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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
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IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After being removed from a list of partner organizations for the Women’s March on Washington, members of a pro-life group based in Texas decided they still would take to the streets Jan. 21 to take part in the historic and massive event. And they said it was a good decision.

“Overall, it was an amazing experience,” said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, of New Wave Feminists, one of the groups removed as a march sponsor.

“We were prepared for confrontation and instead were supported by so many women,” said Herndon-De La Rosa told Catholic News Service.

The group posted photos on their Facebook and Instagram accounts of their participation, holding signs that read, “I’m a pro-life feminist.”

“They kept coming up and telling us how glad they were that we were there and how, even though they didn’t necessarily agree on the abortion issue, they thought it wrong that we were removed as partners,” said Herndon-De La Rosa. “It was very cool.”

Women like Herndon-De La Rosa marched for a cause. In her group’s case, they are concerned about President Donald J. Trump’s changing position on abortion and say they wanted him to know they’d be watching what he does on pro-life issues such as abortion, the death penalty and violence.

Others marched to voice disapproval of the new president. Many came from places near and far and after filing past the streets near Washington’s most important institutions, they filled the area near the White House where its newest residents have a direct line of view toward the Washington Monument.

They were hoping the newly minted president would hear or see them and consider what they had to say.

Margie Legowski, a parishioner at Washington’s Holy Trinity Catholic Church, said she took to the streets “in support of values that I don’t see in this administration.” Those values include equality for women and also caring about immigrants who need help.

“I want to take a stand. I don’t want to be passive about it,” she said. “In our faith we’re called to solidarity.”

That means standing up against wealth inequality and defending the vulnerable, she said. It’s a means of building the kingdom of God on earth and she doesn’t see that as a priority for the new president.

Like a lot of women attending the march, she hosted other female friends, nieces and a sister-in-law who lives in Germany, all of whom felt enough conviction to travel to Washington and lend their presence to the numbers of participants.

Jean Johnson, another Holy Trinity parishioner, attended the march with 11 nieces and four grandnieces. They arrived in Washington from around the country, some driving long distances and picking up other family members along the way. She said she felt pride in her large group, particularly because they adopted the values of her Irish Catholic immigrant parents and are concerned about the common good, for women and for others.

She wasn’t marching against a cause or person, but rather marching for women’s dignity, she said.

“I went to a Catholic school where the nuns told me I’m a temple,” she told CNS. “The march is for that dignity.”

And she was excited to share that moment with a new generation in her family, she said.

Some women who attended said they didn’t feel president Trump valued that dignity, particularly after a leaked recording was aired during the campaign in which he was heard making lewd comments about women to an entertainment reporter.

Jack Hogan, who once worked for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program, said he was attending the march with neighbors and friends because he feels that what Trump has said goes against Catholic social teaching. He said he was hoping other Catholics, as organizations and groups, as well as church leaders, would speak up more forcefully for the poor and vulnerable at this time.

He said worries about the new president’s stance on climate change, on the poor and other issues that seem to go against what Pope Francis, as the leader of the Catholic Church, says are important. He said he feels Trump lives and espouses the opposite of what the church values, including family.

As a citizen, “what (Trump) stands for is not what our participatory democracy stands for,” Hogan said, adding that he could not celebrate his inauguration. Ever since Trump was elected, Hogan said he has participated in various protests and prayer events with other organizations because he worries about what will happen to the vulnerable in society. The Women’s March was one of those instances, he said.

While organizers said the event was to “promote women’s equality and defend other marginalized groups,” some pro-life groups that wanted to be partners in the march were either removed as official sponsors days before the march — or their application to be a sponsor was ignored.

In an interview before the march, Herndon-De La Rosa told CNS no one contacted her group to give them the news they were taken off a roster of sponsors, but they found out after a flurry of stories about it. The groups And Then There Were None and Students for Life of America also were denied or taken off the Women’s March roster.

However, many members of those organizations attended the march.

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Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

3 hours 17 min

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to share its masterpieces with even more people around the world, the Vatican Museums has established a YouTube channel and revamped its website to offer high-resolution images and mobile-friendly information.

The “Musei Vaticani” YouTube channel lists short visual “tours” of some of its collections along with a handful of promotional videos highlighting specially tailored tours and services offered on-site, including signing guides for the deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Its website, museivaticani.va, has been completely revamped to be compatible with all platforms and devices in order to extend its reach to even “remote corners of the earth,” said Barbara Jatta, the museums’ new director, said at a Vatican news conference Jan. 23.

The site, offered in five languages, features a sleeker design, simpler texts and faster navigation, Jatta said. Links to pages can also be shared via Twitter, Facebook or email.

The website provides information about booking visits and purchasing tickets to the museums, the Vatican Gardens, the “Via Triumphalis” necropolis under the Vatican hill and the pontifical villas at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

For now, the site showcases a little more than 3,000 high-resolution photographs of masterpieces in its collections. The “ideal” plan, Jatta said, is to complete within one year the addition of photographs of all 20,000 objects currently on public display and then begin working on adding images of all art objects in storage, for a total of more than 200,000 works of art.

The site also allows the public to consult and search an online catalogue of some of the museums’ paintings, sculptures and other art objects. While the museums already had a registry of their entire inventory, migrating everything to the public-accessible database is still a work-in-progress, Jatta said.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

4 hours 20 min

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As President Donald Trump was being sworn in, Pope Francis told an interviewer it would be “reckless” to pass judgment on the new president before he had a chance to do anything.

“We must wait and see,” the pope told two reporters from the Spanish newspaper El Pais during a 75-minute interview Jan. 20.

The interview was published late Jan. 21 in its original Spanish with an English translation.

Asked if he wasn’t worried at least about some of the things Trump said before his election, the pope responded, “I’m waiting. God waited so long for me, with all my sins.”

“Being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite reckless,” the pope said. “We will see. We will see what he does and then we will judge — always on the concrete. Christianity either is concrete or it is not Christianity.”

El Pais asked another question about Trump and populists in the United States and Europe who, the interviewer said, “capitalize on fear in the face of an uncertain future in order to form a message full of xenophobia and hatred toward the foreigner.”

“Crises provoke fear, alarm,” the pope said. “In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. After (Paul von) Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: ‘I can, I can.'”

“Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people,” Pope Francis said.

In times of crisis, he said, large segments of the population think, “Let’s look for a savior who gives us back our identity and let’s defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other peoples who may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing.”

Obviously, Pope Francis said, nations have a right and duty to control their borders, especially under the threat of terrorism, but “no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility of talking with their neighbors.”

The El Pais reporters also asked Pope Francis about his hopes for improved diplomatic relations with China. As he has done in the past, the pope reported that a Vatican-Chinese committee has been meeting regularly for years and the dialogue continues.

“Are you ready to go to China?” he was asked.

“When they invite me,” he replied. “In China the churches are full. One can practice one’s religion in China,” he added, without mentioning the fact that religious practice is tightly controlled by the government.

El Pais also asked the 80-year-old pope if he expects to resign like Pope Benedict XVI did.

“That I don’t know. That is for God to decide,” he said. “When I feel that I cannot go on, my great teacher Benedict taught me what to do. And, if God takes me before that, I will see it from the other side — hopefully not from hell.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

1 day 5 hours

Ursuline_LongoPham_MLKDayOfService_011717On January 16, in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 59 Ursuline Academy students participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The day of service is an annual opportunity made available by the Ursuline Community Service Program in order to serve external communities who are in need.

Students arrived at Ursuline at 9 a.m. to begin the day with prayer and a presentation on the work of Dr. King. Immediately following, students, accompanied by Ursuline faculty members and parent chaperones, visited seven sites throughout the Cincinnati community including InReturn, Kennedy Heights Art Center, La Soupe, Mason Food Pantry, Matthew 25 Ministries, Pregnancy Center East, and St. Joseph Home.

At the conclusion of the event, students returned to Ursuline for reflections on the day. The MLK Day of Service has become a tradition among students, making it an integral part of the service program at Ursuline. This year’s Day of Service was led by Annie Longo ‘18 of Sharonville and Lauren Pham ‘17 of Liberty Township.

“The MLK Day of Service is a really inspiring way to put Dr. King’s values into action,” Pham said. “Spending the day with my Ursuline sisters in service gave me a chance to learn about each person in a new way, and we all value the opportunity to serve our community and learn more about our neighbors.”

Each year, over 90% of Ursuline students participate in some dimension of the Community Service Program, even though Ursuline does not require service hours for graduation.

1 day 8 hours

wenstrupBy Gail Finke

Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup is one of two legislators who introduced resolutions to overturn a new bill legalizing “assisted suicide” in the District of Columbus.

Rep. Wenstrup, a surgeon from Cincinnati, and Oklahoma Senator James Lankford each introduced a companion resolution last week that would block a DC law passed just before Christmas by the city’s mayor. Called the “Death with Dignity Act,” it would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to patients they judged to have less than six months to live.

“As a physician of over 25 years, access to quality healthcare for every American is a concern that is close to my heart,” Rep. Wenstrup said in a press release announcing his resolution. “By authorizing doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath of ‘do no harm,’ physician-assisted suicide undermines a key safeguard that protects our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and ensures our loved ones receive the best medical care when they need it most.”

In the same press release, Sen. Lankford noted problems with the legality of the Act, which he said violated the federal Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act signed by President Clinton in 1997 and uses what he called vague definitions, including the definition of what constitutes a terminal illness.

“This bill is about much more than dignity—there are far-reaching ramifications that could deteriorate America’s values regarding our foundational right to life,” he said.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Ohio. In response to recent lobbying efforts for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Ohio and other key states, the state House and Senate recently added Class 3 felony penalties to Ohio laws protecting citizens from being killed by their doctors and health care workers.

Paula Westwood, Executive Director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, has been working with state legislators on protections for people nearing the end of their lives.

“Efforts at every level of government are needed to protect vulnerable people who are easy prey to the sly message of death and imposed final exit,” she said. “As our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C.’s legalization of suicide is a shameful precedent for the rest of the nation and the world.”

Senator James Lankford is a Republican from Edmond, OK. He is the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, which has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia.

Dr. Brad Wenstrup is a Republican Congressman from Ohio’s second district. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, he is also an Iraq War veteran and serves in the U.S. Army Reserves.

To read Rep. Wenstrup’s version of the the press conference issued by both legislators, click here.

1 day 9 hours

DPCR (2)For the third year in a row DePaul Cristo Rey High School’s senior class has achieved 100 percent college acceptance. Every member of the Class of 2017 has been accepted to at least one college, most have been accepted to multiple schools, and these seniors have already earned $3.8 million in merit-based academic scholarships. And the acceptance letters and scholarship awards continue to arrive in seniors’ mailboxes.

The announcement of 100 percent acceptance was made in a pep-rally style celebration on January 17 that included confetti cannons, standing ovations and words of wisdom from English teacher Dr. Manuel Iris who told the seniors, “Life will change in ways that you cannot imagine and will not always be good. Your future is full of difficulties and challenges that I believe in my heart you will overcome. You will be challenged and afraid and sometimes will be defeated, but then you will come back on your feet and continue with resilience, intelligence and heart.”

There are 59 seniors in the Class of 2017, DPCR’s largest graduating class so far since its opening in 2011. The seniors will graduate on May 30 in a ceremony at Mount St. Joseph University.

DePaul Cristo Rey, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, offers a nationally recognized, dual-focus education model to students whose families can’t afford other private, college preparatory programs. This education model, not available at any other local high school, partners challenging college preparatory academics with a Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). It is one of 32 Catholic high schools in the nationwide Cristo Rey Network® which serves 10,900 young people.
DPCR

2 days 5 hours
Jeanne HuntJeanne Hunt

Jeanne Hunt

A situation occurred at the parish that is nagging me into prayer.

When an event occurs that I keep hashing over in my mind, usually there is a lesson there that God wants me to learn: The phone rang and on the other end was a very angry mom who accused me of not informing her that there was a parent meeting. She missed the meeting and now her son was behind in his Confirmation requirements.

This was not her fault; it was my fault for not communicating the meeting time. I told her that the meeting had been published in three electronic sites and two hard copy paper versions well in advance of the meeting.

She yelled at me “I don’t have time to read that stuff!” and she hung up on me.

“Wow, how can this be my fault? ” I thought. After I got over my annoyance with her narcissistic attitude, I was overcome with a deep feeling of compassion for this frantic mom. What could drive a person to react like this? It was obvious that she was emotionally brittle and struggling to keep a grip on her busy life.

If this were an isolated incident, I probably would have left it alone and moved on. But the fact is that I encounter parents, co-workers and friends in the same situation. Another mom came to me in tears last week, because she is being asked to work ten-hour days and will have no time to help her ADHD son with his nightly homework.

We are all experiencing overload from too much to do and not enough time. We are so busy that we cannot focus on the present whether it is reading a meeting notice or listening to our child’s conversation.

What is the lesson for us in this story? What can we do to be mindful of the present, retain what we read, listen with intent? The pressure to measure up to the unrealistic standards of employers and to balance family life that is full of sports, church, school and marriage is more than anyone can bear. Could it be that God is inviting us to step back and reassess our lives and find a way to regain calm.

It was my grandfather’s last words to my father as he lay dying that still resonate in my soul: “Danny, don’t work so hard. It is not worth it.”

Are we all working too hard? Is it worth the loss of time with our precious children, quality time with our spouse and even a few moments each day to talk with God? I firmly believe that when we look back on our lives, we will regret that we choose work over love. We excuse our devotion to our jobs as the way we translate love into money that brings so many good things to those we love.

Greed is deceptive. It promises happiness and delivers a wasteland. I have counseled too many parents who realize all too late that they just were not there when their child needed them, far too many spouses who see that they grew apart because they were never together. But how can we get ourselves out of this mess and return to a simpler peace filled life?

As we are in a new year, how about one simple resolution: I resolve to make less money, spend more time with my family and only work eight hours a day. Could this be the lesson that the Rabbi of my soul has been trying to teach? I wonder if any of us have the courage and resolve to walk away from working too much for the sake of those we love.

2 days 10 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Live Catholic Headlines
Posted
Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2017 / 12:00 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- On Monday, President Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, an international pro-life regulation that is generally seen as an indicator of an incoming president's views on abortion.
6 hours 45 min
Vatican City, Jan 23, 2017 / 10:24 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Monday, the Vatican announced that Msgr. Michael J. Boulette, founder of an organization dedicated entirely to giving spiritual direction and training spiritual directors, will now be an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. 8 hours 21 min
Vatican City, Jan 23, 2017 / 09:41 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Frequently an outspoken critic against organized crime, Pope Francis again came out with harsh words for those involved in the mafia and other criminal activities, which he said are "stained with blood" and go directly against the faith. 9 hours 4 min
Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2017 / 01:52 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In the face of signs proclaiming "Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries," "#IstandWithPlannedParenthood", and a host of other homemade posters ranging from the snarky to the explicit at the Women's March on Washington, pro-life women staked a spot in support of women's dignity – and against abortion. 16 hours 53 min
Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2017 / 01:24 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Religious leaders gathered in prayer for the country and the Trump administration on Saturday, continuing a decades-old tradition of national prayer at the start of a new presidential term.
17 hours 21 min
Vatican City, Jan 22, 2017 / 10:05 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In a new interview published Saturday, Pope Francis said he will wait to see what U.S. President Donald J. Trump does before making any judgments, emphasizing God's own patience with him and his faults. 1 day 8 hours
Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2017 / 08:17 am (EWTN News/CNA).- For two Catholic bishops in Virginia, the execution of a man convicted of brutally killing a family of four was a time to reflect on God's mercy. 1 day 10 hours
Vatican City, Jan 22, 2017 / 06:56 am (EWTN News/CNA).- After his Angelus address Sunday Pope Francis prayed for those who have lost family and friends after the latest set of earthquakes in central Italy this past week, as well as for all those who provide assistance, including rescue workers. 1 day 11 hours
Rome, Italy, Jan 21, 2017 / 12:50 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Saturday Pope Francis encouraged Dominicans to persevere in their good works of the last 800 years, which have been like the "salt" and "light" of Christ, spreading the Gospel throughout the world. 2 days 5 hours
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2017 / 11:45 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Saturday, Pope Francis stressed the pressing need for effective education and preparation for the sacrament of marriage – not only to guard against invalid marriages, but also to strengthen the faith of the couple as they prepare for the unique blessings and challenges of married life. 2 days 7 hours
Madrid, Spain, Jan 21, 2017 / 08:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The prison ministry founded by a Spanish Jesuit in the 1960s has had such fruits as a group of inmates donating their own money to help the needy at Christmas, according to the head of the foundation. 2 days 10 hours
Edinburgh, Scotland, Jan 21, 2017 / 06:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A 12 year-old boy has been charged with threatening and abusive behavior following an incident on Tuesday at a Catholic Church in Scotland. 2 days 12 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

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

An Italian prosecutor is seeking prison sentences for Paolo Cipriani, the former executive director of the Vatican bank, and for his deputy, Massimo Tulli.

7 hours 53 min

America magazine has profiled some of the women religious who participated in the Women’s March in Washington.

8 hours 55 sec

The Vatican Museums has unveiled a multimedia web site, which enables visitors to explore thousands of items from the vast collection.

8 hours 31 min

The Mafia is “an expression of the culture of death,” Pope Francis said in a January 23 address to members of Italy’s National Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate.

9 hours 7 min

Pope Francis adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward President Donald Trump, in a new interview with the Spanish daily El Pais.

9 hours 55 min

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning the use of federal funds to promote abortion overseas.

10 hours 9 min

Following his January 22 Angelus address, Pope Francis called on those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for the intention of Christian unity as well as for recent victims of earthquakes in central Italy.

18 hours 38 min

During his January 22 Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel reading (Mt. 4:12-23).

18 hours 48 min

Pope Francis celebrated Mass on January 21 to conclude the Dominican Order’s jubilee year commeorating the 800th anniversary of its founding.

19 hours 9 min

In a January 20 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance eight sainthood causes.

19 hours 27 min

Following an annual tradition, Pope Francis received two blessed lambs on January 21, the memorial of St. Agnes. The rite took place in the Chapel of Pope Urban VIII in the Apostolic Palace.

19 hours 43 min

Pope Francis spoke about the relationship between fides (faith) and foedus (covenant) in his annual address to the Roman Rota on the occasion of the beginning of the judicial year.

20 hours 10 sec

Horacio Cartes, Paraguay’s president since 2013, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 20.

20 hours 28 min

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

There are three stages of the priesthood of Christ: He offers Himself; He intercedes for us; He will return to bring us to the Father.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis pointed this out to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the day’s reading from the Letter of Hebrews, which speaks about Christ as the Mediator of the Covenant that God has made with human beings.

Speaking on these stages of His priesthood, the Jesuit Pope noted that the first is the redemption.

While the priests of the Old Covenant had to offer sacrifices every year, “Christ offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins.”

With this marvel, “He has brought us to the Father… He has re-created the harmony of creation,” the Pope noted.

The second wonder is what the Lord is doing now, namely praying for us. “While we pray here, He is praying for us, “for each one of us,” Francis stressed, and “intercedes.”

“How often, in fact, are priests asked to pray,” the Pope reflected, because “we know that the prayer of the priest has a certain force, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.”

Unforgivable Blasphemy

The third wonder will be when Christ returns; but this third time will not be in relation to sin, but rather, it will be “to establish the definitive Kingdom,” when He will bring all of us to the Father:

While there is this great wonder of the three stages, Francis warned, “there is also the contrary: the ‘unforgivable blasphemy.’”

“It’s hard to hear Jesus saying these things, but He says it, and if He says it, it is true. ‘Amen I say to you, all will be forgiven the children of men’ – and we know that the Lord forgives everything if we open our hearts a bit. Everything! The sins and even the blasphemies they speak – even blasphemies will be pardoned! – but the one who will have blasphemed the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in eternity.”

Lord’s forgiveness

To explain this, the Pontiff referred to the great priestly anointing of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit accomplished in the womb of Mary.

“Even Jesus as the High Priest received this anointing. And what was the first anointing? The flesh of Mary with the work of the Holy Spirit. And he who blasphemes about this, blasphemes about the foundation of the love of God, which is the redemption, the re-creation.”

“‘But the Lord does not forgive that wickedness? [you might ask].” “No!” Francis responded, stressing, “The Lord forgives everything!”  However, he lamented that the one who says these things is closed to forgiveness.

“He doesn’t want to be forgiven! He doesn’t allow himself to be forgiven! This is the ugliness of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: It does not allow itself to be forgiven, because it denies the priestly anointing of Jesus, accomplished by the Spirit.”

Pope Francis concluded, inviting those present to consider that here on the altar the living memorial is made” and to ask for grace from the Lord that our hearts might never be closed – might never be closed! – to this wonder, to this great, freely-given wonder.”

 

11 hours 4 min

Pope Francis has expressed his closeness, prayers and affection, to our brothers and sisters of Central Italy who are suffering from new and harsh trials.

During his Sunday Angelus Address, the Pope told of his sympathy for the families whose loved ones are among the victims in the recent series of earthquakes and devastating winter weather, especially in the Italian provinces of Abruzzo, Lazio, e Le Marche.

Among the tragic events, was when the Rigopiano mountain hotel, in the Abruzzo region, hosting some 30 people was struck by an avalanche caused by the quakes, with four dead confirmed. In recent days, there was some good news that emergency workers found ten people alive in the ruins, including children, when all had been feared dead.

During his remarks, Francis thanked those who have already helped, including the local churches who “devote themselves to alleviating suffering and difficulties.”

He also, however, encouraged those who can, to be generous with aid and assistance.

The Holy Father concluded, leading the pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square to pray for all those affected by these events.

11 hours 23 min

On Saturday afternoon, Pope Francis presided over the closing Mass of the “Dominicans’ Jubilee, which began last November 7, on the occasion of the 800 years of the confirmation of the Order of Preachers by Pope Honorius III.

After the incensing of the altar and the readings of the day in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome’s Cathedral, the Holy Father invited the Dominicans to be salt and light in today’s worldly carnival, as they were in the beginning. He also encouraged them, in the midst of a “liquid” and globalized environment, to respond with good works that give birth in the heart to gratitude to God the Father.

Here is a ZENIT working translation of the complete text: 

The Word of God presents us today two opposite human scenarios: on one hand the ‘carnival of worldly curiosity’ and, on the other, the glorification of the Father through good works. And our life always moves between these two scenarios.

In fact, they exist in every age, as Saint Paul’s words to Timothy demonstrate (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-5), and also Saint Dominic and his first Brothers, who moved between these two scenarios 800 years ago.

Paul warns Timothy that he must proclaim the Gospel in the midst of a context where people are always looking for new teachers, myths, different doctrines and ideologies … “Prurientes auribsu” (2 Timothy 4:3).

It is the carnival of worldly curiosity, of seduction. Therefore, the Apostle also instructs his disciple with strong words, such as “urgent,” convince, rebuke,” “exhort”, and then “be steady,” “endure sufferings” (vv. 2.5).

It is interesting to see how already then, two thousand years ago, the Apostles of the Gospel found themselves before this scenario, which in our days has developed and globalized, given the seduction of subjectivist relativism.

The tendency to seek novelties, proper to the human being, finds its ideal environment in the society of appearance, of consumption, in which often old things are recycled, but what is important is to make them seem new, attractive, captivating.

Truth is also made up. We move in the so-called ‘liquid society,’ without fixed points, without axes, deprived of solid and stable references, in a culture of the ephemeral, of usage and of discarding. Highlighted clearly in face of this worldly ‘carnival’ is the opposite scenario that we find in the words of Jesus, which we just heard: “Give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

And how can one pass from this pseudo festive superficiality to glorification? It is realized through the good works of those who, becoming disciples of Jesus, have become “salt” and “light.”

“Let your light so shine before men – says Jesus – that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” In the midst of yesterday’s and today’s ‘carnival,’ this is the answer of Jesus and of the Church, this is the solid support in the midst of a ‘liquid’ environment: the good works we can do thanks to Christ and to His Holy Spirit, and which gives birth in the heart to gratitude to God the Father, praise, or at least to the question” ‘Why,’ ‘Why does that person behave like this?’, disquieting the world in face of the testimony of the Gospel.

However, for this ‘shakeup’ to happen, salt must not lose its taste and the light must not be hidden (cf. Matthew 5:13-15).

Jesus says it very clearly: if salt loses its taste, it’s no longer useful. Alas if salt loses its taste! Alas a Church that loses her taste! Watch out for a priest, a consecrated person, a Congregation that loses its taste!

Today, we give glory to the Father for the work that Saint Dominic carried out, full of the light and salt of Christ, 800 years ago; a work at the service of the Gospel, preached with the word and with life; a work that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, has helped so many men and women to not be dispersed in the midst of the ‘carnival’ of worldly curiosity, but who instead savoured the taste of healthy doctrine, the taste of the Gospel and became in turn light and salt, craftsmen of good works … and true brothers and sisters that glorify God and teach <others> to glorify God with the good works of life.”

12 hours 9 min

While Donald J Trump was being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, Pope Francis was giving a long interview to the Spanish daily El Pais at Saint Martha’s House in the Vatican. The question, therefore, was inevitable, as to what the Pope thinks of the businessman’s election by journalists Antonio Cano and Pablo Ordaz. Francis chooses to be prudent and answers: “We’ll see what happens. To be frightened or to rejoice now would be a great imprudence; it would be to be prophets of calamity or well-being which might not be verified. We’ll see what he’ll do, and we’ll assess it.”

Decidedly clearer, instead, during an hour and a quarter of a conversation published unabridged on the Web yesterday evening, was the Pontiff’s judgment on populism and its dangers. “For me, a typical example of populism, in the European sense, is the Germany of ‘33,” he said. A “destroyed Germany sought to raise itself, sought its identity, sought a leader that would restore it to her, there was a young man called Hitler who said: ‘I can.’ And the whole of Germany voted for Hitler. A people in crisis, in search of identity, found itself before this charismatic leader who promised to give them an identity and gave them a ‘distorted identity.’ “This is the danger. In times of crisis, discernment doesn‘t function,” stressed the Pope. “We seek a savior that will restore our identity and we defend ourselves with walls, barbed wire, anything, from other people who can deprive us of such identity. All this is very grave, therefore, I always repeat: dialogue between you.”

In the context of dialogue, the Pontiff confirmed that “every country has the right to control its borders, who comes in and who goes out,” especially those victims of terrorism, however, “no country has the right to deprive its own citizens of dialogue with neighbors.” Then he confirmed his stance on the Mediterranean that “has become a cemetery” and he invited the Church and governments to reflect and act on such an emergency, in the wake of Italy and Greece that “have given a very great example.” “Despite the problems of the earthquake” Italy “continues to be concerned about them.” “First of all” migrants “must be saved,” added the Pope. Then they must be received in the best possible way – hence, <they must be> integrated.”

Moreover, during the interview the Bishop of Rome emphasized his mantra “build bridges, not walls,” which he also applies to Vatican diplomacy, as basic criteria. “I pray to the Lord for the grace never to do anything for an image but, rather, for honesty, for service – these are the criteria,” he explained. “I don’t think it does good to disguise oneself somewhat. Then, sometimes, errors can be committed and the image is resented, well, it’s a consequence, but at least it was done with good will. Then it will be up to history to judge things.” “Mediators and not intermediaries” is what Pope Francis asks of his diplomats. Understood by intermediary is he who “has done a good service, but always gains something,” whereas the mediator “is at the service of the parties and makes it such that the parties win even if he loses.” “Yes, in the course of history, Vatican diplomacy has done maneuvers or meetings and has filled its pockets, because it has committed a serious, a very serious sin. The mediator builds bridges, which are not for him, but so that others can walk <over them>. And a toll is not paid, added the Pope.

Understood thus, can Vatican diplomacy “be extended soon to China?” asked the interviewers. Pope Francis confirmed the existence of a Commission that for years has worked with the ex-Rising Sun and which meets every three months, one time at Rome and another at Beijing. “There is much dialogue with China,” he said, in the country that always keeps this aura of mystery which is fascinating,” he said. “The churches are full. Religion can be practiced in China.” The Pope says he is ready to go “when they invite me.”

Not lacking during the conversations was the recurrent topic of corruption, “the greatest sin” of the present and of the past committed also by some Popes of history; of the “god-money” at the center of the economic system and which “discards” the human person; of “clericalism” as “the worst evil of the Church” and of worldliness” that “anesthetizes” the Church, far from the problems of the people. “In the hierarchy of the Church, or among the agents of pastoral <care> (Bishops, priests, Religious, laymen …) I fear much more the anesthetized than the slumbering,” he confesses. “I (fear) those that are anesthetized with worldliness, they give up in face of worldliness. This worries me: everything is quiet, tranquil, with everything in place, too ordered […] In daily life nowadays there are different ways of anesthetizing oneself, no? And perhaps the most dangerous sickness that can strike a Pastor, caused by anesthesia is clericalism. I am here and the people are there. You are the Pastor of those people! If you are concerned about those people, and allow yourself to be served by those people, then close the door and retire.”

Francis also stigmatized “the third world war in pieces” and he confided: “In these last times there is also talk of a nuclear war as if it were a card game. And this worries me even more.” Then he addressed the drama of violence against women, a “scar” in Latin America but also in so many other places of the world. “The slavery of woman is one of the most disastrous things,” he affirmed and, in this connection, he recalled his visit to some organizations of Rome for the rescue of young prostitutes exploited by Europeans: “A beautiful thing!”

In the across the board interview a chink was also opened on his Predecessor, Benedict XVI. His health? “From here up, perfect. The problem is his legs. He walks with a support,” he revealed. But, he added, “ he has the memory of an elephant, even in details. Sometimes I say something to him and he answers me: ‘No, no, it wasn’t that year … it happened instead in the year …”

Speaking of himself he confirmed that he has not watched TV for 25 years, “simply because at a certain moment I felt that God was asking this of me. I made this promise on July 16, 1990.” However, this is not the only habit he keeps: The Argentine Pope said that he has not changed in fact since that March 13, 2013, of his election to the Throne of Peter. “My personality hasn’t changed. I don’t say it’s something I proposed to do. It happened spontaneously … No, one must not change here. It’s artificial to change. To change at 76 would be like disguising oneself. I certainly can’t do everything I wish to do, but my callejera [of the street] spirit remains, and it’s seen … no sooner I go out, on the street, I greet people, in the audiences and then I travel … “Don’t you feel uncomfortable with power?” asked his interlocutors. “It’s that I don’t have the power. It’s shared,” he answered, “it’s not power that makes me uncomfortable. Certain protocols annoy me. But it’s because I’m made like this, callejero.

The last question was on the Conclave that will elect his Successor. Bergoglio has only one wish: that it be a “catholic” Conclave. It’s not excluded that he will be able to ‘see’ it: “I don’t know. God will decide. When I feel I can’t anymore, my great teacher Benedict has already shown me what to do. And if God leads me forward, I’ll see him on the other side. I hope it’s not to hell …” A witty remark that is followed by that of the two journalists: “It’s obvious that you are very happy to be Pope.” And Francis replies with certainty: “The Lord is good and has not taken away my good humor.”

***

On the NET:

Full Text of Interview (English Translation on English website of El Pais): http://elpais.com/elpais/2017/01/21/inenglish/1485026427_223988.html

 

 

12 hours 31 min

The Pope proposes an antidote to the problem of the “multiplication of null and inconsistent marriage celebrations”: “A new catechumenate in preparation for marriage,” that is to say, “an appropriate path of preparation geared to rediscover marriage and the family in keeping with God’s design,” which is “part of the sacramental process” as for Baptism.

The Pontiff expressed this indication during an audience this morning to Prelate auditors, officials, lawyers and collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, received on the occasion of the solemn opening of the Judiciary Year. His reflection focused on today’s context that, “lacking in religious values and faith, cannot but condition marriage as well. “

The Pope is concerned about that “widespread mentality” that “tends to obscure access to eternal truths” and “often involves, in a vast and capillary way, the attitude and behavior of Christians themselves, whose faith is weakened and loses the originality of interpretative and operative criteria for personal, family and social existence.”

“Great courage is needed to get married in the time in which we live,” Pope Bergoglio noted, as he has on other occasions. “All those who have the strength and joy to take this important step must feel alongside them the affection and concrete closeness of the Church.” Also because “the experiences of faith of those requesting a Christian marriage are very different”: some “take part actively in the life of the parish”; others “approach it for the first time”; some “even have an intense life of prayer.” Then there are those who, instead, are guided by a more generic religious sentiment” or persons who are “far from faith or lacking in faith.”

In face of this situation, it is necessary to find “valid remedies,” affirms Francis. The first is, without a doubt, the “formation of young people, through an appropriate path of preparation geared to rediscovering marriage and the family in keeping with God’s design.” Today more than ever, a preparation of this nature “appears as a true and proper occasion of evangelization of adults and, often, of the so-called estranged,” remarks the Pontiff, quoting Familiaris Consortio about the need for a “new catechumenate.”

In the light of Wojtyla’s exhortation, and also of the directives of recent Synods on the Family, the Pope expressed the hope that “the preparation for marriage may become an integral part of the whole sacramental procedure of marriage, as antidote that impedes the multiplication of null and inconsistent marriage celebrations,” underlined the Pope.

Suggested as second remedy to newlyweds is help “to continue the journey in the faith and in the Church also after the celebration of the marriage. It is necessary to single out, with courage and creativity, a plan for formation for young spouses, with initiatives geared to a growing awareness of the Sacrament received,” stressed the Bishop of Rome.

The whole Christian community is challenged to “receive, accompany and help” young couples, “offering occasions and appropriate instruments — beginning with participation in Sunday Mass — to take care of the spiritual life, be it within family life, be it in the ambit of pastoral programming in the parish or in aggregations.”

Too often “young spouses are left to themselves, perhaps because of the simple fact that they are less seen in the parish. This happens especially with the birth of children,” noted the Holy Father. On the contrary, “in these first moments of family life, it is necessary to guarantee greater closeness and strong spiritual support, also in the educational work of children, who are the first witnesses and bearers of the gift of faith.”

For the Pope, it is necessary to render “intelligible and real” the “synergy between foedus and fides,” to move, namely, from a narrowly juridical and formal vision of the preparation of future spouses, to a sacramental foundation ab initio, namely beginning from the journey towards the fullness of their foedus-consensus elevated by Christ to a Sacrament.”

“Love is in need of truth,” concluded Francis finally, recalling Benedict XVI’s words in his last address to the Roman Rota. “It is all the more necessary to deepen the relation between love and truth. Only in so far as it is founded on truth can love last in time, overcome the ephemeral instant and remain firm to support the common journey. If love does not have a relation with truth, it is subject to the change in sentiments and does not surmount the test of time. Instead, true love unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light towards a great and full life. Without truth love cannot offer a solid bond, it is unable to lead the I beyond its isolation, or to free it from the fleeting instant to build life and bear fruit.”

13 hours 17 min

“I invite you to persevere in prayer, so that the desire of Christ, ‘That they all [Christians] might be one,’ may be accomplished.”

Concluding his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis gave this invitation, as he reminded the faithful in St. Peter’s Square that we are currently in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This year, the week has as its theme “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us.” It will conclude in Rome on Wednesday with an ecumenical celebration of Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

 

13 hours 26 min

On Friday afternoon, the Holy Father received prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, in private. During the audience, the Pope authorized the Congregation to promulgate the following decrees:

MIRACLES

A miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Arsenio da Trigolo (né Giuseppe Migliavacca), Italian professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, founder of the congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation (1849- 1909)

HEROIC VIRTUES

  • Servant of God Raymundo Jardón Herrera, Mexican diocesan priests (1887- 1934)
  • Servant of God Juan Sáez Hurtado, Spanish diocesan priest (1897 -1982)
  • Servant of God Ignazio Beschin (né Giuseppe), Italian, professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor (1880 -1952)
  • Servant of God József Wech Vandor, Hungarian professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco (1909-1979)
  • Servant of God Francesco Convertini, Italian professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco (1898-1976)
  • Servant of God Santina Maria Addolorata (née Maria Addolorata De Pascali), Italian founder of the congregation of the Sisters Disciples of the Sacred Heart (1897-1981)
  • Servant of God Jan Tyranowski, Polish layperson (1901-1947)

 

13 hours 49 min

It’s official: the next international World Youth Day celebration, on the theme ‘“I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38),’ will be held in Panama from January 22 – 27, 2019.

Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta announced the dates on Friday.

According to the official World Youth Day website, this WYD is expected to be much smaller than previous WYDs. The Central American nation is expecting to host about 500,000 pilgrims, significantly fewer than the 2.4 million and 3.7 million pilgrims estimated to have attended WYD Krakow 2016 and Rio 2013, respectively.

The reason for the event being hosted during the winter, the site explained, was to avoid the country’s rainy season, which occurs in July and August, which are the months in which WYD is often hosted.

The Apostolic Nuncio in Panama, Archbishop Andrés Carrascosa Coso, in an interview with La Estrella Panamá, stressed that the nation is capable of organizing this global event.

***

On the NET:

Official Website: http://worldyouthday.com/

13 hours 59 min
[From Vatican Radio]

Pope Francis has sent his support to the March for Life taking place in Paris, France on 22 January 2017.

The message went through the Apostolic Nuncio to France, Archbishop Luigi, who said the Holy Father sent his greetings to the participants of the pro-life march.

“The Church must never tire of being an advocate for life and must not neglect to proclaim that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death,” the Message said, quoting Pope Francis’ words to the Bishops of Germany on 11 November 2015.

“Beyond this legitimate manifestation in defense of human life, the Holy Father encourages participants in the March for Life to work tirelessly for the building of a civilization of love and a culture of life,” the Message concluded.

[From Vatican Radio]
19 hours 33 min

Saturday was the feast of St. Agnes, and as customary, on that day, Pope Francis blessed lambs whose wool will be used to make palliums.

In Latin, Agnes means “lamb.” A martyr of the early 4th century known for her consecrated virginity, St. Agnes was killed as a young girl for refusing to worship pagan gods. She is buried in the Basilica named for her, located on Rome’s Via Nomentana.

The Pallium is a liturgical sign of honor and jurisdiction, worn by the Pope and the metropolitan archbishops in their Churches and in those of their Provinces. The Pallia destined for the metropolitan archbishops are made up of a narrow strip of cloth, woven from white wool, decorated with six stars in black silk.

The Pope will impose the palliums upon the metropolitan archbishops on June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

 

1 day 1 hour

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today’s evangelical page (cf. Matthew 4:12-23) recounts the beginning of Jesus’ preaching in Galilee. He leaves Nazareth, a village over the hills, and dwells in Capernaum, an important center on the shore of the Lake, inhabited to a great extent by pagans, a crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian hinterland. This choice indicates that the recipients of His preaching were not only his fellow countrymen, but all those dwelling in cosmopolitan “Galilee of the Gentiles” (v. 15; cf. Isaiah 8:23): so it was called. Seen from Jerusalem, the capital, that land is geographically on the periphery and religiously impure, because it was full of pagans, given the mixture with all those who did not belong to Israel. Great things for the history of salvation were certainly not expected from Galilee. Instead, it was precisely from there that that “light” was diffused, on which we meditated in past Sundays: the light of Christ. It spread in fact from the periphery.

Jesus’ message reiterated that of the Baptist, proclaiming the “Kingdom of Heaven” (v. 17). This Kingdom does not imply the establishment of a new political power, but the fulfilment of the Covenant between God and His People, which will inaugurate a season of peace and justice. Each one is called to be converted, to solidify this Covenant pact with God, transforming his way of thinking and of living. This is important: to be converted is not only to change one’s way of living, but also one’s way of thinking. It is a transformation of thought. It is not about changing garments but habits! What makes Jesus differ from John the Baptist is the style and the method. Jesus chooses to be an itinerant prophet. He does not wait for the people, but goes to encounter them. Jesus is always on the way! His first missionary outings took place along the Lake of Galilee, in contact with the crowd, in particular with fishermen. Not only does Jesus proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God there, but seeks companions to associate to His mission of salvation. In this same place He meets two sets of brothers: Simon and Andrew, James and John. He calls them, saying: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (v. 19). The call reaches them in the midst of their everyday activity: the Lord reveals Himself to us not in an extraordinary or striking way, but in the everyday of our life. We must find the Lord there; and He reveals Himself there, makes our heart feel His love; and there — with this dialogue with Him in the everyday of our life — our heart changes. The response of the four fishermen is immediate and prompt: “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (v. 20). We know, in fact, that they had been disciples of the Baptist and that, thanks to his testimony, they had already begun to believe in Jesus as Messiah (cf. John 1:35-42).

We, today’s Christians, have the joy of proclaiming and witnessing our faith because there was that first proclamation, because there were those humble and courageous men who responded generously to Jesus’ call. The first community of Christ’s disciples was born on the shores of the Lake, in an unthinkable land. May the awareness of these beginnings arouse in us the desire to take the Word, the love and tenderness of Jesus to every context, even the most impervious and resistant. To take the Word to all the peripheries! All areas of human living are terrain in which to sow the seed of the Gospel, so that it bear fruits of salvation.

May the Virgin Mary help us, with her maternal intercession, to respond with joy to Jesus’ call, and to put ourselves at the service of the Kingdom of God.

 

*

After the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters,

We are in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Its theme this year is an expression, treated by Saint Paul [Pablo], which points out the way to follow. And it says thus: “The love of Christ spurs us to reconciliation” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14). We will end the Week of Prayer next Wednesday with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul-outside-the Walls, in which brothers and sisters of the other Christian Churches and Communities present in Rome will take part. I invite you to persevere in prayer, so that Jesus’ desire is fulfilled: “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).

In past days, an earthquake and heavy snowfalls have again put many of our brothers and sister of Central Italy to a harsh test, especially in Abruzzo, Marches and Lazio. With prayer and affection I am close to the families that have had victims among their dear ones. I encourage all those who are committed with great generosity in the works of rescue and assistance, as well as the local Churches, which are spending themselves to alleviate the sufferings and difficulties. Thank you so much for this closeness, for your work and the concrete help you bring. Thank you! And I invite you to pray together to Our Lady for the victims and also for those who with great generosity are committed in the works of rescue.

[Recitation of the Hail Mary]

In the Far East and in several parts of the world, millions of men and women are preparing to celebrate the lunar New Year on January 28. May my warm greeting reach all their families, with the wish that they become increasingly a school in which one learns to respect the other, to communicate and look after one another in a selfless way. May the joy of love be propagated within families and from them radiate to the whole of society.

I greet you all, faithful of Rome and pilgrims from various countries, in particular the group of youngsters of Panama and the students of the “Diego Sanchez Institute of Talavera la Real (Spain).

I greet the members of the Catholic Union of Teachers, Directors, Educators and Formators, who have concluded their 25th National Congress, and I wish them fruitful educational work, in collaboration with families — always in collaboration with families!

I wish you all a good Sunday and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

 

1 day 11 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

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(Vatican Radio) The great wonders of the priesthood of Christ, who offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins; and who now intercedes for us before the Father; and who will return to bring us with Him: those are the three stages of the priesthood of Christ highlighted by Pope Francis during his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope also warned of the “unforgivable blasphemy”: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Listen to our report:  The priesthood of Christ was at the centre of the Pope’s homily on Monday. His reflection was taken from the day’s first Reading, from the Letter of Hebrews, which speaks about Christ as the Mediator of the Covenant God has made with human beings. Jesus is the High Priest, and the priesthood of Christ is the great wonder, the greatest wonder, which makes us sing a new song to the Lord, as the Responsorial Psalm says. The three stages of the priesthood of Christ: He offers Himself; He intercedes for us; He will return to bring us to the Father The priesthood of Christ takes place in three stages, the Pope said. The first is the redemption: while the priests of the Old Covenant had to offer sacrifices every year, “Christ offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins.” With this marvel, “He has brought us to the Father… He has re-created the harmony of creation,” the Pope noted. The second wonder is what the Lord is doing now – that is, praying for us. “While we pray here, He is praying for us” “for each one of us,” Pope Francis emphasized: “now, living, before the Father, He intercedes,” so that the faith might not falter. How often, in fact, are priests asked to pray, the Pope said, because “we know that the prayer of the priest has a certain force, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.” The third wonder will be when Christ returns; but this third time will not be in relation to sin, but rather, it will be “to establish the definitive Kingdom,” when He will bring all of us to the Father: “There is this great wonder, this priesthood of Jesus in three stages – that in which He pardons sins, once for all; that in which He intercedes now for us; and that which will occur when He returns. But there is also the contrary: the ‘unforgivable blasphemy.’ It’s hard to hear Jesus saying these things, but He says it, and if He says it, it is true. ‘Amen I say to you, all will be forgiven the children of men’ – and we know that the Lord forgives everything if we open our hearts a bit. Everything! The sins and even the blasphemies they speak – even blasphemies will be pardoned! – but the one who will have blasphemed the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in eternity.” “The unforgivable blasphemy”: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, will not allow itself to be forgiven To explain this, the Pope referred to the great priestly anointing of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit accomplished in the womb of Mary; as priests, in the ceremony of ordination, are anointed with oil: “Even Jesus as the High Priest received this anointing. And what was the first anointing? The flesh of Mary with the work of the Holy Spirit. And he who blasphemes about this, blasphemes about the foundation of the love of God, which is the redemption, the re-creation; blasphemy about the priesthood of Christ. ‘But the Lord does not forgive that wickedness?’ [you might ask]. ‘No! The Lord forgives everything!’ But one who says these things is closed to forgiveness. He doesn’t want to be forgiven! He doesn’t allow himself to be forgiven! This is the ugliness of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: It does not allow itself to be forgiven, because it denies the priestly anointing of Jesus, accomplished by the Spirit.” Do not close your heart before the wonders of the priesthood of Christ In conclusion, the Pope returned to the great wonders of the priesthood of Christ, and also to the “unforgivable blasphemy” – unforgivable “not because the Lord does not want to forgive everything, but because this [person] is so closed that he does not allow himself to be forgiven: the blasphemy against this wonder of Jesus”: Today it would be good for us, during the Mass, to consider that here on the altar the living memorial is made – because He will be present here – of the first priesthood of Jesus, when He offers His life for us. There is also the living memorial of the second priesthood, because He will pray here. But also, in this Mass – we will say it after the Our Father – there is that third priesthood of Jesus, when He will return, and [that is] our hope of glory. In this Mass, let us think about these beautiful things. And let us ask for grace from the Lord that our hearts might never be closed – might never be closed! – to this wonder, to this great, freely-given wonder.”   (from Vatican Radio)... 12 hours 43 min
(Vatican Radio) In an interview published by Spanish language newspaper El País, Pope Francis said he is most concerned with those in the Church – Bishops, priests, nuns, laymen – who are ‘anesthetized,’ rather than those who are asleep. Those who are anesthetized, he said, “sell out to worldliness.” An anesthetized person, he said, “is not in touch with people, he protects himself against reality.” When such people are in the Church, he said, they “should pack [their] bags and retire.” Once again, the Holy Father covered a wide range of topics in a newspaper interview, touching again on subjects that are near and dear to his heart – including the “world war” currently being waged “in pieces”; the problem of migration, which involves both welcoming and integrating migrants; the problems of embracing ideologies; and the problems of corruption, especially in the modern world, which worships the “god of money.” Pope Francis was asked in particular about current world events, including the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. “I think we must wait and see,” he said with regard to the new US administration. “I don’t like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion.” He warned against premature reactions: “Being afraid or rejoicing beforehand, because of something that might happen, is, in my view, unwise,” he said. The Pope had words of praise for his successor, Paul VI, whom he called an unappreciated martyr. He also praised his collaborators in the Roman curia, saying some of them are true saints. The Pope also spoke at some length about what he called the “middle class of sanctity”: mothers, fathers, families, ordinary people, with their sins and their virtues, who strive to lead a Christian life. The interview with Pope Francis also touched on the Vatican’s role as a mediator in diplomatic conflicts, with the Holy Father emphasizing the importance of dialogue. The Church’s relations with various countries, including Spain, Venezuela and Colombia, and China, also came up in the conversation. At the close of the interview, asked about what he hopes for from the conclave that will elect his successor, Pope Francis said, “I want it to be Catholic.” He said he wasn’t sure if he would see that election – a reference to the possibility of resigning – or if God would “carry [him] away” before that. Pope Francis concluded the interview saying “The Lord is good, and hasn’t taken away my good humour.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 9 hours
(Vatican Radio) A series of earthquakes and devastating winter weather have caused “new and harsh trials for our brothers and sisters of Central Italy,” especially in the provinces of Abruzzo, Le Marche, and Lazio, Pope Francis said on Sunday during his weekly Angelus address. “I am close to them with prayer and with affection for families” whose loved ones are among the victims,” the Holy Father continued. He also encouraged all those taking part, “with great generosity,” in works of aid and assistance, as well as the local churches “who devote themselves to alleviating suffering and difficulties.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks by leading the people gathered in St Peter’s Square in prayer for all those affected by the disasters. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 12 hours
(Vatican Radio) Following the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis noted that we are currently in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which has for its theme this year “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us.” He noted that the week will conclude in Rome next Wednesday with the ecumenical celebration of Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. “I invite you to persevere in prayer,” the Pope said, “so that the desire of Christ, ‘That they all might be one,” may be accomplished.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 12 hours
(Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis focused on the early days of Jesus ministry, in Galilee. This region, the Holy Father noted, was a kind of crossroads between the Mediterranean and the Mesopotamian hinterlands. Because of the presence of large numbers of pagans, for the Jews Galilee was seen as a geographical periphery. Little was expected from Galilee in terms of the story of salvation – but it was precisely here that the light of the Gospel began to be diffused throughout the world, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. Here, following St John the Baptist, Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. But unlike the Baptist, who waited for the people to come to him, Jesus chose the life of a wandering prophet, going out to meet the people. Pope Francis noted that Jesus didn’t simply proclaim the Gospel, He sought out companions to associate with Himself in His mission of salvation. He chose simple fisherman, Peter and Andrew, James and John, calling them not in an extraordinary manner, but in the routine of their daily lives. The fishermen, called to be “fishers of men”, responded immediately to Jesus call. “We, Christians of today,” the Pope said, “have the joy of proclaiming and bearing witness to our faith because of that first announcement, because there were those humble and courageous men who responded generously to the call of Jesus.” Our awareness of the beginnings of the Christian mission, he continued, “raises up in us the desire to bring the word, the love, and the tenderness of Jesus into every context, even the most impervious and resistant. All the spaces of human life are ground in which to sow the seed of the Gospel, that it might bear the fruits of salvation.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 12 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday celebrated Mass at the Cathedral Archbasilica of St John Lateran for the conclusion of the Jubilee for the 800th anniversary of the papal confirmation of the Order of Preachers – the Dominicans. In his homily, the Holy Father contrasted two opposed “human scenarios”: a “‘carnival’ of worldly curiosity, on the one hand; and on the other, the “glorification of the Father through good works.” Saint Paul, in the Letter to Timothy, warns against the worldly curiosity that sees men and women, with “itching ears,” always seeking after new teachers, “fables,” strange doctrines, ideologies. The very human tendency to seek novelties, the Pope said, “finds the ideal environment in the society of appearances, of consumption… Even the truth is “made-up”, covered with cosmetics to appear novel and attractive. Against this worldly “carnival” atmosphere stands the opposite scenario, found in the words of the Jesus in the Gospel: “that they may glorify your heavenly Father.” The passage from a pseudo-festive superficiality to glorification comes about “through the good works of those who, having become disciples of Christ, are become “salt” and “light.” This, the Pope said, “is the response of Jesus and of the Church, this is the solid support in the midst of a ‘fluid’ environment: good works, which we are able to accomplish thanks to Christ and His Holy Spirit, and which cause to rise up in the heart thanksgiving to the Father, and praise. Today, Pope Francis said, concluding his homily, “we give thanks to the Father for the work that Saint Dominic, full of the light and the salt of Christ, accomplished 800 years ago; a work at the service of the Gospel, preached with words and with his life; a work that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, has helped so many men and women to not lose themselves in the midst of the ‘carnival’ of worldly curiosity, but rather sense the taste of sound doctrine, the taste of the Gospel; who, in their turn, have become light and salt, doers of good works… and true brothers and sisters who glorify God, and teach others to glorify God, by the good works of their lives.  (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 7 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received members of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year. Listen to Lydia O’Kane's report: Addressing those gathered for the opening of the judiciary year of the Sacred Roman Rota, Pope Francis focused his attention on the relationship between faith and marriage. Love and Truth Quoting from his predecessors including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he noted the importance of Love and Truth. "Love needs truth”, Pope Francis said.  “Just as it is based on truth, love can last over time, overcome the ephemeral moment and stand firm to support a common path. If love has no relationship to the truth, the Holy Father explained, “it is subject to changing feelings and does not stand the test of time. True love, he added, “unifies all the elements of the person and becomes a new light towards a great and full life. In his observations, the Pope underlined that, “the experiences of faith of those seeking Christian marriage are very different.” Faced with this situation, he said, “we need to find valid remedies.” Prescribing the first of two remedies, the Holy Father pointed out that young people needed to be trained through an adequate process of preparation aimed at rediscovering marriage and the family according to God's plan. He said, it was therefore necessary that operators and organizations in charge of the pastoral care of the family had the specific skills in order to make preparation more effective for the sacrament of marriage. In this spirit, the Pope reiterated the need for a "new catechumenate" in preparation for marriage. The Holy Father’s second remedy involved  helping newlyweds to continue the journey in faith and in the Church even after the wedding celebration. You need, Pope Francis stressed, to identify with courage and creativity, a training project for young married couples, with initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of the sacrament received. Legal and sacramental view of marriage preparation The Holy Father said, that these two remedies were aimed at encouraging an appropriate context of faith in which to celebrate and live marriage. What was needed, explained the Pope, was to move from a purely legal and formal vision of the preparation of future spouses, to a sacramental foundation. Pope Francis said that this would require, “the generous contribution of Christian men and women, who work with priests in the pastoral care of families, in order to build a loving family according to God’s plan. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 12 hours