Oct 26 2016
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday called for solidarity with migrants and refugees.
Speaking to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on two particular corporal works of mercy - welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked – and said that the growing numbers of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty calls us to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis reflected on the many stories of migration that are to be found in the Bible and on how, through the centuries, so many committed Christians have found generous ways of meeting the needs of people fleeing violence and injustice.
“Today – he said – the current economic crisis unfortunately fosters attitudes of closure instead of welcome”.
“In some parts of the world walls and barriers are being built. It appears that the silent work of men and women who, in different ways, do what they can to help and assist refugees and migrants, is being drowned out by the noise made by those who give voice to an instinctive egoism” he said.
And saying that closure is never a solution, the Pope said it actually ends up favouring criminal trafficking. The only solution, he said, is solidarity: “Solidarity with the migrant, solidarity with the foreigner…”
Pope Francis reiterated that this is a commitment that we must all make: “no one excluded”.
“Dioceses, parishes, religious institutes, organisations and individual Christians: we are all called to welcome our brothers and sisters who are fleeing war, hunger, violence and cruel conditions of life” he said.
And setting aside his text, Pope Francis told the story of a lady who was approached by a refugee asking directions for the Holy Door. The man, the Pope said, was dirty and barefoot but wanted to go to St. Peter’s Basilica to cross the holy threshold. The woman took stock of his bare feet and called a taxi, but the taxi driver initially didn’t want him on board because he was ‘smelly’. The taxi driver ended up boarding the woman and the man who, during the drive, told his story of pain, war, hunger and migration.
Upon destination, Pope Francis recounted that the taxi driver, the same man who initially didn’t want the refugee to board his taxi because he was ‘smelly’, refused to accept payment for his service from the woman because he said: “It is I who should pay you because thanks to you I have listened to a story that has changed my heart”.
The Pope continued saying that the woman was well aware of the pain of a migrant because she had Armenian blood and knew the suffering of her people.
“When we do something like that initially there is some discomfort – ‘a smell’ – but at the end, a story like this brings fragrance to our soul, and changes us. Think about this story and think what you can do for refugees” he said.
So too, ‘clothing the naked’ he said, increasingly means caring for those whose dignity has been stripped from them, and working to ensure that it is upheld and safeguarded.
And this, he explained, means literally giving clothes to those who have none, but it also means thinking of women whose bodies are exploited by human traffickers and of the many other ways people – even minors – are used as a form of merchandise.
“Having no job, no home, no just salary is also a form of nakedness, as is suffering discrimination because of race or faith. These are all forms of ‘nakedness’ that we Christians are called to act upon” he said.
As followers of Christ, Pope Francis concluded, may we never close our hearts to those in need. By being open to others, our lives are enriched, our societies can enjoy peace and all people can live in a way befitting their dignity.
(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 25 2016
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican issued a statement on Tuesday announcing the work of the cataloguing and digitalizing of the archival material possessed by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, the Apostolic Nunciature in Buenos Aires, and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State related to Argentina’s Military Dictatorship Period (1976-1983) has ended.
The statement said the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, on Saturday, 15 October, to assess the project.
The Executive Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Argentina is composed of the President, Archbishop of Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, José María Arancedo; the First Vice President, Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli; the Second Deputy, Archbishop of Salta, Mario Antonio Cargnello; and the Secretary General, Bishop of Chascomus, Carlos Humberto Malfa.
The statement noted the process of organization and digitization, “which was performed in accordance with the decisions and directives of the Holy Father, and is the continuation of work already started years ago by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, has ended.”
It went on to say “based on a protocol to be established soon,” the documents will be able to be accessed and consulted by the victims, the immediate family members of the desaparecidos (disappeared) and detained, and – in the case of religious and ecclesiastical personnel – their superiors.
The statement said those involved wanted to “emphasize this work was performed by having it its heart the service of truth, justice, and peace by continuing a dialogue open to the culture of encounter.”
It concluded by saying “the Holy Father and Episcopate of Argentina entrust their homeland to the merciful protection of Our Lady of Luján, trusting in the intercession of the beloved Saint José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero.”(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 25 2016
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said God’s Kingdom grows through its members showing docility and warned Christians against concentrating too much on structures and organization charts. He was speaking during his morning Mass on Tuesday celebrated in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from the day’s readings, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of God’s Kingdom during his homily, saying it is not a fixed structure but constantly evolving and describing what helps it to grow. He stressed that God’s Law is not just there to be studied but to journey forward with during our lives.
“What is the Kingdom of God? Well, perhaps the Kingdom of God is a very well-made structure, everything tidy, organization charts all done, everything and the person who does not enter (into this structure) is not in the Kingdom of God. No, the same thing can happen to the Kingdom of God as happens to the Law: unchanging, rigidity… the Law is about moving forward, the Kingdom of God is moving forward, it is not standing still. What’s more: the Kingdom of God is re-creating itself every day.”
The Pope reminded how Jesus in his parable about things in our daily lives spoke about the yeast that does not remain yeast because in the end it is mixed in with the flour and therefore it is on a journey and becomes bread. And then there is the seed that does not remain a seed because it dies and gives life to the tree. Both the yeast and the seed, explained Pope Francis, are on a journey to do something but in order to do this they die. It is not a problem of smallness, be it small, of little count or a big thing. It’s a question of journeying and whilst on this journey the transformation occurs.
The Pope went on to warn against being a person who sees the Law but does not journey forward and has a rigid attitude.
“What is the attitude that the Lord asks from us in order that the Kingdom of God can grow and be bread for everybody and is a house too for everybody? Docility: the Kingdom of God grows through docility to the strength of the Holy Spirit. The flour ceases to be flour and becomes bread because it is docile to the strength of the yeast and the yeast allows itself to be mixed in with the flour… I don’t know, flour has no feelings but allowing itself to be mixed in one could think that there is some suffering here, right? But the Kingdom too, the Kingdom grows in this way and then in the end it is bread for everybody.”
Just as the flour is docile to the yeast, continued Pope Francis, the seed too allows itself to be fertilized and loses its identity as a seed and becomes something much larger: it transforms itself. He said it’s the same with the Kingdom of God that is journeying “towards hope” and “journeying towards fullness.”
Saying the Kingdom of God re-creates itself every day, the Pope stressed that the Kingdom grows through our docility to the Holy Spirit that, just like the pinch of yeast or the tiny seed, transform themselves in order to grow. He warned that if Christians do not journey forward they become rigid and this rigidity makes them orphans without the Father.
“A rigid person only has masters and no father. The Kingdom of God is like a mother that grows and is fertile, gives of herself so that her children have food and lodging, according to the example of the Lord. Today is a day to ask for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. Many times we are not docile to our moods, our judgements. ‘But I do what I want….' The Kingdom does not grow in this way and neither do we grow. It is docility to the Holy Spirit that makes us grow and be transformed like the yeast and the seed. May the Lord give us all the grace of this docility.”(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 25 2016
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Tuesday published a new instruction on the burial of the dead and on the conservation of the ashes in cases of cremation.
The instruction reiterates the long held view that the Church is not opposed to the practice of cremation, though it continues to recommend that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.
However the new document insists that ashes should not be kept in private houses and that the scattering of ashes on land or at sea is not permitted.
Please see below the full English text of the new instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation
1. To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). With the Instruction Piam et Constantem of 5 July 1963, the then Holy Office established that “all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed”, adding however that cremation is not “opposed per se to the Christian religion” and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through “a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church”. Later this change in ecclesiastical discipline was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (1990).
During the intervening years, the practice of cremation has notably increased in many countries, but simultaneously new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith have also become widespread. Having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and numerous Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has deemed opportune the publication of a new Instruction, with the intention of underlining the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.
2. The resurrection of Jesus is the culminating truth of the Christian faith, preached as an essential part of the Paschal Mystery from the very beginnings of Christianity: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” (1 Cor 15:3-5).
Through his death and resurrection, Christ freed us from sin and gave us access to a new life, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6:4). Furthermore, the risen Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep […] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20-22).
It is true that Christ will raise us up on the last day; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. In Baptism, actually, we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Christ and sacramentally assimilated to him: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12). United with Christ by Baptism, we already truly participate in the life of the risen Christ (cf. Eph 2:6).
Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”. By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live”.
3. Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.
In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.
The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.
By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body, and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity. She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the “prison” of the body.
Furthermore, burial in a cemetery or another sacred place adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit and in which “as instruments and vessels the Spirit has carried out so many good works”.
Tobias, the just, was praised for the merits he acquired in the sight of God for having buried the dead, and the Church considers the burial of dead one of the corporal works of mercy.
Finally, the burial of the faithful departed in cemeteries or other sacred places encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead, while at the same time fostering the veneration of martyrs and saints.
Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in churches or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimize, or relegate to the purely private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians.
4. In circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly-stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased’s body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life. Thus cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul’s immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body.
The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine”.
In the absence of motives contrary to Christian doctrine, the Church, after the celebration of the funeral rite, accompanies the choice of cremation, providing the relevant liturgical and pastoral directives, and taking particular care to avoid every form of scandal or the appearance of religious indifferentism.
5. When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.
From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community’s prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The faithful departed remain part of the Church who believes “in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church”.
The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away. Also it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.
6. For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.
7. In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.
8. When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.
The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 18 March 2016, approved the present Instruction, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on 2 March 2016, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 15 August 2016, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Gerhard Card. Müller, Prefect
Luis F. Ladaria, S.I., Titular Archbishop of Thibica, Secretary(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 25 2016
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has sent a Message to Hindus for the Feast of Deepavali (Diwali), entitled Christians and Hindus: Promoting hope among families.
“The health of society depends on our familial bonds and yet we know that today the very notion of family is being undermined by a climate that relativizes its essential significance and value,” Cardinal Tauran writes.
“It is in the family that children, led by the noble example of their parents and elders, are formed in the values that help them develop into good and responsible human beings,” – the Cardinal Tauran continues – “Too often, however, the optimism and idealism of our youth are diminished by circumstances that affect families. It is especially important, therefore, that parents, together with the wider community, instil in their children a sense of hope by guiding them towards a better future and the pursuit of the good, even in the face of adversity.”
The full text of the Message is below
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Christians and Hindus: Promoting hope among families
MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF DEEPAVALI 2016
Dear Hindu Friends,
1. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we offer our best wishes as you celebrate Deepavali on 30 October 2016. May your celebrations around the world deepen your familial bonds, and bring joy and peace to your homes and communities.
2. The health of society depends on our familial bonds and yet we know that today the very notion of family is being undermined by a climate that relativizes its essential significance and value. So too, family life is often disrupted by harsh realities such as conflicts, poverty and migration, which have become all too commonplace throughout the world. There are, however, strong signs of renewed hope due to the witness of those who hold fervently to the enduring importance of marriage and family life for the wellbeing of each person and society as a whole. With this abiding respect for the family, and keenly aware of the global challenges daily confronting us, we wish to offer a reflection on how we, Christians and Hindus together, can promote hope in families, thus making our society ever more humane.
3. We know that the family is “humanity’s first school” and that parents are the “primary and principal” educators of their children. It is in the family that children, led by the noble example of their parents and elders, are formed in the values that help them develop into good and responsible human beings. Too often, however, the optimism and idealism of our youth are diminished by circumstances that affect families. It is especially important, therefore, that parents, together with the wider community, instil in their children a sense of hope by guiding them towards a better future and the pursuit of the good, even in the face of adversity.
4. Providing a formation and education in hope is thus a task of paramount importance for families (cf. POPE FRANCIS, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 274-275), as it reflects the divine nature of mercy which embraces the disheartened and gives them purpose. Such an education in hope encourages the young themselves to reach out, in charity and service, to others in need, and so become a light for those in darkness.
5. Families, therefore, are meant to be a “workshop of hope” (POPE FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Festival of Families, Philadelphia, 26 September 2015), where children learn from the example of their parents and family members, and experience the power of hope in strengthening human relationships, serving those most forgotten in society and overcoming the injustices of our day. Saint John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 86). If humanity is to prosper and live in peace, then families must embrace this work of nurturing hope and encouraging their children to be heralds of hope to the world.
6. As Christians and Hindus, may we join all people of good will in supporting marriage and family life, and inspiring families to be schools of hope. May we bring hope’s light to every corner of our world, offering consolation and strength to all in need.
We wish you all a joyful Deepavali!
Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran President
+ Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ Secretary(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 26 2016
Rome, Italy, Oct 26, 2016 / 03:03 am (CNA).- This week 130 Syrian refugees landed in Rome as part of a pilot program aimed at providing safe passage for migrants seeking to enter Europe, all of whom voiced their gratitude and desire to leave war behind.
“I want to live normal, as a human, just that.”
This is what a young woman, who preferred not to give her name, told CNA just hours after arriving to Rome from Lebanon.
A university student studying geology, she is originally from the southern city of As-Suwayda, but left her friends and relatives behind and came to Italy by herself in the hopes of continuing her studies and living a normal life, far away from war.
The situation in Syria “is destroying everything. Every person, every dream, you can’t dream. There is killing everywhere. This is Syria now, not before,” she said through tears.
Wiping her face dry, the young woman didn’t want to talk about her family, but said she came to Italy “to continue my studies. This is the basic thing.” Italy, she said, is “a nice place, I expect the best.”
The young student was among the latest round of refugees to arrive to Rome through the Humanitarian Corridors project.
Humanitarian Corridors is a pilot program and joint-ecumenical initiative of the Sant'Egidio Community, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, the Italian government and the Waldensian and Methodist churches, the project provides aid and safe passage to those fleeing war and violence.
The refugees have come from situations of desperation in countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Among them are sick children, disabled persons, elderly and widows of war with children.
So far roughly 400 people have already arrived in Italy through project, without having to risk their lives in the Mediterranean. The first arrivals came in February, and 12 more followed soon after on board the papal plane with Pope Francis when he returned to Rome after his April 16 day trip to Lesbos.
On March 6 Pope Francis gave a shout-out to the program, saying he admires the project, “which combines solidarity and security, allows one to help people fleeing war and violence.”
The most recent arrivals came on two separate flights from Lebanon Oct. 24 and 25, nearly all of whom are Syrians who fled their country and had been living in refugee camps in Lebanon.
The group consisted of 72 Syrian refugees, both individuals and 18 families, and included 45 children and 14 mothers. They are both Christians and Muslims, nearly all originally from war-torn Syria.
A single mother who arrived with her two children told CNA she came “first of all for the children,” adding that “this was a dream. I didn’t think this dream could be realized.”
The woman, whose children are about six and eight years old, has been living in refugee camps since her children were born. They first lived in a camp in Syria when the children were infants, and later transferred to a camp in Lebanon, where they have been living for the past four years.
With no husband, the woman left all of her relatives behind in Lebanon and came to Italy to meet her brother, who had already migrated and was at the airport to welcome her.
“I am very happy because life in the camp was very hard and very difficult. I wanted to get out and to see Italy, to see what was outside, which certainly isn’t like life in the camp,” she said.
She said the first step for her family now will be for the children to learn Italian so they can go to school. They “must learn the language to continue their life journey, because now they are saved,” she said, explaining that the rest of her family hopes to join them one day.
Rami, a Muslim refugee from Deir ez-Zor, Syria, was among those who arrived to Rome with Pope Francis in April.
After making the perilous journey from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, Rami found himself stuck in a refugee camp on the island, but was selected by lottery to come back to Rome with the Pope since he had his paperwork in order.
He was present at Rome’s Fiumicino airport for the Oct. 24 arrival of his sister and her children, whom he had not seen for six years.
When he and the other refugees arrived to Rome with Pope Francis, “our life took a 180 degree turn from hell to paradise,” he told CNA. “I come from a country at war, and we arrived to a country where there is peace, security and tranquility.”
In Syria “there was war, destruction, calumny,” he said, explaining that his sister’s husband is missing, and that after traveling from Syria to Lebanon and finally Lebanon to Rome, “we're all happy.”
Speaking of his experience living in Italy, Rami, who worked in general renovation in Syria, said that “it’s fabulous, I am happy, there is a lot of stability. My children go to school now, they have already learned Italian better than me. We hope to continue going forward, that the situation gets better.”
He voiced his gratitude to Pope Francis for his welcome and attention to migrants, explaining that “we are guests of the Pope.”
“I am very proud and I will tell it to everyone with great pleasure...We are under his care. We are very happy in his care,” he said.
For her part, Sara said she is happy to be in “a calm, secure country,” and that she decided to come above all for her children.
“I am thinking of school. I am more interested in the future of my children,” she said, explaining that she will “always give thanks to the Italian people, for their welcome.”
Dirkan Qariqosh, a refugee from Aleppo who came to Italy with his wife and son, told CNA that he had been an artist in Syria, and hopes to better his skills in such an artistic culture.
“We have come here to a country of peace. I am an artist, I worked with copper, with gypsum,” he said, explaining that in Syria, “I did paintings and taught children.”
Since he and his family are now living in Italy, “perhaps I can study to further advance (my skills),” he said, adding that “we have suffered a lot and we want to say ‘enough!’ We hope for peace in Syria and we want to say ‘enough!’ to war.”
Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, told CNA that the success of the Humanitarian Corridors project “means that Italy is opening itself to the Syrian crisis with the Humanitarian Corridors.”
“It’s the answer to the war, the inhumanity of war, but also to the merchants of death.”
Oct 26 2016
Tucson, Ariz., Oct 26, 2016 / 12:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic unity transversed the border on Sunday when Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the new apostolic nuncio to the U.S., celebrated Mass at Arizona’s border with Mexico.
“His decision to join us is a reminder that this is an issue very important to our Holy Father,” said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, the Associated Press reports.
The Mass was celebrated Sunday afternoon near the Port of Entry in downtown Noagles, Ariz. About 250 people attended the Mass from the U.S. side, while it was unclear how many attended on the Mexico side. Previous Masses have included the distribution of Holy Communion through the border fence, but border patrol officers did not allow this on Sunday.
Bishop Kicanas said the Oct. 23 Mass aimed to bring attention to immigrants and refugees.
“The economic migrant is not a criminal. The economic migrant is someone seeking a decent way of life for themselves, for their family,” he said.
The Mass also aimed to highlight the close relationship between the neighboring dioceses.
Prayers were said at the Mass for border patrol agents and those who work around the border.
It was the last of three Masses organized by the group Dioceses Sin Fronteras, also known as Dioceses without Borders. The organization aims to broaden awareness of the need to treat people on both sides of the border with dignity and respect, “in the spirit of faith,” the Diocese of Tucson said.
The previous two Masses on the border were concelebrated by Bishop Kicanas and Bishop Jose Leopold Gonzalez of Noagles in Mexico’s Sonora state. They had invited the apostolic nuncio to celebrate the Mass.
Archbishop Pierre had served as apostolic nuncio to Mexico from 2007 through 2016. Pope Francis named him to his new post in the U.S. this April.
During the Pope’s trip to Mexico in February 2016, the pontiff visited the U.S. border at Ciudad Juarez and looked out over the Rio Grande River from a memorial built to commemorate those who have died along the Mexican border.
Oct 25 2016
Kansas City, Kan., Oct 25, 2016 / 04:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- 82-year-old Fr. Tom Kearns is in the hospital recovering from an attack outside of Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, Kans. on Friday.
The priest was unloading a pumpkin out of his car, which was still running, when he was struck in the face and knocked unconscious by two attackers, thought to be two teenage boys.
The attackers then stole Fr. Kearns’ wallet and drove off in his car, according to reports.
Fr. Kearns was unconscious for an estimated 30 minutes, and was left with a shattered eye socket that will require surgery, which he was scheduled to undergo on Monday. He is a retired priest in residence at Blessed Sacrament parish.
Fr. Mark Mertes, the pastor of Blessed Sacrament, said that the incident was devastating for the parish community, were Fr. Kearns is well-known and beloved.
But despite the circumstances, Fr. Kearns, who had just recovered from a fall earlier this year, is in good spirits.
“Father Tom is doing reasonably well, considering what he has been through,” Mertes said in a written statement Monday.
“He has a positive outlook and wants to tell his friends in KCK, ‘I'll be back,’ ” Fr. Mertes said.
Fr. Mertes also told a local Fox News affiliate that the parish community was praying both for the recovery of Fr. Kearns and for his attackers.
"We are praying for them too because that's important, because I believe that they don't want to go through life hitting 82-year-old men and stealing their car. That's not a way we want to live," Fr. Mertes said.
"I'm still holding out for the car to come back, and the wallet to come back, and his car keys to come back, and apologies can be made, and we can have restitution. That is the Holy Spirit's plan," Fr. Mertes said.
Oct 25 2016
Vatican City, Oct 25, 2016 / 02:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The kingdom of heaven is able to grow when its members are docile to the Holy Spirit – rather than when they focus on structures and organization charts, the Pope said during his homily at Mass on Tuesday.
“What is the Kingdom of God? Well, perhaps the Kingdom of God is a very well-made structure, everything tidy, organization charts all done, everything and the person who does not enter (into this structure) is not in the Kingdom of God,” Francis rhetorically suggest while saying Mass Oct. 25 at the chapel of the Santa Marta house in the Vatican.
“No, the same thing can happen to the Kingdom of God as happens to the Law: unchanging, rigidity … the Law is about moving forward, the Kingdom of God is moving forward, it is not standing still. What’s more: the Kingdom of God is re-creating itself every day.”
Divine law, the Pope said, is meant to help us as we are “journeying towards fullness” and “towards hope.”
He recalled the parable of the yeast, which is mixed in with flour and makes bread, but dies in the process.
“What is the attitude that the Lord asks from us in order that the Kingdom of God can grow and be bread for everyone, and is a house too for everyone? Docility: the Kingdom of God grows through docility to the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
He said that flour “ceases to be flour and becomes bread because it is docile to the strength of the yeast, and the yeast allows itself to be mixed in with the flour… I don’t know, flour has no feelings but allowing itself to be mixed in one could think that there is some suffering here, right? But the Kingdom too, the Kingdom grows in this way and then in the end it is bread for everyone.”
Docility to the Holy Spirit keeps one from becoming a “rigid person” who “has only masters and no father,” he said.
“The Kingdom of God is like a mother that grows and is fertile, gives of herself so that her children have food and lodging, according to the example of the Lord. Today is a day to ask for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. Many times we are not docile to our moods, our judgements. ‘But I do what I want….' The Kingdom does not grow in this way and neither do we grow.”
“It is docility to the Holy Spirit that makes us grow and be transformed like the yeast and the seed,” he concluded. “May the Lord give us all the grace of this docility.”
Oct 25 2016
Washington D.C., Oct 25, 2016 / 01:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A proposal to close the Washington, D.C. metro until noon on Sundays has prompted strong criticism from churches whose members rely on public transportation to attend worship services.
“Opening 2 hours later on Saturday and 5 hours later on Sunday would drastically impact access to numerous events held by local congregations,” warned Terrance Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, a group of some 50 religious congregations throughout the Washington, D.C. area.
In order to allow more time for safety and maintenance of the metro system, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has issued four proposals for new shortened service schedules.
Each proposal would cut back on the current schedule by eight hours per week, allowing time for work to be done on the cars and tracks.
Elements of the proposed changes include closing the metro earlier – either all week long or just on weekends – and opening later on weekends. The fourth proposal would focus all cuts to weekend hours and would include changing the Sunday start time from 7:00 a.m. to noon.
Local churches are warning that this option would severely impede the ability of people with in the D.C. area to attend worship services on Sunday mornings.
Seeking user feedback, the metro system is holding an open house and public hearing on the proposals, and is asking for public comments through 5:00 p.m. October 25 via an online survey and written comments.
In a testimony on the proposed changes, Lynch said that Proposal 4 “would be a step in the wrong direction for those that seek to attend worship services those days – as well as for others seeking to get to work or return home from work, as well as the many other users who utilize it to go about their lives on those days.”
While appreciating the need for safety and on-going Metro maintenance, he stressed that many people in the area rely on the metro to attend worship services on Sunday mornings, particularly the many people in D.C. who do not own cars.
“Indeed, the metro's opening at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays provides support to congregations that despite increased congestion and numerous road closures have chosen to remain within the city,” Lynch said.
“Over the last two decades, many congregations have relocated to the suburbs, often stating in part that the reason is the difficulty to find parking for their members that drive to services,” he continued. “Hence, the current metro operating hours have become a part of the fabric of the lives of local congregations - the expectation being that hours of operation would expand if anything - not shrink.”
The Catholic cathedral for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. also voiced concern about the proposal.
“So many parishioners take metro to St. Matthew's that our community could not come together without it,” The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle said in a website announcement, asking parishioners to contact WMATA via Facebook, email, written comments, or survey, and ask that another proposal be considered instead.
WMATA has assured its users that it will work to provide alternate options for transportation during the hours that the metro is closed, regardless of which proposal is adopted. Details of what those options would look like have not been determined.