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Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis sends money for Mexico earthquake relief

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has given money to the earthquake relief effort in Mexico to help survivors and victims’ families in the worst hit areas of the country.

The Vatican said on Thursday that an initial contribution of 150.000 dollars would be sent through the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.

The money will be divided between emergency relief efforts in the dioceses worst hit by the earthquake. The 7.1 quake on Tuesday caused at least 250 deaths and widespread damage in the capital and surrounding areas.

The donation, which is intended to show the pope’s solidarity and spiritual closeness to those affected by the disaster, is a small part of the financial support being sent to Mexico through many bishops conferences and Caritas organisations.

(from Vatican Radio)

Spotlight on first American-born martyr in Church’s history ahead of his beatification

(Vatican Radio) Father Stanley Rother, the first American-born martyr in the history of the Church is being beatified in Oklahoma City on September 23rd. The U.S. priest was gunned down in Guatamala in 1981 shortly after taking the heroic decision to return to his mission parish in the Central American nation despite knowing his name was on a death list there.

Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda is the author of a biography about this American martyr, entitled, ‘The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.’ She spoke to Susy Hodges about Father Stanley’s life, his mission and why it made such an impact on her.

Listen to this interview by Maria Scaperlanda: 

A U.S. Catholic writer and blogger, Scaperlanda was involved in collecting documentation for Father Stanley’s beatification cause.  She described how the priest grew up in a farming family and was used to being very “hands-on” when it came to tilling the land and fixing whatever was broken and he used those same skills to help the people in his mission parish in a remote area of Guatamala.

“Heart wrenching” decision

Asked about Father Stanley’s decision to return to his parish in Guatamala following a stay with his family in his native U.S. despite the death threats made against him Scaperlanda said it must have been “really really difficult ..... and heart wrenching” for him.  She likened it to Jesus’ mental torment in the Garden of Gethsamene shortly before his arrest and crucifixion.

“The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run”

Scaperlanda explained how the title for her book about Father Stanley “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run” was taken from the priest’s words in a letter he wrote shortly before his return to Guatamala where he wrote that “a shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.”

“A great model for all Americans”

By choosing “to stand with his people” Father Stanley is “a model of faithful discipleship,” she said. He was an “ordinary man” who did “an amazing thing” and as such “can teach us to live holy lives.” This first U.S.-born martyr is “a great model for all Americans,” she said. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: if you want mercy, know that you are sinners

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass on Thursday – the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist – in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

In remarks following the Readings of the Day, which included St. Matthew’s own account of his conversion and calling into discipleship, the Holy Father focused on the three stages of the episode: calling, feasting, and scandal.

Jesus had just healed a paralytic, when He met Matthew – a tax-collector, hence a figure despised by Jewish authorities and considered a traitor to his land and people – sitting at the customs desk.

Jesus looked at him and said, “Follow me,” and Matthew got up and followed Him

Recalling Caravaggio’s famous depiction of the scene, Pope Francis spoke of Matthew’s “sidelong look” with one eye on Our Savior and the other on his purse: a look that was even stand-offish, if not outright aggressive. Then, there was the merciful gaze of Jesus, which communicated such overwhelming love that the resistance of the man who wanted the money, “fails”: Matthew got up and followed Him.

Click below to hear our report

“It is the struggle between mercy and sin,” Pope Francis said

Jesus’ love was able to enter into the heart of that man, Matthew, because he “knew he was a sinner,” he knew “he was not loved by anyone,” and was even despised. It was precisely “that sinful conscience, which opened the door to the mercy of Jesus.” So, “[Matthew] left everything” and went on a new journey with Our Lord.

This is the encounter between the sinner and Jesus:

“This is the first condition of salvation: feeling oneself in danger. It is the first condition of healing: feeling sick. Feeling sinful is the first condition of receiving this gaze of mercy. But let us think of the look of Jesus, so beautiful, so good, so merciful. And we, too, when we pray, we feel this look upon us; it is the look of love, the gaze of mercy, the gaze that saves us. Do not be afraid.”

Matthew – like Zaccheus – feeling happy, invited Jesus to come home to eat. The second stage is indeed “the party” – one of festivity. Matthew invited friends, “those of the same trade,” sinners and publicans.

The Pope said this recalls the words of Jesus in Chapter XV of Luke’s Gospel: “There will be more feasting in Heaven for a sinner who converts than for one hundred just men who will remain just.” This is the feast of the Father's meeting, the feast of mercy. Pope Francis said that Jesus is profligate with mercy, mercy for all.

Then comes the third moment: that of scandal

The Pharisees saw that publicans and sinners were at table with Jesus, and said to His disciples, “How is your Master eating with publicans and sinners?” Thus, Pope Francis noted, “Always a scandal begins with this phrase: ‘But how come?’” He went on to say, “When you hear this sentence, it smells,” and “scandal follows.” They were, in essence, scandalized by “the impurity of not following the law.” They knew “the Doctrine” very well, knew how to go “on the way of the Kingdom of God,” knew “better than anyone how things ought to have been done,” but “had forgotten the first commandment, of love.” Then, "”hey were locked in the cage of sacrifices,” perhaps thinking, “But let's make a sacrifice to God, let us do all we have to do, “so we are saved.” In summary, they believed that salvation came from themselves, they felt safe. “"No,” said Pope  Francis. “God saves us, saves us Jesus Christ”:

“That ‘how come?’, which we’ve heard so many times from Catholics when they saw works of mercy. How come? Jesus is clear, He is very clear: ‘Go and learn.’ He sent them to learn, right? ‘Go and learn what mercy means. [That’s what] I want, and not sacrifices, for I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners.’ If you want to be called by Jesus, recognize yourself a sinner.”

If you would receive mercy, recognize yourselves as sinners

Francis exhorted us, therefore, to recognize ourselves as sinners, not guilty of “sin” in the abstract but guilty of “concrete sins”: so many “we all have committed them,” he said. “Let us look on Jesus with that merciful glance full of love,” he continued.

While still dwelling on the scandal, he noted that there are so many:

“There are so many, many – and always, even in the Church today. They say, ‘No, you cannot, it’s all clear, it’s all, no, no – those are sinners, we have to turn them away.’ Many saints have also been persecuted or suspected. We think of St. Joan of Arc, sent to the stake, because they thought she was a witch, and condemned her. A saint! Think of Saint Teresa, suspected of heresy, think of Bl. [Antonio] Rosmini. ‘Mercy I desire, and not sacrifices.’ And the door to meet Jesus is recognizing ourselves as we are: the truth [about orselves], [that we are] Sinners. And he comes, and we meet. It is very beautiful to meet Jesus.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: "Church will apply firmest measures against those who abuse minors"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reiterated his pledge to combat the evil of clerical sex abuse affirming that at all levels, the Church will continue to respond applying the firmest of measures to “all those who have betrayed their call and abused God's children.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

He was addressing members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered for their Plenary Assembly.

The Commission is an institution that was established by the Pope to propose initiatives that ensure that crimes that have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church.   

In prepared remarks and after having listened to the greetings of Commission President, Cardinal O’Malley and other members of the Commission, Pope Francis said “I wish to share with you the profound pain I feel in my soul for the situation of abused children, as I have had occasion to do recently several times”. 

Painful experience for the Church

Describing the sex abuse scandal as a terrible evil for the whole of humanity, the Pope said it has also been a very painful experience for the Church: “We are ashamed of the abuses committed by holy ministers, who should be the most trustworthy”. 

“Let me say quite clearly that sexual abuse is a horrible sin, completely opposite and in contradiction to what Christ and the Church teach us” he said. 

Recalling the fact that he has had the privilege of listening to the stories that victims and survivors of abuses have wanted to share, Pope Francis observed that meetings such as these continue to nourish the personal commitment of all involved in the Commission to do everything possible to combat this evil and eliminate it. 

The Church to respond at all levels with the firmest measures 

“That is why, I reiterate today once again that the Church, at all levels, will respond with the application of the firmest measures against all those who have betrayed their call and abused the children of God” he said. 

The Pope stressed that the disciplinary measures must apply to all those who work in the institutions of the Church, but he pointed out that “the primary responsibility lies with Bishops, priests and religious”: those who have received from the Lord the vocation to offer their lives to serving the Church and this includes “the vigilant protection of all vulnerable children, young people and adults”. 

“For this reason, the Church irrevocably and at all levels seeks to apply the principle of "zero tolerance" against sexual abuse of minors” he said.

The Pope recalled his Motu Proprio entitled “As a Loving Mother” that was promulgated on the basis of a proposal by the Commission and in reference to the principle of responsibility in the Church. He said it addresses the cases of Diocesan Bishops, Eparches and Superior Generals of religious institutes who, through negligence, have carried out or omitted acts that may have caused serious harm to others, whether individuals or a community as a whole (see Article 1).

He said that over the last three years, since its establishment the Commission has consistently emphasized the most important principles guiding the Church's efforts to protect all vulnerable children and adults, thus fulfilling the mission entrusted to it as a "consultative function in the service of the Holy Father", offering its experience "in order to promote the responsibility of particular Churches in the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults" (Statute, Article 1).

Pope Francis said he was delighted to learn that many particular Churches have adopted the Commission’s recommendation for a Day of Prayer, and for dialogue with victims and survivors of abuses, as well as with representatives of victim organizations. 

“It is also encouraging to know how many Episcopal Conferences and Conferences of Superior Generals have sought your advice regarding the Guidelines for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults” he said. 

Value of sharing best practices

He emphasized the value of sharing best practices - especially for those Churches that have fewer resources for this crucial work of protection – and encouraged the Commission to continue its collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples “so that these practices may be inculturated in the different Churches around the world”.

Lastly, Pope Francis praised the many initiatives that offer opportunities for learning, education and training promoted by the Commission as well as the fact that a presentation made last week to new bishops has been so favorably received.

“These educational programs offer the kind of resources that will enable Dioceses, Religious Institutes and all Catholic institutions to adopt and implement the most effective materials for this work”.

The Church: a place of piety and compassion 

The Pope concluded his address highlighting the fact that the Church is called to be a place of piety and compassion, especially for those who have suffered. 

“For all of us, the Catholic Church remains a field hospital that accompanies us on our spiritual journey. It is the place where we can sit with others, listen to them and share with them our struggles and our faith in the good news of Jesus Christ. I am fully confident that the Commission will continue to be a place where we can listen with interest to the voices of the victims and the survivors. Because we have much to learn from them and their personal stories of courage and perseverance” he said.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis receives Italian Antimafia Parliamentary Commission

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Italian Antimafia Parliamentary Commission in the Vatican.

In his prepared remarks to the group, the Holy Father began by recalling 3 high profile figures killed by the mafia, Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were killed 25 years ago and Servant of God, Rosario Livatino, killed on September 21, 1990.

Corruption

The Pope, during his address underlined how “corruption always finds a way to justify itself, presenting itself as the "normal" condition, the solution for those who are "shrewd", the way to reach ones goals.” The Pope went on to say that, “it has a contagious and parasitic nature, because it does not nourish what good produces, but how it subtracts and robs.”

Authentic Politics

Authentic politics, said Pope Francis, “the one we recognize as an important form of charity, works instead to ensure a future of hope and to promote the dignity of each person. It is precisely because of this, he added, that it sees the struggle against mafias as a priority, since they steal the common good, taking away peoples hope and dignity.

Fighting mafias, the Holy Father continued, means not only repressing them. “It also means reclaiming, transforming, building, and this entails two levels of commitment.”

The first is the political one, through greater social justice, because mafias, he said,  put themselves forward as an alternative system in the area where rights and opportunities are lacking: work, home, education, and health care.

Economic commitment

The second level of commitment, said the Pope is the economic one, through the correction or removal of those mechanisms that generate inequality and poverty everywhere.

This dual level, political and economic, noted Pope Francis, presupposes another no less essential element, that is the construction of a new civil consciousness, the only one that can lead to true liberation from mafias.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Statement from President of U.S. Bishops Conference - Mexico Earthquake

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following statement to the people of Mexico following yesterday's powerful earthquake that struck southeast of Mexico City. The death toll has now surpassed 200. As the desperate search for survivors continues, Cardinal DiNardo calls for prayers for those suffering from the catastrophic earthquake.

Full statement follows: 

"Once again, our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Mexico, who yesterday suffered yet another catastrophic earthquake, on the anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that claimed the lives of thousands of people. The states principally affected were Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico State, and the capital, Mexico City.  

"Today Pope Francis at his General Audience expressed his solidarity with the Mexican people, and implored 'Almighty God to welcome all those who lost their lives.' The Mexican bishops expressed their condolences to all those affected, and highlighted the generous fraternal affection the nation is witnessing in the response and rescue efforts: 'Once again, we are witnessing the solidarity of the Mexican people, who sees a brother and sister in those who are suffering.'

"We join them in prayer and solidarity, and together invoke the maternal protection of our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the Afflicted and Mother Most Merciful."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Mexico City, earthquake, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico State, Pope Francis, solidarity, condolences, suffering, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the Afflicted, Mother Most Merciful. 

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Pope Audience: Never lose hope, never lose heart

(Vatican Radio) “Wherever the Lord has planted you, stand firm in hope; never lose heart”. Those were Pope Francis’ words at his General Audience on Wednesday as he continued his reflections on Christian hope. This week the Holy Father focused his attention on teaching the virtue of hope, offering his guidance and encouragement especially to young people.

Listen to our report:

Don't give in to negativity

He told those present in St Peter’s Square, “never to yield to the negativity that tears things and people down, but keep building, try to make this world conform ever more fully to God’s plan.”

Never despair, he added, build on who you are; if you're on the ground, get up. If you're sitting, get up and go. If boredom paralyzes you, fill your life with good works.”

The Pope continued by saying that, “God does not disappoint: if he has placed hope in our hearts, he does not want to frustrate it with continued frustration. Everything is born to bloom in an eternal spring.”

Be peace builders

Pope Francis invited Christians to use their “God-given gifts of mind and heart to help our human family to grow in freedom, justice and dignity.”  “Peace, the Pope said, is in the midst of men, do not listen to the voice of those who spread hate and divisions.”

Jesus, the Holy Father underlined, “gave us a shining light in the darkness: defend it, protect it.

Speaking to the pilgrims present, Pope Francis encouraged them to dream, and concluding his catechesis, he said, “live, love and believe!  And with God’s grace, be beacons of hope to all around you.”

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Statement from President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON—Following this morning's bulletin from the Holy See that a Vatican diplomat based in Washington had been recalled to face an investigation for alleged violation of child pornography laws, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has issued the following statement:

"This is a serious issue. We hope the Holy See will be forthcoming with more details. While we don't know all the facts, consistent with our Charter, we reaffirm that when such allegations occur, an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation should begin in cooperation with law enforcement and immediate steps be taken to protect children. The protection of children and young people is our most sacred responsibility."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Holy See, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200


U.S. Bishops Conference President Announces Emergency Collection for Those Impacted by Hurricane Irma for Week of September 23-24

WASHINGTON—The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited his brother bishops to take up an emergency collection the weekend of September 23-24 on behalf of those devastated in parts of the Caribbean and southeastern United States by Hurricane Irma. In the letter sent to bishops today, Cardinal DiNardo says the emergency collection is greatly needed to help victims of Hurricane Irma rebuild their lives and also help support reconstruction needs of churches destroyed or severely damaged in the U.S. and Caribbean.  

Cardinal DiNardo's letter to the bishops follows:   

"In the past few days Hurricane Irma devastated significant parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. While emergency outreach was immediate, we know that the road to recovery and the rebuilding of communities will be long and additional support will be needed.

"I write to you today and ask that you take up an emergency collection for those impacted by Hurricane Irma. These funds will be used in the affected areas to support humanitarian aid, assistance with long-term efforts to restore communities after widespread destruction, and for the pastoral and reconstruction needs of the Church in US and the Caribbean.  

"I am aware that this call comes on the heels of the emergency collection for Hurricane Harvey. That storm, which hit Texas and Louisiana and held on for days before moving inland, caused catastrophic damage and compelled us to respond. Likewise, Hurricane Irma has been devastating and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, especially the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and the southern US need our help.

"The Church is a channel for grace and solidarity in the wake of natural disasters as it offers solace and support in their aftermath. However, as is so often the case, the Church itself in these regions is both a long-standing provider of aid and now is in need of tremendous assistance itself. So many of the Church's structures have been damaged and their resources depleted which makes it even more challenging to provide assistance and pastoral outreach to those in need."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, emergency collection, Hurricane Irma, Caribbean, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, southwestern U.S., community, reconstruction, humanitarian aid, Texas, grace, solidarity.

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops Executive Committee Release Statement on Administration’s DACA Decision; Calls on Catholic Faithful to Urge Congress to Pass DREAM Act

WASHINGTON—The Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend DACA renewal deadlines in hurricane impacted states. The statement also urges Congress to find a durable and permanent solution on behalf of DACA youth and urges the Administration to allow 75,000 refugee admissions into the United States in 2018. The full statement from the USCCB Executive Committee follows:

"The Executive Committee of the USCCB, meeting this week, makes its own the Statement of the USCCB President and others on September 5th, which expressed extreme disappointment with the administration's decision to end DACA with a six month wind-down period, and committed the USCCB to redouble its efforts to help find a permanent legislative solution in Congress.

"In light of many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, to address the situation, the Committee urges the Catholic faithful and all people of good will to contact their representatives in Congress to urge the passage of the DREAM Act or similar legislation as a prompt, humane, and durable solution to this problem of greatest urgency. The Executive Committee also notes the tremendous contributions of the DACA youth to date as extraordinary, including the fact that many serve in our military.

"In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and the devastation left behind, the Executive Committee requests that the Department of Homeland Security extend the October 5, 2018 deadline for the DACA renewals that fall within the October 5- March 5, 2018 renewal period for those living in hurricane-affected zones. As Texas and Florida have some of the largest populations of DACA youth, we ask that you ensure that these individuals receive fair access to renew and are not unduly punished due to natural disaster. We fear that they cannot adequately do so at this time given the physical damage on the ground.

"The Committee is further troubled and deeply concerned, as the President nears a final decision to reduce the number of refugees welcomed in the United States by 50%, that the administration will unduly restrict our reception of those in search of safety for their families. The USCCB proposes that 75,000 refugees, already a reduction of over 25% from the previous determination, be the goal for welcoming refugee admissions for 2018. Going further down to 50,000 or below, as proposed in previous Executive Orders by the President, is simply inhumane, particularly when our great nation has the resources and ability to do more.

"We implore the administration to show mercy and compassion for those seeking refuge, and to advance the American value of freedom through providing safe harbor to those fleeing tyranny and religious persecution.

"In this moment of moral decision, we look to Pope Francis, who in his address to Congress stated: 'We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' (Mt 7:12). To this end, we believe that deporting exemplary young people who were brought here as children and who know only the United States as their home – or failing to do all we can to help refugees and their families, who are often driven to exile by war and extreme exploitation – is not in our interests as a moral and generous people. Our country has the right and responsibility to regulate its border. We ask that it be done humanely."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Executive Committee, Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, United States Congress, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Harvey, Department of Homeland Security, Texas, Florida, refugees, Executive Order, Pope Francis, mercy, compassion.

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200