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Pope meets Sisters of Congregation founded by Mother Cabrini

By Seàn-Patrick Lovett

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini is an Italian-born saint who dedicated her life to helping thousands of Italian immigrants living in the United States during the late 19th century. She died in Chicago exactly one hundred years ago.

On Saturday morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis met members of the religious congregation she founded, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The congregation is present today on 6 continents and in 15 countries around the world.

Click below to hear the report by Seàn-Patrick Lovett

During his discourse in Italian, the Pope recalled the holiness of their Foundress and praised her tireless work with migrants and the poor. He held her up as an example for today, adding that the reality of migrants has evolved and is now “more current than ever”. Migrants, said the Pope, “need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied”. They need God, he said, “encountered in love that is freely given”. We must do as Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini does, concluded Pope Francis: “be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person”.

 

Here is our English translation of the Pope’s address

It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you, representatives of the Cabrini Family, who wish in this way to conclude the celebrations for the centenary of the birth of St Frances Xavier Cabrini. On December 17, 1917, this holy woman, who had crossed the ocean twenty-four times to assist migrants in the Americas, and who, untiringly, had gone as far as the Andes and Argentina, died suddenly in Chicago, and departed on her final journey.

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini the Missionary

St Cabrini was a true missionary. She had grown up keeping before her the example of St. Francis Xavier, the pioneer of evangelization in the East. In his heart he had China and in that distant land he hoped to bring the proclamation of the Gospel. He did not think of the thousands and thousands of emigrants who, because of hunger, lack of work and the absence of a future, embarked with their scant belongings to reach America, driven by the dream of a better life. As we know - and as she said - it was the vision of Pope Leo XIII who, jokingly, made her change course: "Not to the east, Cabrini, but to the West!". The young Mother Cabrini, who had just founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, needed to see where God was sending her on mission. Not to where she wanted to go, but to where He had prepared the way for her, the path of service and holiness. Here is the example of a true vocation: to forget oneself in order to surrender oneself fully to the love of God.

Migrants then and now

After so many years, the reality of migrants, to whom St Frances Xavier Cabrini dedicated her entire life, has evolved and is more current than ever. New faces of men, women and children, marked by so many forms of poverty and violence, appear before our eyes, hoping to find outstretched hands and welcoming hearts, like those of Mother Cabrini, along their way. In particular, you are offered the responsibility of being faithful to the mission of your Holy Foundress. Her charisma is of extraordinary actuality, because migrants certainly need good laws, programs of development and organization but, above all, they always need love, friendship, human closeness; they need to be heard, looked in the eye, accompanied; they need God, encountered in the freely given love of a woman who, with her consecrated heart, is your sister and mother.

“I can do all things in Him who gives me strength”

May the Lord renew always in you the attentive and merciful gaze towards the poor who live in our cities and our countries. Mother Cabrini had the courage to look into the eyes of the orphaned children entrusted to her, the unemployed youth who were tempted to commit crimes, the men and women exploited for the humblest jobs; and therefore today we are here to thank God for her holiness. In each of those brothers and sisters, she recognized the face of Christ and was able to put to good use the talents that the Lord had entrusted to her. She had a strong sense of apostolic action; and if she had such great energy to accomplish extraordinary work in a few years, it was only because of her union with Christ, following the model of St. Paul, from whom she took her motto: "I can do all things in Him who gives me strength".

Grasping the moment of grace

Mother Cabrini lived the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Step by step, hers was an existence wholly intended to console and make the Sacred Heart known and loved. And this made her able to look at the hearts of those who approached her and to assist them in a coherent way. This important anniversary is a powerful reminder to us all of the need for a faith that knows how to grasp the moment of grace that is lived. As difficult as it may seem, she tells us that we must do as she does: be capable of responding to the signs of our time, reading them in the light of the Word of God and living them in such a way as to provide an answer that can reach the heart of every person.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis left the Vatican on Friday afternoon, headed for Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna in order to pay homage to the statue of the Immaculate Conception there.

Listen to Seán-Patrick Lovett's report:

Surrounded by crowds of pilgrims, tourists and local Roman residents, the Pope recited a specially-composed Prayer to Our Lady in which he asked her, among other things, to help us “rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners” – but always Mary’s children.

The Pope’s visit to the memorial column dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, included the traditional blessing of a garland of flowers which Roman firemen placed on the statue of Our Lady which dominates the summit of the ancient marble column.

Visit to Basilica of Mary Major

On his way to Piazza di Spagna this year, Pope Francis also stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary Major where he laid a floral wreath below the icon of Salus Populi Romani, depicting Our Lady and the Christ Child. This is the same image the Pope always prays at both before and after his apostolic journeys abroad.

Alphonse Ratisbonne

Before returning to the Vatican later in the afternoon, Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Rome Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.

It was here, 175 years ago, that a French Jew by the name of Alphonse Ratisbonne, experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. At that moment, in the words of the Pope, “from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, he became a Christian”.

Even more so, following his conversion, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest and missionary and ended up cofounding his own religious Congregation dedicated to Our Lady of Sion.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis' prayer to Mary on the Immaculate Conception

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made his annual visit to Rome's Spanish Square on Friday to pray at the foot of the column and statue of the Immaculate Conception.

A litany of present-day viruses and their corresponding antibodies: this was at the heart of Pope Francis’ prayer, offered to Our Lady on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on Friday afternoon.

Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

The Pope recited the prayer before the column and statue of Mary, dedicated in 1857 to mark the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined by Pope Pius IX three years earlier. The dogma teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the moment of her conception, by a special grace of God, was preserved from all stain of original sin.

Mary accompanies us on our journey

The text of the prayer begins by thanking Our Lady for accompanying different categories of humanity of their respective journeys: families, religious, workers, the sick, the elderly, the poor, and those who have immigrated to Rome “from places where there is war and hunger”.

Viruses of our time

The Pope then goes on to identify a series of what he calls “viruses of our times”, which range from indifference to fear of the foreigner, from hypocrisy to the exploitation of others. These must be combatted, said Pope Francis, with the “antibodies that come from the Gospel”.

Here is the full translated text of the prayer:

Immaculate Mother,

For the fifth time I come to your feet as Bishop of Rome, to pay you homage on behalf of all the inhabitants of this city.

We want to thank you for the constant care with which you accompany us on our journey, the journey of families, parishes, religious communities; the journey of those who daily, and sometimes with difficulty, pass through Rome on their way to work; the journey of the sick, the elderly, the poor, the journey of so many people who immigrated here from places where there is war and hunger.

Thank you, because as soon as we turn our thoughts, or a fleeting glance, towards you, or recite a quick Hail Mary, we feel your maternal presence, tender and strong.

O Mother, help this city develop the "antibodies" it needs to combat some of the viruses of our times: the indifference that says: "It’s not my business"; the unsociable behavior that despises the common good; the fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us; the conformism that disguises itself as transgression; the hypocrisy that accuses others while doing the same things; the resignation to environmental and ethical degradation; the exploitation of so many men and women.

Help us to reject these and other viruses with the antibodies that come from the Gospel. Let us make it a good habit to read a passage from the Gospel every day and, following your example, to keep the Word of God in our hearts, so that, like a good seed, it may fruit in our lives.

Immaculate Virgin,

175 years ago, not far from here, in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment, from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, became a Christian.

You revealed yourself to him as a Mother of grace and mercy. Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation, may fix our gaze on your open hands, hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth. Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance, and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners, but always your children.

So, let us place our hand in yours And allow ourselves to be led back to Jesus, our Brother and Savior, and to our Heavenly Father, who never tires of waiting for us and forgiving us when we return to Him.

Thank you, Mother, for always listening to us! Bless the Church that is in Rome. Bless this City and the whole world.

Amen.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Angelus: ‘Mary is ever-green oasis of humanity’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at his Angelus address on Friday, December 8th, as the Church celebrates the Marian Solemnity.

Listen to Devin Watkins' report:

Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis said the words of the angel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke contain the key to understanding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

The Pope said Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”, even before pronouncing her name.

In this way, he said, God “reveals the new name, which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents.”

The Holy Father said “full of grace” means that “Mary is full of the presence of God”.

“And if she is entirely pervaded by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is extraordinary,” he said, “because unfortunately the whole world is contaminated by evil.”

Mary alone, he continued, is the “ever-green oasis” of humanity. She is “the only uncontaminated person, immaculately created to welcome fully – with her ‘yes’ – God who came into the world”.

Pope Francis went on to say that, when we call Mary “full of grace”, we are paying her “the greatest compliment, which is the same offered her by God.”

Because Mary is without sin, he said, she is immune to ageing, since “sin makes one old, not age”, and worthy of the name tota pulchra, or “all fair” or “completely beautiful”.

“Since her youth depends not on age, her beauty consists not on external appearances. Mary, as the day’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance. She is from a simple family; she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown place.”

Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the secret of the “beautiful life” lived by Mary, “full of grace”.

“In many paintings [of the Annunciation] Mary is depicted as seated before an angel with a little book. This book is the Scriptures. So Mary often listened to God and reflected with Him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, He took on flesh in her womb.”

The Holy Father invited all to ask for the grace “to remain young by saying ‘no’ to sin and to live a beautiful life by saying ‘yes’ to God.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope thanks donors of St. Peter’s Square Christmas Crib and tree

“The Nativity Scene is the suggestive place where we contemplate Jesus, who having assumed our wretchedness, invites us to do likewise through our acts of mercy.”  Pope Francis made the reflection on Thursday while thanking all those who donated this year’s Nativity Scene on the theme of works of mercy and the 28 meter tall ‎Christmas tree set up in the centre of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope wished that the birth of the Lord be an occasion for all to be attentive to the needs of the poor and all those who like Jesus don't’ find anyone to welcome them. 

Listen to our report:

The Pope met some 4000 people of various donor delegations at the Vatican’s audience hall.  They represented the southern Italian Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine that donated the Nativity Scene, Poland’s Warmia Archdiocese and Elk Diocese that donated the red fir tree and children undergoing cancer treatment in various Italian hospitals who made the various decorations.

Commenting on the Christmas tree, the Pope said it is a sign of the faith of the Polish people and the expression of their fidelity to the see of Peter.  Thanking the children he said they have conveyed to Jesus their dreams and desires through their decorations which, he said, will be admired by pilgrims from all over the world.  

Message of Crib, Christmas tree

The Pope said that each year the Christmas Crib and the Christmas tree become a symbol of the compassion of the heavenly Father, and his participation and closeness with humanity that feels it is not abandoned in the night of the times but is visited and accompanied amidst its difficulties. 

The tree pointing up, he said, urges us to stretch out "towards the highest gifts", and rise above the mist that clouds, to feel how beautiful and joyous it is to be immersed in the light of Christ. In the simplicity of the crib we meet and contemplate the tenderness of God, manifested in that of the Child Jesus.

St. Peter's Christmas Crib and Christmas tree were to be inaugurated later on Thursday. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis meets new president of Lutheran World Federation

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with the new president of the Lutheran World Federation, Nigerian Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, focusing on common prayer as the key to Christian unity.

Recalling his own visit to the Swedish cities of Lund and Malmo last year for the shared commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the pope said praying together purifies, strengthens and lights our way forward. Prayer, he insisted, is the fuel for our ecumenical journey.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:

Through prayer, the pope continued, we are able to see the painful divisions of past ceneturies in a new light, abandoning our prejudices, purifying our memories and looking to the future with confidence. Through prayer, he said, we are called to recognize the gifts of our different traditions and receive them as our shared Christian heritage.

Reformation anniversary 'a turning point'

In his words to Pope Francis, Archbishop Musa also gave thanks for the past 50 years of progress ‘from conflict to communion’, acknowledging in a special way the importance of praying together to commemorate the Reformation anniversary.

“Your presence and participation in the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation in Lund was a precious gift for us. It marked the significant turning point at which Catholics and Lutherans are today”.

Concrete steps to unity

Before praying the Our Father together, Pope Francis urged the Lutheran delegation, including the seven regional vice-presidents, to continue on the road to full unity, never giving in to the temptations to become tired, lazy or fearful. Good ideas are not enough, he said, but instead we must take concrete steps and hold out hour hands, working together to support the poorest and most needy as we witness together to the presence of God in our world.

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican voices concern over Trump's Jerusalem move

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2017 / 09:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 notice that he will be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Holy See has expressed its concern for recent violent outbreaks and urged leaders to promote peace and security.  A Vatican communique Dec. 10 pointed to concerns for peace and security in Jerusalem and reiterated its belief that “only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can bring a stable and lasting peace,” as well as “guarantee the peaceful co-existence of two states within internationally recognized borders.” The brief statement was published just days after the news broke that President Trump would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the international community. The Vatican said it is watching the development of the situation closely, especially in Jerusalem, which is a “Sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims from all over the world.” The statement also reiterated the Holy See’s position on the importance of maintaining the status quo in Jerusalem, as per the repeated requests of the international community, and the hierarchies of the Catholic and Christian communities of the Holy Land. Renewing an appeal made by Pope Francis during his general audience on Dec. 6, the statement reiterated the Pope's “fervent prayers” for national leaders, that they be committed to promoting peace, justice and security and averting “a new spiral of violence” in the nation. Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948. Debate on the issue is in many ways the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia, and the wider Islamic world. According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is to be discussed in the late stages of peace talks. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries with diplomatic relations have their embassies in Tel Aviv. More than 30 Palestinians have been injured in clashes across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip amid protests against Trump’s decision. The position of the U.N. on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine. The Vatican has long supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and on a diplomatic level recognizes and refers to both “the State of Israel” and “the State of Palestine.”

In Advent, prepare your heart like your hearth, Pope says

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2017 / 05:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During Advent, we should prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus like we joyfully prepare our homes for a visit from a family member or friend, Pope Francis said Sunday, especially removing anything keeping us from Christ. “When we await at home a visit from a loved one, we prepare everything with care and happiness. In the same way we want to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord: to wait for him every day with solicitude, to be filled with his grace when he comes,” the Pope said Dec. 10. In his weekly Angelus address, Francis reflected on the day’s first reading from Isaiah, which says to “make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low.” The Pope pointed out that the valleys in this passage can represent our sins of omission, such as failing to pray, or praying very little. The valleys could also be the ways we have failed to have charity toward others, especially those most in need of material or spiritual help. In Advent, “we are called to be more attentive to the needs of others, those closest (to us). Like John the Baptist, in this way we can open roads of hope in the desert of the dry hearts of many people,” he said. Therefore, Advent is a good time to fill these valleys in our life, he said; to pray more intensely, to prioritize your spiritual life. On the other hand, when the verse says, “every mountain and every hill be lowered,” we are reminded of our faults of pride, arrogance and superiority, which must become attitudes of meekness and humility, just like our Savior is “meek and humble of heart.” Then, when we’ve examined our conscience, “we are asked to eliminate all the obstacles we put into our union with the Lord” with joy, he said, because we are preparing for the coming of our Savior. “The Savior we are waiting for is able to transform our life with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the power of love. Indeed, the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts the love of God, an inexhaustible source of purification, of new life and freedom,” Francis said. May the Virgin Mary, he concluded, who prepared for the coming of Christ with her whole being and existence, “help us to follow her example and guide our steps to meet the Lord who is coming.”

Pope Francis says Our Father is poorly translated

Vatican City, Dec 8, 2017 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a video series for Italian television network TV2000, Pope Francis said that “lead us not into temptation” is a poorly translated line of the Our Father. “This is not a good translation,” the Pope said in the video, published Dec. 6. “I am the one who falls, it's not (God) who pushes me toward temptation to see how I fall. A father doesn't do this, a father helps us to get up right away.” He noted that this line was recently re-translated in the French version of the prayer to read “do not let me fall into temptation.” The Latin version of the prayer, the authoritative version in the Catholic Church, reads “ne nos inducas in tentationem.” The Pope said that the one who leads people into temptation “is Satan; that is the work of Satan.” He said that the essence of that line in the prayer is like telling God: “when Satan leads me into temptation, please, give me your hand. Give me your hand.” Just as Jesus gave Peter his hand to help him out of the water when he began to sink, the prayer also asks God to “give me your hand so that I don't drown,” Pope Francis said. The Pope made his comments in the seventh part of the “Our Father” television series being aired by Italian television network TV2000. Filmed in collaboration with the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, the series consists of nine question-and-answer sessions with Pope Francis and Fr. Marco Pozza, a theologian and a prison chaplain in the northern Italian city of Padua. In each of the sessions, Fr. Pozza asks the Pope about a different line in the Our Father prayer, and the Pope offers his insights. A preview of the series was presented at the Vatican's Film Library by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, head of the Secretariat for Communications. The show also led to the publication of a book titled “Our Father,” which was released by the Vatican Publishing House and Italian publisher Rizzoli Nov. 23, and is based on Pozza's conversations with the Pope in the video series. Each of the first eight episodes of the series begin with an excerpt from conversation between the Pope and Pozza, which is followed by a second conversation between Pozza and another guest. The final episode will consist of the priest's entire conversation with Pope Francis. In his question to Pope Francis on the line “lead us not into temptation,” Pozza noted that many people have asked him how God can lead someone into temptation, and questioned what the phrase actually intends to say. The question is one of the reasons the French bishops decided to make a request for a new translation of the Our Father that they believe conveys the meaning more clearly. According to the French episcopal conference, the decision to make the change was accepted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in June 2013. The new translation, released Dec. 3 to mark the first day of Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year, now reads “ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation,” meaning, “do not let us fall into temptation,” versus the former “ne nous soumets pas à la tentation,” or “lead us not into temptation.” The Pope’s remarks do not change the translations of liturgical texts. Such a change would begin with a resolution by an episcopal conference in English-speaking countries. In a previous episode of the “Our Father” series, Pope Francis said “it takes courage” to recite the prayer, because it means calling on someone else and truly believing that “God is the Father who accompanies me, forgives me, gives me bread, is attentive to everything I ask, and dresses me better than wildflowers.” “To believe is a great risk,” and means daring to make the leap of faith, he said. Because of this, “praying together is so beautiful: because we help each other to dare.”

Vatican nativity scene, Christmas tree unveiled

Vatican City, Dec 8, 2017 / 08:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an inauguration ceremony Thursday, the Vatican officially unveiled this year’s nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, also lighting the 69-foot Christmas tree for the first time this year. In an audience with the tree and nativity donors Dec. 7, Pope Francis reflected on the symbolism found in the two Christmas traditions, which he said are “signs of the compassion of the heavenly Father, of his participation and closeness to humanity” even in its “very difficulties.”   The branches of the tree, “reaching upward,” remind us to reach for “the highest gifts,” he explained. And in “the simplicity of the crib we meet and contemplate the tenderness of God” as manifested in the Child Jesus. This year’s Vatican nativity scene was created by artisans in a local workshop and donated by an ancient Benedictine Abbey, the Sanctuary of Montevergine, which lies near Naples. A special detail of this year’s scene: in one corner hangs a replica of the icon of Our Lady of Montevergine, a nod to the abbey which donated it. The original image, which is 12 feet tall, hangs in the chapel of the Sanctuary of Montevergine. Outside of the traditional nativity figures of Mary, Joseph, the child Jesus, the Wise Men, shepherds, an angel, and animals, the other figures are represented in the act of performing the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy, such as burying the dead, visiting the imprisoned, and clothing the naked. The approximately 6 1/5-foot-tall figures are made of colored terracotta and dressed in traditional eighteenth-century Neapolitan costumes. The whole scene is built on a platform about 861-square-feet in size. In a change from past years, this one includes a technological element; visitors can connect to a special Wi-Fi access point in St. Peter’s Square and scan a QR code to watch a video to learn more about the nativity. The Christmas tree is a northern European tradition which has only recently become more common in Italy. The tradition to have a tree in St. Peter’s Square was begun by St. John Paul II in 1982. This year’s tree, which comes from Poland, is 69-feet tall and about 60 years old. Its tip was lost when it was struck by lightning several years ago. It was donated by the Archdiocese of Elk and cut down by a local forestry service, which transported it by truck over more than 1200 miles in 12 days to reach Rome, traveling mostly by night, when traffic is less dense. The ornaments which decorate the spruce were created by children with cancer and their parents from several hospitals in Italy, as well as by children from Italian zones affected by earthquakes the past two years. The ornaments were created in clay by the children and then reproduced using synthetic materials which can stand up to the weather in St. Peter’s Square. The nativity and tree will remain in St. Peter’s Square until Jan. 7, 2018, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Beauty advice from Pope Francis: Be virtuous like Mary

Vatican City, Dec 8, 2017 / 04:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis offered his own ‘beauty secret’ – with Mary as model – saying beauty does not come from age or appearance, but from living a virtuous life rooted in scripture. The Blessed Virgin Mary, though a simple and humble person, “lived a beautiful life,” the Pope said Dec. 8, asking “what was her secret?” The answer can be found in the story of the Annunciation, he said. “In many paintings, Mary is depicted sitting in front of the angel with a small book. The book is scripture.” “The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, it then took flesh within her womb. Remaining with God, dialoguing with Him in every circumstance, Mary made her life beautiful.” In his special Angelus address for the feast day, Pope Francis emphasized that what makes someone’s life beautiful is “not appearance, not what passes, but the heart focused on God.” Francis noted how Mary came from a simple family and lived in a humble fashion in Nazareth, which was an almost unknown village. She was not famous. “Our Lady did not even have a comfortable life,” he said. Yet the angel greets her with the words, “hail, full of grace!” The Church extols the Mother of God as “all beautiful,” or “tota pulchra,” in Latin, the Pope continued. This is because her beauty is not found in her outward appearance, but in her total freedom from sin. “There is only one thing that really does grow old: not age, but sin,” he emphasized. “Sin makes (us) old, because it fossilizes the heart. It closes it, makes it inert, it makes it fade. But the (woman) full of grace is empty of sin.” Let us ask for her help to remain free of sin, he concluded, so that we too can live a beautiful life, saying “yes,” to God. After reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis noted how later in the afternoon he will visit Rome’s Piazza di Spagna to venerate the statue of the Immaculate Conception overlooking the Spanish Steps. He asked those gathered to join him spiritually in this act, “which expresses filial devotion to our heavenly Mother.” The statue of Our Lady, which sits atop a nearly 40-foot-high column, was dedicated Dec. 8, 1857, just a few years after the Catholic Church adopted the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Since the 1950s, it has been a custom for popes to venerate the statue for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The statue is usually adorned with homages of flowers hung in the form of wreaths around Mary’s outstretched arms and laid at the base of the statue. Early in the morning Dec. 8, firemen placed a large wreath of white and yellow flowers upon Mary’s arm, reaching the statue with the ladder from a firetruck. During his visit Pope Francis will place flowers at the base of the statue and recite a short prayer to Our Lady, made on behalf of the people who live in Rome. After the visit to Piazza di Spagna, the Pope is scheduled to stop at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where he will venerate the image of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani.

Pope names new archbishops for Paris, Mexico City dioceses

Vatican City, Dec 7, 2017 / 10:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Thursday named the next archbishops of two major metropolitan sees – Archbishop Michel Aupetit to Paris and Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes to Mexico City, the world’s largest diocese. The appointments were announced in a press release from the Vatican Dec. 7. Both prelates are replacing bishops who have retired upon reaching the age of 75, the normal retirement age for clergy. Cardinal Aguiar, 67, has held top roles in both the Mexican bishops’ conference and the Latin American bishops’ conference and is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Cardinal Aguiar has been archbishop of Tlalnepantla, Mexico since 2009. He replaces Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, whose retirement was accepted by Pope Francis after reaching the age of 75. Aguiar was born on Jan. 9, 1950 in Tepic, Mexico. He studied at the Seminary of Tepic, followed by the seminaries of Montezuma in the United States and of Tula. On April 22, 1973 he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Tepic. He received a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1977. As a priest he served as a parochial vicar, as well as rector of the Seminary of Tepic. At the same time, he was President of the Organization of Mexican Seminaries (OSMEX) and a member of the board of directors of Latin American Seminaries. He was later rector of the John XXIII Residence for priests of the Pontifical University of Mexico in Mexico City, where he was also a professor of Sacred Scripture. In 1997 he received a doctorate in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In June 1997 he was consecrated bishop for the Diocese of Texcoco and in February 2009 he was made Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Tlalnepantla. From 2004-2006 he was secretary general of the Mexican bishops’ conference, and then from 2006-2012, president of the conference. He also held various positions in the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) from 2000-2015, including secretary general, vice-president and president. He participated in both assemblies of the Synod of Bishops on the family in 2014 and 2015 and was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in the November 2016 consistory. He is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The Archdiocese of Mexico City covers 551 square miles and, as of 2013, contained more than 7 million Catholics. There are nearly 600 diocesan priests and over 1,000 religious priests. There are also more than 7,000 consecrated men and women. Archbishop Aupetit, 66, a former doctor, is an expert in bioethics. He has been archbishop of Nanterre, France since May 2014. He replaces Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, whose retirement was accepted by Pope Francis after reaching the age of 75. Archbishop Aupetit was born in Versailles on March 23, 1951. He graduated with a medical degree in 1978, and worked as a medical professional in the northern suburbs of Paris for 12 years. His specialty was in medical bioethics, which he taught at the Henri Mondor Hospital in Creteil. In 1990 he entered the seminary and in June 1995 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Paris. He served as a parish priest and a high school chaplain for a number of years, as well as vicar general of the archdiocese and a member of the presbyteral council from 2006-2013. On February 2, 2013 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Paris. He was consecrated on April 19, 2013. Aupetit was appointed bishop of Nanterre on April 4, 2014. He is president of the “Family and Society” council of the French bishops’ conference and is also a member of the conference’s bioethics working group. The Archdiocese of Paris is 40 square miles and has approximately 1.3 million Catholics, as of 2013. There are over 800 diocesan priests and over 500 religious priests and approximately 2,700 consecrated men and women.

Pope Francis: It's good for young people to study Latin

Vatican City, Dec 6, 2017 / 10:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to the Pontifical Academies on Tuesday, Pope Francis praised the study of Latin, especially for young people, and encouraged scholars and teachers to promote its study as a positive guide for students as they navigate life. Addressing academics and Latin teachers, the Pope said Dec. 5 that they should “know how to speak to the hearts of the young, know how to treasure the very rich heritage of the Latin tradition to educate them in the path of life, and accompany them along paths rich in hope and confidence…” Pope Francis’ message was read at the 22nd Solemn Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, which had as its theme, “In interiore homine: Research paths in the Latin tradition.” The Pope praised “the theme of interiority, of the heart, of consciousness and self-awareness” which he said is found “in every culture as well as in the different religious traditions.” “Significantly,” he continued, this theme is “presented with great urgency and strength even in our time, often characterized by concern with appearance, superficiality, the division between heart and mind, interiority and exteriority, consciousness and behavior.” Moments of change, crisis, or transformation, whether in relationships or in a person’s identity, require reflection “on the inner and intimate essence of the human being.” Francis also noted the many important figures, both in the classical and the Christian traditions, who have reflected on the dynamism of man, pointing especially to the Fathers of the Church and the Latin writers of the first millennium. Highlighting St. Augustine in particular, the Pope quoted from his Tractates on the Gospel of St. John, which say, “Return to your heart; see there what, it may be, you can perceive of God, for in it is the image of God. In the inner man dwells Christ, in the inner man are you renewed after the image of God, in His own image recognize its Author.” This is relevant also for our time, he stressed, and worthy of our reflection and of sharing with others, especially young people, who are just starting on the journey of life. A journey where they may be caught up, he explained, in the “labyrinths of superficiality and banality, of the external success that conceals an inner emptiness, of the hypocrisy that masks the split between appearances and the heart, between the beautiful and cared-for body and the soul, empty and arid.” At the meeting, the winners of the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies were also awarded. This year's prize winners are Dr. Pierre Chambert-Protat for his doctoral thesis on Florus of Lyon, and Dr. Francesco Lubian for her critical publication of the Disticha attributed to St. Ambrose. The winners of the Medal of the Pontificate were Dr. Shari Broodts for a critical edition of the Sermones of St. Augustine and the Latin Teaching Group of the University of Toulouse, for the publication of a Latin manual for university students. The 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Academy for Latin, or Pontificia Acadamia Latinitatis, which was founded by Benedict XVI in 2012 through the motu proprio Latina Lingua. Organized every year by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was on two themes: methodological proposals for teaching Latin today, and the reception of ancient Christian Latin between the medieval and modern eras. The first topic was “reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth,” the Prize’s press release stated. The second was for scholars between the ages of 25 and 40 who have produced doctoral theses or publications on the theme in the last five years.

Pope Francis urges world leaders to respect UN position on Jerusalem

Vatican City, Dec 6, 2017 / 03:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With debate on the status of Jerusalem heating up in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize the city as the capital of Israel, Pope Francis has urged international leaders to proceed with prudence and respect for current U.N. resolutions. “My thought now goes to Jerusalem. In this regard, I cannot ignore my deep concern for the situation that has been created in recent days,” the Pope said Dec. 6. He issued a “heartfelt appeal” to the international community to ensure that “everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.” The position of the U.N. on the Jerusalem issue is that East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory, and that the city should eventually become the capital of the two states of Israel and Palestine. Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall during his weekly general audience, during which he recounted the phases of his recent Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip to Burma, also called Myanmar, and Bangladesh. His appeal for Jerusalem comes shortly after news came out that U.S. President Donald Trump would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a widely controversial decision that has provoked a mixed reaction from the international community. As part of the plan, the Trump administration is expected to eventually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and while Israel welcomes the changes, both Palestinians and Arab leaders have voiced concern that the move could jeopardize the peace process in the Middle East, according to BBC. Israel has traditionally always recognized Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the U.S. is the first country to do so since the state was established in 1948. Debate on the issue is in many ways the crux of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is backed by Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia, and the wider Islamic world. According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem will be discussed in the late stages of the talks. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries have embassies in Tel Aviv. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, then, is likely to increase tension on the issue, particularly in regards to the 200,000-some settlements Israel has built in East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this stance. On Wednesday, a group of more than a dozen Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem released a statement cautioning that the U.S. policy change “will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.” “Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm,” they warned. “We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny.” In his general audience, Pope Francis noted how Jerusalem is a “unique city” that is considered holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims. Because of this, he said the city has “a special vocation for peace.” “I ask the Lord that this identity be preserved and reinforced for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail to avoid adding new elements of tension in a global panorama already convulsed and marked by so many cruel conflicts,” he said. Prior to his general audience, the Pope met with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders for a scheduled audience, urging dialogue that is respectful of everyone's rights in the Holy Land. He also voiced his hope that “peace and prosperity” would prevail for the Palestinian people. On his trip to Burma and Bangladesh, Francis said it was “a great gift from God,” and thanked the civil authorities and bishops of each country for their welcome and for everything they did to prepare for the trip. He noted how his Nov. 27-30 visit to Burma marked the first time a Pope has ever traveled to the country, which took place just months after the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the nation in May.   “I wanted, also in this case, to express the closeness of Christ and of the Church to a people that has suffered due to conflict and repression, and which now is slowly walking toward a new condition of freedom and peace,” he said. Burma, a majority Buddhist country where minorities, including Christians, often face stigma and discrimination, is still working to transition to a democratic government after more than 50 years of military rule, while also facing harsh criticism from the international community over what the United Nations has called a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims from the country's Rakhine State. In this context, Christians there are the “leaven of God,” he said, and called the Church in Burma a “living and fervent” community that he had the joy of meeting and affirming in faith and communion.    Similarly, he said his Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh was equally important, and focused largely on the need for “respect and dialogue” between Christianity and Islam, as the country is a majority Muslim nation with a small Catholic community. Religious freedom was a major theme, and was reflected in each of his meetings, he said, and underlined the importance of “openness of the heart as the basis for the culture of encounter, harmony and peace.”

Analysis: Argentine letter on Amoris is in the Acta. Does that change things?

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2017 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- Despite the recent inclusion of Pope Francis' 2016 letter to the Buenos Aires bishops on Amoris laetitia in the Holy See's official text of record, neither the Church's discipline nor its doctrine have changed. The move is the latest in the debate over the admission of the divorced-and-remarried to Communion. The Second Vatican Council, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI – as well as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts under them – all firmly opposed proposals to admit to eucharistic communion the divorced-and-remarried who do not observe continence. The debate has received renewed impetus under Pope Francis. His 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia, has been met with varied reception and interpretation within the Church. Its eighth chapter, entitled “Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness,” deals with, among other things, the pastoral care of the divorced-and-remarried, those who may not be admitted to Communion unless they have committed to living in continence, eschewing the acts proper to married couples. Yet, for many Church leaders and theologians, ambiguous language in that chapter has led to uncertainties about this practice, and about the nature and status of the apostolic exhortation itself. Some have maintained that it is incompatible with Church teaching, and others that it has not changed the Church's discipline. Still others read Amoris laetitia as opening the way to a new pastoral practice, or even as a development in continuity with St. John Paul II. Some Church leaders have noted that Amoris laetitia has led to the disorientation and great confusion of many of the faithful, and at least one respected theologian has argued that Francis' pontificate has fostered confusion, diminished the importance of doctrine in the Church's life, and cause faithful Catholics to lose confidence in the papacy. Pope Francis has been understood to encourage those who interpret Amoris laetitia as opening the way to a new pastoral practice – as he seemed to do in a letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region, which is the subject of the latest furor. His letter approves those bishops' pastoral response to the divorced-and-remarried, based on Amoris laetitia. The response had said that ministry to the divorced-and-remarried must never create confusion about Church teaching and the indissolubility of marriage, but may also allow access to the sacraments under specific limits. These might include specific situations when a penitent in an irregular union is under attenuated culpability, as when leaving such a union could cause harm to his children, although the circumstances envisioned are not precisely delineated, which, some theologians say, has contributed to the confusion. The Pope's Sept. 5, 2016 letter addressed to Bishop Sergio Alfredo Fenoy of San Miguel said, “The text is very good and makes fully explicit the meaning of the eighth chapter of ‘Amoris Laetitia’. There are no other interpretations. And I am sure it will do a lot of good. May the Lord reward you for this effort of pastoral charity.” It was reported this weekend that Pope Francis' letter, as well as the pastoral response of the Buenos Aires bishops, were promulgated in the October 2016 issue of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, a Vatican publication in which official documents of the Pope and the Roman Curia are published, and through which universal ecclesiastical laws are promulgated. Dr. Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, wrote Dec. 4 that the Buenos Aires document contains assertions “running the gamut from obviously true, through true-but-oddly-or-incompletely phrased, to a few that, while capable of being understood in an orthodox sense, are formulated in ways that lend themselves to heterodox understandings.” He noted that what prevents the admission of the divorced-and-remarried to eucharistic communion is canon 915 “and the universal, unanimous interpretation which that legislative text, rooted as it is in divine law, has always received.” The canon states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” In an August 2017 post anticipating the possible publication in AAS of the Buenos Aires letter or the Pope's commendation of it, Peters had written that “many, nay most, papal documents appearing in the Acta carry no canonical or disciplinary force.” He wrote that “Unless canon 915 itself is directly revoked, gutted, or neutered, it binds ministers of holy Communion to withhold that most august sacrament from, among others, divorced-and-remarried Catholics except where such couples live as brother-sister and without scandal to the community.” “Nothing I have seen to date, including the appearance of the pope’s and Argentine bishops’ letters in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, makes me think that Canon 915 has suffered such a fate.” He added: “Neither the pope’s letter to the Argentines, nor the Argentine bishops’ document, nor even Amoris laetitia so much as mentions Canon 915, let alone do these documents abrogate, obrogate, or authentically interpret this norm out of the Code of Canon Law.” While the Pope's letter and the Buenos Aires bishops' pastoral response do contain ambiguous “disciplinary assertions”, they are insufficient “to revoke, modify, or otherwise obviate” canon 915, Peters wrote. Aside from the canonical problems with the admission of the divorced-and-remarried to eucharistic communion is the question of what it means that the Buenos Aires document and the Pope's letter in support of it are intended to be a part of the Church’s Magisterium. A rescript from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, in the AAS notes that their promulgation was intended “as authentic Magisterium.” The Magisterium is a part of teaching office of bishops, by which they are charged with interpreting and preserving the deposit of faith. In its 1990 declaration Donum veritatis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted that the Magisterium “has the task of discerning, by means of judgments normative for the consciences of believers, those acts which in themselves conform to the demands of faith and foster their expression in life and those which, on the contrary, because intrinsically evil, are incompatible with such demands.” Catholics are bound to assent to divinely revealed teachings with faith; to firmly embrace and retain those things which are required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the deposit of faith; and to give religious submission of intellect and will to doctrines on faith or morals given through the authentic Magisterium.   The critical question regarding Amoris laetitia is what, precisely, it teaches with regard to faith and morals, and what it doesn’t, or even, can’t, teach.  On the latter question, especially, the Church’s existent doctrine is helpful. Even while some bishops, such as those of the Buenos Aires region and those of Malta, have interpreted the apostolic exhortation as allowing a new pastoral practice, many others have maintained that it changes nothing of doctrine or discipline. For example, while prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller said that Amoris laetitia has not eliminated Church discipline on marriage, nor has it has permitted in some cases the divorced-and-remarried “to receive the Eucharist without the need to change their way of life.” “This is a matter of a consolidated magisterial teaching, supported by scripture and founded on a doctrinal reason: the salvific harmony of the sacrament, the heart of the 'culture of the bond' that the Church lives.” The prefect of the CDF said that if Pope Francis' exhortation “had wanted to eliminate such a deeply rooted and significant discipline, it would have said so clearly and presented supporting reasons.” “There is however no affirmation in this sense; nor does the Pope bring into question, at any time, the arguments presented by his predecessors, which are not based on the subjective culpability of our brothers, but rather on their visible, objective way of life, contrary to the words of Christ,” Cardinal Müller stated. It has been the constant teaching of the Church that marriage is indissoluble, that people not married to each other may not legitimately engage in acts of sexual intimacy, that the Eucharist may not be received by those conscious of grave sin, and that absolution requires the purpose of amending one's life, even with a diminished or limited capacity to exercise the will. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists … Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.” St. John Paul II promulgated the Catechism in 1992 by the apostolic constitution Fidei depositum, in which he wrote that it “is a statement of the Church's faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith.” “The approval and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church represents a service which the Successor of Peter wishes to offer to the Holy Catholic Church … of supporting and confirming the faith of all the Lord Jesus' disciples, as well as of strengthening the bonds of unity in the same apostolic faith. Therefore, I ask the Church's Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine.” Critical to understanding the character of the Church’s teaching on these issues is a declaration  the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts wrote in 2000 that canon 915's prohibition on admitting to Holy Communion those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin is applicable to the divorced-and-remarried. “Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon's substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading,” it said. This prohibition, the pontifical council continued, is “by its nature derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes which would oppose the doctrine of the Church.” This declaration defines a kind of a limit on how the Magisterium can develop; by invoking divine law, the council says that no pastoral approach can transgress the norms of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. While considering questions of subjective culpability do not exceed those norms, the council’s directive explains that the Church can not, and will not, redefine the deposit of faith.   The deposit of faith has not been changed, and nor has canon law. Despite a great deal of anxiety and media attention, truth remains unchanged, and unchanging. While some find the Pope’s writing to be ambiguous, truth is not. Amoris laetitia must be interpreted in a way that does not contravene truth. Even when such an interpretation is not readily apparent.

Pope appoints Washington auxiliary as new bishop of Richmond

Vatican City, Dec 5, 2017 / 04:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Barry C. Knestout, until now one of three auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Washington, as the next bishop of the Diocese of Richmond. He fills the vacancy left by Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, who died Aug. 17. In a statement made at the time of the announcement, the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, said that the appointment “is good news and reason for us to rejoice with the Diocese of Richmond.” During Knestout’s time serving the Archdiocese of Washington, “he has demonstrated his pastoral skills, his commitment to the Church and her teaching, and his devoted service to those entrusted to his care,” Wuerl said. He has served the Archdiocese of Washington in a number of capacities, most notably as a pastor, auxiliary bishop, vicar general and moderator of the curia, Wuerl continued, voicing his gratitude to have worked in ministry alongside Knestout. He also pointed out his influence in helping to organize the archdiocese’s first synod, his hand in working to revitalize the local Catholic educational system, and his help in opening the new Saint John Paul II Seminary. “With great appreciation we thank Bishop Knestout as he takes on his new responsibilities and we ask God’s blessings on him.” Knestout, 55, was born June 11, 1962, in Maryland. He studied architecture at the University of Maryland before entering Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg in 1985. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in June 1989. He served at two parishes as parochial vicar before serving as priest-secretary to Cardinal James A. Hickey from 1994 until the cardinal's death in 2004. He also served as priest-secretary to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick in 2001 and from 2003-2004. In 1999 he was given the title of monsignor by Pope John Paul II. He was executive director of the archdiocese’s Office of Youth Ministry from 2001-2003 and served as pastor of St. John Evangelist Parish in Silver Spring in 2004. Cardinal Wuerl appointed him secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns in Oct. 2006, then in April 2007, he was made moderator of the curia and vicar for administration, a role in which he helps Wuerl to manage and oversee administrative affairs. He is also a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Colombus, a member of the Order of Malta and of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. In 2008, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Washington and titular bishop of Leavenworth by Benedict XVI. His ordination as bishop took place on Dec. 29, 2008.