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Vatican City, Jun 17, 2018 / 03:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis compared the action of grace to the growth of seeds planted in a garden, saying God often works in ways that are both unknown and surprising, but which always bring fruit, and because of this it is important to always trust and never lose faith. In his June 17 Angelus address, the pope noted that if one looks back at history, it can seem like the world is going “in an opposite direction to the design of the heavenly Father, who wants justice, brotherhood and peace for all of his children.” Catholics, he said, are invited to live these periods “as seasons of trial, hope and of vigilant waiting for the harvest.” Pointing to the parable of the seeds in the day's Gospel reading from Mark, Francis explained that both in the past and today, the Kingdom of God “grows in the world in a mysterious and surprising way, awakening the hidden power of the small seed and its victorious vitality.” “Inside the wounds of personal and social events which at times seem to mark the shipwreck of hope, we must remain confident and in the subdued but powerful action of God,” he said. Because of this, when moments of darkness and difficulty come along, “we must not break down, but remain anchored to the fidelity of God and to his presence, which always saves...Remember this: God always saves, he's the savior..” Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square during his Sunday Angelus address, in which he focused on the two parables Jesus told his disciples in the day's Gospel reading, the first being about a seed which is scattered and grows of its own accord, culminating with the gathering of the harvest. The second parable is about the mustard seed, which is the smallest seed but which grows to be one of the biggest shrubs. In the first parable, the message conveyed is that through Jesus' preaching and action,” the Kingdom of God is announced, he made it burst into the field of the world and, like the seed, it grows and develops on its own, with its own strength and according to criteria that are not humanly understandable.” This growth and sprouting inside history, he said, is not dependent on the work of man, but is “expressed by the power and goodness of God.” On the parable of the mustard seed, Francis noted how the small seed grows to become one of the biggest plants in the garden, which is “an unpredictable, surprising growth.” “It's not easy for us to enter into this logic of the unpredictability of God and to accept it in our lives,” he said, explaining that Lord encourages each person to have “an attitude of faith which overcomes our own projects, our calculations, our provisions.” This is an invitation to open oneself with greater generosity to God's plan on both a personal and community level, Francis said, adding that every community must pay special attention to “the small and the great opportunities for goodness that the Lord offers to us, allowing us to be involved in his dynamics of love, of welcome, and of mercy toward all.” The authenticity of the Church's mission, he said, is not measured “by success or the gratification of results, but by going forward with the courage of trust and the humility of abandonment to God.” “It's the knowledge of being small and weak instruments, which in the hands of God and with his grace can fulfill great works, advancing his Kingdom, which is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” he said, and prayed that Mary would help Catholics to be attentive to God and to collaborate in helping the Kingdom of God grow “in hearts and in history.” After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered prayers for Yemen, as fighting continues to escalate near the port city of Hudaydah. If the port closes, desperately needed food and other aid would be cut off from thousands of people who already face starvation in the country, increasing the already dire humanitarian situation. Francis appealed to the international community on behalf of Yemen, asking that they bring conscience “to the table of discussions in order to avoid a worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.” He then led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary. He then kicked off the “Global Action Week,” which is part of the Share the Journey initiative of the papal charity organization Caritas International, urging governments to adopt the global U.N. compacts on migrants and refugees in order to “reach an agreement to ensure the assistance and protection of whoever is forced to leave their own home.”
Vatican City, Jun 16, 2018 / 08:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a speech to a family association Saturday, Pope Francis again stressed that God's vision of the family is between a man and a woman, and compared the abortion of children who are sick or disabled to a Nazi mentality. “I've heard that it's fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first few months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let's send it away,” the pope said June 16, referring to the trend of aborting sick or disabled children. This, he said, is “the murder of children...to get a peaceful life an innocent [person] is sent away...We do the same as the Nazis to maintain the purity of the race, but with white gloves.” “It's an atrocity but we do the same thing,” he said, according to Italian media. Pope Francis spoke to members of the Forum of Family Associations, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. His words on abortion come just days after his home country of Argentina voted June 14 in favor of a bill that would legalize abortion as early as the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The comments also come just over a month ahead of his Aug. 25-26 trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, which will feature Jesuit Fr. James Martin as a keynote speaker on how to be welcoming to the LGBT community. During his speech, Francis tossed his prepared remarks, telling participants that a prepared text “seems a bit cold,” according to Italian newspaper La Stampa. The pope, the paper reported, said it is “painful” to think that society would accept the killing of children simply because they are sick or disabled, but this is the current mentality. On the family, he noted that in modern society “one speaks of different types of family,” defining the term in different ways. “Yes, it's true that family is an analogous word, yes one can also say 'the family of stars,' 'the family of trees,' 'the family of animals,'” he said, but stressed that “the family in the image of God is only one, that of man and woman...marriage is a wonderful sacrament.” Turning to his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis said that some have reduced the document to “you can, you can't,” referring to the debate surrounding access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried in the document's eighth chapter. “They have understood nothing,” he said, explaining that his exhortation “does not hide problems,” but goes beyond mere case studies. To understand the text, he said, one must read chapter four on the spirituality of everyday life, which he said is the “is the core” of the document. Francis then pointed to the emphasis placed on marriage preparation in Amoris Laetitia, saying the family “is a beautiful adventure and today, I say it with pain, we see that many times we think of starting a family, getting married, as if it were a lottery. We go and if it works, it works, if not we end it and start again.” What is needed, he said, is “a catechumenate for marriage...men and women are needed who help young people to mature.” And this begins with small things, such as marriage preparation, he said, adding that “it's important to love each other and receive the sacrament, and then have the party you want.” However, it is never acceptable for “the second to take the place of the most important.” He also spoke about the importance of educating one's children, but noted that this is not easy for parents, especially in a virtual world, which “they know better than us.” The pope also pointed to the increasing difficulty for families to spend time with their children, especially in times of social and economic crisis. “To earn money today one has to have two jobs, the family is not considered,” he said, and encouraged parents to take up this “cross” and the excessive hours of work, while also spending time playing with their children. “Children are the greatest gift,” he said, even when they are sick. Children, he said, must be “received as they come, as God sends them.” However, alluding to the growing trend to be “childless by choice,” Francis noted that there are people who simply don't want children, and pointed to a couple who did not want to have kids, but who instead had three dogs and two cats. Francis closed his speech talking about the need for patience in married life, saying “there are life situations of strong crisis, terrible, and even times of infidelity come.” “There are many women – but also at times men – who in silence wait, looking the other way, waiting for their husband to return to being faithful.” This, he said, is “the holiness that forgives because it loves.”
Vatican City, Jun 15, 2018 / 07:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily Friday, Pope Francis issued a scathing critique of the ways in which women are often exploited and mistreated - whether it be through a revealing television ad, or when getting a job is contingent on sexual favors. He said there is a tendency in many environments to view women as “second class” or as an object of “waste,” and called the ways in which women are at times abused and enslaved “sins against God.” The pope offered his June 15 daily Mass at the Vatican's Santa Marta residence as a prayer “for the women who are discarded, for the women who are used, for the girls who have to sell their own dignity to have a job.” He took his cue from the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, in which Jesus said: “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and “whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery.” Women, he said, are “what is missing in every man in order to be the image and likeness of God.” The “doctrine on women” introduced by Jesus in the Gospel, he said, “changed history,” because up to that moment, the woman was “second class...she couldn't even enjoy full freedom.” “The woman before Jesus is one thing, the woman after Jesus is another. Jesus dignified woman and put her on the same level as man,” Francis said, stressing that “both are 'the image and likeness of God,' both; not men first and then women a bit lower, no, both.” “And man without woman beside him – as a mother, sister, wife, colleague, friend – that man is not the image of God.” In the Gospel a certain “desire” for women was alluded to, the pope said, explaining that this desire is not a bygone sentiment, but is something seen in everywhere in daily activities. “In television programs, in magazines, in newspapers, they show the woman as an object of desire, of use,” he said, comparing the publications to a “supermarket.” In order to sell a certain type of tomato, he said, using food as an example, women become an object, and are “humiliated, without clothes.” And the problem is not distant, but it happens “where we live.” It's enough to go to an office or a business and one will see that a woman is “the object of that disposable philosophy,” as if she were “waste material” and not a real person. “This is a sin against God the creator,” the pope said, because “without her we men cannot be the image and likeness of God.” Francis said there is currently “a fury against women, a terrible fury, even without saying it.” “How many girls, in order to have a job, have to sell themselves as a disposable object? How many?” he asked, noting that this is not just a problem in faraway countries, but it happens “here in Rome.” If one were to do a “night walk” in certain areas of Rome, he said, they would see that “many women, many migrants, and many non-migrants” are exploited as if they were in a marketplace. Men approach these women, he said, “not to say 'good evening,' but 'how much do you cost?'” Pope Francis said it would do everyone good to look at these women and think about the fact that they are “slaves of this mindset of waste.” “Everything happens here, in Rome, it happens in every city; anonymous women, women, we can say, without an expression because the shame covers her gaze, women who do not know how to laugh” and who often do not know the joy of being mothers, he said. But even without going to these areas, in normal daily situations “there is this awful mentality” of viewing women as “a second class object.” “We have to reflect better,” Francis said, because entertaining this mindset toward women means “we despise the image of God, who made man and woman together in his image and likeness.” The pope closed his homily voicing hope that the day's Gospel passage would help Catholics to think more about “the market of women; yes, trafficking, exploitation, which we see,” but even in “the unseen market, what is done and not seen. The woman is trampled because she is a woman.” He reminded Mass-goers that Jesus himself had a mother, and had “many women friends who followed him to help him in his ministry.” Jesus also found many women who were “despised, marginalized and discarded,” however, he raised them up with “tenderness,” and restored their dignity.
Vatican City, Jun 15, 2018 / 12:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to a gathering of Mexican politicians and diplomats from the Holy See, Pope Francis said the fundamental rights and dignity of migrants must be protected, and “particular concern must be shown for migrant children and their families.” In his June 14 message to the symposium, the pope said migration is not about numbers, but people, and “these persons, our brothers and sisters, need ongoing protection, independently of whatever migrant status they may have.” He also urged greater protection for victims of human trafficking rings, and those who have been displaced due to conflicts, natural disasters and persecution. “All of them hope that we will have the courage to tear down the wall of comfortable and silent complicity that worsens their helplessness,” he said, adding that “they are waiting for us to show them concern, compassion and devotion.” Pope Francis' message was sent to participants in a June 14 symposium titled “II Holy See-Mexico Colloquium on international migration,” which was organized by the Vatican Secretariat of State's section for Relations with the States and the Mexican embassy to the Holy See. The Pontifical Academy for the Sciences hosted the discussion, which was also supported by the migrants and refugees section of the Vatican dicastery for Integral Human Development. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin opened the discussion with a keynote speech in the morning. Other speakers included Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states; Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso; former Mexican ambassador to Italy and current Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo; and current Mexican ambassador to the Holy See, Jaime del Arenal Fenochio. Speakers highlighted the need to respect the right of people both to migrate and to stay in their own country, and to increase protection for immigrants at every stage of their journey. They also spoke of the need to identify and eliminate the root causes of forced migration, and urged nations to comply with the UN global compacts on migrants and refugees. In his speech at the colloquium, Videgaray said both “dialogue and reflection” are needed in order to adequately respond to the migration issue, and he stressed the importance of keeping “the rights of migrants at the center of any political discussion.” He noted a growth of nationalist sentiments in many countries, saying that a certain level of “anxiety and fear” is normal. However, “what is not advisable is that [there is] a new phenomenon which wants to label migrants as the origin of the problem,” he said, noting that many times there are social and cultural issues that prompt people to migrate in the first place. “Migration is part of who we are,” Videgaray said, noting that Mexico itself receives many immigrants from Central America who either stay, or are in transit to the United States in order to avoid poverty and violence. Videgaray urged greater protections for migrants at every stage of their journey. In this sense, Mexico's relationship with the United States “is increasingly more important,” he said, adding that Mexico is worried about increasing “anti-immigrant sentiments from Washington.” “We are open to dialogue with North American authorities,” Videgaray said. Yet while Mexico respects the decision of each nation to determine their own policies, he said the government is concerned about the growing number of families who have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, with children being taken from their parents. In May the Trump administration rolled out a new “zero tolerance” policy on immigration which, among other things, has enforced the separation of migrant children from their parents who have been detained by border officials. With the new crackdown, the number of unaccompanied minors at the border has jumped 20 percent, with an estimated 10,000 migrant children being held in more than 100 shelters, most of which are at near full capacity, according to a McClatchyDC report. The Trump administration is reportedly considering the construction of a “tent city” in Texas to hold immigrant children. Late last year, the Trump administration announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the UN global compact on migration. Pope Francis in his message stressed the importance of the compacts, which he said promote the fundamental values of “justice, solidarity and compassion.” “In order to acknowledge and respond to the current migration situation, the assistance of the entire international community is needed, since its transnational dimension exceeds the capacities and resources of many States,” he said. However, “this demands a change in mindset: we must move from considering others as threats to our comfort to valuing them as persons whose life experience and values can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society.” In comments to journalists, Cardinal Parolin echoed the sentiment, saying the general mentality on migration is “pitifully not the most positive.” Because of this, he stressed the need to change “the image of migration.” This is the ultimate goal of the UN compacts, he said, adding that Trump's decision to pull out of the migration compact is “not good, because we have constantly repeated that the whole world has to participate in this.” “It's a global phenomenon which needs the contribution of everyone, no one can [hold] back.” Parolin's comments come as Italy is currently under fire for refusing to allow a boat carrying more than 600 migrants to dock, drawing international outcry. The boat, called The Aquarius, had rescued migrants from the Mediterranean Sea and been on its way to Sicily when new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini blocked the ship's arrival. The decision prompted a standoff between Italy and Malta as to who would take the passengers, with Spain eventually stepping in and allowing the boat to dock. In comments to journalists, Parolin noted that the issue is complicated. He voiced confidence that Italy's “humanitarian sensitivity has not decreased,” but said, “I think that it’s important that there is a common response to this problem so that Italy is not left alone to face the problem of migration.” He added that the Church is concerned about the increasing number of children who are separated from their parents. “Everything that signifies violations of the rights of people and of families are shared concerns with the Holy See,” he said, noting that the Church’s role is to advocate through dialogue in order to find workable solutions.
Vatican City, Jun 14, 2018 / 10:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After spending more than a decade in a private collection in Atlanta, a copy of a 1493 letter written by Christopher Columbus about his experience in America has been returned to its rightful place in the Vatican library. Columbus penned the letter to Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1493 after returning from his voyage to America, describing what he saw during his travels. The “Columbus Letter,” unofficially titled “Letter about the Recently Discovered Islands,” was then translated and manually printed into Latin, and several copies were distributed throughout Europe. Around 80 authentic copies still exist today. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, @CallyGingrich, returned this morning a recovered copy of a letter written by Christopher Columbus to its rightful home at the Vatican Library. @USinHolySee #ColumbusLetter pic.twitter.com/iQKAHND4Kg— Vatican Library (@vaticanlibrary) June 14, 2018 One of the oldest copies of the 8-page letter, written in small, fine print, was given to the Vatican in 1921 as part of the “De Rossi Collection,” which consisted of rare books and manuscripts given to the Vatican at the request of bibliophile Giovanni Francesco Rossi upon his death in 1854. At some point, though it is not known exactly when, the letter was stolen. It was not until 2011 that a rare book and manuscript expert became aware that the copy in the Vatican Library collection was a forgery after closely examining details in the stitching, chain lines and page size. The expert then contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations about the possible theft. Vatican officials were informed, and the forged letter was examined by more experts, including specialists from Princeton University, who confirmed that the letter was a fake. The original copy of the Vatican's letter was eventually traced back to David Parsons, an actuary from Atlanta, who had purchased it for $875,000 from a rare book dealer in New York City in 2004, unaware that it had been stolen from the Vatican. In 2013 Parsons sent his letter to the expert who originally caught the forgery, and after closely examining it, the expert found it to be authentic. It was confirmed in 2016 that the “Columbus Letter” Parsons owned had been sold to the New York book dealer he bought it from by notorious Italian book thief, Marino Massimo De Caro, who is currently serving a 7-year sentence in Italy for the theft of roughly 4,000 ancient books and manuscripts throughout Italy. After further comparative analysis was done on both the original letter and the forgery, it was confirmed in April 2017 that Parsons' letter had in fact been stolen from the Vatican Library, and that the theft had to have taken place sometime before 2004. In August of that year, investigators contacted David Parsons' widow, Mary Parsons, and presented her with evidence of the theft and forgery. She agreed to part with the letter, renouncing all rights, title and interest, so that it could be returned to its original home in the Vatican Library. The letter formally exchanged hands June 14, when U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich presented it to Vatican Archivist and Librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P. and the Library’s Prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini, inside the Vatican Library. During the hand-off, Gingrich called the letter “a priceless piece of cultural history,” and said she was honored to return the letter to “its rightful owner.” She noted that U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents since 2007 have returned more than 11,000 artifacts and pieces of art from over 30 countries as part of an ongoing investigation into the illegal sale of stolen books and manuscripts. To date, Gingrich said, HSI has repatriated both paintings and manuscripts to Austria, Italy, France, Germany and Poland, among others, and have recovered ancient artifacts from different regions, including Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East. In addition to the letter recovered from Parsons, HSI has recovered and returned two other Columbus Letters as part of their ongoing investigation into the sale of stolen books and manuscripts. The two additional Columbus Letters that were confiscated have been returned to the Riccardiana Library in Florence, and the Library of Catalonia in Barcelona. As a gesture of gratitude to Mrs. Parsons for agreeing to part with her late husband's treasured “Columbus Letter,” the U.S. Embassy earlier this week hand-delivered a personal note from Mrs. Parsons to the pope. In remarks during the repatriation ceremony, Archbishop Bruguès voiced gratitude to all involved in recovering the letter, which he said is “a priceless artifact of cultural history which today has found its way back to its home.” He said the library was “surprised” to find out their copy was a fake, and noted that while it is still unknown when the original letter was taken, the technique used in the forgery, called “stereotyping,” was a common during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and reproduces not only the visual characteristics of the original, but also the tactile characteristics. “We are extremely grateful to be able to reinsert this volume in its rightful place in De Rossi's collection,” he said, adding that the letter “will remain at the disposal of researchers who come from around the world to study the collections of the Vatican Library.” Ambassador @CallyGingrich was truly honored to repatriate the #ColumbusLetter to the @vaticanlibrary, a priceless piece of cultural history.Read more about the Columbus Letter in Ambassador Gingrich's remarks here: httpss://t.co/ktHm9lnXBS pic.twitter.com/BuzPrfXVri— U.S. in Holy See (@USinHolySee) June 14, 2018
Vatican City, Jun 14, 2018 / 05:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his message for this year's World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis challenged Catholics on their attitude toward the impoverished, asking whether they really listen to and love the needy, or engage in charity only to please themselves. “The condition of poverty cannot be expressed in a word, but becomes a cry which crosses the heavens and reaches God. What does the cry of the poor express if not their suffering and solitude, their delusion and hope?” the pope said in his message. “How it is that this cry, which rises to the presence of God, is unable to penetrate our ears and leaves us indifferent and impassive?” he asked, saying the World Day of the Poor is a call “to make a serious examination of conscience in order to understand if we are really capable of hearing them.” Francis stressed the importance of being silent in order to really listen to those in need, saying that speaking too much of oneself will make a person deaf to the voice and the cry of the poor. The pope expressed concern that at times initiatives aimed at helping the poor, which in themselves are “meritorious and necessary,” are carried out with an intention “more to please those who undertake them than to really acknowledge the cry of the poor.” “If this is the case, when the cry of the poor rings out our reaction is incoherent and we are unable to empathize with their condition. We are so entrapped in a culture which obliges us to look in the mirror and to pamper ourselves that we believe that a gesture of altruism is sufficient without compromising ourselves directly.” Pope Francis' message, titled “This poor man cried and the Lord heard him,” is based on Psalm 34 and was published June 14 in anticipation of the second World Day of the Poor, which he instituted at the close of the Jubilee of Mercy. The event now takes place throughout the world on the 34th Sunday of ordinary time, which this year falls on Nov. 18. In his message, Pope Francis said that when it comes to serving the poor, “the last thing we need is a battle for first place.” Rather, one must humbly recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who inspires people to be a concrete sign of God's closeness, since he is the one who opens eyes and hearts to conversion. The poor, he said, “have no need of protagonists, but of a love which knows how to hide and forget the good which it has done.” The true protagonists, he said, “are the Lord and the poor. He who desires to serve is an instrument in God’s hands in order to make manifest His presence and salvation.” Pointing to St. Paul's affirmation in the First Letter to the Corinthians that “the eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you,'” Francis said this phrase goes not only for the different charisms of the Church, but it also goes for the poor and vulnerable in society. True disciples of Christ, then, must not harbor “sentiments of contempt or pietism towards the poor,” but instead are called “to honor them, giving them precedence, out of the conviction that they are a real presence of Jesus in our midst.” Francis also highlighted three verbs used by King David, the author of psalm 34, which are “to cry,” “to answer” and “to free.” Not only are Christians called to hear the cry of the poor, but they must also answer, he said, noting that God's answer to the poor is highlighted throughout salvation history. “God’s answer to the poor is always an intervention of salvation in order to heal the wounds of body and soul, restore justice and assist in beginning anew to live life with dignity,” he said, adding that this response is also an appeal for believers to do the same. The World Day of the Poor is “a small answer” which the entire Church gives to poor people throughout the world as a sign of solidarity and shared concern, he said, and stressed the importance of having a personal encounter with those in need. “It is not delegated power of which the poor have need, but the personal involvement of as many hear their cry,” he said, adding that “the concern of believers in their regards cannot be limited to a kind of assistance – as useful and as providential as this may be in the beginning – but requires a loving attentiveness which honours the person as such and seeks out his best interests.” Pope Francis also spoke of the need to free the poor from the causes of poverty, which are frequently rooted in “selfishness, pride, greed and injustice.” “These are evils as old as man himself, but also sins in which the innocents are caught up, leading to consequences on the social level which are dramatic,” he said. To help migrants escape pride and injustice, then, means to free them from “the snare of the fowler” and to “subtract them from the trap hidden on their path, in order that they might proceed expeditiously and look serenely upon life.” Like the poor blind man Bartimaeus from Mark's Gospel who was sitting on the side of the road begging when Jesus passed by, many poor people today are also sitting by the road waiting for someone to come and listen to their needs, Francis said. “Unfortunately, often the opposite happens and the poor are reached by voices rebuking them and telling them to shut up and to put up.” These voices, the pope said, are “out of tune” and are guided by “a phobia of the poor, considered not only as destitute, but also as bearers of insecurity and instability, detached from the habits of daily life and, consequently, to be rejected and kept afar.” By distancing oneself from the poor, one also distances oneself from God, he said, and urged greater solidarity on the part of Catholics through initiatives such as sharing a meal with the poor and needy. Pope Francis closed his message saying it is often the poor who “undermine our indifference, which is the daughter of a vision of life which is too imminent and bound up with the present.” Only by becoming rich before God, putting material wealth in secondary place, can a person truly grow in humanity and become capable of sharing with others, he said, and urged both consecrated persons and laity to “make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor.” “The poor evangelize us, helping us to discover every day the beauty of the Gospel,” he said. “Let us not waste this opportunity for grace.”
Vatican City, Jun 13, 2018 / 07:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In their latest round of meetings, Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals has finished and approved the first draft of what will be a new apostolic constitution outlining the role and functions of the Roman Curia. The tentative title of the document is “Predicatae Evangelium,” meaning “Preach the Gospel.” The new constitution will eventually replace “Pastor Bonus,” the apostolic constitution issued by St. John Paul II in 1988, which currently governs the Roman Curia. In comments to the press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the title of the new constitution is subject to change, as is the rest of the text, a first draft of which was voted on and presented to Pope Francis by his Council of Cardinals during their June 11-13 meeting at the Vatican. Burke stressed that there is “a lot of work to do still” on the text, and that right now the cardinals “are refining” it. The pope, he said, will make whatever changes he sees fit and “can give it to whomever he wants as an expert” for either opinions or contributions. The bulk of this week’s round of meetings was dedicated to finalizing the draft of Predicatae Evangelium, though updates were given on the status of both the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the Council for the Economy. British Msgr. Brian Ferme, secretary for the Vatican's Council of the Economy, gave the group an update on the reform of the financial structures of the Holy See and the Vatican Governorate, which is economically independent from the Holy See and oversees the Vatican museums, the Vatican gardens, and the gendarmerie. Ferme outlined the goals and fundamental principles of the Vatican’s financial reform, among which are the avoidance of waste, promoting transparency, ensuring that accounting principles are properly applied, and ensuring that international standards and the principle of dual control are followed. Ferme also highlighted several positive aspects of the reform to date, which include a gradual change in mentality on the need for transparency and accountability; a uniform procedure for preparing budgets and final balances; a greater attention to waste and a greater cooperation with and understanding of the financial reform currently in progress. Each of the nine members of the pope’s advisory body were present for the meeting, with the exception of Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who is currently in Australia preparing to face trial for charges of historical sexual abuse, to which he has pled “not guilty.” Established by Pope Francis shortly after his election in 2013, the Council of Cardinals – colloquially known as the “C9” – is an advisory body on Church governance and reform. Their next round of meetings will take place Sept. 10-12 at the Vatican, shortly before Pope Francis leaves for a Sept. 22-25 trip to the Baltic states.
Vatican City, Jun 13, 2018 / 05:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has named Michigan-native Msgr. Gerald Vincke as the new bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Kan., pulling him from several roles in the Diocese of Lansing, Mich. In a June 13 statement on Vincke's appointment, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing said the diocese is “very happy” about the priest's nomination. “The priests of our diocese as well as myself will deeply miss our brother priest as he moves into this new ministry,” he said, and voiced his “love and gratitude” to Pope Francis for the appointment. Vincke “is a fine priest, a man of deep faith in Jesus Christ, and a gentle soul,” he said, adding that Lansing's loss is Salina's gain. Born in Saginaw, Mich., in 1964, Bishop-elect Vincke is the ninth of 10 children and has a degree in public relations and marketing from Ferris State University in Big Rapids. He studied philosophy at the Thomas More College in Crestview, Ken., before going on to study theology at the Athenaeum Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lansing June 12, 1999, after which he served in various pastoral roles. In 2003 he was named as the diocese's Director of Seminarians and Vocations Director, roles he held until his 2010 appointment as spiritual director at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Vincke was given the title “monsignor” by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, and in 2015, while still in Rome, he obtained a licentiate in Sacred Theology. The title of his thesis, which places an emphasis on spiritual theology, is “Following the Path of St. John Vianney for the New Evangelization with Evangelii Gaudium as a Guide.” After returning to Lansing later in 2015, he was assigned as pastor to Holy Family parish in Grand Blanc. He currently serves on the diocese's Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors. The date and time of Vincke's ordination as a bishop and installation have yet to be announced.
Vatican City, Jun 13, 2018 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that the greatest danger modern youth face is not the array of problems that surround them, but rather, the temptation to mediocrity – preferring to stay immobile rather than making a leap toward the next step. Pointing to the Gospel reading from Mark in which a rich young man kneels in front of Jesus and asks how to obtain eternal life, the pope said this question “is the challenge of every existence: the desire for a full, infinite life.” Many young people today seek life, but end up destroying themselves by pursuing worldly desires, he said, noting that some people would say it is better “to turn this impulse off, the impulse to live, because it's dangerous.” However, “I would like to say, especially to young people: our worst enemy is not concrete problems, no matter how serious or dramatic: the greatest danger is a bad spirit of adaption, which is not meekness or humility, but mediocrity, timidity.” A young person who is mediocre has no future, Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks, explaining that “they don't grow, they won't be successful” because they are “afraid of everything.” “We need to ask the heavenly Father for the youth of today to receive the gift of a healthy restlessness, the ability not to be satisfied with a life without beauty, without color,” he said, adding that “if young people are not hungry for an authentic life, where will humanity end up?” Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during his weekly general audience, during which he began a new series of catechesis dedicated to the Ten Commandments. The dialogue between Jesus and the rich young man in Chapter 10 of Mark's Gospel, the pope said in his address, is “a pedagogical process” in which Jesus wants to guide the man from youth into maturity, beginning with a question about the commandments, and ending with an invitation for the man to sell his belongings. This process of maturity, Francis said, can only take place “when one begins to accept their own limits. We become adults when we become aware of what is lacking.” When Jesus asked the man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor, the man could not do it, and was forced to recognize that what he was able to give could not go beyond a certain limit. The truth of mankind's limits is one that has been rejected throughout history, often with “tragic consequences,” the pope said, noting that in the Gospels, Jesus offers his help, saying he did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to “fulfill them.” “Jesus gives fulfillment, he comes for this,” he said, adding that the rich man was taken to “the threshold of a leap, where the possibility was opened of ceasing to live for himself and his own works, his own goods, and – precisely because he lacked eternal life – to leave everything to follow the Lord.” The invitation to the man to sell everything he owned was not a proposal of poverty, but rather “of wealth, the true kind,” Francis said, asking: “who, being able to choose between an original and a copy, would choose the copy?” “This is the challenge: to find the original, not the copy. Jesus does not offer surrogates, but true life, true love, true wealth!” In his closing remarks, Pope Francis also prayed for the beginning of the World Cup, which will take place June 14-July 15 in Russia. Francis offered his greeting to the players and organizers of the games, as well as those who will watch the matches on television or through social media. He prayed that the event would be “an occasion of encounter, of dialogue and fraternity between different cultures and religions, favoring solidarity and peace among nations.”
Dublin, Ireland, Jun 12, 2018 / 12:55 pm (CNA).- The World Meeting of Families being held in Dublin this August will include a presentation from American author Fr. James Martin, S.J., who will discuss ways “parishes can support families with members who identify as LGBTI+.” Fr. Martin's presentation was included among the highlights of the event during a June 11 press conference in Maynooth, about 20 miles west of Dublin. Another highlighted address is on the meaning of Pope Francis' phrase “throwaway culture,” by Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila. The World Meeting of Families will be held in Aug. 21-26 with the theme “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World.” It is organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and will include the participation of Pope Francis. Fr. Martin is an editor at America Magazine, and in 2017 was appointed a consultor to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications. He is also author of “Building a Bridge,” which addresses the Church's engagement with those who identify as LGBT and which has drawn significant criticism. Some critics say the book does not directly address Catholic teaching on celibacy and chastity or engage with Catholics who identify as LGBT while observing the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Fr. Martin has suggested that same-sex attraction should be referred to as “differently ordered” rather than “intrinsically disordered,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states. “We have to be sensitive to the language we use. We can't pretend that language like that isn't harmful,” Fr. Martin told CNA in September 2017. The priest's book has drawn praise from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, as well as Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, who said the book “marks an essential step in inviting Church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our Church as any other Catholic.” New Ways Ministry, a dissenting Catholic group that has been the subject of warnings from the U.S. bishops and the Vatican for confusing Catholic teaching, awarded Fr. Martin in 2016 for having “helped to expand the dialogue on LGBT issues in the Catholic Church.” In September 2017, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia wrote an essay saying that “perceived ambiguities in some of Fr. Martin’s views on sexuality have created much of the apprehension and criticism surrounding his book. There’s nothing vindictive in respectfully but firmly challenging those inadequacies. Doing less would violate both justice and charity.” “Clear judgment, tempered by mercy but faithful to Scripture and constant Church teaching, is an obligation of Catholic discipleship – especially on moral issues, and especially in Catholic scholarship,” the archbishop added. The Irish government has exerted pressure on the World Meeting of Families, with one government minister warning it should not express “intolerance” of LBGT groups or same-sex couples. “There should be a welcome for all. And never again should public statements or remarks which seek to isolate certain families be tolerated,” said Katherine Zappone, the Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, according to the Irish Times. Cardinal Farrell has noted his hopes for the meeting, saying that the event should revitalize family life and will not exclude anyone. “This encounter… is to promote the Christian concept of marriage, and the Catholic concept of marriage, and will focus on that. All people are invited, we don’t exclude anybody,” stated Cardinal Farrell. Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia is the guiding theme of the World Meeting of Families and of all the topics chosen for presentation during the event. In a May 2017 interview with CNA, Cardinal Farrell had said in reference to Amoris laetitia that the document is about the beauty of marriage and the family, and that “we need to say what our teaching is, and that’s not a yes and no answer.” The World Meeting of Families developed after St. John Paul II requested an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration for families. The first took place in Rome in 1994. It is held every three years.