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Catholic News and Commentary

Pope Ordains Three New Bishops

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 1 hour 47 min ago

Pope Francis added three new bishops to the service of the Church on Monday, March 19, 2018, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy Mass and Episcopal Ordination were held in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The three new bishops are:

– Mons. Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag of the clergy of the Diocese of Pelplin (Poland), born on February 6, 1968, in Więcbork (Poland), ordained priest on 30 May 1993, elected titular Archbishop of Maastricht and nominated Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua on February 15, 2018;

– Mons. Alfred Xuereb of the clergy of the Diocese of Gozo (Malta), born October 14, 1958, in Gozo (Malta), ordained priest on May 26, 1984, titular Archbishop of Amantea and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia on February 26, 2018;

– Mons. José Avelino Bettencourt of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (Canada), born May 23, 1962, in the Azores (Portugal), ordained priest on May 29, 1993, elected titular Archbishop of Novigrad and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Georgia and Armenia February 26, 2018.

Pope Francis Fields Five Questions From Youth

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 2 hours 1 min ago

Pope Francis launched the March 19-24, 2018, Pre-Synodal Meeting in Rome, organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

The Holy Father responded to five questions from the young delegates, as reported by Vatican News:

How can young people help victims of human trafficking?

The Pope described this abuse, and even torture, as the “slavery of today”. The Pope went on to denounce the evil of exploiting women. He had especially strong words for baptized Catholics who pay for prostitutes. This is a “crime against humanity”, he said. Pope Francis called on young people to fight for the dignity of women, and concluded by asking forgiveness for all the Catholics who take part in these “criminal acts”.

 Where should a young person look for guidance in making life choices?

“The wise person”, he said, “is the one who is not scared of anything, but who knows how to listen and has the God-given gift of saying the right thing at the right time”. The Pope warned that when young people fail to find their “path of discernment”, they risk shutting themselves off. This can become like carrying a “cancer” inside, he said. And this risks weighing them down and taking away their freedom.

 How can we teach young people to be open to their neighbor and to the transcendent?

Pope Francis said education should teach three basic languages: the head, heart, and hands. The language of the head means thinking well and learning concrete things. That of the heart means understanding feelings and sentiments. The language of the hands is making use of the gifts God has given us to create new things. The key, he said, is to use all three together.

How is a young person preparing for the priesthood to respond to the complexities of present-day culture – like tattoos, for instance?

The question, from a young Ukrainian seminarian, spurred the Holy Father to reflect on the priest as a “witness to Christ”. He said, however, that Clericalism is “one of the worst illnesses of the Church” because it confuses the “paternal role of the priest” with the “managerial role of the boss”. As for tattoos, don’t be afraid of them but use them as a way to start a conversation.

 How can young women religious balance the dominant culture in society and the spiritual life in accomplishing their mission?

The Pope stressed the importance of helping people to “mature affectively”, nothing that sometimes young people are formed spiritually but other areas are neglected in an effort to protect them.  However, this results in “deformation”.  It is vital to have formation in four pillars: intellectual, communitarian, apostolic and spiritual.

While the Pre-Synodal Meeting will have about 300 “in-person” participants, youth from around the world can participant via internet.  More information is available on the meeting website.

‘The Church Is Young at Heart,’ Pope Reminds Young People

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 2 hours 5 min ago

The Church is young at heart…

Opening the pre-synod this morning, March 19, 2018, on the Feast of St Joseph in Rome, Pope Francis noted this as he addressed more than 300 young people gathered in the Eternal City to share together ahead of this synod and whose outcomes will be taken into consider during the October synod.

It is interesting to recall that the Maria Mater Ecclesiae International Pontifical College, where the Pre-Synod will be held and where the Pope was this morning, received 20 years ago, on March 19, the visit of Pope St John Paul II, “great promoter of youth.”

The upcoming synod is another gesture of closeness, demonstrating the Church’s interest to listen to and to give young people an opportunity to express their concerns, to find the way of supporting them.

In his address today, Pope Francis underscored that close dialogue with younger generations is a great help.

“I invite you then, this week, to express yourselves frankly and freely,” he noted, adding: “You are the protagonists and it is important that you speak openly.”

“‘But I am ashamed, the cardinal will hear me …’ Hear what?, he’s used to it.

The Pope assured them that their contribution will be taken seriously.

“We need you young people, living stones of a Church with a young face, but not made up, as I said: not artificially rejuvenated, but revived from within.”

“And you provoke us to get out of the logic of ‘but it’s always been like that,’ he stressed. “And that logic, please, is a poison. It’s a sweet poison, because it calms your soul and leaves you as anesthetized and does not let you walk. To get out of the logic of ‘always has been done this way,’ to remain creatively in the wake of authentic, yet creative, Christian tradition.

The Pope repeated his recommendation that Christians read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, citing the creativity of those men.

“Those men knew how to go on with a creativity that if we do the translation to what it means today, it frightens us!”

Pope Francis concluded, thanking them and reminding them to pray for him.

Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien of Scotland Dies

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 2 hours 48 min ago

Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien , Archbishop Emeritus of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews, Scotland, died on March 19, 2018 at 80.

Indicted for “inappropriate sexual behavior with seminarians in the 80s, he renounced “the rights and prerogatives of the cardinalship” in 2015.

Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien was born on March 17, 1938 in Northern Ireland. He was ordained priest on April 3, 1965. During his pastoral life, he was Spiritual Director at St. Andrew’s College of Drygrange and Rector of St. Mary’s College of Blairs from, 1978 to 1985.

He was appointed Archbishop of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews on May 30, 1985 and consecrated Bishop on August 5. John Paul II created him Cardinal in the Consistory of October 21, 2003. From 2002 to 2012 he was President of the Episcopal Conference of Scotland.

Benedict XVI accepted the early resignation of Cardinal O’Brien, relieved of his pastoral responsibilities on February 25, 2013. He did not take part in the Conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013, and left Scotland for a time “of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance,” in May 2013.

A Papal Thank You to the Folks Back Home

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 2 hours 55 min ago

As might be expected, Pope Francis received many greetings and prayers from people in his native Argentina on the 5th anniversary of his election as Pope, March 13, 2018.

According to Vatican News, the Holy Father responded with a “very personal” letter, sent to the Argentine Bishops’ Conference and approved for public release (in Spanish).

In the second paragraph of the letter, Pope Francis writes of his “great and intense” love of his country for which, he says, “I pray every day”. He goes on to ask forgiveness of “those who may be offended by some of my gestures”. “Although God entrusted me with such an important task, and helps me”, explains the Pope, “He did not free me from human frailty”.

The Holy Father also invited Argentinians to participate in his mission by suggesting: “If ever you are pleased about things I do well, I want you to feel like they are your own. You are my people, the people who trained me, prepared me and offered me to serve others… Remember the Lord has called one of you to bring a message of faith, mercy, and fraternity to many corners of the earth”.

Pope encourages young people to ask tough questions at pre-synod launch

EWTN News - Vatican News - 2 hours 59 min ago
Vatican City, Mar 19, 2018 / 11:43 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis opened this week's pre-synod meeting telling youth to hold nothing back and to have the courage to ask the "raw" and direct questions about life, love, and vocation.

Entire Letter of Pope Benedict’s Letter to Vatican Communications Prefect Msgr Vigano

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 4 hours 47 min ago

A personal letter of Benedict XVI on the continuity with the pontificate of Pope Francis was made public by the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, who received it on the occasion of the presentation of the ‘Theology of Pope Francis’ collection, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), which took place Monday in the course of a press conference at Rome in the Marconi Hall of the Palazzo Pio.

This week, the letter was published by the Vatican in its entirety. Here is a Zenit working translation of the letter:


Benedict XVI

Pope Emeritus


Vatican City

February 7, 2018


Most Reverend Lord

Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano

Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication

00120 Vatican City


Most Reverend Monsignor,

Thank you very much for your kind letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole. I applaud this initiative, which intends to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice by which Pope Francis is only a practical man bereft of particular theological or philosophical formation, whereas I was only a theoretician of theology, who little understood the concrete life of a Christian today. The small volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, help to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, although with all the differences of style and temperament.

However, I do not feel like writing on them “a brief and dense theological page.” In all my life it was always clear that I have written and have expressed myself only on books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven small volumes in the near future, all the more so as other commitments await me, which I have already assumed.

Only as an aside I would like to note my surprise for the fact that, figuring among the authors is also Professor Hunermann, who during my pontificate came to light for having headed  anti-papal initiatives. He took part significantly in the release of the “Kolner Erklarung,” which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor,” attacked virulently the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of Moral Theology. Also the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft,” which he founded, was thought by him initially as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Then the ecclesial thinking of many theologians blocked this orientation, rendering that organization a regular meeting instrument among theologians.

I am certain that there will be understanding for my denial and I greet you cordially,


(Signed) Benedict XVI

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, disgraced Scottish prelate, dies at 80

EWTN News - Vatican News - 5 hours 53 min ago
Vatican City, Mar 19, 2018 / 08:49 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, who stepped down as Archbishop of Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting to inappropriate sexual conduct throughout his ministry, died Monday at the age of 80.

Catholics in Indonesia will be alert during Holy Week in light of church attacks

EWTN World Catholic News - 7 hours 41 min ago
Jakarta, Indonesia, Mar 19, 2018 / 07:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- As there has been an increase in violence committed against parishes throughout Indonesia, Church officials in the country have urged Catholics to be vigilant, especially during Holy Week.

Bishops' conference official speaks of challenge of Protestantism, Islam in Congo Republic (Fides)

Catholic News - 9 hours 39 min ago
The Congo Republic, a nation of 5 million, is much smaller than its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 44% of the Congo Republic’s residents are Protestant; 33% are Catholic.

Pope expresses love for his native Argentina, asks forgiveness for faults (Vatican News)

Catholic News - 9 hours 39 min ago
The Pontiff thanked his fellow countrymen for the messages they sent on the fifth anniversary of his election.

Former Cardinal Keith O'Brien dies after fall (The Scotsman)

Catholic News - 9 hours 39 min ago
The disgraced prelate, who resigned his post as Archbishop of Edinburgh in 2013 after admitting sexual misconduct, later renounced his rights and privileges as a member of the College of Cardinals.

Nicaraguan prelate criticizes government censorship of social media (Fides)

Catholic News - 9 hours 39 min ago
The leftist Daniel Ortega, who ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, has governed the nation since 2007.

Gaze upon the crucifix, enter into Jesus' wounds, Pope says during Angelus address (Zenit)

Catholic News - 10 hours 38 min ago
Click here for the Pope’s March 18 Sunday Angelus address, which was devoted to the Gospel of the day (John 12:20-33).

Padre Pio, when tormented by devil, abandoned himself to Jesus, Pope says in saint's hometown (Vatican Press Office)

Catholic News - 10 hours 39 min ago
Click here for a video of the Pontiff’s address, delivered on March 17 during a pastoral visit to Pietrelcina.

Russia to expel 23 British diplomats, close consulate in escalating row over poisoned ex-spy (Washington Post)

Catholic News - 10 hours 39 min ago
L’Osservatore Romano (March 18 Italian edition) devoted front-page coverage to this story.

Honoring Padre Pio's relics, Pope preaches on prayer, smallness, wisdom (Vatican Press Office)

Catholic News - 10 hours 39 min ago
Click here for a video of the Pope’s pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, the site of the friary where St. Pio (1887-1968) lived for most of his life.

Airstrikes hit Syrian enclave where many are fleeing, activists say (CNN)

Catholic News - 10 hours 39 min ago
L’Osservatore Romano (March 18 Italian edition) devoted front-page coverage to this story.

Pope Points Out to Priests Two Conditions for Proper Discernment

Zenit (The World Seen From Rome) - 11 hours 15 min ago

Pope Francis pointed out to priests and seminarians two conditions for correct discernment.

On Friday morning, March 16,the Holy Father received, in Paul VI Hall, priests and seminarians from some 150 Pontifical Colleges and Ecclesiastical Boarding Schools of Rome, accompanied by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who addressed a few words to the Pontiff, reported the Holy See.

The Holy Father then answered five questions on priestly formation and spirituality, posed by representatives of four Continents (Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia), stemming from the document Ratio fundmentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, the “Gift of the Presbyterial Vocation,” published by the Roman Dicastery on December 8, 2016. Vatican News offered a synthesis of the questions and the Pope’s answers, pronounced from the fullness of the heart.  

Before the Pontiff’s arrival, the meeting was the occasion for priests and seminarians to pray together and sing songs, one song being dedicated to Blessed Argentine parish priest Brochero, sung by the Argentine Priestly College, reported L’Osservatore Romano.

Never Alone

For the European Continent, a French seminarian asked the Pope how to reconcile the presbyterial ministry with the fact of feeling themselves “disciples and missionaries.”

For the Pope, “the priest must be a man always on the way, a man who listens and is never alone. He must have the humility to be accompanied.”

A second question on discernment was posed by a seminarian of Sudan, for the African Continent.

The Two Conditions of Discernment

The Holy Father highlighted “two conditions” for “a true discernment”: “to do so in prayer before God,” and to consult someone else, a guide capable of listening and of giving guidelines.”

“When there isn’t discernment in priestly life” there is “rigidity and casuistry” and one is “incapable of advancing”, everything “becomes closed” and “the Holy Spirit doesn’t work.” The Pope recommended that priests “take the Holy Spirit as companion on the way,” while remarking that often “one is afraid of the Holy Spirit,” one wants to “put Him in a cage.”

Not Functionaries of the Sacred

A Mexican priest asked the Pope for America, how to safeguard the priest’s balance in the course of life. And the Pope stressed the importance of the priest’s “human formation”: “It’s necessary to be normal human persons capable of laughing, of listening to a sick person in silence, of consoling with a caress. There must be a form of paternity and fruitfulness, which enables one to give life to others. They must be “father priests, and not functionaries of the sacred, or employees of God.”

The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest

For North America, a United States deacon asked about the traits of the spirituality of the diocesan priest. The Pope answered pointing out the three components of “diocesanite”: to cultivate one’s relation with one’s Bishop, with one’s brother priests, and with the people of the parish, who are his children. “If you work on these three fronts, you will become saints,” said the Pontiff.

An Examination of Conscience

A priest of the Philippines posed for Asia, the question on permanent formation. The Pope recommended to take care of the “human, pastoral, spiritual and communal formation” of the priest. He specified a “permanent formation born from the awareness of his weakness” and that it’s “important to know one’s limitations.” The Holy Father also invited each one to examine how he lives  “virtual communication,” how he “uses his mobile phone,” how he addresses temptations against chastity, which will come inevitably,” and how to be “able to keep oneself from pride, from the attraction of money, of power and of comfort.”


Pope, in meeting with Muslim leader, says there is no link between Islam and terrorism (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation)

Catholic News - 11 hours 38 min ago
Pope Francis received the secretary-general of the OIC, an organization with 57 member states. The Muslim leader condemned terrorism and thanked the Pope for his positions on Jerusalem (Al Quds in Arabic) and the Rohingya. “Both sides were in agreement on the cause of Palestine and Al Quds,” according to the OIC. “The Pope also appreciated OIC’s position against terrorism, and stressed that there is no link between Islam and terrorism.”
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