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Pope’s app 'Click to Pray' connects Catholics to a smartphone prayer network

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2019 / 06:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis launched an app Sunday called  “Click to Pray,” which connects Catholics to a global network to share prayer intentions via their smartphones. The pope opened the new app using an iPad during his Angelus address Jan. 20 and encouraged young Catholics, in particular, to download the smartphone app to pray the “Rosary of Peace” ahead of World Youth Day. “Click to Pray” allows users to post prayer intentions and view other prayer requests in six languages. After posting on the social network, one can track how many Catholics around the world have prayed for their request. The Android and iOS app includes the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, all of the mysteries of the rosary, and daily prayers for morning, afternoon, and night. In each of these sections, users can click a box to indicate that they have completed the prayer and view how many others also prayed. This month’s prayer intention is “for young people and the example of Mary.” In his Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on Mary’s role in Sunday’s Gospel narrative of the wedding feast at Cana. “Let us look at Mary: the words that Mary addresses to the servants come to crown the spousal framework of Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you,’” Francis said. “These words are a precious inheritance that our Mother has left us.” “To serve the Lord means to listen and practice His word. It is the simple, essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus, it is the program of life of the Christian,” he continued. Pope Francis explained that “it is not accidental that at the beginning of Jesus' public life there is a wedding ceremony, because in Him God has married humanity.” Jesus’ transformation of water into wine was also symbolic, Francis noted, “Water is necessary to live, but the wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the party.” He joked, “It would have been bad to continue the party with water! ... A party without wine? I don’t know.” The pope encouraged Catholics to turn to Our Lady when facing difficult situations, and to echo her words, “They have no wine.” Francis explained, “When problems occur that we do not know how to solve, when we often feel anxiety and anguish, when we lack the joy, go to Our Lady and say, ‘We have no wine. The wine is finished: look how I am, look at my heart, look at my soul.’ Tell Mother, and she will go to Jesus to say, ‘Look at this, look at this: they have no wine.’ And then, she will come back to us and tell us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” In a prayer to Mary after the Angelus, the pope expressed his grief and continued prayers for the Colombian people after the terrorist attack last Thursday at the National Police Academy, which killed 21 people. The pope said that it “pained his heart” that an estimated 170 migrants are missing after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this weekend. “They were looking for a future for their lives. Victims, perhaps, of human traffickers. We pray for them, and for those who are responsible for what happened,” he said. The cheers at the end of the Angelus prayer were louder than usual as young people in St. Peter’s square waved Panamanian flags and raised a large banner reading, “Buon Viaggio.” The pope will depart Rome for Panama on January 23 for World Youth Day 2019.  

Vatican transfers task of Ecclesia Dei to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2019 / 06:02 am (CNA).- Pope Francis issued a motu proprio Saturday ending the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei and creating an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to focus on doctrinal dialogue with traditionalist groups. For over thirty years, the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei has “facilitated the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual religious linked to Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre’s fraternity, who wished to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions,” Pope Francis wrote in the apostolic letter published Jan. 19. “The institutes and religious communities that usually celebrate in extraordinary form have found today their own stability of number and life,” the pope noted. Pope Francis stated that the issues dealt with today by the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei are of  “a predominantly doctrinal nature,” and therefore the complete transfer of the pontifical commission’s task to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith is with the desire that “these aims become more and more evident to the conscience of the ecclesial communities.” Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, Ecclesia Dei was reformed by Benedict XVI in 2009 with the instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The closing of Ecclesia Dei is the latest step in the pope’s wider project of reform of the Roman Curia. Administrative matters, including the pontifical commission's budget, will now be included in the ordinary accounts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. The Ordinary Session of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith on November 15, 2017 requested that “the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X be conducted directly” by their congregation, the apostolic letter explained. In November 2018, Fr. Davide Pagliarani, the superior general of the SSPX, met with CDF Prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. During the meeting “it was recalled that the fundamental problem is actually doctrinal … Because of this irreducible doctrinal divergence, for the past seven years no attempt to compose a draft of a doctrinal statement acceptable to both parties has succeeded. This is why the doctrinal question remains absolutely essential,” according to a SSPX statement. The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church after the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II. The illicit episcopal consecrations resulted in the excommunication of the bishops involved. The excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the SSPX and the Vatican. There were indications in recent years of movement towards regularization of the priestly society, which has some 600 priest-members. In March 2017, Pope Francis gave diocesan bishops or other local ordinaries the authorization to grant priests of the SSPX the ability to celebrate licitly and validly the marriages of the faithful who follow the Society's pastoral activity. And in September 2015, the pope announced that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his 2016 apostolic letter Misericordia et misera.

Vatican releases online guide to combat $150 billion human trafficking industry

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican said yesterday that the most significant cost associated with human trafficking is the exploitation and degradation of its victims.   With a new online guide, the Vatican seeks to combat the “ugly business” of human trafficking, which is estimated to generate $150 billion dollars a year, by examining the different levels of its complex international supply chains to target this grave evil at its roots.   “Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic teaching and courageous ministry, especially the ministry of the sisters on the front lines,” Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, said on the guide’s release January 17.   “These pastoral options offer a reading, a comprehension, ‘Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st century?” he continued. “How does the ugly, evil, business -- and we underline the word business -- operate?”   The guide is the result of the Vatican Migrants and Refugee Section’s consultation with researchers and practitioners working in the field to address human trafficking and enslavement, and “the Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options,” according to Czerny.   The handbook -- named “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking” -- is broken down into ten sections, each analyzing human trafficking from a different angle and providing recommendations.   These recommendations range from targeting and prosecuting consumers of human trafficking to aiding in the full spiritual and psychological recovery of its victims.   The Vatican will host a conference focused on the implementation of these guidelines in early April.   Targeting Demand   More attention needs to be placed on those consumers who drive the demand for human trafficking, in addition to the traffickers themselves who supply it, according to the Vatican office. “People who generate the demand share real responsibility for the destructive impact of their behaviour on other human persons, and for the moral values violated in the process,” the guide states, noting that “the buying of so-called sexual services, in all forms including pornography, internet based cyber-sex, strip clubs and erotic dancing venues, is a serious offence against human dignity and human integrity.”   The guide goes on to recommend that states consider “criminalizing those who take advantage of prostitution or of other uses of sexual exploitation provided by those who have been trafficked.” Last year, Pope Francis expressed a similar sentiment in his World Day of Prayer address, “If there are so many young women victims of trafficking who end up on the streets of our cities, it is because many men here — young, middle-aged, elderly — demand these services and are willing to pay for their pleasure. I wonder then, is the principal cause of trafficking really the traffickers? I believe the principal cause is the unscrupulous selfishness of the many hypocrites in our world. Of course, arresting traffickers is an obligation of justice. But the true solution is the conversion of hearts, cutting off demand in order to dry out the market.”   Ethical Supply Chains   The Vatican is calling for an ethical assessment of both business models and consumption, particularly in the industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction and mining where human trafficking is deeply embedded. “The Church encourages both sides of the commercial relationship – entrepreneurs who provide and end-users who consume – to engage in this ethical reflection and then to make the changes that are called for,” the guide states.   “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act,” Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate in 2009. “Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise.”   On a broader level, the Vatican office recommends that countries implement legislation that requires “all companies, particularly those working transnationally and outsourcing in developing countries, to invest in the transparency and accountability of their supply chains.”   Adding that there needs to be special and intense prosecution of organized crime engaged in people smuggling and trafficking nationally and transnationally, along with prosecution of connivance by local and national authorities.”   Ways of Hope   Along with the guidebook, a compilation of all of Pope Francis’ teachings on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope” was also released in hardcover and online in English and other languages. The searchable digital version will continue to be updated as the pope comments on human trafficking in the future. “I hope that this collection of teachings may indeed illuminate our steps on the pathways of hope, providing food for inspiration and prayer, preaching and pastoral action,” Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book released Jan. 17. The pope reflected on examples of migration and enslavement throughout the history of salvation, from the betrayal and sale of young Joseph by his brothers to Abraham and Sarah’s departure from their homeland in response to God’s promise. “Indeed, like human history, the history of salvation has been marked by displacements of every sort – migration, exile, flight, exodus – and yet all reaching out with hope for a better future elsewhere. And even when the displacement is a criminal enterprise, as in the case of trafficking, let no one be robbed of the hope of being rescued and set free,” Francis said.

Holy cow: Farm animals receive blessing outside St Peter's Square

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 10:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Farmers from across Italy brought their animals to the Vatican for a blessing Thursday, turning the street outside St. Peter’s Square into a farmyard of horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, hens, sheep, rams, goats, geese, ducks, and rabbits. The animals (and their owners) were present for the annual Jan. 17 blessing for the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, a third- to fourth-century saint who lived an austere and holy life in the Egyptian desert. Because the saint spent most of his life close to nature, in Italy he is venerated as a protector of animals. Organized by an Italian farmers’ association, some family pets, such as cats and dogs, were also present for the benediction, which was given by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. The event began with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (in which the animals did not participate, preferring the comfort of their pens and food). The blessing by Comastri followed. The day’s festivities also included a parade of horses down the main street leading to St. Peter’s, with a performance by a mounted police band. At Mass, Comastri pointed to a 16th-century statue of St. Anthony of Egypt, also known as St. Anthony the Abbot, which travels from the home to home of families of the farming association for use in family prayer. St. Anthony “understood that God is the only true richness of life and understood that God came to meet us in Jesus,” he said. “This is a sign that the agricultural life, life in contact with daily labor, is the healthiest life and the life closest to God. And when people, families, are close to God, they have nothing to fear.”

Vatican: Abuse summit to help bishops know 'what they need to do'

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2019 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just over a month ahead of the much-anticipated February meeting on sex abuse, the Vatican said the summit’s goal is for bishops to leave the meeting knowing clearly what it is they need to do to stop the abuse of minors. According to a statement by papal spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti Jan. 16, the February meeting “has a concrete purpose: the goal is that all of the bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors.” “It is fundamental for the Holy Father,” Gisotti said, that the bishops of the February gathering, when they have returned home, “understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims, and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried.” It was also stated that Pope Francis wants the summit of bishops to be “an assembly of Pastors, not an academic conference,” and that he knows “a global problem can only be resolved with a global response.” It will be a meeting “characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering,” the statement read. It concluded by drawing attention to the high expectations surrounding the summit, recalling that the Church is “not at the beginning of the fight against abuse,” but that the meeting is just one step along a “painful journey” the Church has “decisively undertaken” for the last 15 years. According to the Vatican, the February meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of prayer, listening to victim testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a final Mass. Pope Francis will be present for the entirety of the gathering. Fr. Federico Lombardi, president of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation and former director of the Holy See Press Office has been asked by Pope Francis to moderate the plenary sessions. The gathering, which will take place Feb. 21-24, is focused on the protection of minors from sexual abuse within the Church. The pope has asked the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, and the heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches, to attend. The U.S. bishops expected to attend are United States Conference of Bishops President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Vice-President Jose Gomez, and Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, who is on the planning committee of the summit. One part of the preparation for the meeting is a questionnaire which bishops were asked to fill out and submit to the planning committee by January 15. Participating bishops were also urged to meet with victims of clergy sexual abuse in their own countries in advance of the gathering.

Pope Francis: 'God loves you, even if you forget Him'

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2019 / 05:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- God the Father will always be there for his beloved children, Pope Francis said Wednesday, with a reminder that the unconditional love of God is not limited by our own sense of guilt or unworthiness. “God is looking for you, even if you do not seek Him. God loves you, even if you forget Him. God sees beauty in you, even if you think you have squandered all your talents in vain,” Pope Francis said in his general audience Jan. 16. The pope reflected on the first two words of the “Our Father,” focusing on the depth of personal love for each person found within God’s fatherhood. “It may be that we too happen to walk on paths far from God, as happened to the prodigal son; or fall into a loneliness that makes us feel abandoned in the world; or, again, do wrong and are paralyzed by a sense of guilt,” Pope Francis explained. In those moments, one’s prayer should simply start by saying the word, “Father,” with the tenderness of a child who calls out “Papa” or “Abbà,” in the original Aramaic, Francis said. “You have a father who loves you!” Pope Francis said enthusiastically. Call out to God as “Father,” and God will answer you, he said. If you respond to God by saying, “But, Father, I have done this ...” God will answer, “I never lost sight of you. I saw everything. But I was always there, close to you, faithful to my love for you,” Pope Francis said. To call God “Father,” the pope explained, is to have  “the whole world of Jesus poured into one's heart.” Pope Francis described the intimacy of the Aramaic expression “Abbà” used twice in the letters of St. Paul. In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul wrote, “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!'" Francis repeated the words that Italian children use, “Papa” and “Babbo” - which are roughly equivalent to saying “Daddy” in English - to exemplify the depth and closeness found in the word “Abba.” “We continue to say ‘Our Father,’ but with the heart we are invited to say ‘Papa,’ to have a relationship with God like that of a child with his father, who says ‘Papa, Babbo,’” he said. “These expressions evoke love, evoke warmth, something that projects us into the context of childhood: the image of a child completely enveloped by the embrace of a father who feels infinite tenderness for him,” he said. Pope Francis continued, “dear brothers and sisters, to pray well, we must get to have a child's heart … like a child in the arms of his father.”

Pope Francis: What to expect in 2019

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The finalization of a Curial reform process, a reshuffle in some Vatican positions, and an eventual consistory to “refill” the College of Cardinals might be among Pope Francis’ key moves in 2019.   As all eyes are set on the Vatican anti-abuse meeting, to be held Feb. 21-24, Pope Francis is in fact engaged in ongoing to reshape the Roman Curia and the College of Cardinals.   The first of the pope’s likely key moves has to do with the College of Cardinals.   After the death of Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, there is no cardinal camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. The camerlengo is chosen by the pope only, and holds is a very delicate position, especially during a sede vacante in the papacy.   When the pope dies, or renounces his seat, “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three cardinal assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” according to the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.   In general, the camerlengo oversees an office of the papal household that administers the property and revenues of the Holy See.   If the pope doesl not appoint a camerlengo, the cardinals will elect one at the beginning of the sede vacante.   However, Pope Francis might refrain from appointing a new camerlengo before he promulgates a long-awaited apostolic constitution on Vatican governance, Predicate evangelium, which is expected to reshape the offices of the Roman Curia.   There are rumors, in fact, that Pope Francis is going to abolish the pontifical household, including its office within the first section of the Secretariat of State. According to a CNA source familiar with the subject, the idea has been suggested, though the shutdown of the pontifical household does not appear to be imminent.   The abolition of the pontifical household will bring some issues to be solved, since all the competencies of the pontifical household might be divided into other offices: the Sistine Chapel choir would go under the administration of the office for liturgical celebrations, the management of state visits would be placed under the protocol of the Secretariat of State, and so on. It is yet to clarified.   However, the decision would mark a major break with the past. The pontifical household is the direct legacy of the pontifical court, and its presence recalls the religious meaning behind any papal activity.   The rumors about the pontifical household also involve Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect. Ganswein was appointed to the position in 2012 by Benedict XVI. He is now in his  second 5-year term at the helm of the prefecture, while maintaining his position as particular secretary to the Pope Emeritus Benedict.   However, discontinuing the prefecture would prompt Pope Francis to find Ganswein a new position. One of the more widespread rumors is that Ganswein will be appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to replace Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci. Bartolucci will turn the retirement age, 75, in April. Ganswein could also be eligible to take a position within the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is noteworthy that Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect, will end his five-year mandate in November, and it is possible the composition of the congregation’s top ranks will be reshuffled at that time.   Another key move in the Roman Curia might be the shutdown of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, the commission was reformed by Benedict XVI with a 2009 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.   Pope Francis may shut down the commission, making it an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.   If the shutdown takes place, the pope will have to find a new post for Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the commission’s president.   The shutdown of both the pontifical household and Ecclesia Dei would be part of the wider project for Curia reform.   At the moment, Praedicate evangelium, that is, the new constitution that will regulate tasks and competencies of Curia offices, is being finalized. Pope Francis will likely want to make an overall revision of the text.   However, most of the structural reforms are already in place: Pope Francis has established the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, merging there the Pontifical Councils for Laity and Family and a part of the competency of the Pontifical Academy for Life; he established the dicatery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, that absorbed the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum, and for Health Care Workers.   Under Pope Francis, the Secretariat for the Economy and the Council for the Economy have been set up, while the reform of the communication department led to the establishment of the Secretariat for Communication, now a dicastery.   It seems that, at the moment, the other curial offices will not be touched. Cardinal Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is 76 now, so he has surpassed the usual retirement age. Pope Francis, however, confirmed him at the helm of the dicastery until his 80th birthday. No changes are to be expected there, then.   The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is without a leader since Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the president, died in July 2018. It is still uncertain whether the pope will appoint a new president or will merge the pontifical council with another Curia office.   While undergoing these major structural changes, it likely Pope Francis will hold another consistory for the creation of new cardinals during this year.   Cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave when they are under 80. At the moment, there are 124 cardinals who are eligible to vote in a conclave. Out of these, 59 have been created by Pope Francis in five consistories, an average of one consistory per year.   During this year, there will be 10 cardinals that will turn 80, and will not be eligible to vote  in a papal conclave anymore. Out of these 10, three were made cardinals by Pope Francis.   The cardinals aging-out are: Alberto Suarez Inda, Orlando Beltran Quevedo, Edwin O’Brien, Stanislaw Dzwisiz, John Tong Hon, Sean Baptist Brady, Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya, Zenon Grocholewski, Edoardo Menichelli, and Telesphore Placidus Toppo.   By October there will be only 114 cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave, six less than the maximum permitted number of voting cardinals, which was set at 120 by St. Pope Paul VI – Pope Francis made an exception to this number at the last consistory.   All odds say that Pope Francis will hold another consistory, naming new cardinals during 2019. Who will receive new red hats is not foreseen.   It is noteworthy that Archbishop Filippo Iannone, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for  Promoting the New Evangelization, are the only heads of dicasteries without red birettas.   And it is noteworthy that Ireland’s only living representative in the College of Cardinals will age out of voting eligibility. So,  the pope might consider  another Irish cardinal.   However, it is also possible the pope will reward some of the periphery Churches, sticking to the point that all the Church must be represented in the College of Cardinals.   So by the end of 2019, the Roman Curia and College of Cardinals might be completely made in Pope Francis image. And it would be the first time since the beginning of his pontificate.  

Pope advances sainthood causes of 17 women

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 11:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis approved Tuesday the next step in the canonization causes of 17 women from four countries, including the martyrdom of 14 religious sisters killed in Spain at the start of the Spanish Civil War. After meeting with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Jan. 15, the pope gave his approval to the declaration of the martyrdom of Sr. Maria del Carmen and 13 companions, all religious sisters of the Order of Franciscan Conceptionists, who were killed in Madrid in 1936. Francis also approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Swiss laywoman Bl. Marguerite Bays, paving the way for her canonization in 2019. Bays, who was born in La Pierraz, Switzerland in 1815, was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She never married but gave her life to the needs of the people of her parish and neighborhood, especially the sick and dying, children and young girls, and the poor, whom she called “God’s favorites.” After developing intestinal cancer at the age of 35, Bays asked Our Lady to intercede that her suffering from cancer would be exchanged for a suffering more directly connected to the suffering of Christ at his Passion. The holy woman was miraculously healed of the cancer Dec. 8, 1854, the day Bl. Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. After the healing, Bays began to experience a sort-of ecstatic immobilization every Friday, where she would relive physically and spiritually the events of Christ's passion. Bays also received the stigmata. Bays’ deep devotion to prayer, which had been a focus of her life since childhood, included a strong love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and for praying the rosary. She also loved the Eucharist and spent many hours in adoration. Bays died at 3:00pm, on Friday, June 27, 1879, and was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1995. Two women were also declared Venerable Jan. 15: Anna Kaworek, a Pole and cofounder of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Michael the Archangel (1872-1936); Maria Soledad Sanjurjo Santos (religious name Maria Consolata), a sister of the Congregation of the Servants of Mary Ministers of the Infirm (1892-1973) from Puerto Rico.

Pope tells Life academy to defend human dignity with courage

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 06:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dialogue with society for the protection of human dignity and the common good, which are under threat, Pope Francis said in a letter to the Pontifical Academy for Life, published Tuesday. “We know that the threshold of basic respect for human life is being crossed, and brutally at that, not only by instances of individual conduct but also by the effects of societal choices and structures,” the pope wrote. In an over 3,000-word letter to the president of the Vatican’s life academy, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Francis encouraged the group to be a place “for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.” As never before, he said, business strategies and the pace of technological development is influencing “biomedical research, educational priorities, investment decisions and the quality of interpersonal relationships.” A love for creation, deepened and illuminated by faith, has “the possibility of directing economic development and scientific progress towards the covenant between man and woman, towards caring for our common humanity and towards the dignity of the human person,” he said. Sent for the 25th anniversary of the academy’s institution, the letter urged active participation in the intercultural, interdisciplinary, and interreligious discussion of human rights. “At stake is the understanding and exercise of a justice that demonstrates the essential role of responsibility in the discussion of human rights,” duties, and solidarity with those in need, he said. The pope’s letter also commented on the need for the Church to study “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, such as formation and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and robotics. Due to advancements in physics, genetics, neuroscience and computing, it is now possible to make “profound interventions on living organisms,” he said, which creates a “pressing need” to understand “these epochal changes and new frontiers” in order to put them at the service of the human person while “respecting and promoting the intrinsic dignity of all.” Pope Francis noted that Pope St. John Paul II’s institution of the academy on Feb. 11, 1994, was, as he wrote at the time, to promote research, education, and communications which show “that science and technology, at the service of the human person and his fundamental rights, contribute to the overall good of man and to the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation.” The Pontifical Academy for Life’s new statutes, adopted in October 2016, were intended to give a “renewed impetus” to this task and to engagement with contemporary issues surrounding technological and scientific advancement, he explained. “It is time,” he wrote, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples,” knowing that they are not completely closed off “to the seeds of faith and the works of this universal fraternity sown by the Gospel of the kingdom of God.” Fraternity must continue to be emphasized, the letter continues. “It is one thing to resign oneself to seeing life as a battle against constant foes, but something entirely different to see our human family as a sign of the abundant life of God the Father and the promise of a common destiny redeemed by the infinite love that even now sustains it in being.” Pope Francis also praised the 25-year history of the academy, which he said has shown a “constant effort to protect and promote human life and every stage of its development,” condemning abortion and euthanasia as “extremely grave evils.” “These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time,” he said.  

Vigano to McCarrick: Repent, for the sake of your soul

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2019 / 04:05 am (CNA).- A former papal representative to the U.S. has written an open letter to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that urges the archbishop to repent publicly of the sexual abuse and misconduct of which he stands accused. “You, paradoxically, have at your disposal an immense offer of great hope for you from the Lord Jesus; you are in a position to do great good for the Church.  In fact, you are now in a position to do something that has become more important for the Church than all of the good things you did for her throughout your entire life,” wrote Archbishop Carlo Vigano in a Jan. 13 letter to McCarrick.   “A public repentance on your part would bring a significant measure of healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church.  Are you willing to offer her that gift?  Christ died for us all when we were still sinners (Rom. 5: 8).  He only asks that we respond by repenting and doing the good that we are given to do.”   McCarrick, 88, has been accused in recent months of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians. The allegations were first made public in June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York reported that it deemed credible an allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, while serving as a New York priest. In July 2018, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals. Vigano’s letter noted that McCarrick is subject to an administrative canonical process overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A verdict is expected shortly from that process. If he is found guilty, McCarrick is expected to be dismissed from the clerical state. “No matter what decision the supreme authority of the Church takes in your case, what really matters and what has saddened those who love you and pray for you is the fact that throughout these months you haven’t given any sign of repentance.”   “I am among those who are praying for your conversion, that you may repent and ask pardon of your victims and the Church,” Vigano wrote. The letter, issued on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, is the most recent in a string of letters Vigano has issued publicly in recent months, beginning with a “testimony” the archbishop published on Aug. 25, 2018. That letter alleged that McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct had been known to some Vatican officials for years, eventually leading to a restriction on the archbishop’s ministry by Pope Benedict XVI in the late 2000s, and a subsequent restoration of McCarrick’s place as a papal advisor by Pope Francis. Vigano’s August “testimony” set off a flurry of debate, especially as numerous Vatican and U.S. Church officials weighed in on the veracity of the archbishop’s charges. Amid that debate, Vigano issued additional letters, as did other ecclesial officials, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, who in October 2018 accused Vigano of sowing confusion and division in the Church. Vigano responded to that charge by arguing that he was acting for the good of the Church. Since they first emerged, Pope Francis has maintained that he will not respond to the charges of the Vigano letters, and instead has encouraged journalists to investigate their allegations.   To date, some aspects of Vigano’s testimonial seem to have been verified, while other aspects remain controversial or unproven, and some have proven to have been exaggerated, overstated, or unlikely. Vigano’s most recent letter, however, differs from his recent writings, in that it focuses entirely on spiritual affairs, and is directed at McCarrick, who maintains his innocence, and is now living in a Franciscan friary in Kansas. “I implore you, repent publicly of your sins, so as to make the Church rejoice and present yourself before the tribunal of Our Lord cleansed by His blood. Please, do not make His sacrifice on the cross void for you. Christ, Our Good Lord, continues to love you. Put your entire trust in His Sacred Heart. And pray to Mary, as I and many others are doing, asking her to intercede for the salvation of your soul,” Vigano concluded. “Time is running out, but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake.”   Full text: Dear Archbishop McCarrick, As has been reported as a news by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the accusations against you for crimes against minors and abuses against seminarians are going to be examined and judged very soon with an administrative procedure. No matter what decision the supreme authority of the Church takes in your case, what really matters and what has saddened those who love you and pray for you is the fact that throughout these months you haven’t given any sign of repentance.  I am among those who are praying for your conversion, that you may repent and ask pardon of your victims and the Church. Time is running out, but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake. But something else of great importance is also at stake. You, paradoxically, have at your disposal an immense offer of great hope for you from the Lord Jesus; you are in a position to do great good for the Church.  In fact, you are now in a position to do something that has become more important for the Church than all of the good things you did for her throughout your entire life. A public repentance on your part would bring a significant measure of healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church.  Are you willing to offer her that gift?  Christ died for us all when we were still sinners (Rom. 5: 8).  He only asks that we respond by repenting and doing the good that we are given to do.  The good that you are in a position to do now is to offer the Church your sincere and public repentance.  Will you give the Church that gift? I implore you, repent publicly of your sins, so as to make the Church rejoice and present yourself before the tribunal of Our Lord cleansed by His blood. Please, do not make His sacrifice on the cross void for you. Christ, Our Good Lord, continues to love you. Put your entire trust in His Sacred Heart. And pray to Mary, as I and many others are doing, asking her to intercede for the salvation of your soul. “Maria Mater Gratiae, Mater Misericordiae, Tu nos ab hoste protege et mortis hora suscipeʺ. Mary Mother of the Grace, Mother of Mercy, protect us from the enemy and welcome us in the hour of death. Your brother in Christ, + Carlo Maria Viganò Sunday, January 13, 2019 The Baptism of the Lord Saint Hilary of Poitiers