeller 14 at St. Xavier 21

Purcell Marian 6 at McNicholas 27

Roger Bacon 14 at Stephen T. Badin (Hamilton) 28

St. Xavier 21 vs. Moeller 14

Summit Country Day  38 vs. Cincinnati Country Day 7

Stephen T. Badin (Hamilton) 28 vs. Roger Bacon 14

Schedule for September 30th

Archbishop Alter (Kettering) vs. Roger Bacon at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Bishop Fenwick (Franklin) vs. Stephen T. Badin (Hamilton) at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Carroll (Dayton) vs. McNicholas at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Catholic Central (Springfield) at Greenview (Jamestown) Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Chaminade Julienne (Dayton) vs. Purcell Marian at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Elder vs. St. Xavier  at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

LaSalle vs. Moeller at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Lehman (Sidney) vs. Riverside (DeGraff) at home Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

McNicholas at Carroll (Dayton) Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Moeller at LaSalle Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Purcell Marian at Chaminade Julienne (Dayton) Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Roger Bacon at Archbishop Alter (Kettering) Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

St. Xavier at Elder Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Stephen T. Badin (Hamilton) at Bishop Fenwick (Franklin) Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

Summit Country Day at Lockland Friday, September 30th 7:00 p.m.

All Archdiocese High School Standings

Archbishop Alter Knights (Kettering) 5-0
Catholic Central Irish (Springfield) 4-1
Elder Panthers 4-1
LaSalle Lancers 3-2
Lehman Cavaliers (Sidney) 3-2
Moeller Crusaders 3-2
Purcell Marian Cavaliers 3-2
Roger Bacon Spartans 3-2
Summit Country Day Silver Knights 3-2
St. Xavier Bombers 3-2
Chaminade Julienne Eagles (Dayton) 2-3
McNicholas Rockets 2-3
Stephen T. Badin Rams (Hamilton) 2-3
Carroll Patriots (Dayton) 1-4
Bishop Fenwick Falcons (Franklin) 1-4

6 hours 41 min

IMAGE: CNS/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The expression “in like a lion out like a lamb” turns on its head when comparing the end of the Supreme Court’s last term to the start of its new one Oct. 3.

The end of the court’s last term ended with a flurry of decisions on high-profile cases on abortion, immigration and contraception that had the rapt attention of Catholics and the general public alike.

But as the court readies for its next term — always on the first Monday in October — that same sense of urgency is nowhere in sight. The court will take its usual load of about 80 cases, but it is not taking on cases likely to entice massive crowds to the building’s white steps with placards and megaphones.

“In previous years I’ve said: ‘What a blockbuster year we have ahead.’ But this year, not so much,” said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, during a Supreme Court overview Sept. 21 at the National Press Club in Washington.

Fredrickson and other panelists said a key factor to the lackluster cases on tap this term is because the court is still not functioning at full capacity since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia Feb. 13.

Sept. 23 marks the 222nd day since Scalia’s death and it also is the 191st day since Merrick Garland was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill that vacancy. If the seat remains vacant until a nomination by the next president, the court might go through the entire oral argument session without a ninth justice while the confirmation process occurs.

The court is in “unchartered territory,” said Kristen Clarke, president of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, noting the longtime absence of a justice has not happened in more than five decades.

“I’m concerned about the integrity of the Supreme Court,” she said, noting that it is in a “state of paralysis” without the ninth vote.

Paul Smith, a partner at the Washington law firm Jenner & Block, who has argued multiple cases before the Supreme Court, similarly said the prospect of more four-four tie votes from this court makes it “unfunctional.”

But that view isn’t shared by everyone. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, law professor at Georgetown University’s law school, said Scalia’s absence is a notable, particularly since he was “a larger than life figure in the court.” He didn’t think the court was “dramatically hindered” by having one less justice, but he still said “the court is better with a full complement.”

Another factor to consider is whoever fills Scalia’s seat could likely be on the bench for decades.

Still, in its ever steady and slow fashion, the court will not change dramatically no matter who fills the spot. As Smith said, the court doesn’t work that way and it doesn’t like to override previous decisions.

So far, the court has agreed to hear 31 cases and will add more after a late September conference. Nineteen cases are scheduled for oral argument in October and November and more will be added in the coming months. Key upcoming cases for Catholic court watchers are two death penalty cases and a religious liberty case about a church being excluded from a state’s grant program.

Cases the court might take up but hasn’t decided yet include: challenges on voting laws from several states; another issue over the Affordable Care Act; trademark battles involving an Asian-American rock band and the Washington Redskins football team; and a high school transgender bathroom case.

The death penalty cases from Texas will be argued in the court’s first month. The case of Buck v. Stephens, involves Duane Buck, who was sentenced to death for the murders of his ex-girlfriend and another man in front of her children in Houston in 1995. A psychologist who spoke at the punishment phase of his trial said that because Buck is African-American, there was a stronger likelihood that he could present a danger to society.

The court will examine if that part of his trial was ineffective because the witness who made this remark was called forth by the defense. But if the court rules in Buck’s favor, he will only get a new sentencing hearing, not a new trial establishing guilt or innocence.

The other death penalty case is Moore v. Texas, involving Bobby James Moore, convicted of killing a grocery store clerk during a botched robbery in 1980. Moore says he is intellectually disabled, a claim the state appeals court has rejected. However, his attorneys argue the state used outdated medical standards in their evaluation.

Meg Penrose, professor of constitutional law at Texas A&M University’s School of Law, said if either case ends with a 4-4 vote, both men will be executed since the lower and appeals courts ruled against them and these decisions will stand. Both cases are decades old and Penrose said they prove “if society is going to inflict the ultimate penalty, it needs to be sure it has done so in a just manner.”

Clarke, from the civil rights law group, said the stakes are high with these death penalty cases and she feels “unsettled that they will only be heard by eight justices.”

The religious liberty case before the court, but not given a date yet, is Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley about a religious preschool that was rejected from a Missouri program that provides reimbursement grants for the purchase of tire scraps used at the base of playgrounds.

The church says its exclusion violates the Constitution because it discriminates against religious institutions. The state argues that it didn’t violate rights saying the church can still worship or run its day care as it wishes, but the state will not pay for the resurfaced playground.

Rosenkranz pointed out that both sides are relying on the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Locke vs. Davey, which said that states do not have to provide tax-funded scholarships to college students who are pursuing careers in ministry.

The church in the playground case said the grant they applied for had nothing to do with religion, like the scholarship did, while opponents insist the state simply should not be providing any financial support to religious institutions.

At another Supreme Court briefing sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, C. Kevin Marshall, a partner with the Washington law firm Jones Day, said how the court responds to the playground case will have a broad effect.

He said the case raises religious liberty questions but is “less contentious” than last term’s Zubik v. Burwell, which challenged the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement for employers.

As he put it: “We can get to basics here.”

– – –

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter @carolmaczim.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 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 15 hours

By Kelly Seegers

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As Pope Francis boarded the plane after his visit to Washington a year ago, he carried with him a book containing more than 100,000 pledges that people in the Archdiocese of Washington had made to “Walk With Francis” by either praying, serving or acting to improve their community.

Leading up to the pope’s visit, the Archdiocese of Washington, along with Catholic Charities, launched the Walk With Francis initiative, which encouraged people to prepare for the pope’s visit by following in his example of love and mercy.

People were asked to make pledges to pray regularly for the pontiff, to serve by caring for those in need and supporting charitable efforts, or to act to promote human life and dignity, justice and peace, family life and religious freedom, care for creation and the common good.

In the months that followed, individuals, schools, parishes and other organizations made pledges to help their community in different ways. Many people posted their pledges on social media, using #WalkwithFrancis. The day before the pope arrived in Washington Sept. 22, 2015, the Walk With Francis pledges topped the 100,000 mark. The Archdiocese of Washington then compiled all of the pledges into a 400-page book that they presented to the pope as a parting gift when he left in late afternoon Sept. 24, 2015.

At Little Flower School in Great Mills, Maryland, each class decided for itself how they were going to Walk With Francis. Students in the pre-kindergarten class pledged to act like Jesus toward one another, the second grade pledged to do an act of kindness every day, the fifth grade pledged to plant a school garden, the seventh grade pledged to pray the prayer of St. Francis every day, and the eighth grade pledged to do guided meditations on mercy.

Patricia Peters, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade religion, saw the pledges that her students made go beyond the time leading up to Pope Francis’ visit. Both the seventh and the eighth grade continued their prayers and meditations regularly throughout the year. In addition, two students from her seventh-grade class were inspired by the prayer of St. Francis to start a pet supply drive that now runs annually from the beginning of the year until the blessing of the pets on St. Francis of Assisi’s feast day.

“It was very affirming for me to be a part of it, to watch my students grow through the experience and to be able to be a part of the larger church in that way,” Peters told the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese. “It definitely strengthened my faith to be a part of that with my students.”

Several prominent figures in the Washington area also signed the Walk With Francis Pledge. Katie Ledecky, the five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist who attends Little Flower Parish in Bethesda, Maryland, pledged to help Shepherd’s Table, Catholic Charities and Bikes for the World. John Carlson, a member of the Washington Capitals, pledged to “continue to work on my faith and become a better father every day.”

Erik Salmi, director of communications for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, said these pledges “helped bring some great energy to the campaign.”

At The Catholic University of America, students were encouraged to sign pledges after the opening Mass of the school year. Many of the students, such as James Walsh, still wear their “Walk With Francis” wristbands as a reminder of the pledges they made that day.

“I like to keep it on as a good reminder … to stay humble,” Walsh said.

Catholic University also had a “Serve With Francis Day,” where hundreds of students went out to serve their local community.

Salmi said the effects of the Walk With Francis initiative are hard to measure, because it is similar to when “you drop a stone in the middle of a pond and the ripples go pretty far and wide.” However, he said he did know that all of the Catholic Charities programs benefited from having volunteers that joined them.

The good deeds did not end when the pope left. Since his visit, more than 10,000 additional pledges have been made. Through the Drive with Francis initiative, the Fiat that Pope Francis rode in is being used to help those in need. There is even a new hashtag, #DrivewithFrancis, so that people can share on social media what they are doing with the papal Fiat.

Two Fiats were used by Pope Francis during his visit to Washington and later the cars were donated to the archdiocese by Pope Francis and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The proceeds of the auction of one of the cars are being donated to various charities.

A private donor who wanted to remain anonymous is letting the archdiocese use the second Fiat via the #DrivewithFrancis initiative to promote good works, activities and social service programs aiding the local community.

The car has been parked at various events in the area, collecting food for a community food bank or baby items for a crisis pregnancy center in Washington. It was present at the Washington Nationals’ Faith Day, where people could line up to make breakfast bags for the homeless served by Catholic Charities’ Cup of Joe program. After the game, 550 Cup of Joe bags were delivered to Adam’s Place shelter, which is run by Catholic Charities.

“That seems pretty perfect for me in summarizing how His Holiness would want the car to be used,” Salmi said.

For the first anniversary of the pope’s visit to Washington, Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Washington launched a “Walk With Francis 2.0” initiative for the Sept. 24-25 weekend, when people could renew the pledge or make a new one if they had not done it before.

Parishes in the archdiocese planned to have pledge cards for parishioners to fill out during Mass and bring up to the altar.

– – –

Seegers is on the staff of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 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 16 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to ensure transparency as well as historical and scientific accuracy, Pope Francis has approved revised norms for the Congregation for Saints’ Causes regarding medical consultations on healings alleged to be miracles.

Among the regulations published by the Vatican Sept. 23 was the requirement that the medical panel have a quorum of six experts and that a two-thirds majority is needed to approve a statement declaring a healing has no natural or scientific explanation.

Previously, the declaration — a key step in a pope’s recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of a candidate for sainthood — required the approval of a simple majority of the consultation team members present.

“The purpose of the regulation is for the good of the (saints’) causes, which can never be separated from the historical and scientific truth of the alleged miracles,” Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the congregation, said in a Sept. 23 statement.

Archbishop Bartolucci presided over a seven-member commission that began revising the regulations in September 2015 to update the norms established by St. John Paul II in 1983. Except in the case of martyrs, in general two miracles are needed for a person to be declared a saint — one for beatification and the second for canonization.

The new regulations, which were approved with the pope’s mandate Aug. 24 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, also state that an alleged miracle “cannot be re-examined more than three times.”

For each alleged miracle, the Medical Consultation team is comprised of a maximum of seven experts; when the promoter of a cause appeals a negative judgment, a new team of physicians and medical experts must be appointed, the new norms say. The members of each consultation will remain unknown to the postulator, as the promotor of the specific cause called.

A presumed miracle is first reviewed by two medical experts within the congregation, and with their recommendation is then sent to the Medical Consultation team.

While the medical experts receive compensation for their work, the new regulations state that they will only be paid through wire transfer. Prior to the approval of the new norms, experts were given the option to receive cash payments for their work.

Archbishop Bartolucci said the regulations will further ensure that the consultations will be carried out with “serenity, objectivity and complete security” by the medical experts.

“This regulation obviously concerns only the proper functioning of the Medical Consultation, whose task is always more delicate, demanding and, thank God, appreciated inside and outside the church,” he said.

– – –

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2 days 21 hours

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From: Live Catholic Headlines
Posted
Vatican City, Sep 26, 2016 / 08:21 am (EWTN News).- Less than a week after two Catholic priests in Mexico were found murdered after having been abducted from their parishes, the body of a third slain priest, Fr. José Alfredo López Guillén, has been found. 3 hours 21 min
Denver, Colo., Sep 25, 2016 / 05:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- It was August in Rome, the dog days of summer, and most people had left the Eternal City for the beach or another summer holiday destination. 1 day 6 hours
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2016 / 12:55 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis greeted survivors of the terrorist attacks in Nice, France during an audience at the Vatican today.
1 day 22 hours
Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 24, 2016 / 05:04 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Californians should vote for Proposition 62, a ballot measure to end the death penalty, the Archbishop of Los Angeles has said in a reflection on justice, Catholic teaching and American society. 2 days 6 hours
Phoenix, Ariz., Sep 24, 2016 / 01:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A Catholic-run conference aims to help clergy, lay ministers, and medical and mental health professionals provide better support for people who experience same-sex attraction or confusion about sexual identity. 2 days 10 hours
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 23, 2016 / 12:21 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Mexican Cardinal Alberto Suárez Inda is offering prayers for the safety of a priest who was kidnapped in the country earlier this week. 2 days 23 hours
Vatican City, Sep 23, 2016 / 12:03 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Changes to the regulations for confirming alleged miracles during the causes of saints aim to preserve the scientific rigor of the examination and maintain its distinction from matters of theology, it was announced Friday. 2 days 23 hours

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

A priest who was abducted last week from his parish in the Mexican state of Michoacan has been found dead of gunshot wounds.

9 hours 32 min

During his September 25 Angelus address, delivered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis recalled that the day was the World Day of the Deaf.

9 hours 44 min

On September 25, at the conclusion of Mass in St. Peter’s Square for the jubilee of catechists, Pope Francis delivered a brief Angelus address in which he expressed support of the Mexican bishops’ efforts to defend life and the family.

9 hours 55 min

A German priest known as the “angel of Dachau” was beatified as a martyr in Würzburg, Germany, on September 24.

10 hours 43 min

Pope Francis celebrated a Mass for the jubilee of catechists on September 25 and encouraged them to focus on the proclamation of the Risen Lord.

11 hours 5 min

Pope Francis met with the relatives of the victims of the July 14 attack in Nice, France, in which Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian, drove a truck into a crowd, killing 87 and injuring over 400.

11 hours 37 min

Pope Francis received members of the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy in a September 24 audience and encouraged them to persevere in their service to the sick.

12 hours 3 min

The Catholic bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have announced that they are backing away temporarily from involvement in national dialogue on elections, as tensions mount in the troubled African country.

2 days 22 hours

The Catholic bishops of Poland have spoken out against a drive by homosexual activists to gain greater acceptance.

2 days 23 hours

A Canadian archbishop has agreed to accept an award from the dissident Catholic group "FutureChurch."

2 days 23 hours

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From: Tristate Catholic news and features, daily
Posted
Fr. John Bapst, SJ, in an undated photo. The Swiss priest was tarred and feathered by a Protestant mob in Maine in the 1840s. PHoto couresty the New England HIstorical Society.

Fr. John Bapst, SJ, in an undated photo. The Swiss priest was tarred and feathered by a Protestant mob in Maine in the 1840s. PHoto couresty the New England HIstorical Society.

 

The Fourth Annual Conway Lecture in Catholic Studies at the University of Cincinnati will explore a 19th-century attack against a Jesuit priest by a Protestant mob in New England, and what it says about our country’s history — and present day politics.

 

Notre Dame Professor  John McGreevy will prsent  “American Jesuits and the World: The Ellsworth Outrage of 1854,” a talk based on his new book, American Jesuits and the World: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global.

 

The lecture will focus on the story of an exiled Swiss Jesuit who was tarred and feathered in 1841 by a mob in Maine, during the height of the Know Nothing party and anti-Catholic hysteria, and who later became the first president of Boston College. His heroic work among the Penobscot Indians was just thebeginning of his mission work in the United States, but though he recovered from the attack he eventually went mad, spending his last days certain that mobs were again coming for him.

 

Professor McGreevy will explore the event in teh context of both the global history of the Catholic Church and of democracy in America. Xavier University President Fr, Michael Graham, SJ, will deliver the lecture’s introductory remarks.

 

The Conway Lecture is free and open to the public as part of the program’s mission to foster Catholic Studies in higher education and bring Catholic academic lectures and programs to the Greater Cincinnati Public.


The location is still being determined, but the lecture will be held February 22, 2017, at 7 pm.


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11 hours 27 min
Covington's new CMA guild will be open to doctors and medical professionals on both sides of the Ohio River, and will provide area medical professionals with fellowship and support in practicing medicine ethically and in the model of Christ and St. Luke.

Covington’s new CMA guild is open to doctors and medical professionals on both sides of the Ohio River, and will provide area medical professionals with fellowship and support in practicing medicine ethically and in the model of Christ and St. Luke.


The new Catholic Medical Guild established for Greater Cincinnati in the Diocese of Covington will hold a Mass for healthcare workers a month from today, on Oct. 27th at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.

 

Formed early this month, the Sts. Teresa of Calcutta and Faustina Guild of the national Catholic Medical Association is open to area doctors, dentists, nurses, healthcare professionals, and students. Its purpose is to help Catholics in medical processions to integrate the teachign sof the Catholic Church, especially those related to  medical ethics, into their professional lives.

 

Membership ihe Guild is also open to priests and seminarians, and to others who work with the sick.

 

Estabilsed in the early 1900s, when Catholics were not as accepted in the general medical community as they later became, CMA has gained new life and vigor as the profession has become increasingly secular.

 

The Guild’s first activity will be to sponsor a “White Mass” at the cathderal. Modeled after the centuries-old “Red Mass” for people who work in the legal professions, the White Mass will be celebrated on Oct. 27 at 6:30 pm. All who work in medicine are invited to pray together for each other, for their patients, and for the profession.

 

The Guild’s first officers are:

 

  • Dr. William Wehrman, III –  President
  • Dr. Gene Burchell – Vice President
  • Dr. Kelley Young – Secretary
  • Dr. Kirk Doerge – Treasurer

 

For information about upcoming meetings or how to join the Guild, contact Faye Roch at the Diocese of Covington by phone at (859) 392-1500 or by email at froch@covdio.org.

11 hours 32 min
Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana familiies celebrate Syro Malabar liturgies and feasts at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenhills. Photo from teh CSt. Chavara Mission web page.

Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana families celebrate Syro-Malabar liturgies and feasts at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenhills (OH). Photo from the St. Chavara Mission web page.

The St. Chavara Mission church that meets at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenhills (OH) is a small but enthusiastic Catholic community in our region. One of three Eastern Catholic Churches with an area presence (the others are the Maronites who have parishes in Cincinnati and Dayton, and the Byzantine Catholics, who worship at a parish in Dayton), the Syro-Malabar Church traces its roots to the Apostle Thomas. It is s the second largest Eastern Catholic Church, with more than 3 million members around the world (about 200,000 in the United States). Over the centuries it has been influenced by Syrian and Portuguese Catholics, and has a distinctive structure as well as its own rite. Their American center is the Syro-Malabar Diocese of  Chicago, headed by Mar (Bishop) Jacob Angadiath. Families from Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana attend; click here for photos and more.  

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11 hours 36 min
Bishop Thomas Olmsted.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted.

A book for Catholic voters by Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, just reprinted for the fourth time, aims to give Catholics specific and detailed advice about principles for voting, and how to apply them.

First published in 2006, Catholics in the Public Square is available to all Catholics to read online at no charge

 

In his introduction to the new addition, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles says that Catholics must look beyond parties and labels to principles, especially those supporting life and human dignity.

“God does not see the world through the limitations of our political categories of ‘left’ and ‘right’,’ ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,'” he says. “He is our Father and He sees only His children. When one of God’s children is suffering injustice, He calls the rest of us to love and compassion and to “make things right.” Our concern for human dignity and life can never be partial or a half-measure. How can we justify defending the dignity of some and not others or protecting God’s creation while neglecting some of His most vulnerable creatures?”
Principles that seem simple in the abstract can be difficult to apply in the messiness of real life, with real issues and candidates rather than ideal ones. Abortion and euthanasia, Archbishop Gomez says, must be seen as fundamental evils of our day, because they are “supported, promoted, and even paid for as part of government policy” and are “zealously defended by our society’s elites — those who shape public opinion and civic morality through government, the popular media, and education.”
Calling euthanasia an outgrowth of abortion and the combination “the great challenge for the Church’s social witness in our society,” Archbishop Gomez says social trends increasingly call for solving perceived problems by killing, “not only through abortion and assisted suicide, but also in the areas of the death penalty, human embryo research, and mandated contraception,” declaring:

It is this broader mentality — what Francis and previous popes have called a “culture of death”— that the Church must confront. That is why abortion and euthanasia are not just two issues among many or only questions of individual conscience. Abortion and euthanasia raise basic questions of human rights and social justice, questions of what kind of society and what kind of people we want to be. Do we really want to become a people that responds to human suffering by helping to kill the one who suffers? Do we really want to be a society where the lives of the weak are sacrificed for the comfort and benefit of those who are stronger? That is why any approach that essentially tolerates abortion and euthanasia or puts these issues on par with others, not only betrays the beautiful vision of the Church’s social teaching, but also weakens the credibility of the Church’s witness in our society.

 

The short book addresses voting and issues in 36 small sections of a few paragraphs, each of which  can be read separately, in the style of an old-school catehcism. These include religious freedom (#34, “How serious are the current threats to religious freedom in the United States?”)  the role of faith in politics (#11, “Should Catholics bring the Church’s doctrine into the public square?”), the different roles of business owners, private citizens, and politicians (#25), “What are the responsibilities of Catholics who own or operate businesses toward their employees and the society at large?”), ecological issues, immigration, and more.

 

It also touches on the duty of Catholics, both clergy and laymen, regarding politics; on how to define a “faithful Catholic” in terms of politics; on reception of Communion by those who persist in grave sin; and when Catholics can disagree on important political issues without those disagreements being sins.

 

catholics-public-square-cover-english-500x355px-213x300Published by St. Benedict Press/TAN Books, with financial help from the Knights of Columbus, print copies of “Catholics in the Public Square” are being distributed in Phoenix. A Kindle version is available for 99 cents on Amazon.com, and the on-line version can be read at the link above.

 

“Bishop Olmsted wrote this booklet to better form Catholic lay people about their faith and responsibilities to their communities,” Robert DeFrancesco, communications director for the Diocese of Phoenix, told the Catholic News Agency. “According to Bishop Olmsted, it is important for Catholics to reflect on their role in public life, because we are called to live our faith all of the time wherever we are and whatever we are doing, not just at Mass on Sundays.”

 

Once the rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Bishop Olmstead was Bishop of Wichita before being named to the Phoneix diocese. A member of the Jesus Caritas ­fraternity of priests, he holds a master’s degree in theology, a doctorate in Canon Law, and spent almost 10 years in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. His 2015 letter and accompanying web page “Into the Breach” called upon men of all ages and all vocations in life to join the spiritual and temporal battle for life, family, and Christ – a battle, he said, that men have been taught to ignore.

 

“… Men, do not hesitate to engage in the battle that is raging around you, the battle that is wounding our children and families, the battle that is distorting the dignity of both women and men,” the letter begins. “This battle is often hidden, but the battle is real. It is primarily spiritual, but it is progressively killing the remaining Christian ethos in our society and culture, and even in our own home.”

 

Photos courtesy the Diocese of Phoenix.


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2 days 11 hours

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From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

Pope Francis celebrated the Jubilee for Catechists today, celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square, and reminding the catechists of the first lesson that we must understand about the faith: Jesus is risen, and he loves you.

Drawing from the Second Reading, the Pope began his homily noting that St. Paul makes reference to “the commandment.”

“Among other things, [Paul] charges [Timothy] ‘to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach,’” Francis said. “He speaks simply of a commandment.  It seems that he wants to keep our attention fixed firmly on what is essential for our faith.”

And this center of the faith, the Holy Father explained, is the Paschal proclamation: “the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.”

“We must never forget this,” the Pope asserted. “[…] Nothing is more important;  nothing is clearer or more relevant than this.  Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centrepiece.”

He told the catechists that “we are called always to live out and proclaim the newness of the Lord’s love: ‘Jesus truly loves you, just as you are.  Give him space: in spite of the disappointments and wounds in your life, give him the chance to love you.  He will not disappoint you.’”

Loving others

The Bishop of Rome went on to note Jesus’ new commandment of love.

“It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world,” he said, adding that this proclamation doesn’t come from “the power of convincing,” or “imposing the truth” or “growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation.”

The Lord is not an idea, but a living person, he emphasized, and thus “his message is passed on through simple and authentic testimony, by listening and welcoming, with joy which radiates outward. We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad.”

The Gospel of today, which recounts the story of the rich man and Lazarus, “helps us understand what it means to love,” Francis continued.

He noted that the rich man is not presented as a bad person, but simply as suffering from a “terrible blindness” — “because he is not able to look beyond his world, made of banquets and fine clothing.  He cannot see beyond the door of his house to where Lazarus lies, because what is happening outside does not interest him.”

His heart has been anesthetized with worldliness, the Pope noted, and he is indifferent to others, seeing only outward appearances.

“But the Lord looks at those who are neglected and discarded by the world,” the Holy Father said. “Lazarus is the only one named in all of Jesus’ parables.  His name means ‘God helps.’  God does not forget him.”

Needs and right

Pope Francis noted another element of the parable: “The opulent life of this nameless man [the rich man] is described as being ostentatious: everything about him concerns needs and rights.  Even when he is dead he insists on being helped and demands what is to his benefit.

“Lazarus’ poverty, however, is articulated with great dignity: from his mouth no complaints or protests or scornful words issue.”

The Pope said this is a “valuable teaching,” exhorting his listeners to avoid seeking glory or being “full of complaints.”

“We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations; we are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity,” he said.

Instead, one who “proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy and sees a great distance; such persons have the horizon open before them; there is no wall closing them in; they see a great distance because they know how to see beyond evil and beyond their problems.  At the same time, they see clearly from up close, because they are attentive to their neighbour and to their neighbour’s needs.”

The Pope concluded the homily praying that God “give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness.  May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-at-jubilee-for-catechists/

1 day 4 hours

Pope Francis today lent his support to the bishops of Mexico and their efforts to defend the family and life.

After celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square for the Jubilee of Catechists, the Holy Father mentioned Mexico in his greetings prior to the midday Angelus.

“I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world,” he said.

The Holy Father added, “I assure my prayer for the dear Mexican people, that the violence, which has in recent days reached even several priests, might cease.”

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands marched in Mexico City in defense of marriage and in opposition to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s moves to legalize same-sex marriage.

The march Saturday was a follow-up to Sept. 10 marches held in cities across the nation, which drew more than a million Mexicans to the streets in defense of marriage.

Slain priests

The Pope’s reference to the violence against priests in Mexico came as two priests were found shot dead last Monday.

The Pope’s secretary of state sent the Holy Father’s condolences later in the week to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of Papantla, Mexico, for the killing of the two priests of his diocese, Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez and Father Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz.

Papantla is in the state of Veracruz in central Mexico, on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

Also on Monday, Father José Alfredo López Guillen of the state of Michoacán, was kidnapped and it is not known if he is still alive or where he is being held.

The Holy Father’s message urged the clergy and pastoral workers of Papantla to “continue energetically your ecclesial mission despite the obstacles, following the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.”

 

1 day 4 hours

After celebrating Mass for the Jubilee of Catechists today, Pope Francis recalled that on Saturday in Germany, a priest killed in Dachau was beatified.

Mariannhill Missionary Fr Engelmar Unzeitig (1911-1945) was sent to Dachau for defending Jews from the pulpit. At the concentration camp, he ministered to the other prisoners and became known as the “Angel of Dachau.”

In noting the beatification before praying the midday Angelus today, the Pope spoke of Fr. Unzeitig as a priest who “opposed hate with love and cruelty with meekness.” He prayed that his testimony might help us to be “testimonies of charity and hope, even in the midst of tribulations.”

World Day of the Deaf

The Pope also noted that today is the World Day of the Deaf.

The World Federation of the Deaf initiated the International Day in 1958, and chose the last Sunday in September to commemorate that the first World Congress of the WFD took place in September 1951.

“I wish to greet all deaf people here present or represented,” the Pope said, “and encourage them to give their contribution so that the Church and society are ever more capable of welcoming all.”

The Pope concluded his words before the Angelus with another greeting to the catechists present for the jubilee celebrations, saying, “Thank you for your work in the Church at the service of evangelization and the transmission of the faith. May the Virgin Mary help you to persevere in the journey of faith and to give testimony in your lives to what you teach in catechesis.”

1 day 4 hours

Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Pope Francis gave this morning in celebrating Mass on the Jubilee for Catechists.

__

In the second reading the Apostle Paul offers to Timothy, but also to us, some advice which is close to his heart.  Among other things, he charges him “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach” (1 Tim 6:14).  He speaks simply of a commandment.  It seems that he wants to keep our attention fixed firmly on what is essential for our faith.  Saint Paul, indeed, is not suggesting all sorts of different points, but is emphasizing the core of the faith.  This centre around which everything revolves, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Pasqual proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this.  On this Jubilee for Catechists, we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and centre: the Lord is risen.  Nothing is more important;  nothing is clearer or more relevant than this.  Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centrepiece, if it is saturated by the Paschal proclamation.  If it remains in isolation, however, it loses its sense and force.  We are called always to live out and proclaim the newness of the Lord’s love: “Jesus truly loves you, just as you are.  Give him space: in spite of the disappointments and wounds in your life, give him the chance to love you.  He will not disappoint you”.

The commandment which Saint Paul is speaking of makes us think also of Jesus’ new commandment: “that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).  It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation.  God is proclaimed through the encounter between persons, with care for their history and their journey.  Because the Lord is not an idea, but a living person: his message is passed on through simple and authentic testimony, by listening and welcoming, with joy which radiates outward.  We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad; nor do we transmit God’s beauty merely with beautiful homilies.  The God of hope is proclaimed by living out the Gospel of love in the present moment, without being afraid of testifying to it, even in new ways.

This Sunday’s Gospel helps us understand what it means to love, and more than anything how to avoid certain risks.  In the parable there is a rich man who does not notice Lazarus, a poor man who was “at his gate” (Lk 16:20).  This rich man, in fact, does not do evil towards anyone; nothing says that he is a bad man.  But he has a sickness much greater than Lazarus’, who was “full of sores” (ibid.): this rich man suffers from terrible blindness, because he is not able to look beyond his world, made of banquets and fine clothing.  He cannot see beyond the door of his house to where Lazarus lies, because what is happening outside does not interest him.  He does not see with his eyes, because he cannot feel with his heart.  For into it a worldliness has entered which anaesthetizes the soul.  This worldliness is like a “black hole” that swallows up what is good, which extinguishes love, because it consumes everything in its very self.  And so here a person sees only outward appearances, no longer noticing others because one has become indifferent to everyone.  The one who suffers from grave blindness often takes on “squinting” behaviour: he looks with adulation at famous people, of high rank, admired by the world, yet turns his gaze away from the many Lazaruses of today, from the poor, from the suffering who are the Lord’s beloved.

But the Lord looks at those who are neglected and discarded by the world.  Lazarus is the only one named in all of Jesus’ parables.  His name means “God helps”.  God does not forget him; he will welcome him to the banquet in his kingdom, together with Abram, in communion with all who suffer.  The rich man in the parable, on the other hand, does not even have a name; his life passes by forgotten, because whoever lives for himself does not write history.  And a Christian must write history!  He or she must go out from themselves, to write history! But whoever lives for themselves cannot write history.  Today’s callousness causes chasms to be dug that can never be crossed.  And we have fallen, at this time, into the sickness of indifference, selfishness and worldliness.

There is another detail in the parable, a contrast.  The opulent life of this nameless man is described as being ostentatious: everything about him concerns needs and rights.  Even when he is dead he insists on being helped and demands what is to his benefit.  Lazarus’ poverty, however, is articulated with great dignity: from his mouth no complaints or protests or scornful words issue.  This is a valuable teaching: as servants of the word of Jesus we have been called not to parade our appearances and not to seek for glory; nor can we be sad or full of complaints.  We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations; we are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity.  Pitiful scepticism does not belong to whoever is close to the word of God.

Whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy and sees a great distance; such persons have the horizon open before them; there is no wall closing them in; they see a great distance because they know how to see beyond evil and beyond their problems.  At the same time, they see clearly from up close, because they are attentive to their neighbour and to their neighbour’s needs.  The Lord is asking this of us today: before all the Lazaruses whom we see, we are called to be disturbed, to find ways of meeting and helping, without always delegating to others or saying: “I will help you tomorrow; I have no time today, I’ll help you tomorrow”.  This is a sin.  The time taken to help others is time given to Jesus; it is love that remains: it is our treasure in heaven, which we earn here on earth.

And so, dear catechists, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give us the grace to be renewed every day by the joy of the first proclamation to us: Jesus died and is risen, Jesus loves us personally!  May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness.  May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

1 day 5 hours

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied,
‘My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”

1 day 5 hours

“There are few professions that have so much influence on society as journalism does,” Pope Francis has reminded journalists, and given this he has outlined to them three pillars which should always animate their important work.

When receiving in audience Thursday the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, Francis expressed this and underscored that journalists possess roles of great importance and of great responsibility. The Pope spoke after interventions were given by the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, Father Dario Edoardo Viganò, and of the President of the Order, Enzo Iacopino.

“In some way you write the ‘first draft of history,’ constructing the agenda of the news and introducing persons to the interpretation of events,” he told those present. “And this is so important.”

The Holy Father observed how social media has changed the roles of the media, but stressed that journalists are still important.

“Though the printed paper or television lose relevance in respect to the new media of the digital world – especially among young people – when journalists have professionalism, they remain an important pillar, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralist society.”

In face of the changes in the world of media, the Pontiff pointed out, “the Holy See has also lived and is living a process of renewal of the communicative system, of which you also should benefit; and the Secretariat for Communication will be the natural reference point for your valuable work.”

In fact, the statutes of the new Secretariat were also released Thursday.

Despite Deadlines, Reflect for a Moment

Francis then went on to reflect on some aspects of the journalistic profession, and how it can serve for the betterment of the society in which we live.

It is indispensable for all of us to pause to reflect on what we are doing and on how we are doing it. In the spiritual life, this often assumes the form of a day of retreat, of deeper interior reflection. I think that in the professional life, there is also need of this, of a bit of time to pause and reflect.

“This,” the Pope admitted, “is certainly not easy in the journalistic realm, a profession that lives with constant ‘delivery times’  and ‘expiration dates.’ But at least for a brief moment, we will try to reflect a bit on the reality of journalism.”

Pope Francis then proposed three essential pillars for all journalists: “to love the truth, something essential for all, but especially for journalists; to live with professionalism, something that goes well beyond laws and regulations; and to respect human dignity, which is much more difficult that one might think at first sight.”  

To Love the Truth

To love the truth, the Pope explained, does not only mean to affirm it but to live it, to witness it with one’s work — “to live and work, therefore, with coherence in regard to the words that one uses for a newspaper article or a television service.” He noted that the question here is not whether one is or is not a believer, but rather whether one is or is not being honest with oneself and with others.

“Relationship is the heart of every communication. This is all the more true for one who makes of communication his metier. And no relation can stand and last in time if it rests on dishonesty.”

“I realize that in today’s journalism – an uninterrupted flow of facts and events reported 24 hours a day, and seven days a week – it is not always easy to arrive at the truth, or at least to come close to it. In life not all is white or black. In journalism also, it is necessary to be able to discern between the shades of grey of the events that one is called to report.”

“The political debates, and even many conflicts, are rarely the outcome  of clear, distinctive dynamics, where we recognize clearly and unequivocally who is wrong and who is right,” Francis observed, noting, “The confrontations are sometimes clashes; at bottom, they are born in fact from the difficulties of synthesis among the different positions.”

Yet, the Holy Father stressed, this is the work, or even “the mission” of the journalist: “to come as close as possible to the truth of the facts and never say or write something that one knows, in conscience, is not true.”

To Live With Professionalism

The Pope then turned to the second element, namely that “to live with professionalism means first of all – beyond what we can find written in deontological codes – to understand, to interiorize the profound meaning of one’s work.”

“From here stems the need not to subject one’s profession to the logics of partisan interests, whether economic or political. A task of journalism, I dare say its vocation is, therefore – through attention, care in seeking the truth – to have man’s social dimension grow, to foster the building of  true citizenship.”

The Pontiff discussed the necessary freedom of journalists, recalling how “in the course of history, dictatorships – of whatever orientation or ‘color’ – have always sought not only to control the means of communication, but also to impose new rules on the journalistic profession.”

Respecting Human Dignity

While noting that respecting human dignity is important in every profession, the Pope stressed this is especially true in journalism, “because behind the simple reporting of an event there are also sentiments, emotions, and, in short, the life of individuals.”

“I have often spoken of gossip as ‘terrorism,’ about how one can kill a person with the tongue. If this is true for individual persons, in the family or at work, it is all the more true for journalists, because their voice can reach all, and this is  a very powerful weapon. Journalism must always respect a person’s dignity. An article is published today and, tomorrow, it will be replaced by another, but the life of a person unjustly defamed can be destroyed forever. Criticism is certainly legitimate, and I will say more, necessary, as is the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections. Journalism cannot become a “weapon of destruction” of persons and even of peoples. Nor must it fuel fear in face of the changes and phenomenons such as migrations forced by war and famine.”

Pope Francis concluded with his prayers and expressing his hope “that increasingly and everywhere journalism is an instrument of construction, a factor of common good, an accelerator of processes of reconciliation, which is able to reject the temptation to foment clashes, with a language that blows on the fire of divisions, and, instead, that it foster the culture of encounter.”

“You journalists can remind all every day that there is no conflict that cannot be resolved by women and men of good will,” he said.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-italian-journalists/

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Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, gave an address Thursday at the opening of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Below is the text of the intervention:

***

Mr President,

Last year, in his address in this Hall, His Holiness Pope Francis defined the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as “an important sign of hope.”  Just a few days ago[1], he reiterated his appreciation for the actions taken last year by the United Nations, encouraging all to put these ambitious objectives into practice:  “The protection of our common home requires a growing global political consensus. Along these lines, I am gratified that in September 2015 the nations of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, and that, in December 2015, they approved the Paris Agreement on climate change, which set the demanding yet fundamental goal of halting the rise of the global temperature. Now governments are obliged to honour the commitments they made, while businesses must also responsibly do their part. It is up to citizens to insist that this happen, and indeed to advocate for even more ambitious goals.”[2]

The achievement of the 2030 Agenda involves an important assumption of responsibility on the part of Governments and the commitment of all for the common good. This commitment entails recognizing the need to strive not only for great macroeconomic goals but for outcomes that are specific, lasting, and equitably distributed. Without a stable financial situation, lasting investments and a commercial appraisal that favours internal growth, however, the 2030 Agenda will be impossible to achieve.

Pope Francis has emphasized that “economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains. Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation. One concrete case is the ‘ecological debt’ between the global north and south. Repaying it would require treating the environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial resources and technical assistance needed to help them deal with climate change and promote sustainable development.”[3]

We always must remember that development – especially integral human development – cannot be imposed.  Men and women, as individuals, must be the principal agents of the 2030 Agenda.  Last year, in this very chamber, Pope Francis affirmed that this “presupposes and requires the right to education, … which is ensured first and foremost by respecting and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate its children, as well as the right of churches and social groups to support and assist families in the education of their children.”[4]  Therefore, Pope Francis continued, “the simplest and best measure and indicator of the implementation of the new Agenda for development will be the effective, practical and immediate access, on the part of all, to essential material and spiritual goods: housing, dignified and properly remunerated employment, adequate food and drinking water, religious freedom and, more generally, spiritual freedom and education.”[5]

Such a process of bringing about integral human development – a concept that includes, but is not exhausted by, economic development – should, through multilateral initiatives, stimulate also the quest for complementary, alternative finance systems capable of ensuring that financial resources are both accessible to and sustainable for the poorest.

As Pope Francis said here last year, “The pillars of integral human development have a common foundation, which is the right to life,”[6] which presumes that “we recognize a moral law written into human nature itself, one that includes the natural difference between man and woman (cf. Laudato Si’, 155), and absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimensions.”[7]

Integral human development is, moreover, impossible without peace. Only two days ago in Assisi, Pope Francis, together with numerous other world religious leaders, stressed the importance of dialogue as a privileged way to be peacemakers. Conflicts not only render the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals at the regional level absolutely impossible, but also destroy so many human resources, means of production and cultural heritage.  Today, as during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there is the recurrence of the threat of nuclear conflict with its terrible consequences.

The enormous and ill-fated effect of war is a downward spiral from which there is often no escape, triggers an increase in political polarization at the global level and narrows the spaces in which the same international community can propose effective solutions for a stable and lasting peace.

Among the factors that degrade social coexistence in countries and  undermine the whole international community, we must count the scourge of terrorism.  In the course of recent years, we have seen the metastasis of terrorism to so many parts of the world. Neighbors to Syria and Iraq have increasingly become victims of innumerable barbaric acts. Beyond the Middle East, atrocious acts of terrorism have instilled fear in the daily life of so many across the globe.

In the Middle East, we see the terrible consequences of a spiral of war: many lives destroyed; fallen states; collapsed ceasefires; unsuccessful peace initiatives; and failed attempts to resolve the fundamental causes of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Libya, to find a solution to the crisis of the presidency in Lebanon, and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  This persistent failure has dampened the hopes and promises of all who consider that region sacred and holy.

We can also witness these failures in the long-standing conflicts that continue to oppress and take the lives of so many in South Sudan, the Great Lakes, and now for two and half years in Eastern Ukraine. Although these situations have all been high profile and have brought an immense amount of human suffering, we are still very far from resolving their root causes. It almost seems that we have accepted conflict, war and terrorism as part of our new normal.

Beyond the urgency of the need for ceasefires, for respect for the dignity and the rights of affected peoples, and for access to humanitarian aid, there is also the necessity to facilitate negotiation with those who have direct or indirect responsibility for particular conflicts. Thankful for the positive outcome in Colombia, the heartfelt hope of the Holy See is that, through the facilitation of the international community, various forms of contact and dialogue will be pursued to resolve ongoing conflicts.

In particular, from the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Holy See has invited all Parties to dialogue and the international community to spare no efforts in facilitating an end to violence and in promoting the conditions for dialogue aimed at finding a political solution. Syria, however, has been overrun by all kinds of armed groups. The uproar of arms must cease so that peace may stand a chance, and above all so that humanitarian assistance may be brought to those who most need it.  The Holy See is convinced that this is possible provided that there is the political will to bring an end to the fighting.

Despite present difficulties, one can still gratefully find in Lebanon the conviction that the common good requires the participation and cooperation of all sectors of society, based on the rule of law and the idea that institutions are founded on respect for the innate dignity of every human being. The Lebanese constitutional arrangement, in which diverse ethnic groups, cultures and religions are an asset and contribute to a peaceful coexistence, can also be a model for a political solution in the region.

The Holy See also believes that in the Middle East a renewed commitment in favour of the rule of law and of freedom of religion and of conscience is the most effective way to safeguard the dignity of all. In this context, the 2015 Global Agreement that the Holy See signed with Palestine and that has subsequently been ratified by both Parties sets out in law the defence of the most basic human rights, among which are freedom of religion, the right to peaceful assembly, and the freedom publicly to profess one’s own religious beliefs.  In the complex situation of the Middle East, and in particular in Iraq and Syria, the Holy See maintains that the Global Agreement with Palestine can serve as a template for other Countries with analogous social structuring.

In the context of renewed efforts to relaunch the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, the Holy See renews its appeal to both Parties to abstain from unilateral or illegal measures of whatever kind, which may constitute an obstacle to the search for peace and to the advancing of the two-State Solution.

When we look at the phenomenon of forced migration, we find ourselves before a population of people on the move greater than that of many of the States represented here: sixty-five million people have been compelled to flee from their homes and communities, because of persecution, conflict, widespread violence and hunger, and devastated lands. A word of praise must go to Lebanon and to Jordan for the hospitality they are offering to all who have escaped from war and destruction in Iraq and Syria as well as to Turkey, which is hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

Beyond the necessary urgent consideration of how to resolve the causes of this forced exodus, we must note that migration and development are tightly linked.  The consequences of the mass movement of refugees and migrants threaten to weaken our commitment to the values of solidarity and hospitality towards those in need.  These values stand at the heart of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to which Pope Francis has been summoning the world.  As Pope Francis has emphasized, “Mercy is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life,”[8] especially those who are the weakest and most vulnerable.

Drawing special attention to those who are in prison, the Pope has renewed his pressing appeal “to the consciences of leaders, that they come to an international consensus aimed at abolishing the death penalty.”[9]

Without authentic and absolute respect for life, there can be no development that is truly human, integral and sustainable. Precisely to foster this development, Pope Francis has instituted a new Dicastery or department of the Holy See, the purpose of which is to promote justice, peace, the safeguarding of the environment, and the care of those most in need. The poor and needy are the human face of the sustainable development that we wish to keep ever before us, so that we may become responsible agents of a more just and truly human society.

Thank you.

[1] Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, 1 September 2016.

[2][7] Ibid.

[8] Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (11 April 2015),  2.

[9] Ibid.

 

2 days 23 hours

Pope Francis has again condemned violence against life and human dignity, in reacting to the slaying of two Mexican priests whose bullet-ridden bodies were found Monday.

The Pope’s secretary of state sent the Holy Father’s condolences to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of Papantla, Mexico, for the killing of the two priests of his diocese, Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez and Father Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz.

Papantla is in the state of Veracruz in central Mexico, on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.

Also on Monday, Father José Alfredo López Guillen of the state of Michoacán, was kidnapped and it is not known if he is still alive or where he is being held.

The Holy Father’s message urged the clergy and pastoral workers of Papantla to “continue energetically your ecclesial mission despite the obstacles, following the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.”

 

2 days 23 hours