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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
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IMAGE: CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters

By Ann Rodgers

PITTSBURGH (CNS) — The Pittsburgh Diocese said Bishop David A. Zubik is making every effort to achieve a swift negotiated solution to the diocese’s dispute with the federal government over religious freedom in relation to the federal contraceptive mandate, as directed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We have always been willing to meet with representatives of the government to negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to our impasse over religious freedom,” said a diocesan statement issued Aug. 10.

In a May 16 unanimous decision in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case of challenges to the contraceptive mandate filed by several Catholic and other religious entities, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts, vacated earlier judgments against those parties opposing the mandate, and encouraged the plaintiffs and the federal government to resolve their differences.

Zubik v. Burwell involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, the Pennsylvania dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, the Archdiocese of Washington, and other Catholic and faith-based entities challenging the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most religious and other employers must cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients through employer-provided health insurance — even if the employers oppose the coverage on moral grounds. They see the mandate, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, as a violation of their religious freedom.

“Zubik” in the case name is Bishop Zubik, and “Burwell” is HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The plaintiffs, who do not fit the narrow exemption to the contraceptive mandate the government gives to churches, argue that providing contraceptive coverage even indirectly through a third party, as the Obama administration allows through what it calls an accommodation, still violates their religious beliefs.

The government argues its existing opt-out provision for these employers does not burden their free exercise of religion.

“Our counsel and counsel for the other Supreme Court litigants had a meeting with representatives of the Department of Justice, at which we attempted to engage in the kind of resolution talks that the Supreme Court intended in its order,” the Pittsburgh Diocese said in its statement. “The government has been slow to offer anything of substance to pursue a negotiated solution, except to mention openness to future meetings.”

Bishop Zubik initiated the lawsuit against the government on behalf of Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, arguing that it is a violation of religious freedom to force a religious organization to facilitate access to anything that it teaches is immoral.

After Bishop Zubik won an initial victory in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in November 2013, the case was appealed until it reached the Supreme Court this year.

In its May decision, the high courts urged the lower courts to give the litigants time to find a negotiated solution. The high court also affirmed that the diocese and the others could not be fined during those negotiations.

However, the diocese has learned that the Department of Justice is pressuring secular insurance companies that have contracts with the diocese, and with other religious organizations, to begin providing church employees with the objectionable coverage.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with several neighboring dioceses, is self-insured through the Catholic Benefits Trust. Catholic Benefits Trust hires secular insurance companies to handle the administration and claims for its plans.

Those companies have told the diocese that they recently received letters from the Department of Justice directing them to provide the disputed coverage at their own expense, said Christopher Ponticello, general counsel of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling strongly directing that the parties negotiate a mutually agreeable resolution to this matter, we have remained hopeful and open to those talks,” Ponticello told the Pittsburgh Catholic diocesan newspaper.

“It is discouraging to see this aggressive action taken by the government,” he said. “We hope to prevail upon the Department of Justice to stop this latest action without having to pursue additional litigation. We have believed from the beginning that an agreement could be reached that would allow the government to accomplish its goals without involving the church in the process.”

The diocese has not paid anything for its legal representation in Zubik v. Burwell. All costs associated with the litigation have been donated by the legal firm of Jones Day.

Mickey Pohl, one of the Jones Day attorneys who has been representing Bishop Zubik, the diocese, Catholic Charities and other religious organizations in this litigation, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Department of Justice is trying to pressure insurers to steamroll the religious objections of Catholics and other people of faith who have been part of this litigation. It is also troublesome that these assaults on freedom of religion have not been the subject of inquiry by the mainstream media during this election cycle.”

The Aug. 10 statement from the diocese said that “we are aware that the government has made an extremely aggressive interpretation of the court’s order in the Zubik case and is apparently trying to take over — to force our third-party administrators to include the objectionable coverage in our self-insured plans.”

“We think that is an erroneous reading of what the Supreme Court said,” it continued. “Furthermore, as the government seems to acknowledge, because we are self-insured there is no obligation or authority for the third-party administrator to provide the objectionable coverage.”

If the fines for not facilitating the coverage were imposed, Ponticello said, they would bankrupt Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh. Each year that agency provides about $10 million in services, such as free medical and dental care, and support to homeless women and veterans, to people of all faiths in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“The Supreme Court also made clear that we cannot be fined or penalized for refusing to comply with the government’s current regulations,” the statement said. “Therefore, we believe the government’s position is wrong. In order to avoid future litigation, we will try to work through these issues with our insurers, third-party administrators and the government. Our counsel is actively working on this endeavor, and we remain in prayer for a mutually agreeable solution.”

In late July, the Obama administration opened a public-comment period seeking input on ways the government can comply with religious employers’ refusal on moral grounds to cover contraceptives for employees and at the same time make sure those employees get such coverage.

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Rodgers is general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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Copyright © 2016 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 50 min

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Michael Kelly

DUBLIN (CNS) — The trustees of Ireland’s national seminary have agreed to bring in a specific policy to protect whistleblowers after serious allegations were made about life in the college.

The Aug. 23 announcement also followed a decision by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to pull his students from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, after publicly raising misgivings about the life and governance of the 221-year old institution.

The archbishop referred to claims of what he described as a “gay culture” in the seminary and further allegations that some seminarians have been using a gay dating app. Archbishop Martin said some of the allegations had been shown to be true.

The seminary trustees — 13 senior Irish bishops, including Archbishop Martin — said in a statement that “there is no place in a seminary community for any sort of behavior or attitude which contradicts the teaching and example of Jesus Christ.”

The statement said the trustees “share the concerns about the unhealthy atmosphere created by anonymous accusations, together with some social media comments which can be speculative or even malicious.”

The trustees agreed to “review current policies and procedures for reporting complaints with a view to adopting best practice procedures for ‘protected disclosures’ (whistle-blowing).”

They said they would ask the Irish bishops’ conference to conduct an independent audit and report of governance and statutes in the three Irish seminaries: Maynooth, the Pontifical Irish College in Rome and St. Malachy’s College in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They also agreed to reassess future personnel and resource needs for the seminary.

The statement said “the trustees accept their responsibility for ensuring that the national seminary adheres to best practice in all areas of training for priesthood and that college staff are trained to the highest level in accordance with requisite professional standards and the requirements of the Holy See.”

Archbishop Martin first raised concerns publicly in early August when he said “there seems to an atmosphere of strange goings-on there (Maynooth); it seems like a quarrelsome place with anonymous letters being sent around.

“There are people saying that anyone who tries to go to the authorities with an allegation are being dismissed from the seminary,” the archbishop said.

“I don’t think this is a good place for students,” he added.

There was no immediate reaction from Archbishop Martin to the trustees’ meeting and no indication as to whether he would change his mind as a result of the trustees’ intervention.

In early August, he said he had offered to provide an independent person for whistleblowers to approach, but the response to this offer was the publication of more anonymous letters. At the time, the archbishop said authorities in Maynooth “have to find a way to let people come forward with solid evidence to substantiate the allegations.”

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Copyright © 2016 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.

9 hours 29 min
Bishop Moeddel speaks to "Answer the Call" 1998.Bishop Moeddel speaks to “Answer the Call” 1998.

From The Catholic Telegraph Archives:

Excerpts from the August 27, 1993 Edition

With much solemnity, reverence, warmth and affection, Bishop Carl K. Moeddel was ordained to serve as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and titular bishop of Bistue in ceremonies at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Aug 24. “I am sure there is a protocol on all this,” the new bishop said with great emotion as he gave thanks to those present and asked for prayers. “But since I am a neophyte, you will forgive me if I am guided by my heart.” Archbishop Pilarczyk presided and said “The liturgical law of the church says that the ordination of a bishop should take place on a day when a large number of faithful can attend. Looking around our cathedral this afternoon…. I judge we have taken care of that requirement. “

Bishop Moeddel is ordained auxiliary bishop August 1993Bishop Moeddel is ordained auxiliary bishop August 1993

An overflow crowd of more than 1,100 friends, family members, clergy, religious, and diocesan and civic officials were in attendance at the nearly two-and-one-half-hour ceremony, which was filled with the joyful sound of trumpets, organs, ringing bells and voices raised in songs of praise.

A native of Elmwood Place in Cincinnati, Bishop Moeddel served from August 23, 1993 until June 27, 2007.

10 hours 21 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Hearing the mayor of Amatrice in central Italy say his town no longer exists and knowing there were children who died Aug. 24 in the earthquakes that struck the region, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience into a prayer service.

Beginning the audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said he had prepared a normal audience talk on how the merciful Jesus is close to people, but given the devastation in central Italy, he decided to lead the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.

Later in the day, the Vatican press office said that as a concrete sign of Pope Francis’ concern for the earthquake victims, six Vatican firefighters had been sent to Amatrice. They will work under the direction of the Italian government emergency services in searching for victims and offering them assistance.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.2 quake had an epicenter close to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict.

Smaller quakes — at least two of which registered more than 5.0 — continued for several hours after the main quake. By early evening, the death toll had reached 120 but was expected to rise; more than 350 were reported injured.

As emergency workers began digging people out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings and the number of verified deaths climbed, Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience.

“Hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and devastated entire areas, leaving many dead and wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and my closeness” to everyone in the earthquake zone, especially those who lost loved ones and “those who are still shaken by fear and terror,” the pope said.

“Having heard the mayor of Amatrice say, ‘The town no longer exists,’ and knowing that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened,” Pope Francis said.

The pope thanked all the volunteers and emergency workers who were trying to rescue victims people trapped under the rubble.

Assuring the people in the region of the prayers and “the embrace of the whole church,” the pope asked the estimated 11,000 pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square to join him in praying that “the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by human suffering, would console the brokenhearted and give them peace.”

At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of its prayer life and brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service. Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew and “on feast days we get up earlier” to pray, he said.

“All of the monks and the monks’ guests are safe,” he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered “considerable structural damage,” and the monastery will need repairs as well.

Within a half hour of the first quake, Father Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people “because it is the safest place in town — around the statue of St. Benedict.”

While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors’ needs.

The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Father Nivakoff said, “the facade seems to have detached” from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely.

Assisi is just 45 miles from Norcia and, according to Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, the quake was felt strongly at the convent and basilica that suffered major damage from an earthquake in 1997.

Father Fortunato told the Italian news agency ANSA that the quake woke all the friars, many of whom ran to the Basilica of St. Francis. No damage was visible, he said.

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Copyright © 2016 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.

13 hours 22 min

Endres ColumnQ: Are the homilies of priests and deacons critiqued? The homily quality among preachers varies considerably. Some are outstanding; others are poor. Are continuing education classes available and/or required for clergy especially in the area of homily development and presentation?

A: Yes, the homilies of priests and deacons, are always critiqued – at least informally – by those in the pews, but formal evaluation after ordination is limited. Still the inconsistent quality of Catholic preaching has been recognized, and there are efforts to address the quality of preaching and opportunities for preachers to improve.

When the U.S. bishops published Preaching the Mystery of Faith (2013), they cited Pope Benedict XVI’s post-synodal exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Charity) which noted that “the quality of homilies needs to be improved.” Later that same year, Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), wrote, “We know that the faithful attach great importance to [the homily], and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!” (135).

That the perceived quality of homilies varies considerably from preacher to preacher may often have less to do with the formation and training of preachers and more to do with differences in aptitude, temperament, and personality – among both preachers and their hearers. Congregants have different expectations for the homily; whether one wants to be taught, entertained, encouraged, or uplifted.

The ministry of preaching, which is a faculty that comes with ordination, does not attract only the vocally gifted, the eloquent, and the charismatic. Rather, it attracts a great diversity of personalities, from the soft-spoken introvert, who would – in certain contexts – prefer to be sitting in the pew than standing in the pulpit, to the extravert who brings great energy and drama to the homily; from the poet, who skillfully and naturally weaves words together in vivid pictures, to the essayist who works for hours to find the right words to convey what is in his heart and what he believes God wants him to preach.

While there are differences in the content of today’s homilies, the most significant differences have to do with style: how a homily is preached and delivered. In a culture that tends to devalue the spoken word, this can place certain priests and deacons at a disadvantage. The media has changed today’s parishioners into consumers of slick, well-rehearsed and prepared productions where the Catholic homily suffers in comparison even if preached by a capable and well-prepared homilist.

Efforts to overcome poor preaching include extensive study of the Scriptures and homiletic practice in seminary before ordination, including critique of preaching from professors and peers. In seminary, students become familiar with potential resources in scriptural exegesis and homily preparation, yet many preachers are far removed from the days of their seminary formation. While preaching workshops and institutes are offered for clergy, there is no requirement that they attend such gatherings.

Many preachers could benefit from more time spent in study and prayer in preparation for preaching. Immersion in the Word through a prayerful reading of the Scriptures and engagement with the church Fathers’ exegesis, in particular, can help. Constructive feedback can also aid preachers as the vast majority of homilists receive little more than, “Nice homily, Father!” from those leaving Mass. Some preachers invite feedback by organizing small groups of parishioners who provide input on the Sunday readings (as part of the homily preparation process) and then provide concrete and specific feedback on the homily after it is preached.

As homilists, we can benefit from additional attention paid to the homily itself, including the prayer, study, and preparation that undergirds it, but also input on how our homilies are being preached and received.

[Thanks to Deacon Dave Shea, professor of homiletics at the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, for his assistance with this response]. Father Endres is the dean of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and the Athenaeum of Ohio. Send your question of faith to Steve Trosley.

This A Question of Faith column first appeared in the August 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

20 hours 21 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/CJ Gunther, EPA

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Today’s “economic and political forces have led to increasingly lowered economic prospects for Americans without access to higher education, which is having a direct impact on family health and stability,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.

He made the comments as the author of this year’s Labor Day statement from the U.S. bishops.

Linking the decline in good jobs to family woes, Archbishop Wenski said, “Over half of parents between the ages of 26 and 31 now have children outside of a marriage, and research shows a major factor is the lack middle-skill jobs — careers by which someone can sustain a family above the poverty line without a college degree — in regions with high income inequality.”

The statement, dated Sept. 5, Labor Day, was released Aug. 22. Archbishop Wenski is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“Divorce rates and the rate of single-parent households break down along similar educational and economic lines,” he continued. “Financial concerns and breakdowns in family life can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. The Rust Belt region now appears to have the highest concentration in the nation of drug-related deaths, including from overdoses of heroin and prescription drugs.”

Archbishop Wenski quoted from Pope Francis’ address to Congress during the pope’s U.S. visit last September: “I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them.”

The pope added, “We live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.”

Archbishop Wenski said, “When our leaders ought to be calling us toward a vision of the common good that lifts the human spirit and seeks to soothe our tendencies toward fear, we find our insecurities exploited as a means to further partisan agendas. Our leaders must never use anxiety as a means to manipulate persons in desperate situations, or to pit one group of persons against another for political gain.”

In touting the “sanctity of work,” Archbishop Wenski said, “Dignified work is at the heart of our efforts because we draw insight into who we are as human beings from it.” St, John Paul II, in his encyclical “Laborem Exercens” (“On Human Work”), “reminded us that human labor is an essential key to understanding our social relationships, vital to family formation and the building up of community according to our God-given dignity,” the archbishop added.

“As we engage with our neighbors and our communities, we quickly find ways to deepen solidarity in a broader way, and to act on the structures and policies that impact meaningful work and family stability,” Archbishop Wenski said.

“Simply put, we must advocate for jobs and wages that truly provide a dignified life for individuals and their families, and for working conditions that are safe and allow for a full flourishing of life outside of the workplace,” he added. “Unions and worker associations, while imperfect, remain an essential part of the effort, and people of faith and goodwill can be powerful leaven to ensure that these groups, so important in society, continue to keep human dignity at the heart of their efforts.”

And “if you are an employer, you are called to respect the dignity of your workers through a just wage and working conditions that allow for a secure family life,” Archbishop Wenski said.

“With time, we will begin to restore a sense of hope and lasting change that places our economic and political systems at the service of the human person once more.”

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Editor’s Note: The full text of the U.S. bishops’ Labor Day statement is available in English and Spanish at, respectively, http://tinyurl.com/hm9dcoa and http://tinyurl.com/goq6kkr.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Copyright © 2016 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

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family is an example of the “ordinary magisterium” — papal teaching — to which Catholics are obliged to give “religious submission of will and intellect,” said an article in the Vatican newspaper.

Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a well-known professor of ecclesiology, said that while Pope Francis did not invoke his teaching authority in a “definitive way” in the document, it meets all the criteria for being an example of the “ordinary magisterium” to which all members of the church should respond with “the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation.”

The Spanish priest’s article in L’Osservatore Romano Aug. 23 came in response to questions raised about the formal weight of the pope’s document, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”). For instance, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke has said on several occasions that the document is “a mixture of opinion and doctrine.”

Father Pie-Ninot said he examined the document in light of the 1990 instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the vocation of the theologian.

The instruction — issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI — explained three levels of church teaching with the corresponding levels of assent they require. The top levels are: “Infallible pronouncements,” which require an assent of faith as being divinely revealed; and teaching proposed “in a definitive way,” which is “strictly and intimately connected with revelation” and “must be firmly accepted and held.”

A teaching is an example of “ordinary magisterium,” according to the instruction, “when the magisterium, not intending to act ‘definitively,’ teaches a doctrine to aid a better understanding of revelation and make explicit its contents, or to recall how some teaching is in conformity with the truths of faith, or finally to guard against ideas that are incompatible with these truths, the response called for is that of the religious submission of will and intellect.”

“Amoris Laetitia” falls into the third category, Father Pie-Ninot said, adding the 1990 instruction’s statement that examples of ordinary magisterium can occur when the pope intervenes “in questions under discussion which involve, in addition to solid principles, certain contingent and conjectural elements.”

The instruction notes that “it often only becomes possible with the passage of time to distinguish between what is necessary and what is contingent,” although, as the Spanish priest said, the instruction insists that even then one must assume that “divine assistance” was given to the pope.

Accepting “Amoris Laetitia” as authoritative church teaching, Father Pie-Ninot said, applies also to the document’s “most significant words” about the possibility of people divorced and remarried without an annulment receiving Communion in limited circumstances.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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Copyright © 2016 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 9 hours
The Athenaeum of Ohio is shown in a 2013 file photo. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)The Athenaeum of Ohio is shown in a 2013 file photo. (CT Photo/John Stegeman)

The Athenaeum Chorale will be holding auditions for its 2016-2017 season from August 29th-September 25th.  All singers over 18 years of age are welcome to audition.   Spots for all voice parts are available.

 

Beginning its thirty-seventh season, the Athenaeum Chorale was founded in the fall of 1980, and has continued to inspire listeners and worshippers in performances of great choral masterworks and the sacred liturgical repertoire. The Chorale sings for approximately eight liturgical events per year, most of which occur in the Athenaeum’s beautiful Italian Romanesque Chapel of St. Gregory the Great. Sung Vespers liturgies comprise the main offering of the year’s schedule. Each service includes choral repertoire from a variety of periods and traditions.

 

All auditions will be held, by appointment, at the Athenaeum of Ohio, 6616 Beechmont Ave. If you would like to schedule an audition or have questions about the Chorale, please contact the director:

 

Ms. Mary Catherine Levri mlevri@athenaeum.edu (513) 233-6138

 

1 day 12 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Barbara Fraser

By Barbara J. Fraser

JAMA, Ecuador (CNS) — Ask Jose Santos about the earthquake that struck the northern coast of Ecuador in April and he paints a vivid picture.

“The ground moved like waves on the ocean,” he recalls, while a pall of sulfurous-smelling haze rose over the town.

Santos’ welding shop collapsed, destroying the tools on which he depended for a livelihood. At his home in the village of Bigua, a few miles away, his wife and their children fled their house as the walls cracked.

After the quake, they slept outdoors, afraid that one of the more than 150 aftershocks might bring the house down. Now, they and nearly 80 neighbors have temporary homes in 10- by 20-foot tents donated by the Catholic Church.

Four months after the April 16 earthquake — which killed more than 670 people, injured nearly 5,000 and left as many as 80,000 homeless — residents of northern Ecuador are slowly rebuilding. But the disaster exposed long-standing problems that will take longer to solve, especially in rural areas.

“People speak of before and after 16-A,” says Alfredo de la Fuente, director of social ministry for Caritas Ecuador in the Archdiocese of Portoviejo. “It changed the lives of the vast majority of people” in the northern coastal provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas.

In Jama and other towns in the hardest-hit area, aerial photos showed the devastation of collapsed buildings in the days after the quake. The rubble is gone now, leaving urban areas dotted with vacant lots.

“But the damage is far worse than it appears,” de la Fuente says, because some of the remaining buildings will have to be demolished, while others will need extensive repairs.

“Recovery will be very slow,” he says.

Some people who lost their homes moved in with relatives, while others sought refuge in shelters set up by the government.

Government teams began going house to house, assessing damage and rating buildings with a stoplight system. A green tag means the house is habitable, yellow means it needs repairs, and red tags mark houses that are condemned. The inspection takes time but is required if a family is to qualify for a reconstruction loan.

Many of the earthquake victims who are suffering most are those in rural areas, farthest from the view of cameras, church workers say.

Immediately after the earthquake, Caritas provided food, water, coffins and large tents, with support from Catholic Relief Services, the humanitarian aid and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Both agencies also began their own assessment in rural areas. Social ministry teams have visited about 1,400 families, says Joseph Kelly, CRS program director for Latin America.

“The earthquake exposed a situation that was already precarious in a lot of these communities,” Kelly says. “Water systems were decrepit, and communities were already suffering from water-borne diseases. People had to buy water from a truck or boil river water.”

The social ministry teams evaluate housing damage, provide hygiene kits and show people how to disinfect water and store it safely.

Standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry tropical diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and zika. A disaster like the earthquake raises the risk of an outbreak that would further strain emergency workers, says Oscar Robles, who heads CRS’ disaster response.

The Caritas teams also offer moral support, assuring families that they are not forgotten, de la Fuente says. And they keep an eye out for stress-related psychological problems, such as domestic violence.

As an alternative to cramped, multi-family shelters — and to enable families to remain on their property — Caritas and CRS have built more than 850 temporary shelters, stretching tarps over sturdy bamboo frames. Most have a latrine and a small, three-sided structure with a concrete floor where the family can take bucket baths, as most houses lack running water.

CRS has invested about $4 million so far, and expects to provide earthquake recovery assistance for about 12 months, Kelly says. Besides meeting immediate needs, the agency is working with municipal water providers to repair and upgrade damaged systems.

The earthquake was as much an economic shock as a seismic jolt. The scenic coastal fishing villages of Manabi and Esmeraldas, with their placid beaches, are a popular tourist destination.

This year, however, visitors are scarce. CRS opened its disaster relief headquarters in the only hotel still operating in Jama, which was empty after the quake. The disaster also has depressed the fishing industry because many restaurants are empty or closed.

In cities such as Portoviejo and Manta, Caritas is helping women form solidarity groups with revolving funds that they can use to start small businesses.

Psychological scars may be slower to heal. In Bigua, some people still go indoors only to cook, even if their homes suffered little damage.

Alicia Nevares, 65, recalls sleepless nights as aftershocks jolted the region. She is afraid to return to her home with her husband, who has Parkinson’s disease, preferring the tent just across the street.

Farther north, in Esmeraldas, where many people live on an island just off the coast, a strong aftershock triggered a new rush to the mainland. With no bridge connecting the island, the only transportation is by boat.

Government officials have proposed resettling the islanders on the mainland, but they are reluctant to move permanently.

Nevertheless, signs of recovery are evident. Townspeople have cleared the debris of collapsed shops and operate their businesses out of tents.

In a place where jobs were already scarce, “people cannot afford to wait,” Robles says. “The impact of the earthquake was great, because the country didn’t have much experience with a disaster like this, but people have a strong will to keep forging ahead.”

 

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Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 6 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert Duncan

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) — In the chapel of the first house Blessed Teresa of Kolkata established in Rome, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk of the Missionaries of Charity talks about her life, mixing the concrete and even mundane with the spiritual and even mystical.

“She was very human — she loved chocolate, she loved ice cream,” the priest said. At the same time, her letters to her spiritual directors make it clear “she’s among the great mystics of the church,” having experienced the sweetness of hearing Jesus’ voice and, later, the desolation of feeling he had abandoned her.

“Mother Teresa was no plastic saint,” said Father Kolodiejchuk, who is superior general of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers and postulator of Blessed Teresa’s sainthood cause. Mother Teresa was a “very concrete, feet on the ground” organizer and hands-on minister to the poorest of the poor, he said.

The priest, a native of Canada, spoke to Catholic News Service Aug. 19 at the home Mother Teresa initially founded in Rome for novice sisters. Now a base for the order’s priests, it is a warren of rooms built around a courtyard covered with a densely leafed grape vine laden with fruit nearing purple ripeness.

The grapes should be ready for harvest by Sept. 4, the date Pope Francis is scheduled to declare Blessed Teresa a saint.

“Mother Teresa could be the patron saint of women who are having difficulty conceiving,” Father Kolodiejchuk said when asked for suggestions. When couples would tell her they were having trouble having children, “she would take a miraculous medal, kiss it and then she would say simply, ‘Say this prayer: “Mary, mother of Jesus, give us a child.'” That was the whole prayer. And sure enough, one year later there would be the couple with a baby in hand.”

But the priest, who travels constantly as superior of his order and chief promoter of Blessed Teresa’s sainthood cause, said she also could be the patron saint of airplane travelers. “She’s my personal patron saint for my luggage,” he said. Before a trip, he says a little prayer and “I have never had any difficulty with my luggage. Never lost. Always shows up.”

Mother Teresa’s canonization is the church’s formal proclamation that she is with God and can intercede on behalf of those who pray for her assistance, Father Kolodiejchuk said. Sainthood recognizes that she “lived in an excellent way — a heroic way — the Christian life and shows us concretely what the Christian life involves.”

For Father Kolodiejchuk, “the single most heroic aspect of her life” is her extraordinary commitment to God, the church and the poor despite what Mother Teresa described in letters to her spiritual director as “the darkness,” a feeling that lasted some 50 years.

“She was a woman passionately in love with Jesus,” Father Kolodiejchuk said. “As a young religious she made this resolution to love him as he’s never been loved before, which is a daring thing to say if you are taking it seriously.”

In 1946, Mother Teresa — at the time a Loreto sister — heard the voice of Jesus calling her to serve him in the poorest of the poor. It was an intense, mystical experience of “that union, that presence, that intimacy with Jesus,” he said. “And then she lost it and that’s painful.”

“So the trial is that she feels that Jesus doesn’t love her. She feels unwanted, unloved,” he said.

Father Kolodiejchuk said that for Mother Teresa, it was like “a woman who loves passionately her husband, but it seems like he couldn’t care less, and yet she is there faithfully, loving, doing all the things a loving wife would do.”

Living through that experience with “heroic faith,” constant acts of charity and real love for God and for the poor, he said, is a witness to the real meaning of commitment and that “love is not principally a feeling. Certainly that’s part of it for almost everyone, but in the end, it is classical Thomas Aquinas: Love is in the will. It’s our choosing.”

Feeling unloved was not just a painful experience for Mother Teresa, he said. It was also another way for her to live in deep communion with Jesus and with the materially and spiritually poor she dedicated her life to serving.

In the chapel of every Missionary of Charity community, next to the crucifix, are the words of Jesus, “I thirst.”

“Thirst for Jesus explains everything” the missionaries do, he said. From the very beginning, Mother Teresa said the order was founded “to quench the thirst of Jesus on the cross for love and souls. So, in this darkness, she is quenching, satiating Jesus’ thirst by, paradoxically, not experiencing that love. Or to say it in another way, they are so united that Jesus can share with her his most terrible pain.”

Her experience of feeling unloved also meant she lived “in solidarity with the spiritually poor,” Father Kolodiejchuk said. “She would have this empathy because she would have the same sense of, ‘Yeah, I know what it is to be unloved and unwanted and feeling lonely — to want to love and be loved, and it seems like it’s not there.'”

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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2 days 11 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The “narrow gate” to salvation described by Jesus isn’t narrow because God is oppressive, but because pride bloats Christians and prevents them from entering God’s merciful embrace, Pope Francis said.

Christians “must seize the opportunities of salvation” and not waste time on trivial things before the gate is closed, the pope said before reciting the Angelus prayer Aug. 22.

“If God is good and loves us, why does he close the gate at some point?” the pope asked visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The reason, he said, is because “our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.”

In the day’s Gospel reading, Jesus calls on his followers to “strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

By using the imagery of the narrow gate, Jesus tells his listeners that the question of how many will be saved is not as important as knowing “which path leads to salvation,” the pope said.

Having a humble and faithful heart in need of God’s forgiveness, he added, allows Christians to enter the gate that, while wide open, remains too small for those swollen by pride and fear.

“It is a narrow gate to restrict our pride and our fear; it is a wide open gate because God welcomes us without distinction. And the salvation he gives us is a never-ending stream of mercy that breaks down every barrier and opens up surprising perspectives of light and peace,” he said.

Jesus, he continued, offers an invitation to cross this threshold and is “waiting for each one of us — no matter what sin we have committed — to embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness.”

Upon passing the gate, Christians can experience an “authentic change” that allows them to shed “worldly behaviors, selfishness and closures.”

Pope Francis led pilgrims in a moment of silence to reflect on those things that “we have inside and that prevent us from passing through the gate.” He also asked them to reflect on the “wide open door of God’s mercy” that leads to a path of salvation for those who wish to experience his love.

“It is the love which saves, the love that already here on earth is a source of blessing for those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give of themselves to others, especially to the weakest,” the pope said.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis led the crowd in the square in praying the “Hail Mary” for the victims of a suicide bombing in Turkey the night before. At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded when a suspected suicide bomber, who was reported to be between 12 and 14 years old, detonated his explosives at a wedding party in Gaziantep.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 12 hours
Dominican Sister Mary JohnDominican Sister Mary John Slonkosky

There are times when vocations to religious life converge in celebration.

When Dominican Sister Mary John Slonkosky was honored July 10 at St. Augustine Parish in Minster for her 25 years of service to God and His church, the anniversary of her vocation was the focus.

But, the extended family gathering provided a glimpse of how loving God and living the faith rewards us with people willing to listen to God’s call.

Sister Mary John’s anniversary Mass was concelebrated by her two cousins who serve the Archdiocese of Cincinnati — Fathers Barry Stechschulte and Ned Brown. In attendance was her niece, Regina Slonkosky, who has followed in her aunt’s footsteps and entered the Dominican Sisters’ novitiate in Nashville, Tenn., in August 2015.

Also at the Minister gathering was sister Mary John’s nephew, David Slonkosky, who has entered seminary for the Congregation of the Holy Cross priests in Notre Dame, Ind., and her second cousin, Marty Arlinghaus, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who is in formation for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West in Mount Washington.

Sister Mary John, 51, today principal at St. Mary – Star of the Sea  Catholic Elementary School in Hampton, Va., offered her reasoning for her family’s fertile ground for vocations.

“Some of it is the nature of our small town and how my relatives, on my mother’s side, brought us together a lot. My grandmother lived down the street and she had 13 children, so we have a lot of cousins. So, the size of my family and where we grew up play a role.

“Also, they started family reunions. The faith was a big part of that. We would have Mass if we could ask a priest to come that day. My grandmother was very faithful to the church. If you were around her you could tell she was a believer and she encouraged us to practice the faith. The big thing she did is  ask us to pray to know God’s will for us — to know why we are called to do what we do,” Sister Mary John said.

“From early on, I would hear her tell my sisters: ‘You pray now that if God wants you to be married you will meet the one who God wants you to marry. Be aware that God has a plan for you.’ That’s what I learned,” sister said “I’m not here for no reason. There is a reason, and I need to find it out and I need to pray to find it out. It was a pretty basic understanding of why we are here.

“Catholic philosophy permeates my family.

“Yes, the small town was predominantly Catholic. The church is so prominent in the town. I look at it as a Catholic culture that I do not see everywhere where I have served. It is a culture that faith is a part of your life and Sunday Mass is not forced. It’s what you do. I feel a lot of the fidelity of the faith is that people would always be at Mass, in the church, and taking care of the church. It became part of your life, a second home.  It wasn’t foreign to consider serving the church.”

The key turning point to answering her call from God occurred when she was studying at Miami of Ohio University in Oxford. She was dating at the time.

“It started with a diocesan priest I met  – the late) Father Norbert McCarthy. He was pastor of Queen of Peace Church in Millville. I started going to Mass there and I taught Sunday school religious education. That sparked my interest in teaching the faith,” said Sister Mary John, who holds a degree in speech pathology.

“For me, I started to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and his advice and counsel in that was a great help for me. I started to go to Friday adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He showed me a way of praying that I had not seen a lot. He prayed out loud in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was very personal in talking to the Lord. I was in the habit of daily personal prayer and had already written prayers but his kind of prayer opened me up.  Then I went to him for advice outside of the sacrament in a more personal way, he is the one who asked me if I had never really thought about becoming a sister.”

“I became a principal through God’s will. I was asked to teach and eventually got the licensure in teaching elementary school and, at the same time, earned a Masters Degree in education from middle Tennessee State University in Murphysboro.”

The celebration of sister Mary John’s vocation prompted comments from her sisters.

“Our family did pray for vocations to religious life and to marriage.  Sister Mary John, being the youngest, saw us (her siblings) pray for a future spouse. We knew we had to find ‘the one’ that God wanted for us and she wanted to do the same except she realized God was calling her to be His Bride of Christ,” said Margo Lewis.

“When reflecting on why our family has been open to the vocation of religious life, it was a collective force of faith-filled experiences coupled with the witnessing of ‘sacramental vocations in action’ — all  lavishly covered in our Lord’s good graces. Certainly our mother and father  were a strong influence on us mostly by their example of faithfulness and loyalty to each other and to their church.”

Polly Slonkosky Barga, another sister, said: “Family gatherings usually ended up with deep discussions about religion. Many evenings began or ended with a group rosary. Even with many of our cousins, we would delve into theology, doctrine and what we learned from Father BenWolf  in Pennsylvania who we knew from high school and college years.”

This story first appeared in the August 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

2 days 20 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

The earthquake that struck Italy early this morning was centered in Norcia, where there is a Benedictine monastery at the birthplace of St. Benedict.

The monks have posted this message on their Facebook page:

Related: Zenit’s 2015 interview with the prior of the monastery: Monks Who Brought Chant Back to St. Benedict’s Birthplace Release Album 

__

Dear Friends,

Many of you have by now heard of the earthquake that struck us during the night. The quake was a powerful one with a magnitude of 6.2. We’ve taken the past few hours to assess the situation.

First: We are OK. We are alive, and the monks were not seriously injured. Sadly, there are many injuries to report among the people of the region, especially those in small mountain villages. Please pray for them. We monks will do what we can to contribute here on the ground, but we’ll need your spiritual support in a special way during this period.

Second: We, as many others in Norcia and surrounding areas, suffered a lot of damage to our buildings and especially to our basilica. It will take some time to assess the extent of the damage, but it is very sad to see the many beautiful restorations we’ve made to St. Benedict’s birthplace reduced, in a moment, to disrepair.

Third: What can you do? Please, pray for us, for those who have lost their lives, who have lost someone they love, who have lost their homes and livelihoods. We will need your help, as always but now in a special way, to start the project of rebuilding. Please consider making a gift to help us get started.

The Monks of Norcia

The web site of the monks, where donations can be made, is here: https://en.nursia.org/donations/

12 hours 29 min

A strong earthquake struck central Italy early on 24 August, causing loss of life and severe destruction to buildings. The magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck around the Rieti region. The worst hit towns were Amatrice and Accumoli, with the epicentre in Norcia.

“The situation is terrible,” said Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, who arrived a few minutes after the first quake in the town of Pescara del Tronto. “As dawn broke, I could see the area had been destroyed.”

“We are already working with Caritas to get the right aid to the people,” he said.

The Italian Catholic Church has immediately made available €1 million in response to the earthquake and is launching a nationwide parish appeal to support Caritas Italy relief efforts.

“We are gathered in prayer with those caught in this tragic event,” said the Italian bishops in a statement, inviting all to help alleviate the difficult conditions people in the affected areas will face in the coming days, weeks and months.

Caritas volunteers in Rieti have already started to deliver food and basic necessities and Caritas is organising further support, while the Italian Civil Protection are looking for survivors under the rubble.

In 2015, Caritas Rieti helped train migrants and refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Congo, Syria, Senegal, Somalia, Rwanda, Mali and Ghana to work with the Italian Civil Protection in emergency response.

“Caritas and parish volunteers, priests and bishops are concretely helping with the delivery of aid,” said Caritas Italy’s Paolo Beccegato. “We’re in constant communication with them to organise relief efforts on the ground.”

Donations can be sent to: Caritas Italiana, Via Aurelia 796 – 00165 Roma, using the current account n. 347013 or by bank transfer to Banca Popolare Etica, Via Parigi 17, Roma. Iban: IT 29 U 05018 03200 000000011113. Please specify  “Colletta terremoto centro Italia”.

Other ways include:

Online: www.caritas.it

– Banca Prossima, piazza della Libertà 13, Roma – Iban: IT 06 A 03359 01600 100000012474

– Banco Posta, viale Europa 175, Roma – Iban: IT91 P076 0103 2000 0000 0347 013

– UniCredit, via Taranto 49, Roma – Iban: IT 88 U 02008 05206 000011063119.

Earthquakes are a constant threat to communities living in the Apennine mountains in Italy. An earthquake in Abruzzo left almost 300 people dead and tens of thousands homeless when it struck on 6 April 2009.

In the aftermath of that quake, the diocesan Caritas pitched in immediately to provide the people of Aquila with food, clothes and other essentials.

Following the initial emergency, Caritas Italy turned its focus to rebuilding communities by providing them with homes and also spaces where they could meet and learn.

13 hours 58 min

Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the off-the-cuff remarks Pope Francis gave during this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he decided to postpone this week’s catechesis until next week, in order to speak about the tragic earthquake that hit Central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning and to invite those present to join him in saying the rosary’s sorrowful mysteries for its victims.

Also below is a Vatican Radio-provided translation of the Pope’s appeal for peace in Ukraine, made at the conclusion of today’s audience:

***

Unscripted Remarks Given Instead of Catechesis:

I had prepared the Catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this Year of Mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However, on hearing the news of the earthquake that struck central Italy, which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones affected. I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the Mayor of Amatrice say that “the town no longer exists”, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.

For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, and beyond, in the Dioceses of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and le Marche, of the prayer and close solidarity of the entire Church who in these moments extends her maternal love. We too present in this square offer you our embrace.

In thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted and, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.

With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion.

And so we will postpone this week’s Catechesis to next Wednesday. I invite you to pray with me a part of the Holy Rosary, the Sorrowful Mysteries:

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided Translation]

Appeal for Ukraine:

In these last weeks, the international Observers have expressed concern for the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine. Today, as that dear Nation celebrates its national holiday – which this year coincides with the 25th anniversary of independence – I assure them of my prayer for peace and I renew my appeal to all the parties involved and to the international bodies that they might strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Vatican Radio]
14 hours 37 min

Here below is the statement by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, to the United Nations during a Security Council Open Debate on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on Tuesday:

***

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito AuzaApostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

Security Council Open Debate on

Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

 

23 August 2016

Mr. President,

The Holy See commends the Presidency of Malaysia for bringing this topic to the attention of this Chamber and the entire International Community.

At  the very outset, my delegation wishes to reiterate the Holy See’s constant and firm opposition to the production and use of weapons of mass destruction. Any act, any weapon that  aims indiscriminately to destroy entire cities or extensive areas, together with  their inhabitants, is against all international humanitarian law and merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

Mr. President,

While treaties and conventions have been reached to ban chemical and biological weapons and prevent the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, human genius continues to invent new ways of annihilating itself. For instance, conventional weapons are becoming less and less “conventional” as technological advances elevate their power to destroy to the level of weapons of mass destruction.

For this reason, the Holy See recommends that discussions on weapons of mass destruction go beyond the traditional categories of nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons to include devastatingly powerful conventional weapons used to perpetrate war crimes and crimes  against  humanity.  Military forces, rebels, terrorists and  extremist groups use with greater frequency ever more powerful conventional weapons, showing scant regard for civilian immunity, discrimination, or proportionality.

Indeed, humanitarian disasters that continue to unfold in real time before our very own eyes show us that schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure are blown up by the incessant use of powerful conventional weapons. The tens of millions of refugees and displaced persons send an important  message to this Chamber today: We must flee or die as our cities and communities are entirely devastated, not by nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, but by powerful conventional weapons. These tragedies appeal to the international community to implement strictly all legally binding treaties and instruments  on the prohibition and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and urgently to review existing classifications and definitions of what constitutes a weapon of mass destruction.

Mr. President,

In this very Chamber and in other fora, the Holy See has repeatedly called on the weapon producing nations of the world to severely limit and control the manufacture and sale of weapons to unstable countries and regions of the world, where the likelihood of their illegal use and their falling into the hands of non-state actors is real and present. The proliferation of weapons, regardless of whether they are conventional or of mass destruction, simply aggravates situations of conflict and results in huge human and material costs, profoundly undermining development and the search for lasting peace. Indeed, non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament underpin global security and sustainable development. Without them, the achievement of the much-vaunted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be seriously jeopardized.

Mr. President,

Double standards in the implementation of treaties and conventions on the prohibition and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction can only encourage disregard for the very same treaties and conventions on the part of those who are aggrieved or discriminated against. The discrimination between countries with and countries without weapons of mass destruction cannot be a permanent situation. If it is unthinkable to imagine a world where weapons of mass destruction are available to all, it is reasonable  to imagine, and to work collectively for, a world where nobody has them. The international community must thus appeal and act with one voice to ban all weapons of mass destruction. This objective requires the continued advocacy and cooperation of all, because much remains to be done to achieve it.

Mr. President,

There is no doubt that every step towards banning weapons of mass destruction is a giant step towards achieving a better world.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[Original text: English] [Vatican Radio-provided text]
16 hours 44 min

This morning during his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis greeted the participants of the General Assembly of the World Conference of Secular Institutes, reported Vatican Radio.

According to Canon Law, a secular institute is an “institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.” [CIC 710]

During the audience, Pope Francis said he “wishes this Jubilee of Mercy is a time of grace and spiritual renewal.”

Every four years, the General Assembly of the World Conference of Secular Institutes takes place, bringing together the presidents general of the member secular institutes, as well as the presidents of national and international conferences of secular institutes.

 

18 hours 26 min

During his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis repeated his appeal to help the suffering nation of Ukraine. Today, August 24, is the nation’s Independence Day, marking its 25th anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union.

At the conclusion of the audience, Francis said, “I renew my appeal to all the parties involved and to the international bodies that they might strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency.”

In recent weeks, the Pontiff also lamented, international observers have expressed concern for the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine.

Recalling Ukraine’s national holiday, Francis assured the nation of his prayer for its peace and renewed his appeal.

On various public occasions, including at his General Audiences, Pope Francis has appealed for peace in Ukraine, noting that the nation’s “population has been suffering for some time the consequences of an armed conflict, forgotten by many.”

On April 3, during his Regina Caeli address, the Holy Father announced a special charity collection to support the people of Ukraine, explaining to the pilgrims that on Sunday, April 24th, it would be possible to contribute to the collection in all Catholic Churches in Europe.

In addition, the Pontiff greeted pilgrims from Ukraine and Belarus on the occasion of an international conference marking the 30th anniversary of the tragedy at Chernobyl. “While renewing prayers for the victims of this disaster, we express our gratitude to the rescuers and to all the initiatives with which we have tried to alleviate the suffering and damage,” the Pope said.

 

19 hours 20 min
Pope Francis’ sorrow at the news of the earthquake that hit Central Italy’s Lazio, Umbria, and Marche regions, was so great this morning that he decided to postpone this week’s catechesis, and instead invited the faithful present to join him in saying the rosary for those affected.
“I had prepared the Catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this Year of Mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus,” Pope Francis announced during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, “but upon hearing the news of the earthquake that hit central Italy, devastating entire areas and leaving several dead and wounded, I cannot help but express my great sorrow and my closeness to all people present in the places struck by shocks, to all who have lost loved ones, and to those still shaken by fear and terror.”

Continuing to express his heartbreak, the Holy Father noted, “To hear the mayor of Amatrice say: ‘The village is gone and I know that among the dead, are children,’ really struck me.”

“I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of my prayers, and wish to tell them to be assured of the caress and embrace of the whole Church at this time, who wants to embrace you with her maternal love, and even of our embrace, here, in the Square.”

Pope Francis went on to thank all the volunteers and those involved in civil protection that are currently working to offer relief.

“I ask you to join me in praying,” he said, “that the Lord Jesus, Who is always moved by compassion before human suffering, consoles these saddened hearts and gives them peace through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion.”

“Therefore,” Pope Francis said, “let us postpone this week’s catechesis to next week and I invite you to recite a portion of the Holy Rosary with me, the sorrowful mysteries.”

According to the BBC, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday morning, specifically 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Rome, claiming at least 38 lives and leaving some 150 missing.

As the earthquake struck the regional border area of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche, in Rome some buildings shook for some 20 seconds. About 80 aftershocks have been reported since. People from as far north as Bologna and as far south as Napoli have reported feeling the quake and its effects.

Although local authorities are unsure of the full extent of casualties, the highest numbers were reported in the small village of Pescara del Tronto, where 10 people were reported dead, including children. Twenty people have been taken to hospital, but the number of casualties, local sources say, is expected to rise.

Some of the worst damage was in the town of Amatrice, where at least five died; the town was reduced almost to rubble. Rescue efforts are underway to find survivors.

According to the Italian news agency ANSA, in the same town, two little boys, ages four and seven, were pulled alive from the rubble of the house they had been staying in, with their grandmother. According to rescuers, they had been sheltering under a bed.

In the nearby village of Accumoli, a family of four is also feared to be dead.

20 hours 57 min

Pope Francis has appointed a new bishop in the United States. The Holy See announced today that the Pope appointed Bishop Martin David Holley as bishop of Memphis, Tennessee.

He succeeds Bishop James Terry Steib, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

Born in Pensacola, Florida in 1954, Martin David Holley would go on to study at Alabama State University, the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., and Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was ordained a priest in 1987.

Bishop Holley served in a number of pastoral roles in Florida, including parish vicar, director of the diocesan department for questions of ethics, and member of education and vocations boards and commissions, and of the presbyteral council, among several others.

Prior to his appointment as Bishop of Memphis, he was serving as Titular Bishop of Rusubisir and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The American diocese of Memphis comprises an area of some 27,585 kilometers. According to the most recent statistics in 2013, out of a population of some 1,595,650, some 77,800 (less than 5 percent), are Catholic. They are served by some 82 priests, 50 permanent deacons, and nearly 100 religious.

 

1 day 14 hours

His was one of the most appreciated interventions in this first brief period of the 37th Rimini Meeting. For Father Federico Trinchero, 39, Carmelite missionary in the Central African Republic since 2009, it was a return to his native land, Romagna, but down there, at Bangui, capital of a country still lacerated by a terrible civil war, there are already those who miss him.

In the course of his testimony at the meeting, the missionary talked about how some locals, knowing about his imminent transfer to Rimini, offered themselves to polish his shoes in sign of solicitude and affection. In fact, there is much gratitude in Central Africa for these missionaries from Europe, who transformed their convent into a refugee camp, and who did not flee not even during the blackest moments of the civil war.

After Pope Francis’ visit, however, — who last November 29 opened the first Holy Door at Bangui, making it the “spiritual capital” of the world –, something has changed for the better. Father Trinchero described the signs of this hope to ZENIT, following his report last Sunday.

**

ZENIT: Father Federico, how important was the Holy Father’s visit last November? What changes has it brought about?

Father Trinchero: By the design of Providence, I found myself at Bangui in two of the most important moments of its history. I speak first of all of the bloodiest war that ever involved Central Africa: notwithstanding the fact that in the past coups d’Etat and conflicts weren’t lacking, the level of violence was never so high. In the positive, we had the Pope’s visit, which happened in fact in the midst of this war. The Holy Father’s coming seems to have truly started a path of peace. It can’t be said that the war is ended, but certainly there is no shooting as there was at first.

ZENIT: In your opinion, what were the Holy Father’s words that struck the heart of Central Africans?

Father Trinchero: Certainly, when he said that Bangui was becoming “the spiritual capital of the world,” a phrase that, undoubtedly, surprised us and that, perhaps, we still do not truly understand its meaning. The Central Africans were struck, probably, not so much by the adjective “spiritual” but by the noun “capital”: at one point, they could relate a lot to those “last” that, in the Gospel, become the “first.” Used to occupying the last places, the Pope placed us on the stand. I’m not saying that we must teach others something – this would be pride – but now, however, we have perhaps something to say to the world and we didn’t expect this. “Spiritual” is what we must be: it is a commitment the Pope gave us and we will see in the coming years what it really means.

ZENIT: What are the most outstanding human characteristics of the Central African people?

Father Trinchero: They are a people that, year after year, I am getting to know and love ever more. This daily coexistence with them has enabled me to know their defects better and appreciate their virtues more. One of their good qualities is to smile when suffering. Many of the Italians here, to whom I’ve shown the photo of the refugee camp, have said to me: “”they have lost everything but one sees they are happy.” They are able to endure a lot, to smile in suffering, to always see the positive side of everything and not despair. In appearance they might seem passive and not very dynamic but in fact they always commit themselves and give the best of themselves.

ZENIT: How receptive are the Central Africans to the Christian message?

Father Trinchero: From the point of view of the faith, we find all the defects and merits of a young Church. There is much enthusiasm; the churches are packed, the Movements very frequented, young people take part in the life of the Church and are very willing. While here in Europe priests don’t know what to invent to attract young people, in Central Africa sometimes we don’t even publicize our initiatives for fear that too many will come! God isn’t a problem for them, He is not – as I often say – something that one discusses but Someone with whom one discusses. For them, it is as if God were part of the family’s friends.

Instead, problems arise in conversion from beliefs linked to witchcraft and regarding how the Gospel can really become life and change their moral behavior. In particular, in regard to the family and marriage, there is still a long way to go. I’m referring in particular to the fear of Sacramental Marriage on the part of young couples. Unfortunately, few weddings are celebrated in church and those who do are, in the main, mature couples who have lived for many years in concubinage and already have several children. Another obstacle is the dowry. There is also much sexual disorder, promiscuity, homelessness, individuals that have children from several relationships, children that grow up without the figure of the father. Truly united families are rare.

ZENIT: What is the state of inter-religious coexistence in Central Africa?

Father Trinchero: Before the war, Central Africa was an example of good Islamic-Christian relations. The official figures – which in my opinion should be looked at again – speak of 25% of Catholics and 25% of Protestants; hence, half of Central Africans would be Christians. Then there is 15% of Muslims, while the rest of the population is animist. Muslims have decreased (many have fled), while I think Catholics are somewhat more. Unfortunately, this war, which began for reasons of economic interests, has resulted in an inter-religious conflict, which then degenerated. Initially the Muslims harassed the Christians then, through the Antibalaka Movement, the latter avenged themselves: first the Muslims destroyed the churches, then the Christians destroyed the mosques. It will take years to return to what it was before, although some signs of improvement are being registered. It’s probable that for some time a sentiment of frustration was latent on the part of Christians that, in commercial activities are often the servants of the Muslims, owners of the greater part of businesses. Although being the majority, they suffered this situation of subjection.

ZENIT: What were the loveliest episodes you lived at Bangui from the beginning of your mission?

Father Trinchero: As I was saying earlier, relations between Christians and Muslims are slowly returning to normality and I noticed it in a recent personal experience. A short time ago, I was transporting chairs in a car, with the help of a Muslim. He was the first Muslim with whom I was speaking after two years of war. During the trajectory, I made a mistake and turned into a prohibited direction. The policeman wanted to fine me, but my Muslim friend was against it, because – he argued – I was a “minister of God.” I would honestly have paid for that contravention but he succeeded in impeding it: it was a gesture I appreciated very much.

Then, last Christmas, we witnessed a true and proper miracle. We so wanted to give a gift to our children in the refugee camp, but there were a good 500 and, in fact, it didn’t seem possible except that in the afternoon of December 24 two high-powered cars arrived at Carmel, from which well-dressed gentlemen descended unloading boxes with 1600 gifts and games for our children. They then disappeared and we don’t know where they came from or who they were, nor did we see them again. So Providence heard us: we who wanted to make this gift, He sent us His “ministers” and we, in a few hours, were able to distribute the gifts to the children of the entire refugee camp.

1 day 15 hours

The Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops-Commission for Education and Religious Education is calling on the government to hire school chaplains to help end arsons in schools, which have recently occurred across the country.

Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of the Kenyan city of Nakuru said, “We have noted with concern and there seems to be evidence that most of students involved in burning of schools are vulnerable children some coming from dysfunctional families, others are orphans,” reported Fides.

Bishop Makumba is proposing that programs to support families of children in need be launched, “organized through the Ministry of Education and religious organizations. The latter,” he explained, “should be facilitated in conducting training programs for students through the institutionalization of chaplains services in all schools.”

The Minister of Education of Kenya, Fred O. Matiang, has also said,”We are working on a new scheme of service that would enable the government to post chaplains from mainstream churches in secondary schools from the next financial year.”

1 day 20 hours

“The Holy Father hopes that the differences between Catholics and Waldensians will not impede finding ways of collaboration in the ambit of evangelization, of service to the poor, to the sick, to immigrants and in the safeguarding of Creation.”

Pope Francis’ desire was expressed in a telegram, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on the Pope’s behalf, to the Methodist and Waldensian (Valdese) churches yesterday on occasion of their Synod in Turin, Italy this week.

In the telegram, the Pontiff expressed his spiritual closeness to the participants and his greetings.

Assuring them of his prayers, Francis invoked the Lord’s gifts “to walk with serenity of heart towards full communion, to witness Christ effectively to the whole of humanity,” and to encounter, together, the men and women of today “to transmit to them the heart of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying that the Holy Spirit helps us live “that communion that precedes every opposition and obtain for us from the Lord His Mercy and His Peace.”

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Message: https://zenit.org/articles/papal-message-to-waldensian-methodist-synod/

 

1 day 20 hours

Aware that we are sinners who have experienced forgiveness, we are to be witnesses of mercy, to those we meet, in the places we are.

Through Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis expressed this in a message sent to the 67th Italian National Liturgical Week, which opened today at Gubbio on the theme “The Liturgy, Place of Mercy. Reconciled to Reconcile.”

In the message, the Pope stressed that the gift of Mercy shines in “an altogether particular way” in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation.

“One is reconciled to reconcile,” he said, noting, “The Father’s Mercy cannot be shut-in in ‘closed in’ and self-consoling attitudes, because it shows itself powerful in renewing persons and making it possible to offer others the vivid experience of the gift itself.”

“Beginning from the awareness that one is forgiven to forgive, we must be witnesses of mercy in every environment, awakening the desire and capacity to forgive,” he continued. “This is a task to which we are all called, especially in face of the rancor in which too many persons are enclosed, who are in need of rediscovering the joy of interior serenity and the enjoyment of peace.”

Given this, the Jesuit Pontiff explained, the rite of Sacramental Penance is perceived “as expression of an ‘outgoing Church,’ as ‘door’ not only to re-enter after having been estranged, but also open ‘threshold’ to the different peripheries of a humanity ever needier of compassion.”

“In this, in fact, is effected the encounter with the recreating mercy of God from which new women and men issue to proclaim the good life of the Gospel, through a reconciled and reconciling existence.”

Pope Francis’s message concluded, expressing his prayers for this week of study days and imparting his Apostolic Blessing.

**

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/papal-message-to-liturgy-week-in-italy/

 

1 day 20 hours

 

The annual Synod of the Waldensian and Methodist Table opened Sunday in Turin, Italy. The Holy Father Francis sent his good wishes to the participants, through the Bishop of Pinerolo, H.E. Monsignor Pier Giorgio Debernardi, in a telegram signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:

Here is a ZENIT translation:

To His Most Reverend Excellency Monsignor Pier Giorgio de Bernardi, Bishop of Pinerolo

His Holiness Pope Francis, in sign of his spiritual closeness, gladly addresses to the participants in the Synod of the Waldensian-Methodist Church his cordial and well-wishing greeting. He assures you of a particular remembrance in prayer and invokes from the Lord the gift to walk with serenity of heart towards full communion to witness Christ effectively to the whole of humanity, going together to encounter the men and women of today to transmit to them the heart of the Gospel. The Holy Father hopes that the differences between Catholics and Waldensians will not impede finding ways of collaboration in the ambit of evangelization, of service to the poor, to the sick, to immigrants and in the safeguarding of Creation. With such wishes, the Pope invokes the Holy Spirit to help us live that communion that precedes every opposition and obtain for us from the Lord His Mercy and His Peace.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

2 days 10 hours

 

Through his Secretary of State, Pope Francis has sent a message to the 67th Italian National Liturgical Week, which opened today at Gubbio on the theme “The Liturgy, Place of Mercy. Reconciled to Reconcile.”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the text.

 

_

To His Excellency, Most Reverend Monsignor Claudio Maniago,

Bishop of Castellaneta

Most Reverend Excellency,

On the occasion of the 67th National Liturgical Week, which this years is being held at Gubbio, in the mystical and pacifying scenery of the Umbrian land, the Holy Father Francis is happy to send his well-wishing word to you, to the collaborators of CAL, and to all those taking part in the significant study days. The choice of the place, motivated by the observance of the 1600 years of the Letter of Pope Innocent I to Decenzio, Bishop of Gubbio (cf. PL 20, 551-561), is all the more opportune in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy. Found in that writing, in which the Roman Pontiff was giving clarifying answers to questions posed by the <Gubbio> pastor, is interesting information on peculiar aspects and moments of the celebration of some Sacraments in that precise historical moment. Among the many issues addressed, one in particular draws our attention: the Reconciliation of penitents in view of Easter (cf. c. VII, 10).

Hence, the National Liturgical Week has chosen to return to a topic already addressed at other times, reflecting on the “Liturgy as Place of Mercy,” with the explicit intent to offer, in the context of the Jubilee Year, a special contribution to the journey of the Italian Church. When we exert ourselves to live every liturgical event “with our gaze fixed on Jesus and His merciful face, we can receive the love of the Most Holy Trinity (…). This love is now rendered visible and tangible in Jesus’ whole life (…). Everything in Him speaks of mercy. Nothing in Him is deprived of compassion” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). These words bring to mind those of Pope Leo the Great, who in a homily for the Ascension, stated: ”What was visible [and tangible] of our Redeemer is passed in the Sacraments” (PL 54, 398). Such an approach helps to perceive the whole of the liturgy as place of mercy found and received, in order to be given; a place where the great mystery of Reconciliation is rendered present, proclaimed, celebrated and communicated. The specific celebrations of the Sacraments or Sacramentals set the unique great gift of Divine Mercy according to the different circumstances of life.

However, the gift of Mercy shines in an altogether particular way in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. One is reconciled to reconcile. The Father’s Mercy cannot be shut-in in intimistic and self-consoling attitudes, because it shows itself powerful in renewing persons and rendering capable of offering others the vivid experience of the gift itself. Beginning from the awareness that one is forgiven to forgive, we must be witnesses of mercy in every environment, awakening the desire and capacity to forgive. This is a task to which we are all called, especially in face of the rancor in which too many persons are enclosed, who are in need of rediscovering the joy of interior serenity and the enjoyment of peace.

Therefore, the rite of Sacramental Penance is perceived as expression of an “outgoing Church,” as “door not only to re-enter after having been estranged, but also open “threshold” to the different peripheries of a humanity ever needier of compassion. In this, in fact, is effected the encounter with the recreating mercy of God from which new women and men issue to proclaim the good life of the Gospel, through a reconciled and reconciling existence.

His Holiness hopes that, from the reflections and the celebrations of the Liturgical Week, understanding will increasingly mature of the liturgy as fons et culmen of an ecclesial and personal life full of mercy and compassion, because constantly formed in the school of the Gospel. He entrusts to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mater Misericordiae, the works and expectations of this important national liturgical event and, while he asks that you pray for him and for his service to the Church, he sends a heartfelt and altogether special Apostolic Blessing to Your Excellency, to the Bishop of Gubbio Monsignor Mario Ceccobelli, to the Prelates and to the priests present, to the Relators and to the participants.

In uniting my personal good wishes, I take advantage of the circumstance to express my kind regards to Your Most Reverend Excellency.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

2 days 11 hours

Following his trip to Poland at the end of July for World Youth Day, Pope Francis has sent thank you notes to the Church in Poland.

He sent a note to Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, and to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow.

Here are the letters, provided by the Church in Poland:

 

Venerable Brother

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki

Archbishop of Poznan

President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Having returned from the Apostolic Journey to Poland, I want to renew the expression of my lively gratitude to you, Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, for your warm welcome and for the zeal with which my visit was prepared. I am deeply moved by your strong faith and the unwavering hope that you have kept in spite of difficulties and tragedies, and by your fervent love, which animates your human and Christian pilgrimage.

The memory of the moving Eucharistic celebration at the Shrine of Czestochowa, for the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism, and the moment of prayer in the concentration camp at Auschwitz is especially dear to me. I find great joy in remembering the encounter with the young people who came from different nations.

I assure you of my prayers so that the Church in Poland may continue advancing on its path with perseverance and courage, showing the Lord’s merciful love to all. Please, also pray for me. I heartily bless you all.

With fraternal greetings

Vatican City, 3 August 2016.

Francis

His Eminence

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz

Archbishop of Krakow

Having returned from my Pastoral Visit to Krakow, during which I had the occasion to express my grateful remembrance of my Venerable Predecessor Saint John Paul II, to live moments of deep communion with your Diocesan Community, and to experience the enthusiasm of faith of the immense crowd of young people from different continents, I wish to express to you, to the priests, the consecrated persons and the entire Diocesan Community my sincere gratitude for the warm welcome in your home, and for the great kindness you showed to me and my collaborators. The memory of the moving liturgical celebrations, characterized by profound participation and animated by lively Faith, are still very present in my heart.

I thank you, the staff of the archdiocesan office, all your collaborators, and those who have worked to ensure the smooth running of these unforgettable days of faith and prayer. I am grateful also for the deep affection for the Successor of Peter, expressed by various ecclesiastical and civil circles, as well as by individual believers: all of this is a sign of love for the Church, in the wake of the perpetual and reverential affection for Pope John Paul II.

While encouraging the Archdiocese of Cracow to perseveringly advance on its path, constantly bearing witness to God’s mercy, I pray, through the intercession of Mary, the Lord for an abundance of gifts and graces for you and all who are entrusted to your pastoral care, especially for the young, that they may grow in an increasingly solid commitment to the Gospel. With these sentiments, I also ask you to pray for me, and I again give to all my Apostolic Blessing.

Fraternally

Francis

2 days 11 hours

One week after the Solemn Feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, the church celebrates today the Mother of God as Queen of Heaven.  In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

It was Pope Pius XII who established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.

In his 1954 encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pope Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.

Taken up into heaven, Mary shows us the way to God, the way to heaven, the way to life. She shows it to her children baptized in Christ and to all people of good will. She opens this way especially to the little ones and to the poor, those who are dear to divine mercy. The Queen of the world reveals to individuals and to nations the power of the love of God whose plan upsets that of the proud, pulls down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the humble, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich empty away (cf. Lk 1:51-53).

Mary’s earthly life is a journey of faith, hope and love, an exemplary way of holiness which began with the enthusiasm of her “fiat”, the exultation of the “Magnificat”, contemplative reflection in everyday life, perseverance in the dark night of the Passion until she could share in the joy of her divine Son in the radiant dawn of the Resurrection.  She is an outstanding model for each of us, and her Assumption into heaven reminds us that there is hope for you and me… what happens to the Virgin daughter of Nazareth at the end of her earthly pilgrimage will happen to each of us if we are faithful and obedient as she was.

We believe that because of the obedience and fidelity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the end of her earthly life, she was assumed both body and soul into heavenly glory.  The glory of the Mother of the Savior is a cause of immense joy to all her children, a joy that knows the far-reaching resonance of the sentiment that is typical of popular piety, even though it cannot be reduced to it. It is, so to speak, a theological joy, firmly rooted in the paschal mystery. In this sense, the Virgin is “causa nostrae laetitiae — the cause of our joy”.

Catholics believe that after her Assumption into heaven Mary was crowned as Queen of heaven and earth.  What kind of queen is she?  How does she manifest the kingdom of God in her reign?  As we remember Mary, Queen of heaven, we also think of earthly kings and queens.  So often we are caught up in and confused by their power, seeming successes and riches.  Today we will consider how we view power and success.  If God chooses the lowly to fulfill His plan, how then should we think of those who are far from the corridors of earthly power?  Let us pray for the grace to value humility and obedience above fame and authority, and seek to imitate Mary’s lowliness of heart.  Let us look for opportunities to serve those less fortunate than we are.  Let us meditate on the virtues of Mary, our Queen.  She was not proud or grand; she humbly and patiently received God’s word and surrendered her life to His plan, not her own.  Let us ask God to grant us those same heavenly virtues that will allow Him to guide and direct our path in life.

Holy Mary, Queen of heaven, pray for us.

Latin Text of the Salve Regina

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genetrix.

R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

 

Traditional English Translation

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us O holy Mother of God,

R. that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

2 days 12 hours

Evangelization and interreligious dialogue can go together harmoniously.

This was the affirmation made at the Rimini meeting for Friendship Among Peoples this week, with the testimony of Bishop Camillo Ballin.

Related: Read the Pope’s message to the Meeting, regarding this year’s theme.

The 72-year-old priest, a native of the Diocese of Vicenza, entered the Comboni Order in 1963, and was ordained in 1969.

When he was asked where he would like to be sent as a missionary, he expressed three preferences: “1) Arab countries; 2) Arab countries; 3) Arab countries …”

This was the first of the anecdotes recounted at the Rimini Meeting by the Apostolic Vicar for Northern Arabia, explaining that he perceived his missionary destination as the Lord’s will.

In the course of a one-hour conference on the theme “To Live as Christians,” introduced by the director of Tracce [Footprints], David Perillo, the prelate talked about his enduring pastoral experience in the cradle of Islam: an adventure that began 47 years ago, at the moment of his priestly ordination.

Bishop Ballin, who has covered his present assignment since 2011, is titular of a diocese with just over two million Catholics, seven times the size of Italy and which includes four countries: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

He has lived almost half a century on the fringes of Christianity, leading a community that has always represented a small minority, made up almost totally of immigrants.

Whether in Bahrain or Kuwait, Islam is the state religion and Shari’a is the main source of law, while in Saudi Arabia no worship, not even in private, is allowed outside of Islam and it is even prohibited to speak of one’s faith, recalled Bishop Ballin.

These are countries that “have based their economy on oil, but the fall in the price has put them in serious difficulty. Politics can do very little if there is no change, a conversion of heart,” affirmed the Apostolic Vicar.

In the Gulf countries, the Catholic Church has very limited freedom of action, without the possibility of influencing the social and political realm. Also in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, where religious pluralism is formally legitimate, it is almost impossible in fact to build churches, parishes or oratories — given the threats and blackmail of fundamentalist Imams. Monasteries are totally absent.

Some greater space is granted to Catholic schools, however, Christian youngsters who have passed their school-leaving examinations are obliged to continue their studies in Europe or America, because access to the universities is only possible for Muslims.

The meagre Christian population in this southern area is, in any case, of a low average age, also because one who has not obtained local citizenship by the age of 60 is obliged by law to return to his country of origin.

So how do Christians live in Arab countries? What sort of witness can they give in such a hostile and ghettoizing context? Bishop Ballin is convinced that their presence is part of God’s plan: “We, Christians, collaborate for a more human society. Our vocation is the whole world; we send disciples of Jesus Christ and it is our mission to help them so that where they go they are ‘light of the world and salt of the earth,’” he said.

In any case, in the Gulf countries the few churches that exist are very frequented and equipped with a Chapel for Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of a grotto of Our Lady, for devotion to Our Lady of Arabia.

In Bishop Ballin’s opinion, the Lord has sent Christians to that land “to be messengers of God in the heart of Islam.”

“We don’t export oil but disciples of Jesus,” he added.

The Apostolic Vicar admitted that, in almost half a century, no Muslim has been baptized: the five that requested it were either spies or were looking for a pretext to obtain a European passport. The bishop refused all of them.

Despite this, Bishop Ballin is radiant and has a peaceful heart. “If after 47 years, I’m still in the Arab world, it’s because I’ve found brothers among Christians and Muslims who accompany me in my life. I’ve never had a personal problem with the Muslims; instead, I have found among them sincere and very faithful friends,” he said.

“After 47 years, I can say that what I’ve received from the Arab world is infinitely more than what I’ve given. I am profoundly convinced and happy to be able to say with all sincerity to any Arab or non-Arab brother: you are a good for me,” concluded the prelate, in reference to the theme of this year’s Rimini Meeting.

“Bishop Ballin’s words remind us that the Christian presence is something greater than what we have in mind. It is greater than the words he can’t say and than the works he can’t do,” commented the moderator, David Perillo, at the end of the testimony.

2 days 12 hours

When a saint is as well known as Mother Teresa, it is perhaps easy to think, “ah yes, we are familiar with her. We already know what she has to teach us.”

This assumption is quite incorrect, according to the postulator of her cause and editor of several works about Mother Teresa, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C..

Fr. Kolodiejchuk has edited the newest release about Mother Teresa, Image Book’s “A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve,” released just last week. This book, designed to coincide with the Jubilee of Mercy, distills Mother Teresa’s message and is, as Fr. Kolodiejchuk says, “a practical and very down to earth expression of how ‘mercy’ reaches ‘misery.'”

In the lead-up to the Sept. 4 canonization of Mother Teresa, ZENIT asked Fr. Kolodiejchuk to tell us more about this saint and what we still need to learn from her.

ZENIT: Mother Teresa is so well known and much loved by the whole world. What do you think we need to learn about her by reading a more in-depth biography?

Fr. Kolodiejchuk: Indeed, Mother Teresa is generally known as an icon of love and compassion to the poorest, the weakest, those on the “peripheries” of human existence. She is loved and admired as a universal icon of mercy, a truly extraordinary person. Nonetheless, I don’t think she is that well known among the younger generation; many children, teens and young adults have very little or even no knowledge of her life and message.

Even many of those who know of Mother Teresa do not have more than a general knowledge of her life, work and message. This can be seen by the reactions to the books that I have edited over the last years. Each book reveals something new about Mother Teresa and so have “surprised” in some way its readers: Come Be My Light, with the revelation of her interior darkness that she embraced in union with the poor she served; Where There is Love, There is God, revealing her deep and simple wisdom on important spiritual themes, like faith, love, trust; and now A Call to Mercy, showing her “love in action” through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This book clearly reveals her preferential love to the poorest and neediest.  

I think that most people can still learn a lot about Mother Teresa. She has been a prophet in our times and her message is still essential for the world today. She made us aware of the presence of the poor, the dignity of each person, of the value of human life from conception to natural death, of the call of everyone to their real mission on earth, that is, to love and to be loved, to love until it hurts, to be holy.

The source of Mother Teresa’s energy and zeal was not an idea, not a concept: it was a person – Jesus – whom she wanted to love as He had never been loved before. She testifies to the world that the teaching of Jesus is true; she lives it and puts it into action. Her firm belief in the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, “You did it to me,” made others aware of the presence of Jesus in the poor, or as she said, in “the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.” It was a reality that she brought home to many.

So there is still a lot to learn from her and about her: her faith, her interior life, her character, her relationships – first her relationship with God, and then her relationship with her family, her Sisters, her closest collaborators, and especially with the poor. There are also a lot of interesting things about her that will fascinate readers, for example, her common sense, her remarkable energy, her sense of humor and certain of her “particular practices” such as changing furniture in the house.

An in-depth biography will be my next major writing project, which I hope will bring to Mother Teresa’s admirers, and readers in general, a compelling picture of who she really was.  

ZENIT: The title of this newest book, A Call to Mercy, obviously highlights the jubilee we are now living. What do you think St Mother Teresa has to tell the Church about mercy?

Related: Read an excerpt of ‘A Call to Mercy,’ a collection of never-before-published words of Mother Teresa, given to ZENIT here.

Fr. Kolodiejchuk: Mother Teresa’s message on mercy is not an elaborate theological explanation and neither is this book. Rather it is a practical and very down to earth expression of how “mercy” reaches “misery.” It shows a way that we all can identify with: when we are at our lowest, it is then that we most need God’s mercy and it is then that we experience it most tangibly, either directly or through some intermediary, as Mother Teresa was. A Call to Mercy demonstrates how Mother Teresa recognized her own need of God’s mercy, how she opened herself to it and also how she extended it to others. Thus by her example she really can serve as a “teacher” of how to practice mercy, of how to be merciful.

Mother Teresa teaches us that being merciful, caring for our poorer brothers and sisters, helping them effectively in their needs – temporal or spiritual – is not an option; rather, it is a command, an obligation for each one of us. To care for others means to put mercy in action. This is not only a choice but a must, as (soon to be) St. Teresa of Calcutta teaches us: “The poor are the hope of mankind, the poor are the hope for you and me to go to heaven, for at the last judgment, we are going to be judged on that. ‘I was hungry and you gave Me to eat, and I was naked and you clothed Me.’”

Mother Teresa teaches us that as we surrender ourselves totally to God, He uses us to spread mercy, to touch hearts. And then Jesus takes over and accomplishes “miracles” as He did in Mother Teresa’s life, touching literally millions of lives, giving them meaning, helping people to realize that they are loved and capable of loving.

Mother Teresa teaches us that mercy also heals the giver of mercy, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The whole life of Mother Teresa teaches us that mercy – concrete, efficient, tender, meek, kind, joyful – for our brothers and sisters is a fount of life that has its origin in the mercy of God and the profound conviction of one’s own need for mercy.

Mercy in action, as seen in Mother Teresa’s life, shows us that once a person is merciful, Jesus enters into these actions and multiplies the graces given and received. Mother Teresa, as shown in this book, touched millions of lives and achieved much more than what one ordinary person can achieve using only human resources. Once focused on Jesus and His mercy, nothing is impossible for the one who loves Him.

ZENIT: September will represent the final page of the great project of overseeing her cause for beatification and canonization. Could you give us some insights on how the cause unfolded? One would presume that since her sanctity was universally recognized long before her death, the process would have gone smoothly. Were there any hiccups along the way?

Fr. Kolodiejchuk: Mother Teresa’s holiness was already very much recognized and acclaimed during her lifetime. Many people made remarks such as, “If she is not a saint, then who can be?” Others would say, “well, do it fast already,” when the question of her beatification was discussed. All of this only confirms Mother Teresa’s worldwide and practically universal reputation of holiness. This actually led Pope John Paul II to waive the five-year waiting period needed for any candidate’s cause to begin.

However, this exception did not waive the process itself. The requirements of the canonical process were fulfilled fully and thoroughly at every phase. This involved a lot of work, since Mother Teresa was a worldwide figure and testimonies and documents had first to be gathered from a vast number of sources.

Thus the diocesan phase in Calcutta began in July 1999 and ended in August of 2001. The roughly 35,000 pages gathered were brought to Rome in 81 volumes of approximately 400-450 pages each. The study of her life, virtues and reputation of sanctity  – the approximately 5,000 page Positio – was done meticulously, although in a relatively short time (by Easter of 2002), so much so that one of the theologians that studied it remarked that the work done in so short a time was almost a miracle in itself. Mother Teresa’s living of the Christian life was confirmed to be heroic by a decree of Pope John Paul II in December of 2002. The miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intercession, which was studied in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints after the judgment on heroic virtue was made in the Congregation, was also accepted officially by the Holy Father on the same day as was the confirmation of her heroic Christian life (an exception that was previously made for Pope John XXIII).

We can say that the process was both easy and challenging: easy because people would happily and generously cooperate because it was for Mother Teresa, and challenging because the work of gathering the required information was carried out literally across the globe. I have to say that especially during the months of working on the Positio my team and I had a palpable awareness of God’s action, of His grace working with us and for us because of the prayers of many, in particular of our contemplative Sisters who all “adopted” by name the member of the team.

ZENIT: A last question: There are testimonies in the book from people who say that Mother Teresa is continuing her works of mercy even now — that she continues to appear and serve the needy. Could you tell us more about this?

Fr. Kolodiejchuk: Yes, indeed, in the book A Call to Mercy, we find striking examples of Blessed Teresa working miracles of mercy from Heaven, faithful to the mission that she said would be hers: “If I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven—to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”

So far we have on record more than 5,000 testimonies from the people who sent us reports of favors they received through Mother Teresa’s intercession. We have given only a glimpse of them in the book, since showing more of this aspect of Mother Teresa’s mission in the Church was not its scope. That could be a publication in itself. Here, by way of conclusion, are two more examples:

A conversion of heart through the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

I felt an inspiration from God to pick up the prayer booklet: A Novena to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “Jesus is my All in All” …I felt especially drawn to one of the passages of the novena which spoke of Jesus’ love. I felt the Holy Spirit being poured into my soul, with a particular joy for loving as Christ does. The prayer that I read transformed my heart, as l had been depressed and felt little emotion or love in my heart… I knew that it was a miracle because it happened immediately, and I felt a newness of life in God’s Spirit. I feel the Lord working in me to show Christian love to a mother and her child. The child looked so sad, and I felt that Mother Teresa’s spirit also would reach out to that child because of her love of Christ. I felt then Jesus actually calling me to help others and that my vocation would be to love Jesus.

A small miracle through the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

In 1993, I had become pregnant with my third daughter and my marriage was in a serious crisis, divorce and abortion was a definitive option.  For me either could have been easy to do; I lived a divorce as a child and had two abortions before. God chose a better path for me, where both my husband and I were able to reconcile and saved my daughter’s life.  Even though I had lived this miracle, I still did not return to God and His church.   When Mother Teresa passed away, it was all over the news.  I was not too familiar with Mother Teresa. About 2:00 AM in the morning of September 7, 1997, I was awakened by what I heard “Acts 2 and 3” repeatedly.  I was too sleepy and said to myself, this must be from the Bible. I closed my eyes to fall asleep, when I could see Mother Teresa looking at me sternly, not speaking, but I could understand, “Get up.”   I answered “Mother?”  I became scared because of her stern look at me. I got up, went to the closet where I had put away the Bible and read Acts 2 and 3.  The presence of God was there while I was reading each word; each word went within me, as part of me. That morning at 10:00 AM, I went to Mass for the first time in a long time and God has not let go of me since.   

My family is part of the Church.   Slowly the Lord has been healing every sin, still each day. I immediately began reading about Mother Teresa, and slowly began to figure it out. In heaven you continue doing the work you were doing on earth, and Mother is doing so.  On earth she took care of the poorest of the poor, in heaven she still does – God felt that I was one for her – she picked me up- she carried me. I keep this as a treasure.   

 

2 days 13 hours

Below is a reflection of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, entitled ‘The Psalms of Mercy.’ Published on August 19th, it is from Cardinal Wuerl’s blog:

***

Throughout history, the Psalms have been an important part of Jewish and Christian life, prayed in the liturgy and as part of personal devotion, together as a community and individually. The Psalms are traditionally chanted or sung, but they can be spoken as well, and they are a school of prayer for the way they recall the saving works of God and the experiences of his people and have turned them into prayer (CCC 2585-89).

In Hebrew, the Book of Psalms is called “Praises,” and looking through them, we see that they include various forms of prayer – praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition and repentance. From at least the time of David, the people Israel have sung the Psalms and they were sung too by Jesus with Mary and Joseph when he was growing up, with his disciples during his ministry, and prayed even by the Lord on the Cross (Psalm 22:2).

Thousands of years after they were written, it is surprising how well the Psalms continue to capture feelings of joy or despair, fear or exultation. In fact, the Church father Saint Athanasius observed that the Psalms contain “all things human” – joy, thanksgiving, lamentation, cries for help, pleas for justice and appeals for mercy.

The Catechism explains that the prayer of the Psalms “recalls the saving events of the past, yet extends into the future, even to the end of history; it commemorates the promises God has already kept, and awaits the Messiah who will fulfill them definitively” (CCC 2586). At the same time, in a special way “the Psalms bring to the fore the grandeur of God’s merciful action,” said Pope Francis in calling for this Jubilee Year of Mercy (Misericordiae Vultus, 6).

For example, when we are troubled, discouraged, or anxious, we might turn to Psalm 103, which enjoins us to not forget the bountiful gifts of God, whose “mercy is from age to age” and “who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills, who redeems your life from the pit [and] who fills your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (103:17, 3-5). Psalm 145 also reassures us that “the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. The Lord is good to all, compassionate toward all his works” (145:8-9).

Another Psalm says, “Blessed is the one whose hope is in the Lord, who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free; the Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked” (146:5-9).

One very special hymn of praise, thanksgiving and hope in God’s mercy is Psalm 136, known as the “Great Hallel,” which “is traditionally sung at the end of the Jewish Passover meal and was probably also prayed by Jesus at the Last Supper celebrated with his disciples,” taught Pope Benedict XVI during his Wednesday audience series on prayer. The Psalm “unfolds in the form of a litany, marked by the antiphonal refrain: ‘for his mercy endures forever.’” The goodness of God in his many mighty works on behalf of his people are then recounted.

Pope Francis reflects that to “repeat continually, ‘for his mercy endures forever,’ as Psalm 136 does, seems to break through the dimensions of space and time, inserting everything into the eternal mystery of love. It is as if to say that not only in history, but for all eternity man will always be under the merciful gaze of the Father.” Furthermore, adds the Holy Father, “Knowing that Jesus himself prayed this psalm makes it even more important for us as Christians, challenging us to take up the refrain in our daily lives by praying these words of praise: ‘for his mercy endures forever’” (Misericordiae Vultus, 7).

Remembering the Divine Mercy of the Lord, we can confidently pray the Psalm called Miserere, which is Latin for “mercy” – “Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. . . . Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:3-5, 14).

The Psalms are a blessed gift for us to remember the goodness of God and his tender mercy. This sustains us in hope and challenges us to be merciful too.

***

On the NET:

To the original post on Cardinal Wuerl’s blog: http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/

2 days 22 hours

Cardinal Vinko Pulić, the Archbishop of Sarajevo, has been named envoy for a Mother Teresa celebration in the Macedonian capital of Skopje.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis chose the prelate to represent him at the conclusion of a day of thanksgiving for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization, taking place in the city on Sept. 11, a week after her widely-anticipated canonization being held Sept. 4 in St. Peter’s Square.

On Oct. 19 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified after Pope St. John Paul II recognized her miraculous healing of an Indian woman with a tumor in her abdomen. On Dec. 17, 2015, Pope Francis recognized the miraculous healing of the late sister’s intercession of a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses.

Born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Skopje in 1910, while the city was part of the Ottoman Empire, Blessed Teresa, known to the world as Mother Theresa, would found the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity and the Missionaries of Charity, and exemplified holiness in all she did. On Sept. 5, 1997, in Calcutta, Mother Teresa suffered a heart attack and died at 87 years old.

While she was an ethnic Albanian, due to conflicts in the Balkans in the early part of the 20th century, such as World War I,  Skopje was under various jurisdictions. As a result, at different times, she held Ottoman, Serbian, and Yugoslavian citizenship. In 1948, Mother Teresa became a citizen of her adoptive India.

Currently, Skopje is the capital of the modern Republic of Macedonia, which, in 1991, declared independence from Yugoslavia.

2 days 22 hours

Through confirming the faith, transmitting catechesis, and reminding faithful to pray and be charitable, the Church in Brazil will be strengthened, even for future generations.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis highlighted this in a message he sent to the XVII National Eucharistic Congress of Brazil, taking place this weekend in Belém. Francis’ special envoy to the event, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, delivered the message.

“In confirming the faith of the people, transmitting catechesis, reminding them to practice prayer and the exercise of charity in everyday life,” Francis stated in his message, “you will give special emphasis to the domestic church, which is the family, within which are born and educated the future generations of Christians and missionaries.”

In addition to mentioning his love for the church leaders from the Amazon, and every part of Brazil, the Holy Father also reflected on the call of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel and baptize.

“While we strive to promote the new evangelization throughout the land,” he stated, “we should remember events in the past connected to the preaching of the Gospel: In them we can contemplate the grace of God, Who is always rich in mercy, and calls all men to salvation in Christ.”

 

 

2 days 23 hours

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A Spanish ecclesiology professor, Fr. Salvador Pie-Ninot, has asserted in L’Osservatore Romano that Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is an act of the ordinary Magisterium which requires religious submission of mind and will. Speaking very generally, he is right that Amoris Laetitia can be placed within this general class, but we must understand what this means.

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday during his general audience greeted the participants the General Assembly of the World Conference of Secular Institutes. A Secular Institutes is an “institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.” [CIC 710] The General Assembly of the World Conference of Secular Institutes takes place every four years, and brings together the Presidents General of the member secular institutes, as well as the Presidents of national and international conferences of secular institutes. Pope Francis said he “wishes this Jubilee of Mercy…is a time of grace and spiritual renewal.” (from Vatican Radio)... 18 hours 28 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday once again appealed for peace in Ukraine, urging all parties in the conflict, as well as international bodies, to “strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency.” The Holy Father assured Ukrainians of his continued prayers for peace. The appeal comes on Ukraine’s Independence Day, this year marking the 25th anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union. The full text of the Pope’s appeal for Ukraine. “In these last weeks, the international Observers have expressed concern for the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine. Today, as that dear Nation celebrates its national holiday – which this year coincides with the 25th anniversary of independence – I assure them of my prayer for peace and I renew my appeal to all the parties involved and to the international bodies that they might strengthen the initiatives to resolve the conflict, release the hostages, and respond to the humanitarian emergency.” (from Vatican Radio)... 18 hours 54 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday made a special greeting during his General Audience to the members of the International Paralympic Committee and the athletes who are preparing to participate in the next Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which will take place from 7-18 September. The Holy Father blessed the Paralympic Flag when he was in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day in 2013, taking the opportunity to speak about the bonds between evangelisation and the world of sport. The Vatican is participating in the "Casa Italia Paralimpica in Rio 2016,” which is a meeting place for the Italian delegation at the Paralympic Games. The Casa Italia is a long-term project – which will involve the collaboration of the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro – to offer practical support to a series of project initiatives, especially involving parasport activities. (from Vatican Radio)... 19 hours 3 min
(Vatican Radio) In the wake of the powerful earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday , Pope Francis at the General Audience postponed his prepared catechesis, and led the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square in the recitation of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. The Holy Father expressed his “heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness” to all those affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks. He said he was deeply saddened upon learning several children were among the dead, and of hearing of the total destruction of the town of Amatrice. “I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno , and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church, who in these moments extends her merciful love, as well as the concern of all of us here in the Piazza, Pope Francis said. He asked everyone to join him in prayer to Jesus, that the Lord might “console the broken-hearted, and, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.” “With Jesus,” Pope Francis concluded, “let our hearts be moved with compassion.” Below, please find the full text of the Pope’s remarks at the General Audience on Wednesday: “I had prepared the catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this year of mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However on hearing of the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy, and which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted. “I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened. “For this reason, I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church, who in these moments extends her merciful love, as well as the concern of all of us here in the Piazza. “And thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, Who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that He may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace. “With Jesus let our hearts be moved with compassion. “So we will postpone, then, this week’s catechesis until next Wednesday, and I invite you to pray with me a part of the holy Rosary, the sorrowful mysteries.”  (from Vatican Radio)... 19 hours 9 min
(Vatican Radio)  As the death toll from an earthquake in central Italy continues to rise,  Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole of Ascoli Piceno traveled the short 40 km to Pescara del Tronto to be with the hundreds of people affected by the quake. Bishop D'Ercole spoke to Vatican Radio early Wednesday morning, saying the scene was 'distressing'. "When I arrived at the break of day, I saw a destroyed village, screams, death...  We are truly in a desperate situation and unfortunately this is not the only area affected, because others are also in this situation". He said there were still many areas unreached by rescue personnel. "There are several people who are not responding [to telephone calls], and I went to bless the bodies of two children buried under the rubble." "A certain part of the diocese is suffering. I think, however..., that the area worst hit is the part near Rieti, that is, between Amatrice, Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata, and near Force." Pope Francis cancelled the catechism portion of his Wednesday General Audience and led pilgrims in praying the rosary for the victims of the earthquake. (from Vatican Radio)... 19 hours 9 min
(Vatican Radio) The Bishops Conference of Poland has released the text of a letter sent by Pope Francis to thank the country for the reception he received last month during World Youth Day . In the letter, Pope Francis told the Church in Poland he was “deeply moved by your strong faith and the unwavering hope that you have kept in spite of difficulties and tragedies, and by your fervent love, which animates your human and Christian pilgrimage.”   The full text of the letter is below   Venerable Brother Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki Archbishop of Poznan President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference Having returned from the Apostolic Journey to Poland, I want to renew the expression of my lively gratitude to you, Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, for your warm welcome and for the zeal with which my visit was prepared. I am deeply moved by your strong faith and the unwavering hope that you have kept in spite of difficulties and tragedies, and by your fervent love, which animates your human and Christian pilgrimage. The memory of the moving Eucharistic celebration at the Shrine of Czestochowa, for the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism, and the moment of prayer in the concentration camp at Auschwitz is especially dear to me. I find great joy in remembering the encounter with the young people who came from different nations. I assure you of my prayers so that the Church in Poland may continue advancing on its path with perseverance and courage, showing the Lord’s merciful love to all. Please, also pray for me. I heartily bless you all. With fraternal greetings Vatican City, 3 August 2016. Francis (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 14 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to the Bishop of Castellaneta,  Claudio Maniago on the occasion of the 67th National Liturgical Week in Italy which takes place in Gubbio. Below is a Vatican Radio translation of the Message Your Excellency, On the occasion of the 67th National Liturgical Week, which this year takes place in Gubbio, in the mystical and calming scenery of Umbria, the Holy Father Pope Francis is happy to send good wishes to you, to the CAL collaborators and to all those taking part in the significant study days. The choice of this place, inspired  by the celebration of 1600 years of the Letter of Pope Innocent I to Decentius, Bishop of Gubbio (cf.. PL 20, 551-561), is particularly appropriate during the Holy Extraordinary Year of Mercy. In this document, in which the Roman Pontiff offered clarifying answers to questions posed by pastor eugubino, there is some interesting news about specific aspects and moments of the celebration of certain sacraments, at that precise moment in history. Among the many topics covered, one in particular is essential to our attention: the reconciliation of penitents in the Passover (cfr. C. VII, 10). The National Liturgical Week has, therefore, decided to return to a theme already dealt with at other times, reflecting on "Liturgy as a place of Mercy", with the explicit intention of offering, in the context of the Jubilee Year, a special contribution to the path of the Italian church. When we strive to live each liturgical event "with his eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful face we can see the love of SS. Trinity (...). This love is now made visible and tangible in the whole life of Jesus (...). Everything about him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion "(Misericordiae Vultus, 8). These words bring to mind those of Pope Saint Leo the Great, who in a homily for the Ascension says: "What was visible [tangible] our redeemer has passed in the sacraments" (PL 54, 398). Such an approach helps to distinguish all the liturgy as a place where mercy is given and encountered, a place where the great mystery of reconciliation is made present, announced, celebrated and communicated. The specific celebrations of sacraments or sacramentals decline the only great gift of divine mercy according to the different circumstances of life. The gift of Mercy, however, shines in a particular way in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. It was reconciled to reconcile. The Father's compassion cannot be locked in intimism and auto consolatory attitudes, because it proves powerful in renewing people and enables them to offer others the living experience of the same gift. Based on the belief that one is forgiven to forgive, it must a be witness of mercy in any environment, arousing a desire and capacity for forgiveness. This is a task to which we are called, especially in face of resentment in which too many people are locked up, which they need to rediscover the joy of inner peace and the sake of peace. The rite of the sacrament of Penance should therefore be perceived as an expression of a "Church in output" as "door" not only to re-enter after you have moved away, but also "threshold" open to various suburbs of humanity ever more in need of compassion. In it, in fact, it takes place the encounter with re-creating the mercy of God from which come new men and women to preach the good life of the Gospel through a life reconciled and reconciling. His Holiness hopes that the reflections and celebrations of the Liturgical Week will increasingly mature understanding as a source and summit of ecclesial and personal life which is full of mercy and compassion, because he was constantly formed at the school of the Gospel. He entrusts to the maternal intercession of Mary, Mater Misericordiae, the work and the expectations of the important national liturgical event and, while asking to pray for him and for your service to the Church, send heart to Your Excellency, the Bishop of Gubbio Mons . Mario Ceccobelli, prelates and priests present, to the speakers and participants a special Apostolic Blessing. Uniting my personal good wishes, I take this opportunity to confirm my distinct esteem (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 17 hours

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From: Tristate Catholic news and features, daily
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St. Michael Church in Ft. Loramie ()H), shown here during the parish's 150th anniversary in 2013, will host a special Mission Sohjourners Mass Aug. 28th.

St. Michael Church in Ft. Loramie (OH), shown here during the parish’s 150th anniversary in 2013, will host a special Mission Sojourners Mass Aug. 28th.

Aug. 24, Carmelo at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, (Burlington, KY) 5:30 pm. Filipino mystic Carmelo will preside at a healing service and and prayer over rose petals marked with mysterious holy images. Rosary 5:30, Mass  6, healing service 7 pm.

Aug. 25, Monarch Society Gathering, St. Joseph Heights (KY), 7 pm. A gathering for women who have completed Project Rachel post-abortive healing retreats. Further healing and support. For information contact the confidential Project Rachel Hotline at 859-392-1547 or email projectrachel@covdio.org.

Aug. 26, Catholic Ministry Appeal Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Bartholomew Church (Finneytown, OH), 11:15 am. Archbishop Schnurr will celebrate this Mass for all who gave to this year’s Archdiocese of Cincinnati CMA collection; all welcome.

Aug. 26, Carmelo at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center (Norwood, OH), following 7:15 pm Mass. Filipino mystic Carmelo will preside at a healing service and and prayer over rose petals marked with mysterious holy images. For information call 513-351-9800.

Aug. 27, Archdiocese of Cincinnati Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, 4:30 pm. All couples celebrating 50th anniversaries invited.

Aug. 27, Archdiocese of Cincinnati (North) Golden Jubilee Anniversary Mass at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church (Dayton), 4:30 pm. All couples celebrating 50th anniversaries invited.

Aug. 28, Mass and Mission Sojourners Celebration at St. Michael Church (Ft. Loramie, OH), 11 am. Free Mission breakfast follows Mass; optional tour of the church at 1 pm.

Aug. 28, CaSSba Goes Wild! Catholic Charities Annual fundraiser at Devou Memorial Overlook (Covington), 3-7 pm. Hors d’oevres, cocktails, silent auction, live auction featuring an African safari and more. Tickets $60 in advance; $65 on site.

Aug. 28, Cincinnati Metropolitan Orchestra at Mount St. Joseph University (Delhi/Cincinnati), 3 pm.  Part of the CMO’s “New York New York – Spotlight on Broadway” 2016 Summer Series Part of the CMO’s “New York New York – Spotlight on Broadway” 2016 Summer Series, the concert will highlight 70 years of musical theater, from Oklahoma to Disney movie-turned musical Frozen, and feature the CMO Chorus.  No fee.  For information see GOCMO.org.

Aug. 30, Jesuit Spiritual Center of Milford Open House (Milford, OH), 4 – 7 pm. Tour all retreat facilities and the 37-acre grounds; meet JSC personnel and Baord members; learn about upcoming events; more. Refreshments served. For information see .jesuitspiritualcenter.com

Aug. 31 – Sept. 1, Annual Days of Prayer and Mercy at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center (Norwood, OH). Sponsored by the Our Lady of Light Foundation. More information to come.

Sept. 3, Fryberg Homecoming Mock Turtle Bike Ride, 7:30 am. 25-mile ride from St. John Church (Fryberg) to St. Lawrence, Rhine, Immaculate Conception, Botkins, and St. Joseph (Wapakoneta) – or any combination of routes. Part of the St. John Homecoming festival. Registration begins at 6:30 am. For information or to register click here.

Sept. 4, Mother Teresea Canonization Mass and Service Project at Mother Teresa Catholic School (Liberty Twp., OH), 11 am. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr will celebrate Mass in honor of the school patron’s canonization; following Mass attendees can decorate ceramic bowls to be sold as a fundraiser by Empty Bowls of Bultler County. Food provided by La Soupe, a charity that makes soups from unseed restaurant foodFor more information contact Development Director Angie McGraw at amcgraw@mtces.org.

Sept. 4, Family Rosary Walk and Dinner at Transfiguration Center (Ludlow Falls, OH), 4-7 pm. Invite the whole family and come away to a “beautiful place” for a unique rosary experience beginning at at the statue of Mary (goldfish pond), followed by a procession through the gardens and woods of the beautiful Lange Estate. Artistic banners help reflect on the mysteries. A pot-luck dinner follows at the shelter house. Center provides meats, drinks; bring an entrée for 6. Rain location: inside the Center. For information call 937-698-7180; for reservations use the online reservation request form.

Looking for more Catholic events? To see our continually updated long-term calendar, see our Calendar of Events page.

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A graphic created by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (counsel for the lawsuit) alleging that

A graphic created by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (counsel for the lawsuit) explaining that studies show that few children who think they are the wrong sex think so  by the time they are adults. (Provided.)

Catholic hospitals, physician groups,, and five states including the Commonwealth of Kentucky sued the United States government yesterday over a new rule that requires all doctors and hospitals to provide children who think they are the wrong sex with any services recommended as “treatment” by their mental health provider.

 

Under the US Department of Health and Human Services Final Rule for “Nondiscrimination in Health Programs,” issued in May, any health care provider that refuses to provide hormone therapy, plastic surgery, or other medical services he or she provides other people to a “transgender” person of any age will be guilty of “sex discrimination.”

 

The Rule, which also applies to all private health insurance plans and many employers, does not affect Medicaid or Medicare.

 

Announced at the same time the US Department of Education sent a letter to all public schools (see our story here) telling them to make their locker rooms, sports facilities, and other facilities open to students by “gender identity” rather than sex, the Rule is based on similar principles. It treats people who are confused about their sex as a protected class under laws designed to prevent sex discrimination, but says that any attempt to provide medical service based on biology is bigoted. Among other things, the Rule prohibits same-sex wards, programs, medical facilities, and even medical studies if the federal government rules they have no scientific basis, saying that same-sex facilities are the biggest remaining problem for “transgender” people.

 

The lawsuit, filed in Texas by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on behalf of a group of plaintiffs, claims that the Rule “seeks to override the medical judgment of healthcare professionals across the country. On pain of significant financial liability, the Regulation forces doctors to perform controversial and sometimes harmful medical procedures ostensibly designed to permanently change an individual’s sex—including the sex of children. Under the new Regulation, a doctor must perform these procedures even when they are contrary to the doctor’s medical judgment and could result in significant, long-term medical harm. Thus, the Regulation represents a radical invasion of the federal bureaucracy into a doctor’s medical judgment.”

 

Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell claims that the Rule violates several constitutional amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and is an “ is an unlawful abrogation of sovereign immunity.”

 

Graphic from a website about the lawsuit put up by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Graphic from a website about the lawsuit put up by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

 

Suing are: Franciscan Health Systems,a network of hospitals sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration; Specialty Physicians of Illinois, LLC; Christian Medical & Dental Associations; the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and the States of Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Kansas.

 

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who in May added the state to a suit by more than 10 states over the DOE’s bathroom policies, is named with the plaintiffs.

 

“The Obama Administration continues its attacks on the constitutional rights and religious freedoms of Kentuckians,” Gov. Bevin said in a statement. “It is both appalling and illegal for the federal government to force Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for sex-change operations. That is a ridiculous misuse of power by the Obama administration. I intend to fight this type of liberal foolishness at every turn and will stand firm in protecting the rights and values of Kentuckians.”

 

“No doctor should be forced to perform a procedure that he or she believes will harm a child,” Lori Windham, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said yesterday. “This rule would be the first time a law forces doctors to break their Hippocratic Oath and is also unique in placing mental health professionals as the final decision-makers on what medical care doctors must provide for their patients.”

 

 

Attorneys at the Beckett Fund say that most of the nearly 1 million doctors in the United States agree that few children who say they are confused about their sex think so by the time they are adults, and that giving them hormones and surgeries to “treat” their confusion is harmful.

 

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty handles First Amendment suits for people of all faiths. It was lead counsel for many suits over the HHS “Abortion Mandate” around the country.

 

To read the suit, click here.

 

For the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s web page on the suit, click here.

 

Click here to see all our current stories and photos.

 

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1 day 1 hour
Badin High School (Hamilton, OH) begins classes tomorrow, the school's 50th anniversary.

Badin High School (Hamilton, OH) begins classes tomorrow, the school’s 50th anniversary. Here the Class of 2016 — the school’s 50th graduating class — makes the number 50.

 

Badin High School in Hamilton will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening today, the first day of classes for the biggest freshman class in 12 years, and tomorrow for beginning of the whole school’s academic year. This year’s freshman class of 165 comes from 33 elementary and middle schools. All are invited to the opening all-school Mass Friday at 10 am.

 

This fall and winter will end the school’s two years of anniversary celebrations. “Last year we honored the 50th graduating class of Badin and the 50 years since our predecessor schools, Hamilton Catholic and Notre Dame, had their final year,” said school spokesperson Angie Gray. “This year we are celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the opening of Badin High School in the fall of 1966. We have a lot of good things scheduled,” including special recognition for graduates of the class of 1967 at the Homecoming Parade (Sept. 17), a Heritage Mass (Oct. 12), and recognition of the undefeated 1966 football team (Oct. 22); as well as reviving the school’s “Hootenanny” music festival, popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

“We’ve had 50 great years and we are ready to start 50 more,” said Princpal Brian Pendergest, a 1990 grad. “The students, the faculty, the staff – they care about Badin High School, about their education, their faith, their leadership. It makes for a terrific school environment.”

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1 day 1 hour
Singer/songwriter Marc Broussard draws on a variety of musical influences for his unique acoustic style.

Singer/songwriter Marc Broussard draws on a variety of musical influences for his unique acoustic style.

The Greater Cincinnati Performing Arts Society has a new name – Cincy Music Series – and announces its 2016-2017 concert series. Tickets for all shows are now on sale.

 

The seven-show Cincy Music Series will kick off September 10th with singer/songwriter Marc Broussard in concert at St. Xavier High School’s Performance Center.

 

Subsequent shows include 1964: The Tribute, a world-renowned Beatles tribute concert; Rhythm of the Dance, a Celtic music and dance revue; and a Christmas concert from the Annie Moses Band; and ends with a concert by Arrival From Sweden, “The World’s Biggest ABBA Tribute Show.”

 

Additional concerts feature bluegrass artist Sierra Hull and Gospel/blues artist Mike Farris.

 

All acts are Grammy-nominated musicians who perform in medium-sized venues. The series benefits Catholic elementary schools in the region. This year all shows will be held at the accoustically stellar St. Xavier, McAuley, and Princeton High Schools and Mount St. Joseph Univeristy performing arts centers.

 

For information see CincyMusicSeries.org or click here for the schedule, performance videos, and ticket prices.

 

Photos courtesy Marc Broussard.

 

Looking for more Catholic events? To see our continually updated long-term calendar, see our Calendar of Events page.

Please share this story! To get local Catholic news, features and photos every day in your inbox, subscribe in the box at the top of every page or send an email request to TheCatholicBeat@gmail.com.

 

 

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Email subscribers: Click on the post head to watch the video at our website.

Cincinnati artist John McCoy recently began a YouTube channel to show time-lapse photos of his large-scale paintings in progress. This video, the first on the channel, shows a mural of 59 saints he’s painting for a church in Michigan. The figures are nearly life-sized. A graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, McCoy has worked with the mural project ArtWorks, with religious publishers including Franciscan Media, and with private clients (including parishes).

 

2 days 1 hour

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From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Martin D. Holley, 61, as bishop of Memphis, Tennessee, and accepted the resignation of Bishop J. Terry Steib, 76, from the pastoral governance of that diocese. Bishop Holley has served as an auxiliary bishop of Washington for the last 12 years.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, August 23, by Msgr. Walter Erbì, chargé d' affaires of the nunciature of the United States.

Martin D. Holley was born on December 31, 1954 in Pensacola, Florida. He attended Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1977. He studied theology at the Catholic University of America and completed his seminary studies at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, where he earned a master of divinity degree in 1987. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee on May 8, 1987.

Assignments after ordination included, parochial vicar and administrator of St. Mary Catholic Church in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida; parochial vicar of St. Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, 1992; administrator of Little Flower Catholic Church in Pensacola, 2000, and pastor in 2002. He also served on the Council of Priests, as a tribunal advocate, spiritual director of the Serra Club of West Florida, and spiritual director and instructor for the permanent diaconate program. He served on the Diocesan Commission for Catholic Schools from 1992-1998 and was director of the Department of Ethnic Concerns from 1993-1995.

Bishop Holley was appointed auxiliary bishop of Washington on May 18, 2004, and was ordained a bishop on July 2, 2004. He serves as vicar general for the Archdiocese of Washington and is a member of the archdiocesan College of Consultors, Presbyteral Council, Seminarian Review Board, Administrative Board, and chairman of the College of Deans.

Bishop J. Terry Steib was born on May 17, 1940, Vacherie, Louisiana. He was ordained a priest on January 6, 1967. On December 6, 1983, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and ordained a bishop on February 10, 1984. He was appointed bishop of Memphis on March 23, 1993 and was installed on May 5, 1993.  

The Diocese of Memphis comprises 10,682 square miles in the state of Tennessee. It has a total population of 1,570,077 people of which 65,152 or 4 percent, are Catholic.
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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202

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WASHINGTON—The lack of jobs that can support families, particularly among those without access to higher education, has placed heavy burdens on families and communities across the country. This Labor Day, the Church draws close to these families and expresses words of hope, said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in the 2016 Labor Day statement.

In the statement, Archbishop Wenski draws attention to Pope Francis' recent address to the U.S. Congress, in which he highlighted the connection between economic pressures and stresses on the family. Archbishop Wenski in particular laments the struggles of those in communities with elevated rates of poverty, substance abuse, and the dissolution of the family. "The Church weeps with all of these families, with these children, whose homes and worlds are broken," Archbishop Wenski said.

While the United States is undergoing a difficult time with political tensions, fear, and anxiety, Archbishop Wenski challenges people to respond with faith and action. "For our dynamics to change, we must replace fear with a fuller vision that can be powerfully supported by our faith…the Church's history is filled with communities that took seriously the call to be their 'brother's keeper' (Gen. 4:9), faced challenges together, and lifted up the 'cry of the poor' (Psalm 34:7)."

To those who are experiencing isolation and feel left behind in today's economy, Archbishop Wenski offers assurance of the Church's solidarity. He said, "For those who feel left behind today, know that the Church wants to walk with you, in the company of the God who formed your 'inmost being' and who knows that you are 'wonderfully made.' (Psalm 139:13-14)."
The full text of the 2015 Labor Day statement is available online.

English: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/labor-day-statement-2016.cfm

Spanish:
www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-employment/declaracion-del-dia-del-trabajo-2016.cfm

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. bishops, Labor Day, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, Pope Francis, poverty, substance abuse, economic challenges, families, children

MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202

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WASHINGTON—Judy M. Keane has been named director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Office of Public Affairs. The appointment will take effect September 12.

Keane has spent about 20 years managing communications for high profile organizations, most recently as director of media relations and strategic communications for Arizona State University, where she served as spokesperson, communications advisor, and oversaw day-to-day and crisis communications, as well as social media and online content operations.  

"Judy brings an impressive wealth of professional experience in communications, I'm confident that she will bring valuable service to the Conference," said James Rogers, USCCB's chief communications officer.  

From 2008 to 2015, Keane was senior manager of public affairs and communications for Maricopa Integrated Health System, Arizona's public health care system, where she developed, planned and led strategic communications through a variety of channels and platforms. From 2001-2008, Keane was public affairs and volunteer services manager at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. There, she worked with media relations and communications, and managed and grew the volunteer services department to more than 375 members. Previous to that, she was a senior account executive at Martz Public Relations and Advertising Agency, where she researched, developed and implemented marketing, media and promotional campaigns and events for several corporate and non-profit clients.

Her active involvement in humanitarian relief efforts in refugee camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, led her to work also as an English professor and write and produce documentaries on the needs of Balkan war refugees. Prior to that, she was a news producer for KTVK, a CNN affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona.

She holds a master's in business administration from the University of Phoenix, and a bachelor's degree in English and Humanities from Arizona State University.  

An accomplished writer, Keane has also contributed to several health and Catholic publications and was a member of the Arizona Marian Conference from 1997-2015.
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MEDIA CONTACT:
Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202

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