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“Dear seminarians, you are preparing to become, one day, workers in the harvest of the Lord, priests who know how to work together, even among different dioceses.” Pope Francis said February 17, 2018, when speaking in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace to the Community of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Sardinia, on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of its founding.

“This is particularly valuable for a region like Sardinia, steeped in faith and Christian religious traditions, and which, also due to its island nature, requires special care for the relations between the different diocesan communities,” the Holy Father continued. “Today’s material and spiritual poverty makes even more important what has always been required: namely, that pastors are attentive to the poor and capable of being with them, with a simple lifestyle, so that the poor feel that our churches are first of all their

“I encourage you to prepare yourself now to become priests of the people and to the people, not dominators of the flock entrusted to you (cf. 1 Pt 5,3), but servants. There is a great need for men of God who look to the essential, who lead a sober and transparent life, without nostalgia for the past but capable of looking forward according to the healthy tradition of the Church.”

Address of the Holy Father

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

Dear educators and students!

I welcome you on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Sardinia. It was Pope Pius XI who solicited the Italian bishops, especially from the center-south and the islands, to agree on the concentration of the seminaries, in order to provide for the education of aspirants to the priesthood. In your Region the Seminary was first established in Cuglieri, together with the Theological Faculty; later it was transferred to the regional capital. I greet you all with affection, beginning with your Pastors, especially the archbishop of Cagliari, Msgr. Arrigo Miglio, whom I thank for his words.

On this occasion, I would like to join you in praising the Lord, Who in these years has accompanied with His grace the life of the many priests formed in this important educational institution dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has given the Church many committed ministers in your local Churches, in the mission ad gentes and in other services to the universal Church. May this commemoration give new impetus to the pastoral care of vocations, and to an up-to-date and careful formation of candidates for the sacred Order, for the benefit of God’s people.

Dear seminarians, you are preparing to become, one day, workers in the harvest of the Lord, priests who know how to work together, even among different dioceses. This is particularly valuable for a region like Sardinia, steeped in faith and Christian religious traditions, and which, also due to its island nature, requires special care for the relations between the different diocesan communities. Today’s material and spiritual poverty makes even more important what has always been required: namely, that pastors are attentive to the poor, and capable of being with them, with a simple lifestyle, so that the poor feel that our churches are first of all their home. I encourage you to prepare yourself now to become priests of the people and to the people, not dominators of the flock entrusted to you (cf. 1 Pt 5,3), but servants. There is a great need for men of God who look to the essential, who lead a sober and transparent life, without nostalgia for the past but capable of looking forward according to the healthy tradition of the Church.

In these years of preparation for the ordained ministry, you are experiencing a special and unrepeatable moment in your life. May you be ever more aware of the grace the Lord has granted you by making resonate in you the invitation to leave everything and follow Him, to be with Him so as to be sent to preach (cf. Mt 4: 19-20, Mk 3:14). The hopes of the Church in Sardinia are placed in you, in a special way! Your bishops follow you with affection and concern, counting heavily on you and your resolve to conform to Jesus Good Shepherd for the good and holiness of the Christian communities of your region. Walk with joy, tenacity, and seriousness in this journey of formation, to take on the form of apostolic life, which is able to respond to today’s demands of evangelization.

The seminary, prior to and more than being an institution functional to the acquisition of theological and pastoral skills and a place of common life and study, is a genuine ecclesial experience, a singular community of missionary disciples, called to follow closely the Lord Jesus, to be with Him day and night, to share the mystery of His Cross and Resurrection, to be exposed to the Word and the Spirit, to verify and mature the specific traits of apostolic following. From now on, it is up to you to prepare yourselves adequately to be able to make a free and irrevocable choice of total fidelity to Christ, to His Church and to your vocation and mission.

The seminary is the school of this fidelity, which is learned first of all in prayer, especially in the liturgical one. At this time friendship with Jesus is cultivated, centered in the Eucharist and nourished by contemplation and the study of the Holy Scriptures. You can not exercise the ministry well if you do not live in union with Christ. Without Him, we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15: 5).

In the journey of the seminary, the role of formators is decisive: the quality of the presbytery depends largely on the commitment of those who are responsible for formation. They are called to work with rectitude and wisdom for the development of coherent and balanced personalities, capable of validly assuming, and then responsibly fulfilling, the priestly mission. In this delicate work of formation, your seminary also carries out an indispensable service to the dioceses, enhancing the quality of the formation of the clergy and communion among the Churches.

I entrust you all to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Bonaria. From experience I can tell you that time in the seminary is a privileged moment in which we experience this loving presence of Our Lady in our life. She always watches with thoughtful love on each one of you. She is your mother. Turn to Mary often and trustfully. I assure all of you of my prayer and my blessing. And please, I ask you to pray for me.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

 

JF

8 hours 32 min

 

Pope Francis has confirmed Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap. as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] and named sixteen (16) members to this advisory body, including nine new members, the Vatican said February 17, 2018, in a press release.

The new members are: Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia); Sr. Arina Gonsalves, RJM (India); Hon. Neville Owen (Australia); Ms. Sinalelea Fe’ao (Tonga); Prof. Myriam Wijlens (Netherlands); Prof. Ernesto Caffo (Italy); Sr. Jane Bertelsen, FMDM (UK); Ms. Teresa Kettelkamp (USA) and Mr. Nelson Giovanelli Rosendo Dos Santos (Brazil).

The seven returning members are: Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines); Bishop Luis Manuel Alí Herrera (Colombia); Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany); Prof. Hannah Suchocka (Poland); Sr. Kayula Lesa, RSC (Zambia) Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS (South Africa), and Mons. Robert Oliver (USA).

Cardinal O’Malley stated: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given much prayerful consideration in nominating these members. The newly appointed members will add to the Commission’s global perspective on the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. The Holy Father has ensured continuity in the work of our Commission, which is to assist local churches throughout the world in their efforts to safeguard all children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm.”

The Holy Father has chosen these eight women and eight men from a multi-disciplinary field of international experts in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from the crime of sexual abuse. Representatives from several new countries will now offer their insights and experience to the Commission, reflecting the global reach of the Church and the challenge of creating safeguarding structures in diverse cultural contexts.

Victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse are included among the members announced today. Since the Commission’s foundation, people who have suffered abuse and parents of victims/survivors have been members. As has always been the Commission’s practice, the PCPM upholds the right of each person to disclose their experiences of abuse publicly or not to do so. The members appointed today have chosen not do so publicly, but solely within the Commission. The PCPM firmly believes that their privacy in this matter is to be respected.

LISTENING TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED: THE CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR THEIR VOICES

As decided by the founding members at the September 2017 plenary, the new PCPM membership and staff will begin its term by listening to and learning from people who have been abused, their family members, and those who support them. This “victim/survivor first” approach continues to be central to all the Commission’s policies and educational programmes. The PCPM wishes to hear the voices of victims/survivors directly, in order that the advice offered to the Holy Father be truly imbued with their insights and experiences.

The opening session of the April plenary meeting will begin with a private meeting with several people who have experienced abuse. The members will then discuss various proposals to foster on-going dialogue with victims/survivors from around the world. Discussions have been underway for some months with a view to creating an “International Survivor Advisory Panel” (ISAP), a new structure shaped by the voices of victims/survivors and building on the experience of the Survivor Advisory Panel of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission in England and Wales.

Baroness Hollins, a founding member of the Commission, has chaired the working group to research and develop a proposal on the ISAP and will lead the presentation to the April plenary meeting. The goals for this panel include studying abuse prevention from the survivor’s perspective and being pro-active in awareness raising of the need for healing and care for everyone hurt by abuse.

CREATING A CULTURE OF SAFEGUARDING: OUR BIGGEST FUTURE CHALLENGE

The specific task of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is to propose to the Holy Father best practice initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults from the crime of sexual abuse and to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches for the protection of all children, young people, and vulnerable adults. Inculturating abuse prevention and protection into the life and action of local churches remains the PCPM’s future goal and greatest challenge.

Over its first four years, the PCPM has worked with almost 200 dioceses and religious communities worldwide to raise awareness and to educate people on the need for safeguarding in our homes, parishes, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. The members would like to thank all those who have embraced this call and to thank the Holy See for supporting and encouraging these efforts.

For more information on the PCPM members, current and founding, and the work of the Commission, visit the website(now available in English, Italian and Spanish): www.protectionofminors.va

 

JF

9 hours 21 min

Pope Francis on February 16, 2018, received Baek Man Lee, Ambassador of Korea to the Holy See, on the occasion of the presentation of his letters of credence.

The following is a brief biography of the new ambassador:

Baek Man Lee was born on February 23, 1956. He is married and has two children.

He graduated in economics from Seoul National University, Korea in 1978, and specialized in mass communications at Chungang University, Seoul, in 2010.

He has held, among others, the following positions: editorial writer at The Hankook-Ilbo (2001); director of the Reporting Division at Korea Business TV (2002); deputy minister, Government Information Agency (2004-2006); senior secretary to the President for Public Relations (2006-2007); special advisor to the President for Public Relations (2007); visiting professor at Mokpo National University (2008-2010); honorary ambassador to the Cambodia Xavier Jesuit School (2016); Catholic missionary at the Catholic Catechetical Institute (2017).

He knows English.

 

1 day 9 hours

A pre-synodal meeting is going to take place in Rome from March 19-24, 2018, in the Vatican ahead of the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October the topic: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri,  secretary general of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, presented the initiative in the Holy See Press Office this morning, along with Msgr. Fabio Fabene, under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops; Stella Marilene Nishimwe, a young woman from Burundi; Filippo Passantino, a young Italian; and Greg Burke, Director of the Press Office.

The purpose of the meeting, the Cardinal explained, is to provide the opportunity for young people to produce a document, which expresses their view on the state of things, their ideas, their feelings and their recommendations, to be presented to the Synodal Fathers.

Some 300 people, representing young people from the 5 continents, are expected to participate in this preliminary gathering. Bishops’ conferences, religious congregations, and other Vatican dicasteries were involved in selecting the young people who will participate.

On March 25, on Palm Sunday, the input from this meeting will be delivered to the Pope. It will be among the various items taken into account in the Instrumentum laboris to be used by the Synod fathers.

How Young People Can Be Participate From Around the World

Expressing the Vatican’s desire that young people all over the world can also engage in these discussions, the Italian prelate stressed they are encouraged to do so, by means of social media.

How can young people take part in the meeting? Young Italian Filippo Passantino pointed out the available instruments on the social networks.

Filippo, who is part of a group of young people, invited to the heart of the Synod’s Secretariat, to promote participation on the social networks, hoped that “the Church can speak the language of young people.” So the group created a Facebook page, multilingual Twitter and Instagram accounts with “a young look to speak to other young people.”

He explained that it’s about “transforming the social networks into a forum open to all,” so that numerous young people can take part in the Pre-Synodal meeting, in addition to the 300 young people who will be there. Young people are invited to share their stories, their questions on these social networks. “We have received many messages from the whole world,” said Filippo. The common hashtag on these international networks is: #Synod2018.

The young Italian said that he expected from the Synod words of encouragement on the way young people “can be happy today, in a demanding and competitive  world, which seems not to leave a place to the human dimensions and to authentic relations.” Young people want to “sow seeds of hope in today’s world” and ”the Synod might be a precious occasion to invite all those responsible not to close any door to young people,” he added.

For young people, a Facebook page has been created: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pre.synodal/about

The Synod’s official site published, in English, with useful instruments for the Pre-Synodal meeting:

http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/pre-synodal-meeting.html

 

1 day 10 hours

Roman Rite – First Sunday of Lent – Year B – February 18. 2018
Gn 9,8-15; Ps 25; 1 Pt 3: 18-22; Mk 1: 12-15

Ambrosian Rite
Is 57.15-58.4a; Ps 51; 2 Corinthians 4.16b-5.9; Mt 4,1-11
Sunday at the beginning of Lent

1) Converting to the truth of love.

The first Sunday of Lent – Year B – offers us the narration of the temptation of Jesus in the desert according to the Gospel of Saint Mark which, compared to that of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, is characterized by a great brevity. With the sober and concise style of Saint Mark, the Gospel introduces us into the climate of this liturgical season: “The Spirit pushed Jesus in the desert and in the desert he remained forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mk 1:12) and served by the Angels (Mark 1.13)

In these two verses, we find synthesized the two aspects of the biblical conception of the desert. On the one hand, when it is said that the Spirit pushed Jesus into the desert where he remained forty days (like the forty years of the Jewish people in the desert) tempted by Satan, the desert is seen as the place of temptation. On the other hand, the desert is referred as the privileged place for the experience of the Covenant, that is, for the love of the Lord, whose angels serve Christ. Doubtlessly the words of the prophet Hosea resound: “Behold, I will draw her to me, lead her into the wilderness, and speak to her heart” (2: 16) are recalled.

In the stone garden that is the desert, the new Garden of Eden made a place of death by sin, Jesus overcomes the old and dull look on the things that seduce, and helps us to look at life with new eyes holy and full of love.

After receiving the baptism from John, Jesus enters the desert[1] led by the same Holy Spirit who had descended on him consecrating him and revealing him as the Son of God.

In that solitary place, place of trial as the experience of the people of Israel shows, appears with great drama the reality of the emptying of Christ, who has stripped himself of the form of God (cf. Phil 2: 6-7). He, who has not sinned and cannot sin, submits to trial and therefore can sympathize with our illness (cf. Heb 4:15). He allows himself to be tempted by Satan, the adversary, who from the beginning opposed God’s saving plan for men.

To these men, Christ tells the good news: God is near, “repent and believe in the Gospel”. Believe in love.

At the beginning of Lent, these words “convert and believe in the Gospel” are addressed to each one of us. This is not an injunction that arises from will, but an indication that flows from love.

Jesus comes to announce the law of freedom, and not to denounce according to the law of slavery. His announcement is a “yes” that creates a new alliance of life, and not a “no” that punishes with death. If we answer yes to his yes, we will live a good, beautiful and happy life like his.

To be able to say this “yes”, we must convert and believe in the Gospel. This yes puts us with Christ on the path of charity. Let us not forget, however, that in order to take and live the path of love, one thing is an indispensable condition: to be converted, that is to abandon one’s own will through humility. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux discovered it by reading the Gospel where Jesus recommends to the disciples: “Truly I say to you unless you will be converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18: 3). And what else does it mean to become children – asks St. Bernard – if not “to become humble”? (On Lent II, 1). Therefore, to convert is to learn the difficult art of humility.

Conversion is the “humble and total yes” of those who give their lives to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ who first offers himself to man as the way, the truth and the life, and as the only one who liberates him and saves him. Precisely this is the meaning of the first words with which, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus opens the preaching of the “Gospel of God”: “Time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near; be converted and believe in the Gospel “(Mk 1,15).

2) Penance and conversion[2].

To convert means to change direction on the path of life: however, not with a small adjustment but with a return home, as did the prodigal son.

To convert is to turn mind and heart to God who in Christ has come close to us.

To convert is to welcome the gift of God’s closeness. I think that the strongest and most meaningful word that Jesus pronounces today in the Gospel is: the Kingdom of God is near. It means: the lordship of God is present in the person and in the work of Jesus Christ, and it is near because it began and grows among men with the presence of Jesus. Conversion is to approach this presence, it is to be reached by the Spirit because we feel distant, orphans of God.

In these forty days, the Church asks us to live with intense prayer, with sincere penitence in contrition and with generous almsgiving that means that compassion towards the poor is not only an emotion but a sharing of goods.

The works of Lent that the Church asks us to do are three: prayer, penance, and almsgiving. Today, I will focus on penance to help us arrive at the celebration of the great mystery of the Easter of his Son, purified and completely renewed in mind and spirit.

Penance has two essential elements: the contrition of the heart and the mortification of the body. It should not be forgotten that, if it is the heart of man that wants evil, it is often the body that has helped him to commit it.

The principle of true penance lies in the heart: we learn it from the Gospel in the examples of the prodigal son, the sinner who washes the feet of Christ with her tears, Zacchaeus the publican and St. Peter, who offered his pain to Christ and whom He confirmed in his love.

During Lent, the Christian must practice penitence of the heart and consider it as the essential foundation of all the acts pertinent to this holy time. However, penance would always be illusory if it did not add the body’s tribute to the internal feelings it inspires.

The Savior is not satisfied with moaning and weeping over our sins. He expiates them with the suffering of his body. The Church, that his sure interpreter, admonishes us that the penitence of our heart will not be accepted if we do not unite it with the observance of abstinence on Ash Wednesday and on Lenten Friday, and with fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The devil tempts starting from sensuality and gluttony, and that is why during Lent we are asked to practice not only prayer but abstinence and fasting.

At this point, it is legitimate to ask oneself which penance to make and which sacrifice to offer to the Lord to live well this Lenten period in particular and that of everyday life in general, in order to atone for our sins and walk with Christ.

The answer, which comes to us from the Bible and from Tradition, is: “To do the will of God in everything, always and in a perfect way”. Those who offer a fast, offer to the Lord a part of themselves. Those who offer to the Lord the adhesion of their own will to his will, offer to him all of themselves. In this, the Consecrated Virgins are of example. These women, giving themselves body and soul to Christ, perform an act of perfect love. Each of them says “Lord I love what you love and I hate what you hate. I love virtue, I hate sin “. Moreover, they show that this is not enough. They love as God wants, with an authentic, joyful and grateful love.

In fact, if love animates this authenticity, the Lord reigns in the person with his joy (cf. Pope Francis). Moreover, the life of the consecrated virgin expresses concretely the importance of giving everything to God with joy and simplicity. Finally, they testify that giving oneself to God with gratitude is a sign of maturity because they are grateful to experience that God sustains them with the light of His look. Finally, they show that a grateful heart is a faithful heart.

Patristic reading

Golden chain

on Mk 1:12-13

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., xiii: Because all that Christ did and suffered was for our teaching, He began after His baptism to dwell in the wilderness, and fought against the devil, that every baptized person might patiently sustain greater temptations after His baptism, nor be troubled, as if this which happened to Him was contrary to His expectation, but might bear up against all things, and come off conqueror.
For although God allows that we should be tempted for many other reasons, yet for this cause also He allows it, that we may know, that man when tempted is placed in a station of greater honor. For the Devil approaches not save where he has (p. 18) beheld one set in a place of greater honor; and therefore it is said, “And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”
And the reason why He does not simply say that He went into the wilderness, but was driven, is that thou mayest understand that it was done according to the word of Divine Providence. By which also He shews that no man should thrust himself into temptation, but that those who from some other state are as it were driven into temptation, remain conquerors.
Bede, in Marc., 1, 5: And that no one might doubt, by what spirit he said that Christ was driven into the wilderness, Luke has on purpose premised, that “Jesus being full of the Spirit returned from Jordan, ” and then has added, “and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness;” lest the evil spirit should be thought to have any power over Him, who, being full of the Holy Spirit, departed whither He was willing to go, and did what He was willing to do.
Chrys., in Matt., Hom., xiii: But the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, because He designed to provoke the devil to tempt Him, and thus gave Him an opportunity not only by hunger but also by the place. For then most of all does the devil thrust himself in when he sees men remaining solitary.
Bede: But He retires into the desert that He may teach us that, leaving the allurements of the world, and the company of the wicked, we should in all things obey the Divine commands.
He is left alone and tempted by the devil, that He might teach us, “that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;” (2Tm 3,12) whence it follows, “And He was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, and was tempted of Satan.”
But He was tempted forty days and forty nights that He might shew us that as long as we live here and serve God, whether prosperity smile upon us, which is meant by the day, or adversity smite us, which agrees with the figure of night, at all times our adversary is at hand, who ceases not to trouble our way by temptations.
For “the forty days and forty nights” imply the whole time of this world, for the globe in which we are serving God is divided into four quarters.
Again, there are Ten Commandments, by observing which we fight against our enemy, but four times ten are forty. (p. 19)
There follows, “and He was with the wild beasts.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: But He says this to shew of what nature was the wilderness, for it was impassable by man and full of wild beasts.
It goes on; “and angels ministered unto Him.” For after temptation, and a victory against the devil, He worked the salvation of man. And thus the Apostle says, “Angels are sent to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” (He 1,14)
We must also observe, that to those who conquer in temptation angels stand near and minister.
Bede: Consider also that Christ dwells among the wild beasts as man, but, as God, uses the ministry of Angels. Thus, when in the solitude of a holy life we bear with unpolluted mind the bestial manners of men, we merit to have the ministry of Angels, by whom, when freed from the body, we shall be transferred to everlasting happiness.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or then the beasts dwell with us in peace, as in the ark clean animals with the unclean, when the flesh lusts not against the spirit. After this, ministering Angels are sent to us, that they may give answers and comforts to hearts that watch.

[1] In the Holy Land, to the west of the Jordan River and the oasis of Jericho, there is the desert of Judah, which, by steep valleys overcoming a drop of about a thousand meters, rises up to Jerusalem.

[2] The Greek word that St. Mark puts on the mouth of Christ to invite to conversion is metanoia (literally “the change of mentality”). It does not indicate a simple change of opinion, but a radical change of life, imposed by the presence of the kingdom of God. And the most demanding request is that of faith.

1 day 10 hours

Pope Francis on February 16, 2018, shared his wishes for peace and young people in an address in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, where he received the Community of the Pontifical Maronite College in Rome, on the tenth anniversary of the approval of the new Statute of the College.

Warning of the danger of slipping into the culture of “the temporary and of appearances,” the Holy Father said, “These years are an opportunity for developing antibodies against worldliness and mediocrity. They are years of exercise in the ‘Roman gym’.”

He cited the human, intellectual, and spiritual formation those present receive, noting it is not for their own careers but “a treasure destined for the faithful who await you in your Eparchies and to whom your life awaits to be donated.” He reminded them that they will be called “to live a mission, without sparing yourselves, without calculations, without limits of availability.”

“You are called to live all this in a time that is not without sufferings and dangers, but also filled with hope,” the Holy Father continued. “The people who will be entrusted to you, disoriented by the instability that unfortunately continues to have repercussions on the Middle East, will seek in you pastors who console them: pastors with the word of Jesus on their lips, with hands ready to dry their tears and to caress suffering countenances; pastors who forget themselves and their own interests; pastors who are never discouraged, because every day they draw from the Eucharistic bread the sweet strength of love that satiates; pastors who are not afraid to be “eaten up” by the people, like good bread offered to brothers.”

The Holy Father concluded with two wishes for the Maronites present.  First, for peace, especially Lebanon. Second, for young people: “As a Church we wish increasingly to have them at heart, accompany them with trust and patience, dedicating time to them and listening to them.”

Address of the Holy Father

Excellency, dear Brothers,

I greet you with affection and am glad to welcome you. This year will be the tenth anniversary of the approval of the new Statute of your College. It is an opportunity not only to meet but also to commemorate your history and to explore your roots. In reality, this time you spend in Rome is a time to consolidate your roots. I think of the roots present in the very name of your Church, which refers to Saint Maron – you celebrated him a few days ago – and along with him, to monasticism, that form of life that is not satisfied with a moderate and discreet faith, but feels the need to go beyond, to love with all the heart. Poor lives in the eyes of the world, but precious for God and for others. It is by drawing from these pure wellsprings that your ministry will be good water for those who thirst today. Our heart, like a compass, seeks to orient itself and is drawn towards what it loves; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6: 21), says Jesus. You, in these years, helped by spiritual formation, by study, by community life, have the grace of orienting your heart well, so that it may find the zeal of your great fathers and mothers in faith.

There is, however, the risk, today, of being absorbed by the culture of the temporary and of appearances. These years are an opportunity for developing antibodies against worldliness and mediocrity. They are years of exercise in the “Roman gym” where, with the help of God and of those who accompany you on your journey, you will be able to consolidate your foundations: first and foremost, those of an indispensable spiritual discipline, which is based on the pillars of prayer and inner labor. A liturgical and personal prayer in which rites are not enough, but which leads to life before the Lord, and the Lord within life. A patient inner labor that, open to exchange, helped by study and tempered by effort, operates a discernment that recognizes the temptations and unmasks falsehoods, to live the ministry in the greatest freedom, without duplicity, without pretense.

The human, intellectual and spiritual enrichment your receive in these years is not an award for you, and far less a commodity to be exploited for one’s own career, but rather a treasure destined for the faithful who await you in your Eparchies and to whom your life awaits to be donated. Because you will not be called to exercise, even well, an office – it is not enough! – but rather to live a mission, without sparing yourselves, without calculations, without limits of availability. You yourselves will need to listen to people: indeed, God will confirm you through their lives, through many encounters, through His unexpected surprises. And you, as pastors in close contact with the flock, will savor the most genuine joy when you stoop to them, making their joys and sufferings your own, and when at the end of the day you are able to recount to the Lord the love you have received and given.

You are called to live all this in a time that is not without sufferings and dangers but also filled with hope. The people who will be entrusted to you, disoriented by the instability that unfortunately continues to have repercussions on the Middle East, will seek in you pastors who console them: pastors with the word of Jesus on their lips, with hands ready to dry their tears and to caress suffering countenances; pastors who forget themselves and their own interests; pastors who are never discouraged, because every day they draw from the Eucharistic bread the sweet strength of love that satiates; pastors who are not afraid to be “eaten up” by the people, like good bread offered to brothers.

Faced with the many needs that await you, the temptation can come to act in the way of the world, seeking out those who are strong rather than those who are weak, looking to those who have means rather than those who lack them. But when this temptation comes, it is necessary to return immediately to the roots, to Jesus who refused success, glory, and money, because the only treasure that oriented His life was the will of the Father: announcing salvation to all peoples, proclaiming God’s mercy with His life. This changes history. And it all begins with not losing sight of Jesus, of looking at Him as Saint Maron, Saint Charbel, Saint Rafqa and many other of your “heroes of sainthood”. They are the models to imitate to repel the temptations of careerism, power, and clericalism. The course that honors Christian life is not ascent towards prizes and the rewarding certainties of the world, but the humble descent in service. It is the road of Jesus: there is no other.

I would still like to share two wishes with you, thinking of your precious ministry. The first: peace. Today fraternity and integration represent urgent challenges, that can no longer be postponed, and in this regard, Lebanon has not only something to say but also a special vocation of peace to be accomplished in the world. Among the sons of your land, you, in a special way, will be called to serve all as brothers, firstly by sensing that you are all brothers. Helped by your knowledge, work to ensure that Lebanon can always correspond “to its vocation of being light for the peoples of the region and a sign of the peace that comes from God” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon, 125).

The second desire concerns young people. As a Church we wish increasingly to have them at heart, accompany them with trust and patience, dedicating time to them and listening to them. Young people are the promise of the future, the most serious investment for your ministry. Pope Benedict, meeting them, said: “Young people from Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and how your country teaches you” (Meeting with young people, 15 September 2012). Yours is the mission of helping them open their hearts to good, so that they may experience the joy of welcoming the Lord in their lives.

Dear brothers, I thank you for your presence and, as I entrust you to the protection of Our Lady of Lebanon and your great Saints, I give you my blessing and I ask you to remember me in prayer. Thank you!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

1 day 11 hours

Pope Francis on February 16, 2018, called on the faithful to avoid “fake fasting” during Lent, according to a report in Vatican News. His remarks came in his morning homily during mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

“A true Christian must be consistent, not putting himself on show, never despising others or engaging in quarrels or disagreements,” the Pope said.  He explained that the faithful should avoid behavior that is inconsistent with the spirit of Lent.

Referencing the first reading of the day from chapter 58 of Isaiah, that discusses the correct manner of fasting, Francis warned against the temptation of “showing off” by fasting: “by making a fuss of it and letting people know that we are practicing Catholics and we do penance, so that people think what a good person.”

He said this sort of behavior is a trick – pretending to be virtuous. He encouraged all to fast, but to smile while fasting. And he recommended at least a partial fast for those who can’t commit to a total fast even “if you cannot commit to a total fast, the kind that makes you feels hunger in your bones” you can still fast humbly and consistently.

He continued by inviting the faithful to fast because it can help others. Fasting involves lowering oneself by reflecting on one’s sins and asking forgiveness from the Lord, he noted. And consistency in fasting also means acting as a Christian in other areas of life.

“Does my fast help others?” the Pope asked.  If not, “it’s inconsistent and it takes you on the path to a double life, pretending to be a just Christian – like the Pharisees or the Sadducees…if I am unable to do something, I will not do it. I will do only what I can with the consistency of a true Christian.”

 

1 day 11 hours

Lent has just begun and Pope Francis has spoken to Rome’s clergy, commenting on the ‘ages’ of priesthood.

The Holy Father did so during a closed-door meeting with the clergy of the diocese of Rome, on February 15, 2018, held in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano offered a summary of his reflections.

The Pope asked young priests to seek a style of priestly life, such as an identity card, because every priest is unique. Among other things, it’s about being conscious of one’s limitations, of finding a guide, a wise man, who can help in discernment.

Then the Pontiff addressed priests between 40 and 50 years old, time of pruning and trial. A priest of this age is like a husband who over time has lost his amorous sentiments, said the Pope. So it’s necessary to redouble prayer, but it’s also the moment when one sees his spiritual children grow, where one begins to say good-bye to learn to retire, the time of temptations of which one can be ashamed . . . but it’s the devil that instils them, stressed the Holy Father.

Turning, then, to the older priests, the Bishop of Rome said that they live the time of wisdom, during which they are called to offer their availability with a smile: the priests of a certain age can, in fact, ensure “the pastoral of the ear,” with listening and compassion. It’s also the time of unconditional forgiveness, he stressed.

Pope Francis concluded, inviting priests to discern the signs of the times, to see the hidden reality, not just what is negative. Finally, he took part in a penitential liturgy, during which he heard confessions for over an hour. After the meeting, the Pontiff lunched in the great papal Roman Seminary, with 70 seminarians.

1 day 13 hours

On this first Friday of Lent, Pope Francis has reminded that prayer restores us.

The Holy Father stressed this in the Vatican to members of the Pro Petri Sede Association, gathered in Rome for their traditional pilgrimage, noting the Lenten season is a favorable time, for every baptized person, to refocus on the heart of the Catholic faith and on the mission of the Church.

Encouraging those present to consider the opportunities of these days, Francis told them to ask the Lord to convert our hearts.

Encouraging them to reaffirm their faith–as their pilgrimage involves praying before St. Peter’s tomb, the Pope urged those present to renew themselves in your charitable mission to others.

“Faced with a world marked by indifference, violence, selfishness and pessimism, it is useful to ask ourselves today if it does not suffer from a lack of charity, both in hearts and in relationships with God and with others.”

He reminded that in his 2018 Message for Lent, he asked: ‘Has charity been extinguished in our hearts? It is worth facing the truth directly! And to use the remedies that God Himself gives us in the Church.’

“Prayer,” the Holy Father reminded, “restores us to the path of truth about ourselves and God; fasting makes us share the situation of many people who face the torment of hunger and makes us more attentive to others; almsgiving is a blessed opportunity to collaborate with God’s Providence for the benefit of His children.”

Pope Francis invited those before him to make almsgiving a way of life and to persevere in concrete help to those in need.

“I reiterate my appreciation and my encouragement for your mission, inviting you to carry it forth daily in personal and community prayer, remembering the people you support. Also entrusting them to the Lord is part of your mission,” he prayed, “let us ask the Lord to convert our hearts so that charity may grow on earth and that there may finally be an end to conflicts, the cause of countless evils.”

“May this pilgrimage increase charity within you, as well as the desire to confess your faith every day and to witness it where you live!”

Before concluding imparting his blessing and requesting their prayers, Pope Francis invited the association members to pray for the young, “so that the next Synod dedicated to them may enable in particular a revival of priestly and religious vocations in your countries.”

 **** On ZENIT’s Web page: Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-pro-petri-sede-association/
1 day 13 hours

Pope Francis promulgated the Apostolic Letter “Imparare a Congedarsi” [“Learn to Take Leave”], in the form of a Motu Proprio, which regulates the resignation from some papal appointed offices at 75 years of age.

The Apostolic Letter was published by the Holy See Press Office on Thursday, February 15, 2018, despite being dated February 12.

The document specifies that the office doesn’t cease ipso facto at 75, but only after the decision of the Pontiff, to whom the resignation must be tendered. Therefore, it’s a decision that can be prolonged beyond the three months established in Article 3 of Canon 189 of the Code of Canon Law.

In the Letter, the Holy Father stresses the importance of preparing oneself adequately to leave one’s office, “divesting oneself of desires for power and the pretension of being indispensable.” This will enable one to face that moment with peace and confidence, instead of being a painful moment of conflict.

New Plan of Life

One who assumes in truth this need to resign, must discern in prayer how to live the stage that’s about to begin, elaborating a new plan of life marked, in so far as possible, by austerity, humility, intercessory prayer, time dedicated to reading and availability to carry out simple pastoral services,” writes the Pope.

On the other hand, when exceptionally one is requested to continue in the service for a longer period, it must be considered in the ambit of the ecclesial common good” and must not be considered a “privilege or personal triumph,” or a favour due to presumed obligations stemming from friendship or closeness, not even as gratitude for the efficacy of the services rendered, explains Pope Francis.

Reasons to Continue in An Office

Among the reasons to continue in an office, the Holy Father points out the importance of completing properly a project that is advantageous to the Church; the suitability of ensuring the continuity of important works; a Dicastery’s period of transition; the importance of a person’s contribution to the implementation of directives issued by the Holy See or when receiving new magisterial guidelines.

Thus, the Bishop of Rome specifies that this papal decision “isn’t an automatic act, but of government. Consequently, it implies the virtue of prudence, which will help, through appropriate discernment, to make the right decision.”

With this Motu Proprio, the Pope intends to integrate canonical legislation and predispose to some modifications” of the Rescriptum ex Audentia of November 3, 2014, which I confirm integrally, with the exception of some parts contained in Article 2 and modify the canonical norms referring to resignation for reasons of age,” writes the Holy Father.

1 day 14 hours

The following is a Vatican-provided translation of the Holy Father’s address today in the Vatican to members of the Pro Petri Sede Association, gathered in Rome for their traditional pilgrimage:

* * *

Dear friends,

I joyfully welcome you, members of the Pro Petri Sede Association, on your pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Peter to reaffirm your faith and renew yourselves in your charitable mission to others.

Your visit takes place at the beginning of Lent, a favourable time to refocus on the heart of the Catholic faith and on the mission of the Church, in which every baptized person must take part. Faced with a world marked by indifference, violence, selfishness and pessimism, it is useful to ask ourselves today if it does not suffer from a lack of charity, both in hearts and in relationships with God and with others. It is the question I posed in the Message for Lent 2018: has charity been extinguished in our hearts? It is worth facing the truth directly! And to use the remedies that God Himself gives us in the Church. Prayer restores us to the path of truth about ourselves and God; fasting makes us share the situation of many people who face the torment of hunger and makes us more attentive to others; almsgiving is a blessed opportunity to collaborate with God’s Providence for the benefit of His children. And I invite you to make almsgiving a way of life and to persevere in concrete help to those in need. Your commitment asks you always to be careful to offer, in addition to material help, the warmth of feeling welcomed, the delicacy of respect and fraternity, without which no one can regain courage and hope again in the future.

I reiterate my appreciation and my encouragement for your mission, inviting you to carry it forth daily in personal and community prayer, remembering the people you support. Also entrusting them to the Lord is part of your mission, and you thus build ecclesial communion, because we are all children of the same Father. With your generous offering to the Successor of Peter, you contribute to the Church’s mission to support every person, especially the poorest and those who have lost everything as a result of forced migration. I thank you in their name for your help and your spiritual closeness.

Dear friends, let us ask the Lord to convert our hearts so that charity may grow on earth and that there may finally be an end to conflicts, the cause of countless evils. May this pilgrimage increase charity within you, as well as the desire to confess your faith every day and to witness it where you live! I also invite you to pray for the young, so that the next Synod dedicated to them may enable in particular a revival of priestly and religious vocations in your countries.

By entrusting each of you and your families, and the members of your Association, to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Peter and the Saints of your countries, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing. And I ask you: do not forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by the Vatican]
1 day 14 hours

On February 12, 2018, second anniversary of Pope Francis’ meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russias, an international Catholic-Orthodox Conference was held in Vienna on the situation of Christians in the Middle East, reported the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate (DREE).

Taking part in the conference were: Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna; Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the DREE, as well as several hierarchs of Eastern Christian Churches, among them Bishop Armash Nalbandian, head of the diocese of Damas of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Monsignor Joseph Mouawad, of the Maronite Church of Lebanon.

Cardinal Schoenborn opened the conference, emphasizing the importance of the Havana meeting and stressing that that historic event was in itself a message to all Christians and people of good will.

Cardinal Koch presented to the forum the humanitarian work carried out by the Catholic Church in the Middle East, in particular in Syria and Iraq. He dedicated a considerable part of his address to a reflection on the phenomenon of the Christian martyr.

For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion gave a report on the situation of persecuted Christians and on the practical Orthodox-Catholic cooperation in the Middle East. He presented a catalogue of thirty Christian churches in ruins, prepared by the DREE and Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

During the Conference, Bishop Armash Nalbandian of Damas talked about the situation of Christians in Syria, where the churches are destroyed, the clergy and laity kidnapped, and where Christians have been leaving the country for seven years now. According to his information, 60% of the local Christians have lost their homes. In the only Armenian community in Syria, more than 200 people have been killed, 450 wounded, 120 abducted, 70 churches ruined, and more than 59 Christian installations damaged. He appealed to Christian Churches to help keep the Christian presence in the Middle East, including by prayer.

Maronite Bishop Zahle Joseph Mouawad talked about the difficult social and humanitarian situation in Lebanon, where there are 3 million Syrian refugees. He stressed the importance of the political and religious dialogue for the stabilization of the situation in Lebanon.

1 day 14 hours

Pope Francis on February 15, 2018, said he “gladly” joins the Church in Brazil for its Lenten campaign, “Fraternity and Overcoming Violence.”

The Holy Father’s sentiments came in a message to Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, archbishop of Brasilia and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB) for the opening of the campaign. In addition to the name, Fraternity and overcoming violence, and the campaign’s motto is “You are all brethren”, a verse from the Gospel (Matthew 23: 8).

“To build fraternity and to promote a culture of peace, reconciliation, and justice, in the light of the Word of God, as a way to overcome violence,” is the aim of the campaign,” the Pope said. “In this way, the 2018 Campaign for Fraternity invites us to recognize violence in so many areas and manifestations and, with confidence, faith, and hope, overcome it through the path of love seen in Jesus Crucified.”

The Pope encouraged everyone to be “protagonists in overcoming violence by being heralds and builders of peace.” He pointed out that peace “is woven in day-to-day life with patience and mercy, within the family, in the dynamics of community, in work relations, in relation to nature…of small gestures of respect, listening, dialogue, silence, affection, acceptance, integration, which create spaces where one breathes brotherhood.”

Message of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters of Brazil!

In this Lenten time, I gladly join the Church in Brazil to celebrate the Campaign for “Fraternity and Overcoming Violence”, whose aim is to build fraternity and to promote a culture of peace, reconciliation, and justice, in the light of the Word of God, as a way to overcome violence. In this way, the 2018 Campaign for Fraternity invites us to recognize violence in so many areas and manifestations and, with confidence, faith, and hope, overcome it through the path of love seen in Jesus Crucified.

Jesus came to give us a full life (cf. Jn 10:10). Inasmuch as He is in our midst, life becomes a space of fraternity, justice, peace, dignity for all (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 180). This penitential time, when we are called to live the practice of fasting, prayer, and alms, makes us realize that we are brothers. Let the love of God become visible among us, in our families, in the communities, in society.

“Now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6: 2, cf Is 49: 8), which brings us the grace of forgiveness received and offered. The forgiveness of offenses is the most eloquent expression of merciful love, and for us Christians, it is an imperative that we can not do without. Sometimes how difficult it is to forgive! And yet, forgiveness is the tool placed in our fragile hands to achieve serenity of the heart, and peace. Setting aside resentment, anger, violence, and revenge are necessary conditions for living as brothers and sisters and overcoming violence. Let us, therefore, accept the Apostle’s exhortation: “Let not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26).

Let us be protagonists in overcoming violence by being heralds and builders of peace. A peace that is the fruit of the integral development of all, a peace that is born of a new relation also with all creatures. Peace is woven in day-to-day life with patience and mercy, within the family, in the dynamics of community, in work relations, in relation to nature. It consists of small gestures of respect, listening, dialogue, silence, affection, acceptance, integration, which create spaces where one breathes brotherhood: “You are all brothers” (Mt 23: 8), as the motto of this year’s Campaign for Fraternity. In Christ, we are of the same family, born of the blood of the cross, our salvation. The communities of the Church in Brazil announce the conversion, the day of salvation, to live without violence.

I ask the Lord that this year’s Campaign for Fraternity will encourage everyone to find ways to overcome violence by living increasingly as brothers and sisters in Christ. I invoke the protection of Our Lady of the Conception Aparecida for the Brazilian people, granting my Apostolic Blessing. I ask you all to pray for me.

Vatican City, 27 January 2018.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

2 days 10 hours
Pope Francis has condemned the tragic and senseless shooting in Florida. In a telegram sent to the Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on the Pope’s behalf, Francis expressed his deep sadness for the tragic event.

Yesterday, Feb. 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz, 19, went on a shooting rampage, killing 17 and wounding more than 15, including students and teachers, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, north of Miami.

In the telegram, the Pope assured all those affected by the “devastating attack” of his spiritual closeness, praying that Almighty God grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve.

Before Pope Francis invoked upon all involved divine blessings of peace and strength, he expressed his hope “that such senseless acts of violence may cease.”

Here is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s telegram:

***

The Most Reverend Thomas Gerard Wenski
Archbishop of Miami

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Assuring all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness, he prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve. With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease, Pope Francis invokes upon all of you the divine blessings of peace and strength.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

[Original text: English]
2 days 15 hours

Pope Francis regularly meets with victims of sexual abuse, to listen and to try to help them heal from their serious wounds.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, confirmed this today, Feb. 15, 2018, in a statement, responding to inquiries of journalists.

Burke explained that the Pope meets these victims both individually and in groups, a couple times a month.

“Pope Francis,” he explained, “listens to the victims and tries to help heal the serious wounds caused by the abuse they have suffered.”

He noted that the encounters take place in  “utmost privacy,” out of respect for the victims and their suffering.

Below is the text of the Vatican spokesman’s declaration:

***

In response to questions from journalists, I am able to confirm that several times a month, the Holy Father meets with victims of sexual abuse, both individually and in groups. Pope Francis listens to the victims and tries to help heal the serious wounds caused by the abuse they have suffered. The encounters take place in the utmost privacy, out of respect for the victims and their suffering.

2 days 15 hours
The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has condemned the tragic and senseless shooting in Florida. In a statement issued by the American prelate and published on the USCCB website, he expressed that the US bishops were “deeply saddened by the needless and tragic loss of life.” He also prayed that God’s mercy help comfort grieving families and sustain the wounded in healing, and invited all faithful to join him in prayer.

Yesterday, Feb. 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz, 19, went on a shooting rampaging, killing 17 and wounding more than 15 people, including students and teachers, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Here is Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement, courtesy of the USCCB:

***

We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Broward County, Florida, and by the needless and tragic loss of life. May the mercy of God comfort the grieving families and sustain the wounded in their healing.  Catholics and many other Christians have begun the journey of Lent today. I encourage us to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace. I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.  Our hope is in the Lord, as he promised after his resurrection, ‘behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:20).

2 days 16 hours

Below is a reflection of Archbishop Josè Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, entitled ‘Our Call to Holiness.’ Published on Feb. 6, 2018, it is from Angelus News and published on the Archbishop’s website:

***

OUR PLACE OF HOLINESS  By Archbishop Gomez February 06, 2018 Source: Angelus News

featured image

I have been reflecting on the holy witness of Madeleine Delbrêl for some years now. Most recently, I wrote about her in my pastoral letter, “For Greater Things You Were Born.”

So, I was very pleased to see that Pope Francis has just recognized her heroic virtues and declared her “Venerable.”

Delbrêl was a French convert from atheism who lived without much publicity among the poor in mid-20th century Paris. It is not surprising that Catholics in this country did not pay much attention to the news that she had been elevated on the road to sainthood.

But we should.

Delbrêl, like so many saints from the last century, shows us that holiness is not something for special people who are set apart from the world in monasteries or convents. She reminds us that saints are people we meet every day on the streets — people that God leaves among the crowds, to work ordinary jobs and meet the routine challenges of living the Christian life in a secular world.

“We, the ordinary people of the street,” Delbrêl used to say, “believe with all our might that this street, this world, where God has placed us, is our place of holiness.”

This is a timely reminder as we approach Ash Wednesday next week and the beginning of Lent.

We are living in times when many people have lost their “why.” They no longer know the answer to basic questions. Why do we get up in the morning? What purpose are we living for?

There is a crisis of meaning that has been spreading slowly over many years across our society. It expresses itself in many unlikely ways — from rising suicide rates to epidemics of drug addiction to the growing numbers of people who say they feel alone and isolated.

This is the sad irony that lies at the heart of our secular, technological society. People are thirsting for God even as our “thought leaders” — politicians and judges, scientists, entertainers, artists and educators — all insist that we can build a progressive and prosperous society by living as if God does not exist and as if the human soul does not desire things that transcend material entertainments.

For me, the question of “why” comes down to a question of “who.” We cannot answer why we are here or what we are living for unless we know who we are and what we are made for.

That is the one answer that our science, technology and politics — all those things in our society that substitute for religion — cannot give.

Of course, God is the great “who” and holiness is the great “why.”

We need to recover this awareness that we are created by the holy and living God and that he creates us to be holy as he is holy and to love as he loves.

And this begins with understanding that holiness is the ordinary measure of what it means to follow Jesus.

In the Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s conversion story, he tells of how when he decided to become a Catholic he told a friend, “I guess what I want to be is a good Catholic.” His friend responded, “What you should say is that you want to be a saint.”

The point is that holiness, to be a saint, is what God created us for.

This simple, beautiful fact, should be at the center of everything in the Church — our preaching, our Catholic schools and religious education, our work for justice, our sharing of the gospel with our neighbors.

This is the good news that we are called to proclaim in our times — that we are made to be saints. That is the same thing as saying we were made for love.

Delbrêl described her conversion as falling in love with the living God. “By reading and reflecting, I found God,” she said. “But by praying, I believed that God found me and that he is a living reality, and that we can love him in the same way we love a person.”

Delbrêl discovered that holiness is our mission — a message we deliver without words, that by our personal holiness we bring others to follow Jesus with us.

This is a discovery all of us need to renew, as we continue to follow Jesus, making our ordinary lives “our place of holiness.”

Pray for me this week and I will be praying for you.

And let us ask God for the grace to make real progress on our path of holiness during these 40 days of Lent.

Holiness is not our work but God’s work in us. So, this Lent, let us allow him to do his work, by opening our hearts to him through our prayer, fasting and almsgiving  — asking him to create in us a new heart, and a new desire to want only what he wants.

May our Blessed Mother Mary go with us and help us to follow the living God with living faith and to know that we are called to be saints.

***

On the NET:

To the original post: http://www.archbishopgomez.org/article/951?name=Our+place+of+holiness

2 days 16 hours

Below is a reflection of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, entitled ‘Ash Wednesday: Beginning Our Lenten Pilgrimage’ from Cardinal Wuerl’s blog:

***

Today, our Lenten pilgrimage to the Paschal Mystery begins with people receiving ashes imposed on their foreheads in the sign of the cross, indicating a humble awareness of our human frailty and need to be cleansed and reconciled to God our Creator with all our heart.

For forty days, we walk with the Lord Jesus who is our destination as well. “The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust,” says Pope Francis.  “Yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his Spirit of life into each one of us – and still wants to do so. He wants to keep giving us that breath of life.” Thus, God gave us his Son, who came so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Lent is part of our preparation for the new and eternal life of heaven. So that we might get there, the path on this pilgrim journey has special “hospitality stations” along the way, namely the sacrament of Confession, where we can get rid of the heavy baggage of sin that weighs us down. These stops are marked with special beacons, and once again as part of our traditional “The Light is ON for You” campaign, the welcoming door of the confessional is open on Lenten Wednesdays in area churches.

In addition to leaving behind the negative and unhealthy things in our lives, such as sin and near occasions of sin, this penitential experience includes too the time-honored practice of fast and abstinence, giving up something positive so we can personally experience in some small way the suffering of Jesus in his passion and better appreciate what life would be like without God’s gifts.  Going against a worldly tide that tempts us to forget our relationship with the Lord, it is clear that human beings intuitively recognize the need for some spiritual discipline, some sacrifice. Lent serves to meet this need, which is one reason why the Ash Wednesday liturgy is so popular, even with those who otherwise are not particularly active in the faith.

Just as exercise, sleep and eating create a healthy rhythm and strengthen our bodies, so do the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving strengthen our souls. Rather than simply marking off these forty days, we are asked to think about this time as the pathway to a renewed and enlivened spiritual life.

May this holy Lenten journey, which we begin today, be an occasion to renew ourselves in the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Our goal is that we are ever more prepared to celebrate with purified hearts the coming glorious Easter morning.

***

On the NET:

To the original post on Cardinal Wuerl’s blog: http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2018/02/ash-wednesday-beginning-lenten-pilgrimage/

2 days 17 hours

Q. Why do we say that there are forty days of Lent?  When you count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46.

A. It might be more accurate to say that there is the “forty day fast within Lent.”  Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days. The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the Time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence.

Q. So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?

A.  Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent.  These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well.  That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.

Q.  I understand that all the Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat, but I’m not sure what is classified as meat.  Does meat include chicken and dairy products?

A.  Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs — all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat.  Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consomme, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden.  However, moral theologians have traditionally taught that we should abstain from all animal-derived products (except foods such as gelatin, butter, cheese and eggs, which do not have any meat taste).  Fish are a different category of animal.  Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, (cold-blooded animals) and shellfish are permitted.

Q.  I’ve noticed that restaurants and grocery stores advertise specials on expensive types of fish and seafood on Fridays during Lent.  Some of my Catholic friends take advantage of these deals, but somehow I don’t feel right treating myself to the lobster special on Fridays during Lent.

A.  While fish, lobster and other shellfish are not considered meat and can be consumed on days of abstinence, indulging in the lavish buffet at your favorite seafood place sort of misses the point.  Abstaining from meat and other indulgences during Lent is a penitential practice.  On the Fridays of Lent, we remember the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday and unite ourselves with that sacrifice through abstinence and prayer.

Q.  I understand that Catholics ages 18 to 59 should fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, but what exactly are the rules for these fasts?

A.  Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal.  Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal.  Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.

Q.  Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

A.  Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes.  Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women.  In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.

***

Link to Original Post: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/questions-and-answers-about-lent.cfm
2 days 17 hours

Rebecca Peter (15) is a Catholic teenager, currently attending High School in the St.Theresa camp for Internally Displaced People, near the city of Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria. In this account, she describes an attack by Boko Haram on her small village, Wuro Ngayadi, where she grew up as the fourth of six children; she also tells of a Boko Haram attack on the town of Michika. The Islamist terrorist organization has a relatively low profile these days, but the group’s merciless attacks, particularly on Christian populations, has left deep scars. Rebecca has memories she will never forget:

“I had heard about Boko Haram when it started in Maiduguri, but wasn’t really worried because I didn’t think they would be interested in attacking my small village. But they did.”

“On a Friday in August 2014, I saw a friend approaching our house accompanied by a man in a military uniform. She said Boko Haram had raided her house and while she was fleeing, this man caught her and made her take him to other people’s homes. I didn’t have time to be alarmed because my heart immediately began racing. I knew we were done for.

“The insurgent was standing inside the compound, right where my stepmother sold locally brewed gin. That day she had a full house. The man fired his weapon into the air and people began running helter-skelter. Other insurgents came and began shooting at us. As I fled, I could hear them screaming: “Stop or we will kill you.” This made me run even faster, as I dodged a rain of bullets. In movies I had seen people running away from things like this in zigzag. That’s what I did too. I think This is what saved me. In the chaos, I lost my friend. I don’t know what happened to her.

“I didn’t know where I was running to. Getting to safety was all I was thinking of. I ran for a whole day into a bush far from my community and stayed there for two weeks. I didn’t know where my mother or the rest of my family was at this time. There were other people from my village and neighboring communities, who were also hiding there. Their faces were as strange and distant as was their behavior towards me. None of them bothered to show me any care, even though I was only a child.

“They were all after their own welfare and that of their children. There was no bond whatsoever among us, even though we were in the same situation and had only God in heaven to look up to. God was too far away.

“This was the first time that the reality of my situation dawned on me. Mangoes were the only food available. After the ripe ones ran out I started to eat the unripe ones. I knew they would make me sick, and indeed they gave me severe stomach upset, but I felt it was better to eat them than eat nothing at all. My greatest fear then was dying from the pain.

“I said all the prayers they taught me at catechism until I was tired but, still, I spent two whole weeks in the bush. What did I do wrong in the eyes of God?

“On the 15th day, we all came out of the bush and began to make our way to the town of Michika. It took us a few hours to get there. The people there helped us with water, food and shelter. But only a few days after we had arrived there, Boko Haram attacked the town. I began another journey on the run. After about 10 days I got to Yola. It is only recently that I found out that Michika is about 170 miles from Yola; I wonder how I was able to cover that distance on foot. It’s hard to believe I did it. The fear of death made it possible.

“The one thing I wish I hadn’t seen from my hiding place in the bush was Boko Haram members cut off people’s heads, rip open their stomachs and put their heads inside. I also wish it had not been necessary to climb over dead bodies as I fled. These memories are not good for me. The saddest part of it all for me was to see youths from my community—mostly Christians— willingly joining the insurgents. Poverty and joblessness made them do so.

“On September 7, 2014, after about a month of walking and being on the run, I arrived in Yola and ended up at St. Theresa camp; other IDPs became my new family and friends. It was not until 2016 that I got word that my mother and the rest of my family were in Abuja. At long last we were reunited.

“Growing up in my village, we had a social life that was fun. We were free. Nigeria seemed a normal country to me then. There was hardly any crime apart from people reporting that their chicken had been stolen and things like that.

“Today, there is nothing sweet about Nigeria. Nothing! I say so because of my current situation. I am displaced. I once had a room with a comfortable bed in a proper house. We lived in our own house. We didn’t pay rent. My mother was a farmer. My parents provided for us. My father was a policeman. Now, I sleep in a hall full of people with mattresses on the ground. When I hear news about my village it is about bomb blast and raids in our area.

“Even though I am living in an IDP in camp now, I still enjoy school and my favourite subject is basic science. I also love to read and dance. Plus, I have always dreamed of becoming a medical doctor and still hold on to this dream, in spite of all that is happening. I am optimistic that I will realize my dream.

“Living in the camp isn’t comfortable. I don’t like the fact that we depend on charity. If people don’t bring us things, we can’t survive. But I am grateful that have never been molested or treated shabbily because I am a woman. I’m very happy we don’t have such experiences here. The priests and the bishop are doing a great job of protecting us.

“I won’t lie, for those two weeks when I had to hide in the bush, I lost faith in God. It seemed as if He didn’t care. But reuniting with my mother helped me regain my faith in him. The fact that he brought us all back together makes me believe he cares. But it really was difficult those two weeks to believe in him.”

—Adie Vanessa Offiong

***

Adie Vanessa Offiong writes for Aid to the Church in Need is an international papal charity, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)

2 days 17 hours

Students from Syria have described how they put their lives on the line to continue their studies in spite of the bombs and other violence that still beset the country.

The young Christians told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need – which is providing them with scholarships – how their faith and determination were vital as they studied at the University of Aleppo which remained open even at the height of the war.

Church leaders working closely with the students paid tribute to their courage and faith.

One Sister praised the students’ “fervor” to pursue their university and college courses in Aleppo.

‘Albert’ (his proper name has been withheld for security reasons) described his struggles studying for an industrial engineering degree.

The young Christian, who is from Qamishli, northern Syria, said: “We experienced severe fighting [in Aleppo]. A number of my friends had to quit their studies because of it.

“I decided to risk my life and finish my degree.”

‘Albert’ said he was afraid of being called up for military service despite what he called his “period of immunity” as a student.

Fellow Aleppo student Angel Samoun, an aeronautical engineering student, also from Qamishli, said: “I did not want to go to Aleppo. My family also did not want me studying here.

“But this is where I was accepted… I even went to classes during bomb alerts. The most difficult part was being separated from my family.”

Another student, Lara Lias, from Daara, a city in southern Syria, said: “I was very afraid because I was so far away from my parents’ home.

“When I came [to Aleppo], my family said goodbye to me as though I were dying.”

Referring to four Sisters of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, who work at a hall of residence overlooking the University of Aleppo, Ms. Lias added: “The Sisters support us a great deal. The most important thing is to love God.”

One of the Sisters, Reverend Mother Laudis Gloriae, said: “The inhabitants of Aleppo demonstrate an impressive faith in God and their witness helps me grow in faith every day.”

She added: “The fervor with which these young people pursue their studies – in spite of the battles we have experienced here – is palpable.”

A missile strike in 2013 close to the hall of residence killed about 400 people including a religious Sister from another order.

Father David Fernández, an Argentinian priest working in Aleppo, spoke to the charity about supporting 30 male students at the city’s Jesus the Worker residence hall.

He described how people were killed when a bomb landed close by, adding: “I had to recover the bodies.”

Praising Father Fernández’s support for the young people, economics student Antranik Kaspar said: “Father David is just like a father to us.

“We greatly appreciate the people who have left their families and their homelands in order to live here with us and help us.”

Thanking Aid to the Church in Need for helping the students, Father Fernández said: “We are receiving support from our congregation, but also from other organisations such as the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, which has made funding available to us so that we can buy computers and pay tuition fees.”

In 2017, Aid to the Church in Need’s emergency aid for Syria included more than £900,000 (1 million euros) towards education.

More than 9,000 children in Syria’s primary schools have benefitted from the charity’s scholarship support as well as transport to school, purchase of school uniforms, basic books, and stationery.

 

2 days 17 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Live Catholic Headlines
Posted
Vatican City, Feb 17, 2018 / 10:53 am (EWTN News/CNA).- During his annual Lenten meeting with the priests of Rome last week, Pope Francis confirmed that Blessed Pope Paul VI will be made a saint sometime this year. 10 hours 27 min
Abuja, Nigeria, Feb 17, 2018 / 08:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Women religious in Nigeria held a National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the respect of human life on Ash Wednesday, in light of the ongoing violence within the country. 13 hours 19 min
Vatican City, Feb 17, 2018 / 07:11 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Saturday the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has reconfirmed Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston as head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also reconfirming seven members and appointing nine new. 14 hours 9 min
London, England, Feb 17, 2018 / 05:17 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Proposals to bar pro-life demonstrations and outreach with a legal 'buffer zone' outside abortion clinics drew objections from a leading U.K. bishop who stressed the legitimacy of their cause. 16 hours 3 min
La Paz, Bolivia, Feb 17, 2018 / 02:00 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The General Secretariat of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference called on civil authorities to conduct a "thorough investigation" of recent explosions in the city of Oruro that have left 12 dead and at least 60 injured. 19 hours 20 min
Seoul, South Korea, Feb 16, 2018 / 11:48 am (EWTN News/CNA).- During her childhood in North Korea, Mi Jin Kang never believed in the existence of God, until one person began to spark her curiosity. 1 day 9 hours
Vatican City, Feb 16, 2018 / 09:38 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Friday Pope Francis met with the community of the Pontifical Maronite College, explaining how their seminary formation isn't about them or even for them, but for the people they will eventually serve in their parishes and dioceses. 1 day 11 hours
Vatican City, Feb 16, 2018 / 05:40 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Prominent American professor Mary Ann Glendon has resigned from the Board of Superintendence which oversees the Institute of Religious Works, the so-called Vatican Bank. 1 day 15 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 16, 2018 / 05:28 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Trump administration's re-nomination of Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission puts religious liberty and marriage in danger and should be withdrawn, one U.S. Senator said this week. 1 day 15 hours
Vatican City, Feb 16, 2018 / 05:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Palestinian Foreign Affairs minister, Ryadh al Maliki, met officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State Feb. 16, asking the Holy See to amplify its voice defending the status quo in Jerusalem. 1 day 16 hours
Hagatna, Guam, Feb 16, 2018 / 02:29 am (EWTN News/CNA).- A Guam court has dismissed part of a defamation lawsuit against Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, who is facing several accusations of sexual abuse in the 1970s. 1 day 18 hours
Bismarck, N.D., Feb 16, 2018 / 02:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Dr. Don Briel, who held a chair in liberal arts at the University of Mary and who had founded the first Catholic Studies program, at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, died Thursday night. 1 day 19 hours
Vatican City, Feb 16, 2018 / 01:24 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Ahead of the pre-synod meeting set to take place next month, several young participants voiced excitement to meet with peers from all over the world to exchange ideas and talk about life's major questions. 1 day 19 hours
Dublin, Ireland, Feb 15, 2018 / 12:37 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Hundreds of people rallied in the coastal suburb of Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, on Saturday to show support for the country's 8th amendment, which protects the right to life of both mothers and their unborn children. 2 days 8 hours
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2018 / 12:27 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- On Thursday Pope Francis tweaked the Church's policies on bishops and Curial officials reaching the age of retirement, indicating that they should accept what God wants, whether accepting retirement or accepting continued service. 2 days 8 hours
Melbourne, Australia, Feb 15, 2018 / 12:05 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard Wednesday that a charge related to a key witness in the case against Cardinal George Pell, accused of historical sexual abuse, is likely to be withdrawn. 2 days 9 hours
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2018 / 07:45 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In a conversation with Jesuits during his recent visit to Peru, Pope Francis said he regularly meets with victims of sexual abuse on Fridays, and that while the percentage of priests who abuse is relatively low, even one is too many. 2 days 13 hours
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2018 / 07:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Thursday, Pope Francis assured his spiritual closeness to all those affected by a deadly shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead, offering prayer for the victims and voicing hope that such acts of violence would end. 2 days 14 hours
Boise. Idaho, Feb 15, 2018 / 05:07 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A retired priest of the Diocese of Boise is facing multiple charges involving child pornography and drug possession, which has sparked a feeling of shock and betrayal in the local bishop. 2 days 16 hours
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2018 / 03:33 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- After rumors spread in German media that Benedict XVI has a paralyzing nerve disease, the Vatican debunked the story, saying the retired Pope is experiencing nothing more than the normal aches and pains of aging. 2 days 17 hours
Vancouver, Canada, Feb 15, 2018 / 03:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Archbishop of Vancouver has dispensed from the Friday Lenten abstinence Asian Catholics and their guests who are celebrating Lunar New Year Feb. 16. 2 days 18 hours
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2018 / 02:50 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis told Jesuits in Chile last month that he's willing to have discussions with people who disagree with him, but that when people just shout 'heretic', he prays for them instead. 2 days 18 hours
Denver, Colo., Feb 15, 2018 / 02:23 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Reports that Catholic institutions exercise unfair employment biases are undeserved, some defenders have said.
 2 days 18 hours
Cape Town, South Africa, Feb 15, 2018 / 01:48 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Catholic leaders in South Africa applauded news of President Jacob Zuma's resignation, stressing the need to root out corruption at all levels of government. 2 days 19 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

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

IMAGE: CNS photo/Francisca Meza, EPA

By David Agren

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — An order of nuns has withdrawn from an especially violent city after the parents and sister of one of the women religious were kidnapped and killed.

The Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, where two priests were murdered Feb. 5, said in a statement that the nuns from the “Comunidad Guadalupana” (Guadalupe Community) had withdrawn because of a lack of security, leaving a school it operated in the city of Chilapa without staff.

Schools in Chilapa had suspended classes from September to December because of the insecurity, the statement said.

The nuns’ withdrawal from Chilapa is but the latest hardship for the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, which serves parts of southern state of Guerrero, where the heroin trade has exploded in recent years. At least six priests have been murdered there since 2009.

Two priests, Fathers Germain Muniz García and Ivan Anorve Jaime, were shot dead as they drove back from Candlemas celebrations with four other passengers, three of whom were injured.

State prosecutor Xavier Olea Pelaez said originally that the priests had attended the celebrations, where there were armed individuals from three states and that a criminal group and a neighboring state had shot the priests. Olea also said a photo, showing Father Muniz holding an assault rifle and posing with masked men, prompted confusion.

Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, who has had a tense relationship with the state government, rejected the prosecutor’s version of events as a “fairy tale,” saying the photo was at least a year old and likely taken with members of a community security force in Father Muniz’s hometown. The bishop said after speaking with survivors, who included Father Muniz’s sister, that there had been an “incident” on the highway coming back from the celebrations.

“What they’re trying to do is blame us,” Bishop Rangel said of the prosecutor’s statements. “According to them, we move among narcotics traffickers, hence the murdered priests.”

In a Feb. 15 statement, the state government said the priests were not members of a criminal group and confirmed details voiced by the bishop.

The priests’ murders highlighted a continuing dispute between the state government and Bishop Rangel, who has sought out cartel bosses for dialogue to calm the state and to allow his priests to serve poor and isolated communities sustained by planting opium poppies.

He also has spoken critically of alleged collusion between the cartels and politicians, the police and the army.

“All of Guerrero is controlled by narcotics traffickers. This is a fact,” Bishop Rangel told Catholic News Service. “The authorities themselves have been displaced.”

Chilapa has turned especially violent as drug cartels fight over the city, which is considered strategically important for transporting heroin to the United States.

At least 15 drug cartels are operating in Guerrero, according to state government spokesman Roberto Alvarez Heredia, who attributed the rising violence over territory and a burgeoning illegal heroin-supply business. He said the cartels engage in kidnapping and extortion because it provides quick cash to cover the “payrolls” for their foot soldiers.

Alvarez said the authorities “did not share” Bishop Rangel’s opinions and did not look well on his meeting with criminal groups, but they did “respect” the bishop and his office.

– – –

Copyright © 2018 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 4 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — By day’s end Feb. 15, members of the U.S. Senate had rejected four immigration proposals, leaving it unclear how lawmakers will address overall immigration reform and keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place.

Late that afternoon, Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, issued an urgent alert to Catholics in his archdiocese to raise their voices “to support the ‘Dreamers'” and contact their senators and representatives to vote for a bipartisan measure to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which is set to expire March 5.

“Time is running out for them,” he said in a statement. “Congress must pass bipartisan legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers.”

Needing 60 votes for Senate passage, a bipartisan measure that included a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million Dreamers — those eligible for DACA — and $25 billion for a border wall failed by six votes. The final vote was 54-45. A bill the Trump administration was supporting was defeated 39 to 60. Two other bills also failed.

The U.S. House was pressing on with its own bill, which by mid-day Feb. 16 was not yet up for a floor vote. Described as “hard line” by opponents, it includes keeping DACA in place, funding a border wall, ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, limiting family-based visas, requiring employers to verify job applicants’ immigration status and withholding federal grants from so-called “sanctuary” cities.

“As Catholics, we believe the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our immigrant and refugee children and youth, must be protected,” Archbishop Wester said in his statement. “The sanctity of families must be upheld. The Catholic bishops have long supported undocumented youth brought to the United States by their parents, known as Dreamers, and continue to do so.”

Other Catholic leaders expressed decried lawmakers’ failure to provide protections for DACA recipients.

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, called it “deeply heartbreaking.”

“While thankful for the bipartisan majority support for protecting DACA youth, it is unconscionable that nearly 800,000 will continue to live in fear and uncertainty,” she said Feb. 15.

“As it has for more than 100 years, Catholic Charities will continue to stand with and advocate on behalf of migrants and others in need. Not because they are migrants but because they are children of God,” she said.

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, echoed that disappointment, saying: “These young women and men have done nothing wrong and have known life only in the United States. The Dreamers who are enrolled at Notre Dame are also poised to make lasting contributions to the United States.

“We pray that our leaders will end the cruel uncertainty for these talented and dedicated young people who have so much to offer our nation,” he said. “Regardless, Notre Dame will continue to support them financially, maintain their enrollment, provide expert legal assistance should that become necessary and do everything it can to support them.”

The U.S. Catholic bishops individually and as a body have been urging Congress to protect DACA since September, when President Donald Trump announced he was ending the Obama-era program and told Congress to come up with a legislative fix.

Since 2012, DACA has allowed some individuals brought as minors to the United States by their parents without legal permission to receive a renewable two-year period of protection from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals had DACA status.

Since Trump rescinded the program, many immigration advocates have urged members of Congress to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, which has long been proposed. The bill is what gives DACA recipients the “Dreamer” name.

In Arizona in late January, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson and his predecessor, now-retired Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, urged passage of a “clean” bill, like the DREAM Act, to preserve DACA. Their commentary was posted on the diocesan Facebook page.

“While all would agree that reasonable border protection is needed and while clearly countries have a right to protect their borders, it is wrong to barter the lives of these young people by making their protection contingent on a wall or stringent border protection that is unreasonable and a waste of taxpayer’s money. Congress should pass the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill,” they said.

“We are at a moment in our nation’s history that could define who we are as a people. Traditional American values of fairness and compassion are in conflict,” they wrote. “This is a situation that is a moral test for our society; we must not fail.”

In a Feb. 2 letter to Arkansas’ senators and representatives in Congress, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor called for grass-roots bipartisan support for “a just and humane solution for the Dreamers whose fate is in your hands.” He, too, urged they pass a narrowly focused bill to save DACA.

“If enough members of Congress commit to focusing on a narrowly-tailored bipartisan solution, DACA-only legislation is possible (to) provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers,” he wrote. “They and their families who have worked hard and made valuable contributions to our country deserve certainty and compassion. Dreamers should not be used as a political bargaining chip for other legislative proposals.”

In a Feb. 2 op-ed in the Daily News, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, struck the same tone, predicting that if Congress tied the fate of these young people to a broader immigration reform measure backed by Trump, it would be “a recipe for getting nothing done, at least in the short term.”

“There are times that our elected leaders must act because it is the right thing to do as human beings. This is one of those times,” he said. “If the Dreamers are left unprotected, it will leave a stain on our nation’s character for years to come. If we pursue justice and welcome them as full Americans, it would be one of our finest hours.”

 

– – –

Copyright © 2018 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 5 hours
Babies suspected of having Down Syndrome are frequently aborted; a new Ohio law makes such abortions illegal. Courtesy image.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the State of Ohio’s new law against abortion babies who may have Down Syndrome this week.

Filing on behalf of most of the abortion businesses in the state, including the two in Cincinnati and Kettering, the ACLU’s suit says that the law prevents women from “exercising their constitutionally protected right to abortion” and interferes with abortion businesses delivering “nonjudgmental, medically appropriate” healthcare.

Filed by the ACLU of Ohio; Cincinnati law firm Gerhardstein & Branch, LPA; and Planned Parenthood Greater Ohio, the suit names three “right” responses to a diagnosis of Down Syndrome:
“For many families, the right decision is to continue the pregnancy and parent a child with Down syndrome; for some, it is to give birth and place the child for adoption; and for others, it is abortion.”

The new Ohio law prohibits the third “right” response, the suit continues, violates the 14th amendment so-called right to privacy, and imposes an undue burden a woman’s right to have an abortion for any reason up until a child’s birth.

“Plaintiffs wish to continue providing safe and nonjudgmental abortion care to patients who hae knowingly and voluntarily decided to terminate their pregnancies, regardless of the particularl

reason for the decision,” says the suit.

Read the complaint here.

1 day 6 hours

Although barred from performing surgical abortions after its license was not renewed, the Sharonville Women’s Med Center has remained open for many months and pro-life groups posited that the staff was seeing women for pre-abortion visits before surgical abortions at the Women’s Med Center in Kettering, and possibly for the initial dose of abortion drugs. Both businesses are owned by Martin Haskell.

Mary Jo Suer of the Sharonville Respect Life Ministry and 40 Days for Life-Sharonville sent the following message to supporters on Feb. 15: I want to let you know that there has been no activity at the Women’s Med Center, Sharonville abortion mill last week or the days checked this week. Someone  called the abortion center to schedule an abortion and she was told there are no services in Sharonville. God is good! I believe that our prayers and witness have been instrumental in the closing of this abortion mill. The rosary has been prayed there weekly for the last seven years. Our Lord listened.

With these current circumstances, we decided we would not conduct organized rosary in Sharoville on Saturdays. Abortions are being performed at Planned Parenthood on Auburn Avenue in Cincinnati and Women’s Med Center in Kettering where late term abortions are performed. We were also told that chemical abortions are performed at the Planned Parenthood in Hamilton. This is a new service for that facility and we are trying to confirm.

40 Days for Life began on February 14. There are campaigns in front of Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati and in Kettering. Go to  www.40dayforlife.com to get information and sign up to pray.

There are a few of us who will continue to monitor Sharonville to watch for any activity. The building is still on the market. In April, we are planning a prayer service in celebration of the closing of the abortion mill. I will keep you posted.

Thanks to all of you for coming to Sharonville to pray over the years. A special thanks to Dr. Stephen Brinn and LaRosa’s who have allowed us to be on their property to pray and sidewalk educate. They are truly a blessing! God bless all of you for your support of God’s littlest ones! Our work is  not done. Mary Jo

 

1 day 11 hours

Over many years of speaking and writing about religion, I have developed a few guidelines for explaining and defending the Catholic faith. Stick to these principles and you will grow as a catechist (a teacher of the faith) and an apologist (a defender of the faith).

Be informed: You can’t seize the moment if you don’t know your faith well. The Bible and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” are the two best sources for what we believe and why we believe it. It’s time to get reacquainted.

First, find some dependable websites, such as Catholic.com or BibleChristianSociety.com, and see how they explain and defend the faith. You don’t have to have all the answers yourself if you know where to look.

Next, whenever these sites reference a Bible passage or a paragraph from the Catechism, look it up. Then, read the surrounding passages. That’s how I started to familiarize myself with these works. You can learn a lot that way.

When you’re ready to dive in a little deeper, there are reading plans online that you can use to read the Bible and the Catechism in a year. Or, you can read the Bible one year and the Catechism the next year. This may sound like a lot, but it’s only a few paragraphs a day and it will build a confidence that will last you a lifetime.

There are also books that provide helpful introductions to the Bible and the Catechism. For the Bible, see “Bible Basics for Catholics” and “New Testament Basics for Catholics” by Dr. John Bergsma. For the Catechism, see “Catholic Update Guide to the Catechism” by Mary Carol Kendzia.

Be prudent: You can’t engage every person who has a question or comment about the church. There aren’t enough hours in the day for that. Instead, concentrate your efforts on what will be the most effective: private conversations with one or two people you already know. Sometimes an honest conversation with a stranger can be fruitful, too. It’s something you have to discern. But, trying to be a one-man army never works.

Stay on topic: Being prudent also means staying on topic. If you try to tackle too many issues at once, you won’t do any of them justice. Choose one topic and focus on it. That way you can give it your full attention, and you can keep yourself from getting too overwhelmed.

Stay calm: Stay as poised and composed as possible. Let the truth speak for itself. A calm and reasoned approach is always more effective than getting angry, raising your voice, and calling people names – even when what they say is very offensive.

Practice: You’re only going to get good at this by practicing. Look for opportunities to explain and defend what you believe. Seize the moment, whenever and wherever it occurs. It’s scary, I know, but I promise you: every question and encounter will make you a more confident Catholic.

Pray hard: Prayer should be a central component of sharing your faith with others. Pray that God will grant you the wisdom and courage to be an effective witness. Pray that the Spirit will open the minds and hearts of those you encounter. Pray with people, right then and there! God has promised He will give us the words when we don’t know what to say (Luke 12:11-12; John 16:13). But, we must pray.

Nicholas Hardesty develops new digital courses for Vocare, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s online catechist certification process. Contact him with new course ideas at nhardesty@catholiccincinnati.org.

1 day 12 hours

Today we celebrate Seton High School Small Varsity POM 2018 National Championship!


2 days 7 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Giorgio Viera, EPA

By

MIAMI (CNS) — Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski urged community members to come together “to support one another in this time of grief” after a shooting rampage Feb. 14 at a Broward County high school left at least 17 people dead.

“With God’s help, we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations,” the archbishop said in a statement. “May God heal the brokenhearted and comfort the sorrowing as we once again face as a nation another act of senseless violence and horrifying evil.”

In a late-night telegram to Archbishop Wenski, Pope Francis assured “all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness.” “With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease,” he invoked “divine blessings of peace and strength” on the South Florida community.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing. He urged all unite their “prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation” of those affected by the violence in South Florida and for a society “with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.”

Law enforcement officials identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons from the school where he opened fire — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. On the afternoon of Feb. 14, Cruz allegedly went on the shooting rampage shortly before school was to let out for the day. He was apprehended about an hour after shots were reported at the school.

The suspect carried an AR-15 rifle and had “countless magazines,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. He also told reporters that of the 17 fatalities, “12 people died in the school, two were killed outside the school, one died on the street and another two died at the hospital.” Several others were transported to the hospital. Details about the shooter’s motive were still being pieced together.

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie called it “a horrific situation. It is a horrible day for us.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, “This is just absolutely pure evil.”

Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state said in telegram he sent to Archbishop Wenski on behalf of the pope. “He prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve.”

“We are deeply saddened by the shootings in Broward County, Florida, and by the needless and tragic loss of life,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement. “May the mercy of God comfort the grieving families and sustain the wounded in their healing.

“Catholics and many other Christians have begun the journey of Lent today,” he said. “I encourage us to unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence in these last weeks and for a conversion of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace. I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.”

Archbishop Wenski added in his statement: “This Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten Season that calls us to penance and conversion. With God’s help, we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations.”

– – –

Copyright © 2018 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 8 hours

Part 1 of a 4 part series

The interstate highway system provides vital arteries for commerce. It is the circulatory system of America.

Pulsing along these multilane ribbons are trucks and vans and automobiles — all serving the travel needs of countless businesses and their customers — moving goods from supplier to user.

Sadly, not all of this commerce is legal and, surprisingly, human trafficking ranks third behind drugs and guns in generating illegal revenue, according to law enforcement officials. As interstate hubs, Cincinnati and Dayton are not immune and, police vice control officers agree, this growing scourge is among the most difficult of crimes to combat.

Cincinnati Vice Squad Specialist Nate Young said sex trafficking runs the gamut from organized crime to the neighborhood pimp offering his small harem of women to willing customers.

“A circuit exists and we have been exposed to it here in Cincinnati,” he said. Several years ago, an investigation uncovered a Cincinnati man “moving his girls from Cincinnati to Louisville to Indianapolis to Columbus to Dayton and back.” He also had connections to a man in Los Angeles, “and there was some exchange between them — high-end prostitutes ‘‘tricked’ from city to city.”

Even greater in scope, another standard circuit runs from Chicago to Cincinnati to Nashville to Atlanta to New Orleans, Young said.”These are traffickers in sex, working a handful of days in each city and moving on. They base themselves in hotels” and advertise their presence on Craig’s List, social media, and pornographic websites dedicated to the illicit trade.

When a city hosts a big sporting event or convention, the traffickers descend on it with girls for hire: supply and demand at its most perverse.

Sex trafficking also is found in massage parlors and nail salons, said Cincinnati Police Officer Carrie Smith (a pseudonym for a female vice squad officer who at times works undercover). Young said strip clubs offer another haven for sex trafficking although there are none in Cincinnati. Customers can even flip through the Yellow Pages and look under escort services to “hook up.”

“Massage parlors are getting a lot more attention, because some are not what they seem to be on the surface,” Smith said.

“We’re looking at places where women are getting their nails done and people are going in and out. You might see someone going in a back room, and there’s a living space back there. When you’re getting your nails done in say, Kenwood, and it’s $50, and then you go to this weird little salon and it costs $15 and people are working from the time the shop opens until it closes, that’s a signal that something isn’t right. We pay attention to those types of things that aren’t the norm.”

Young noted that while there are no Cincinnati strip clubs, nearby clubs can attract police attention. “We did an investigation that originated in the city that took us to a [since closed] club called Deja Vu in Clermont County.” Many of its employees were Russian, an indication even before local human trafficking was less rampant, that there was nothing typical about its business.

Drugs and Recruiting Mix

Those who recruit women (and, less comonly, men) into sex trafficking often search for drug addicts, or recruit young people by getting them hooked on narcotics. Once they come to the recruiter for ther next fix, he or she gradually introduces them to the sex trade, Smith explained.

“That element of dependency on the trafficker is one of the biggest problems these women face,” she said. “Several of the women we have spoken to in the last few years, have had the same beginnings; the same story.

“They were at a point in their really young lives where they were taken advantage of. We have heard from several women that the first time they were given heroin was by a parent, or someone else they were very close to in their house.

“What ends up happening if someone you trusts gives you something like that, is it makes you dependent… inviting the next person to give you the same thing you are already addicted to” and having to “earn it” with sex, she explained. “A lot of women decide it is almost like the beginnings of a relationship. They build trust in the recruiter. They become dependent on that person, who becomes their trafficker and takes advantage of them. But it starts, in a lot of cases, in their house when they’re 11, 12, 13. It’s sad.”

Young said that women find “all kinds of different avenues” for prostitution.

“You can stand on the street corner,” he said. “You can advertise on Craig’s List or other sites put there solely for escort services or dating sites. The true hard-core traffickers are in cyberspace looking for those people who are using the Internet to advertise, or they are out physically on the streets looking for girls or men who are in dire enough straits that they feel they can pull them into a trafficking situation.”

Law Enforcement Faces Trafficking Roadblocks

Trying to combat this issue presents law enforcement with a nightmare.

The victims are threatened and fear retaliation. They have committed felony offenses as part of their sexual enslavement and don’t trust police to forgive and forget.

And while most traffickers work out of hotels, most look the other way.

“My professional experience tells me there is no hotel I have never been in that has not had a victim of human trafficking operating out of it,” Young said.

“It’s a complicated issue. When you’re the owner or proprietor one of these lower-end motels, you’re scratching and clawing to maintain your rat-infested, roach-filled motel. You don’t want to turn down that 40 bucks. A lot of times they turn a blind eye because they’re trying to make ends meet. We don’t get much cooperation.

“With the upper-end hotels, their angle is they want to turn a blind eye because they do not want publicity. They don’t want to lose a contract with visiting teams for the baseball season because suddenly they’re a human trafficking hub. They don’t want to lose that pipefitters convention coming to town. They don’t want to have anyone perceiving them as having an issue with the trafficking element at their hotel.

“Generally, they won’t call us,” he said. “We know this because we have talked to them about putting up signage in their hotels relating to what human trafficking looks like. ‘If you see something, say something’; ‘Everybody’s a victim’ — all of that stuff. Everyone has respectfully declined having any type of literature or signage in their hotel talking about human trafficking and reporting it.”

Someone Sees Something: How to React

Police receive a lot of tips about sex trafficking from the public.

“We get a lot of anonymous information, which is good,” Young said. “We make an assumption it is from a citizen, but I’m sure it has sometimes come from hotel managers or people like that. They are also citizens. We even get tips from Johns who may say they ‘just seen this girl and she was in a messed-up situation and I think she’s in trouble’ — I’ve received text tips from that dynamic of people. Anonymous calls from family members of victims of trafficking come in, too.”

Cincinnati police are building datatbases from tips, phone numbers, electronic sources, and information provided by the national human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) to help them track when traffickers and their victims return to the state. While these are long-term solutions, Young said that calls from the public are vital to helping vicitms every day.

“If you see something, call us right away and give as much detail as you can,” he said. If you’re not sure who to call, the national hotline will inform the correct local police departments or agencies, for a quick response.

“Never step in and intervene,” he cautioned. “Weapons are generally implied in these issues. When we talk about getting search warrants or intercepting the trafficker, there’s always a possibility of weapons.

“Instead we advise citizens to be the very best possible witnesses they can be, to get as much information about what they’re seeing and who they’re seeing and get it to us. General descriptions are great but license plates are of greater use. Look for tattoos or any key identifier, too.”

State and local policing

Cincinnati police, Young said, are juggling numerous human trafficking cases. “Right now, between labor and sex trafficking, we are working on three or four cases,” he said, along with another “three or four where we have some information, but not enough to really do anything with yet.”

State Attorney Mike DeWine’s office also has a general task force on trafficking. Some cities, including Toledo, partner with the FBI. While neither Cincinnati nor Dayton have an FBI task force partnership, law enforcement statewide frequently collaborate on large-scale trafficking issues.

“We have a continuous working group that meets monthly here,” Smith noted, “different agencies working on different cases. Sometimes it will go on in a place like a Blue Ash or Sharonville hotel. We work with a lot of different agencies. Criminals don’t necessarily abide by city boundaries. ”

Prayer to end Human Trafficking

Loving Father,

We seek your divine protection for all who are exploited and enslaved.

For those forced into labor, trafficked into sexual slavery, and denied freedom.

We beseech you to release them from their chains.

Grant them protection, safety, and empowerment.

Restore their dignity and provide them a new beginning.

Show us how we might end exploitation by addressing its causes.

Help us reach out in support of victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Make us instruments of your spirit for their liberation.

For this we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

2 days 10 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis told a group of Jesuits in Peru that he often meets on Fridays with survivors of sex abuse.

The meetings, which he said do not always become public knowledge, make it clear that the survivors’ process of recovery “is very hard. They remain annihilated. Annihilated,” the pope had told the Jesuits Jan. 19 in Lima.

The scandal of clerical sexual abuse shows not only the “fragility” of the Catholic Church, he said, “but also — let us speak clearly — our level of hypocrisy.”

The director of the Vatican press office Feb. 15 confirmed that the pope’s meetings with abuse survivors is regular and ongoing.

“I can confirm that several times a month, the Holy Father meets victims of sexual abuse both individually and in groups,” said Greg Burke, the director. “Pope Francis listens to the victims and tries to help them heal the serious wounds caused by the abuse they’ve suffered. The meetings take place with maximum reserve out of respect for the victims and their suffering.”

On his trips abroad, Pope Francis usually spends time with local Jesuit communities and holds a question-and-answer session with them. Weeks later, a transcript of the exchange is published by Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal in Rome.

The transcribed and translated texts from Pope Francis’ conversations with Jesuits in Chile Jan. 16 and in Peru three days later were released in Italian and English by Civilta Cattolica Feb. 15 with the pope’s approval, the journal said.

The Jesuits in Chile had not asked the pope about the abuse scandal, even though the scandal was in the news, particularly because of ongoing controversy over the pope’s appointment in 2015 of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, who had been accused of covering up the abuse committed by his mentor, Father Fernando Karadima.

Pope Francis met with the Jesuits in Santiago at the end of his first full day in Chile. Earlier that day he had met with “a small group” of people who had been abused by Chilean priests, according to the Vatican press office.

The meeting with the survivors and with the Chilean Jesuits took place days before Chilean reporters asked Pope Francis about the accusations against Bishop Barros and he replied, “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?”

The pope later apologized for the remark and, soon after returning to Rome, sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, an experienced investigator, to Chile to conduct interviews.

After the pope left Chile and flew on to Peru, the topic of abuse was even more pressing. In the context of a discussion about spiritual “consolation” and “desolation,” one Jesuit told the pope, “I would like you to say something about a theme that leads to a lot of desolation in the church, and particularly among religious men and women and the clergy: the theme of sexual abuse. We are very disturbed by these scandals.”

Abuse, Pope Francis replied, “is the greatest desolation that the church is suffering. It brings shame, but we need to remember that shame is also a very Ignatian grace.” In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, encouraged people to contemplate Jesus’ goodness and their own wickedness, asking for the grace to be ashamed.

The pope told the Peruvian Jesuits that it is a temptation for people in the church to seek a “consolation prize” by comparing statistics about abuse within the church and abuse within families or in other organizations.

But even if the abuse rate is lower in the church, the pope said, “it is terrible even if only one of our brothers is such! For God anointed him to sanctify children and adults, and instead of making them holy he has destroyed them. It’s horrible! We need to listen to what someone who has been abused feels.”

At that point the pope told the Jesuits in Peru, “On Fridays — sometimes this is known and sometimes it is not known — I normally meet some of them. In Chile I also had such a meeting.”

The abuse scandal is “a great humiliation” for the Catholic Church, he said. “It shows not only our fragility, but also — let us say so clearly — our level of hypocrisy.”

Pope Francis also told the Jesuits in Peru that “it is notable that there are some newer congregations whose founders have fallen into these abuses.” He did not specify which congregations, however.

In the “new, prosperous congregations” where abuse has been a problem, he said, there is a combination of an abuse of authority, sexual abuse and “an economic mess. There is always money involved. The devil enters through the wallet.”

– – –

Copyright © 2018 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 12 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Insightful and in depth analysis of issues important to Catholics.
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I’ve had several interesting discussions lately probing the account of Creation in Genesis, on the one hand, and the scientific theory of evolution, on the other. Discussions of human origins are endlessly fascinating! Too often, however, they carry a high emotional cost. They may even trouble our Faith.

1 day 15 hours

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From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new executive order “is rooted in animosity towards religious freedom,” said Ed Mechmann, the Archdiocese of New York’s director of public policy. Click here for additional coverage of the executive order. 1 day 16 hours
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The priest who ministers to them is based in the Italian embassy. 1 day 17 hours
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The Diocese of Chilapa, Mexico, has removed all nuns from the city, where two priests were murdered earlier this month. Chilapa, in southern Mexico, has been plagued by violence, with drug-traffickers threatening Church institutions. 1 day 22 hours
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The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, claimed 17 lives. 2 days 18 hours
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Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville is chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty; Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton is chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. 2 days 19 hours
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