Browsing News Entries

Religions in Jerusalem must live in peace, Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Meeting with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem on Monday, Pope Francis said that the different religions in Jerusalem must live together in peace, preserving dignity and rights so that suffering and violence can end.

“The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all,” the Pope said Oct. 23.

He expressed his closeness to all those who have suffered due to the conflict affecting the Holy Land for many years. The uncertainty of the situation and the lack of understanding between different groups continue to create insecurity, he noted.

And this insecurity, along with a restriction of fundamental rights, causes people to flee from their land. “I invoke God’s help in this,” he said, “and I ask all those involved to intensify their efforts to achieve a stable peace based on justice and recognition of the rights of all.”

To do this, we must reject all violence, discrimination or intolerance against people of Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith and their places of worship, the Pope emphasized.

Pope Francis spoke during a meeting with His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, offering his greeting to all of the members of the various Christian communities in the Holy Land.

He explained that it is his hope that Christians in the Holy Land will continue to be recognized as an integral part of the society and that they may continue to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace.

“This contribution will be the more effective to the extent that there is harmony among the region’s different Churches. Particularly important in this regard would be increased cooperation in supporting Christian families and young people, so that they will not be forced to leave their land,” he said.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem had an audience with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome Oct. 22-25. He was accompanied by Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Archdeacon Markos.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Theophilos III have met on two previous occasions. Once during the Pope's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in May 2014 and again in June of the same year during an Invocation for Peace held in the Vatican Gardens.

In their meeting Monday, Francis said that we must continue to look toward the future and toward reconciliation, not letting ourselves get bogged down by past failures and mistakes. “I know that past wounds continue to affect the memory of many people,” he said.

“It is not possible to change the past, but, without forgetting grave failures of charity over the centuries, let us look to a future of full reconciliation and fraternal communion, and take up the work before us, as the Lord desires.”

The Pope explained that to not take up our work of reconciliation and communion today would be “an even graver fault,” because to do this would be to disregard “the urgent call of Christ.”

“May we not let the memory of times marked by lack of communication or mutual accusations, or present difficulties and uncertainty about the future, prevent us from walking together towards visible unity,” he continued.

We also shouldn’t let it keep us from praying and working together to serve those in need and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After their meeting, Patriarch Theophilos also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

He also met with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“Here,” the Pope said, “I would reaffirm my heartfelt desire and commitment to progress on our way to full unity, in obedience to Jesus’ fervent prayer in the Cenacle ‘that they may all be one… so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”

He pointed out that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been an active and constructive participant in the ongoing theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which he finds a “sign of hope on our journey.”

“How good it would be to say of Catholics and Orthodox living in Jerusalem,” he said, “what the Evangelist Luke said of the first Christian community: ‘All who believed were together… one heart and soul’ (Acts 2:44, 4:32).”

Concluding his speech, the Pope thanked Theophilos for his visit and reaffirmed his closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

“I hope and pray that the day of a stable and lasting peace for all will soon come,” he said.

Why your 'sexy nun' costume isn't funny

Denver, Colo., Oct 23, 2017 / 03:53 am (CNA).- In 2015, the president of the University of Louisville issued an official apology, after a photo depicting him dressed in Mexican stereotypes for Halloween was criticized as insensitive and derogatory.

“I want to personally apologize for the recent incident and any pain that it may have caused our students, faculty, staff and the community. We did not intend to cause harm or to be insensitive,” President James R. Ramsey said in a statement at the time.

In 2016, a student was expelled from his fraternity at the University of Central Arkansas for posting a picture of himself in blackface for Halloween.

This year, many have voiced offense at a new “Anne Frank” costume.

Over the past few years, several colleges and universities have issued guidelines and warnings on insensitive Halloween costumes, asking students to steer clear of costumes that may offend cultures, races, or minority groups.

Seemingly still permissible, though, are the “sexy nun,” and “pregnant nun” costumes that inevitably show up in Halloween advertisements and stores this time of year, and are often absent from lists of potentially offensive and insensitive Halloween attire.

But is wearing a sexy nun costume any less offensive than donning a sombrero and fake mustache?

“This reflects a coarseness in the culture,” Sister Gilmary Kay of the Religious Sisters of Mercy told CNA.

“It’s not a surprise that such things exist….(but) it’s alarming, it’s such an offense against goodness and sacredness,” she said.

Not only do such costumes denigrate each woman who is a religious sister, they also denigrate God, she noted.

“It’s not that each sister is good, but what they represent is good. Consecrated persons are given to God alone, ‘consecrata’ means to be set apart for a holy purpose. As a culture, we should honor those things that remind us of goodness or high ideals, even if you’re not Catholic,” she said.

“So to disrespect a sister in that way, it’s a mockery of not just her or the Church, but ultimately God.”

The sad irony, Sister Gilmary added, is that Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day, and should be a time to remember the saints – many of whom were religious sisters and brothers – as examples and models to follow in our own lives.

Furthermore, just as it would be culturally offensive to denigrate figures like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Ghandi, it should be equally unacceptable to mock Catholic figures, she noted.

“I think of a figure like Martin Luther King, who has high ideals, people honor him – if he were depicted in costume with a KKK uniform or something, it’s so opposite of what he is and what he represents, that would be akin to sisters in this kind of dress or somehow showing that sexual perversity,” she said.

The reason that costumes depicting cultural and ethnic stereotypes cause so much offense and uproar is that those who know real people of those cultures and ethnicities see them as more than what a costume depicts, Sr. Gilmary added.

“I work with religious, I’m a religious, and that’s not religious,” she said. “These are people who love God, who’ve given their life for God, who aren’t looking to be in the spotlight in any way. And their goodness and selfless service – that kind of depiction, besides mockery... ultimately kind of comes back and just denigrates the person who wears them as well.”

Most sisters who see people in such costumes tend to pray for the person, Sr. Gilmary said. While Catholics and Christians have a right to be offended at such costumes, our faith calls us to move past offense, and to forgive and pray for people who mock the faith, she added.

“I think the people that do it really don’t understand what they’re doing,” she said. “We still have to forgive them and pray for them and hope they can come to a deeper understanding of what they’re doing and not do it, including those who make those costumes.”

In a way, Sr. Gilmary said, mocking the faith is kind of a “backhanded compliment,” because it means those who are doing the mocking see something true and substantial in Christianity.

“We stand for something, and there’s a substantial claim made if you hold to these things, and we believe those claims are from God,” she said. “And religious (sisters) try to live their life in a most radical way, so if that’s challenging to the culture, those people are the ones who will be mocked.”

“The Lord himself was mocked, and his disciples were mocked. And we look at how they responded,” she added.

“We’re praying for them, and we hope that they come and see the depth (of religious life). It’s like what the Lord said: you know not what you do. Because the ones they’re hurting are themselves.”   

 

Can the Beatitudes inspire great cinema? These filmmakers think so.

Dallas, Texas, Oct 22, 2017 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- Cinematic reflections on the Eight Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount will be the focus of a movie project that hopes to tap the power of beauty.

“God works through beauty, and beauty is the most direct way to impact a person’s heart and present to them the Good News of the Gospel,” said Anthony D’Ambrosio, founder of the Catholic Creatives online community.

“The Church was once the great influencer of culture through talented artists, painters, sculptors, philosophers and theologians,” D’Ambrosio continued. “The Church is no stranger to the power of beauty and should not be today.”

D’Ambrosio is executive producer of 8beats, a movie project which grew out of Catholic Creatives.

The series takes inspiration from Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowksi’s critically praised 10-part anthology “Dekalog.” Each entry in that series was a dramatic reflection on a theme drawn from each of the Ten Commandments.

The 8beats movie will bring together eight filmmaking teams from across North America who each have a story related to one of the Beatitudes

“Good art touches our deepest longings. This is universally true and that’s why we were attracted to the 8beats Project,” said filmmakers Sean Schiavolin and David Kang of Eccel Films. “As artists who happen to be Catholic, we want to tell the stories we want to see, stories that are hauntingly beautiful and embrace mystery with glimmers of grace.”

Schiavolin is the director and Kang is the screenwriter for the contribution from 8beats’ Southwest region.

Their section of the movie is a short drama set in Austin, Texas. A burlesque performer at the end of the night sings a lullaby to herself, as a night janitor secretly hears her song. The two then have a chance encounter with great consequences.

The drama draws on the Beatitude “Blessed are the Pure of Heart, for they shall see God.”

Some 8beats stories are fictional, while others are historical pieces. One depicts a woman with a long history of drug addiction on her first day of probation, when she makes a discovery that throws her life into question. Another story shows a truck driver crossing the Mojave Desert on his way to visit the graves of his wife and son. Then he encounters a child in need.

There is the story of a priest who struggles with his faith and alcohol addiction. He drives under the influence and kills a young man. His imprisonment forces him to examine himself, the human condition and the Church.

Its theme? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled.”

Yet another story portrays the Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette and companions as they winter near the Chicago River.

D’Ambrosio said he hopes 8beats will be “a moving work of cinema” that will help Catholic artists and evangelists recognize the need for artistic mentorship.

Cecilia Stevenson, a filmmaker and recent college graduate, said the 8beats project has already given her the chance to learn from people she described as “devout and talented.”

“This project is not just inspiring me to tell the gospel in my own way, it is teaching me about the Church and showing me that I have a place within it,” she said. “My hope is that 8beats communicates that to everyone: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the pure of heart, the merciful, the peacemakers…”

Filmmakers aim to reach filmgoers ages 20-35 who are non-religious but involved in the arts.

The idea for the project came about in March 2017. Filming began in September and is expected to finish by December. The film is aiming for a world premiere at the Catholic Creatives Summit in Dallas, Texas in March 2018, with a release in mid-2018 available in digital download and Blu-ray.

Producers hope to submit the final project to major film festivals in the U.S. and Canada.

The 8beats team aims to raise $200,000 for the project, half via indieGoGo and half via additional donations.

Other co-sponsors of the movie are Young Catholic Professionals and the Dallas-based Crossroads Initiative.

Pope offers clarifications on new process for liturgical translations

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2017 / 12:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a letter responding to questions raised by Cardinal Robert Sarah on the new process of translating liturgical texts from Latin into vernacular languages, Pope Francis offered several points of clarification.

The Pope discussed points regarding the approval of new translations and the relationship between translations and Latin texts.

He clarified that while in the past, it was the task of the Vatican's liturgical office to judge whether or not a translation is faithful to the original Latin, episcopal conferences themselves have now been given the faculty of “judging the goodness and consistency of one and the other term in the translations from the original, in dialogue with the Holy See.”

Dated Oct. 15, the Pope's letter was in response to one he had received from Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the end of September thanking the Pope for his recent motu proprio “Magnum Principium” (MP) on the translation of liturgical texts, and offering a commentary on how to interpret the motu proprio.

The motu proprio, published Sept. 9, granted episcopal conferences the task of both preparing and approving texts that had been “faithfully” translated from the original Latin, while cementing the role of the Apostolic See in confirming the translations approved by bishops.

In his commentary, Cardinal Sarah had argued that the new process for translating liturgical texts still follows the rules put into place with the 2001 Instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (LA), which said the vernacular versions must faithfully reflect the language and structure of the Latin texts.

Sarah also looked at the role of the Holy See and bishops' conferences in both “recognizing” (recognitio) and “confirming” (confirmatio) modifications to liturgical texts, arguing that the term “recognitio” used in the new canons involves adaptions of texts, while “confirmatio” involves translations.

Because of this, the terms are different, even if they are “interchangeable with respect to the responsibility of the Holy See,” Sarah said. He also argued that the “recognitio” of liturgical texts implies a preliminary consultation with the Holy See before translation processes begin, with the “confirmatio” of the Holy See being the final step.

In his letter to Cardinal Sarah, the Pope thanked him for his commitment and for sending the commentary, but offered some simple “observations” on the commentary “which I consider to be important, especially for the proper application and understanding of the motu proprio and to avoid any misunderstanding.”

The first point Francis made was that his motu proprio Magnum Principium “abolished” the process for translating used by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments after LA was published in 2001. Magnum Principium, he said, “sought to change” this process.

The Pope said of the terms “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” that it cannot be said that they are “strictly synonymous or interchangeable or that they are interchangeable at the level of responsibility of the Holy See.”

The distinction between “recognitio” and “confirmatio,” he said, emphasizes “the different responsibility” that the Apostolic See and episcopal conferences have in liturgical translations.

“Magnum Principium no longer claims that translations must conform on all points to the norms of LA, as was done in the past,” the Pope said, explaining that because of this, individual numbers in LA have to be “carefully re-understood.”

He said this includes numbers 79-84, which deal specifically with the requirement for a vernacular translation to have the “recognitio” of Rome. These numbers, Francis said, “have been abrogated,” and “re-formulated” with the publication of MP.

The “confirmatio” of the Vatican, then, “no longer supposes a detailed word-by-word examination,” he said, except in obvious cases which can be brought to the bishops for further reflection. This, the Pope said, applies to texts such as the Eucharistic Prayers or sacramental formulas.

Pope Francis said the new norms imply “a triple fidelity,” first of all to the original Latin text, to the particular languages the text is translated into, and to the comprehension of the text by its recipients.

In this sense, the “recognitio” of the texts only implies “the verification and preservation of conformity” to the Code of Canon Law and the communion of the Church, he said.

Francis also emphasized that in the process of translating liturgical texts, there should be no “spirit of imposition” on bishops conferences of a translation done by the Vatican's liturgical department.

The Pope said “it is wrong to attribute to the 'confermatio' the purpose of the 'recognitio,'” which is to “verify and safeguard” in accordance with the law. He also stressed that the “confirmatio” is not “merely a formal act, but necessary for the edition of the translated liturgical book,” and is granted after the version has been submitted to the Apostolic See for a confirmation of the bishops' approved text.

Pope Francis closed his letter noting that Cardinal Sarah's commentary had been published on several websites, and asked that the cardinal transmit his response to the same outlets, as well as to members and consultors of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Venezuelan bishops denounce pro-government bias in elections

Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 22, 2017 / 06:02 am (ACI Prensa).- The Venezuelan bishops' conference has criticized bias by the National Electoral Council in favor of the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro during last Sunday's regional elections.

The regime took 18 out of 23 disputed governorships, amid allegations of fraud leveled by the opposition. The opposition won five states, an increase of two.

It had been expected that the opposition would win a majority of states, given the economic crisis and months of anti-socialist protests in which more than 120 people were killed.

Regional elections were held Oct. 15. The US State Department has said the elections were neither “free nor fair,” citing last-minute changes to polling station locations without public notice, manipulation of ballot layouts, and limited availability of voting machines in opposition neighborhoods.

The 18 newly elected socialist governors were sworn in by the constituent assembly Oct. 19, while the five governors of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable boycotted the event. Maduro has said the governors who will not be sworn in by the constituent assembly may not take office.

The constituent assembly is itself the product of contested elections, which took place July 30. The body has superseded the authority of the National Assembly, Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature.

The Venezuelan bishops stated Oct. 19 their denunciation of the National Electoral Council for “ignoring the appeals made by various national and international bodies, has once again shown itself to be a biased arbiter in the service of the governing  political party,” the bishops charged in an Oct. 19 statement.

Even though Venezuela's constitution indicated regional elections should have been held in October 2016, through the National Electoral Council the government delayed the date of elections.

According to various media, this was became the regime feared losing some of the 20 states they controlled, as their United Socialist Party of Venezuela had low approval ratings. At the same time, protests in recent months had become widespread in the county due to the social and political crisis.

In its statement, the bishops' conference pointed out that there were “multiple irregularities committed in the implementation of the electoral process: preventing political organizations from substituting candidates as provided by law, sending voters over to other polling stations at the last minute, the lack of neutral international observers, and voters being pressured into voting a certain way.”

“All this constitutes an obstacle to exercising one's right to vote and creates mistrust in the election processes,” they charged.

The bishops also referred to “the decision to create new authorities, preventing from taking office governors elected in those states that did not support the Maduro regime in the elections.” This “is clearly ignoring and mocking the will of the people on which  the legitimacy of any election rests,” they stated.

However, despite the irregularities that led to a “pro-regime advantage,” the bishops called on Venezuelans to not lose “credibility and confidence in the power of voting as the way to a peaceful and democratic solution for the urgent and momentous changes that the country requires … We cannot do without the electoral route. Let us not lose hope!”

The bishops stated that “it is indispensable to restore justice and ethics to the electoral system” so that citizens “can freely and confidently express themselves” and that in the future, “elections supervised by neutral international bodies may restore peace and tranquility to Venezuelan society.”

The bishops' conference reiterated “the primacy of the individual and his universal rights over and above ideologies, systems of government and special interests.” They  called upon “all institutions of social life to respect, defend and promote civil rights and to not become discouraged in claiming them,” and they urged citizens to “not be carried away by irrationality or fanaticism in the political controversy.”

“The people have the right to demand that the political leadership concern itself primarily with their most felt necessities, to know and experience them firsthand and to offer to the people a coherent plan for the country, founded on justice and the common good without exclusions,” they said.   

The statement concluded asking God to raise up hope in Venezuelans “in face of the serious problems affecting our society, which creates anxiety and discouragement in many hearts.”

“We commend ourselves to the powerful intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto and we ask her to watch over us to that we can live in harmony, freedom and peace,” the bishops' conference stated.

Frustration in Venezuela has been building for years due to poor economic policies, including strict price controls coupled with high inflation rates, which have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers, and medicines.

Venezuela's socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

The International Monetary Fund has forecasted an inflation rate of 2,300 percent in Venezuela in 2018.

Pope Francis: Putting God first doesn't mean avoiding reality

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2017 / 05:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on the importance of both fulfilling our earthly duties and making God a priority, stressing that the two are never in opposition, but are complementary, with the primacy of God giving direction to our daily activities.

“The Christian is called to commit themselves concretely in human and social realities without putting God and Caesar into opposition, but by illuminating the earthly reality with the light that comes from God,” the Pope said.

Giving priority to God and having hope in him “do not lead to an escape from reality,” he said, but rather, “they make industrious that which belongs to him.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square for his Oct. 22 Sunday Angelus address, which coincided with both World Mission Sunday and the feast of St. John Paul II.

In his speech, the Pope centered his reflection on the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, in which the Pharisees question Jesus about whether or not it is just to pay taxes to Caesar.

This meeting constitutes yet another “face-to-face encounter” between Jesus and his opponents, the Pope said, noting that the “thorny” issue of taxes is supposed to be a trap.

However, rather than falling into it, Jesus offers a calm response and “takes advantage of the malicious question in order to give an important teaching, rising above the polemics and opposing sides.”

By looking at the image and inscription of Caesar carved onto the Roman coins and telling the Pharisees to “render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's,” Jesus on one hand says that paying taxes to the Roman emperor “is not an act of idolatry, but an act of duty to the earthly authority.”

On the other hand, in his reference to God, Jesus “recalls the primacy of God, asking to give him what is owed to him as the Lord of life, of man and of history.”

While the image of Caesar recalls our rights and duties as citizens of the state, the reference to God symbolically points to the image that is imprinted on every person, which is “the image of God,” the Pope said.

“He is the Lord of all, and we, who were created in his image, belong above all to him,” Francis said, adding that from the question posed by the Pharisees, Jesus derives a more vital and radical question for each one of us: “to whom do I belong?”

“To our family, our city, our friends, school, work, politics, or the state? Yes, certainly. But above all, Jesus reminds us, you belong to God,” he said, adding that the Lord is the one who has given us all that we have and are.

And therefore, in our daily lives “we can and must live them in renewed knowledge of this fundamental belonging and in the recognition of our heart to the Father, who created each one of us unique and unrepeatable, but always in the image of his beloved Son, Jesus,” he said. “It is a marvelous mystery.”

Pope Francis then led pilgrims in praying the traditional Angelus prayer. Afterward, he noted how yesterday Spanish martyrs Matteo Casals, Teofilo Casajús, Fernando Saperas and their 106 companions were beatified in Barcelona, and prayed that their “heroic example” and intercession would support Christians all over the world who today endure persecution and discrimination.

He also noted how Oct. 22 marks World Missionary Day, which was launched in 1926 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and is now promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Francis invited everyone to “live the joy of missionary witness to the Gospel” in their various states of life and urged faithful to support missionaries around the world either financially or through prayer.

To this end, the Pope announced that an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” will take place in October 2019 in order to “nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church 'ad gentes',” or “to the nations.”

 

During Angelus, #PopeFrancis announced an Extraordinary Missionary Month for October 2019  in order to “nourish the ardor" of evangelization pic.twitter.com/3BNXxY2aF3

— Elise Harris (@eharris_it) October 22, 2017


 

In an Oct. 22 letter marking the centenary anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV's 1919 apostolic letter “Maximum Illud” on Catholic missions after the First World War, Pope Francis said the main aim for the missionary month is to foster “an increased awareness of the 'missio ad gentes' and taking up again with renewed fervor the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity.”

Addressed to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the letter noted that “Maximum Illud” had called on the Church to transcend national boundaries and bear witness, “with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission.”

The Pope voiced his hope that the 100th anniversary of Benedict XV's letter would be an incentive to “combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past.”

“Instead, may we be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel,” he said, and prayed that in “our troubled times” of war and conflict, the good news that “forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear,” would be proclaimed to the world “with renewed fervor, and instill trust and hope in everyone.”

He also prayed that the 2019 missionary month would “prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity.”

“May it likewise advance the preaching of the Gospel, biblical and theological reflection on the Church’s mission, works of Christian charity, and practical works of cooperation and solidarity between Churches, so that missionary zeal may revive and never be wanting among us.”

In his comments after the Angelus, Pope Francis also offered prayers for peace throughout the world, specifically in Kenya, where there is ongoing debate over their recent presidential elections.

General elections took place in Kenya Aug. 8, and initial results showed that President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected with the majority vote. However, his main rival, Raila Odinga, refused to accept the result and fought it in the country's Supreme Court.

As a result, the vote was annulled and fresh elections scheduled to take place Oct. 17. However, the date of the new election was later changed to Oct. 26.

In his remarks, Francis prayed that Kenya would “know how to face the current difficulties in a climate of constructive dialogue, having at heart the pursuit of the common good.”

Missionary work begins with everyone, cardinal says

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2017 / 04:05 pm (CNA).- In a press conference ahead of World Mission Day, Cardinal Fernando Filoni stressed the importance of missionary work, saying that it is a necessary aspect of the Christian faith, and that it must begin with each of us.

“In the Christian faith there is a pulse that gives life to the body. If the pulse stops, we enter into crisis, shock,” he said Oct. 20. This pulse of the Christian faith is missionary work, “and this pulse also begins with us.”

Head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Filoni emphasized that all Catholics are called to be a missionary in some way, not only religious men and women and priests, but also young people and all laity.

For example, the two patron saints of missions are St. Francis Xavier and St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who were both missionaries in completely different ways, he pointed out.

The former traveled to Japan to spread the faith, while the latter stayed within the confines of a monastery, yet they were both great missionaries, each in their own way, he said.

To these, Filoni said he hopes to someday add a third patron saint, Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, a French laywoman who in the 19th century founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

“Jaricot is a laywoman who realized the role of lay people in missionary life,” he said. And she not only recognized the importance of active missionary work, but also of prayer.

One of her first initiatives was to create “a crown of prayer” for missionaries, because she knew that missionaries, who work at the “outposts” of society, could not survive without a network of prayer for support, he said.

Filoni spoke to journalists just two days ahead of World Mission Day, which falls on Oct. 22.

World Mission Sunday was begun in 1926 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and is now promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The Pope's message for the 91st World Mission Day was published by the Vatican earlier this year. Pope Francis said that World Mission Day “is a good opportunity for enabling the missionary heart of Christian communities to join in prayer, testimony of life and communion of goods, in responding to the vast and pressing needs of evangelization.”    
 
This is because “the world vitally needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Christ, through the Church, “continues his mission as the Good Samaritan, caring for the bleeding wounds of humanity, and as Good Shepherd, constantly seeking out those who wander along winding paths that lead nowhere.”

You can tell that mission is “deeply imbedded” in the Pope’s heart, Fr. Tadeusz Nowak, OMI, said in the press conference Friday.

Representing the Pontifical Missionary Societies, Nowak said that Pope Francis “would want all Christians to have this deep sense of longing to share the faith and allow others to encounter personally Jesus Christ risen from the dead.”

 

Pope slams 'eugenic' mentality that seeks to eliminate disability

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2017 / 04:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, Pope Francis issued a harsh condemnation of the underlying eugenic mentality in society that leads many to abort children who are are disabled, saying the Church must be a place of acceptance and welcome for all who are vulnerable.

While great strides have been made in recent years in terms of recognizing the dignity of every person, especially the weakest and most vulnerable, “at the cultural level there are still expressions that undermine the dignity of these people due to the prevalence of a false conception of life,” the Pope said Oct. 21.

“An often narcissistic and utilitarian vision unfortunately leads not a few to consider people with disabilities as marginal, without perceiving in them the multifaceted human and spiritual wealth,” he said.

Far too prevalent in common thought is also “an attitude of rejection” toward people with disabilities, as if their handicap “impedes them from being happy and fully realizing themselves,” he said.

“This is proven by the eugenic tendency to suppress the unborn who have some form of imperfection.”

An example of this “eugenics” mentality is a recent article in CBS News claiming that Iceland has come close to being the first country to “eradicate” Down syndrome, meaning they are aborting every unborn child found to have the condition.

Pope Francis offered his comments to participants in a Vatican-sponsored conference dedicated to catechesis for those with intellectual disabilities, titled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church.”

Taking place Oct. 20-22 at the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome, the conference drew over 420 people who work in catechesis from professions and countries all over the world, as well as people with disabilities themselves.

Among the participants is Bridget Brown, a young actress, speaker and prolife advocate with Down syndrome. In a letter written to the Pope, Brown said her heart breaks to think that “I might be the last generation of people with Down syndrome.”

“The world will never again benefit from our gifts,” she said, explaining that she does not “suffer” from the condition, but is “filled with joy” to be alive.

Referring to German dictator Adlof Hitler and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. commemorating the thousands of people who died under the Nazi regime, Brown noted how people with disabilities were often the first to be killed.

“It seems to me we are doing the same thing to children with disabilities today in our country,” she said. However, despite being discouraged, Brown said she has hope for people with disabilities, and prays for people “who think we don't have the right to live.”

In his speech, Pope Francis said the response to this “eugenic tendency” must be one of love. “Not the false, clever and pious kind,” he said, “but the one that is true, concrete and respectful.”

To the extent that people with disabilities are “welcomed, loved, included in the community and accompanied to look to the future with confidence,” a true path of life develops and “lasting happiness is experienced.”

This goes for everyone, but even more so the most fragile, he said, adding that faith is “a great companion” which allows these people to feel God's presence closely, no matter their condition.

Francis said that as far as the Church goes, she cannot be “voiceless” or “out of tune” in the defense and promotion of people with disabilities.

“Her closeness to families helps them to overcome the loneliness which they often risk closing themselves into due to a lack of attention and support,” he said, adding that to have this closeness is even more important for those who form others in the Christian life.

Neither words nor gestures can be missing for “the encounter and welcome of people with disabilities,” especially in the liturgy, he said, because this encounter with the Lord and the community is a source of “hope and courage” on a path that isn't easy.

Catechesis, then, “is called to discover and experience coherent forms so that each person, with their gifts, their limits and their disabilities, even serious ones, is able to encounter Jesus on their path and abandon themselves to him in faith.”

“No physical or psychological limit can ever be an impediment to this encounter, because the face of Christ is shown in the intimacy of every person,” the Pope said, stressing that everyone, but especially ministers of the Church, must be careful “not to fall into the neo-pelagian error of not recognizing the need for the strength of grace which comes from the Sacraments of Christian initiation.”

The Church and her ministers must learn to “intelligently 'invent' adequate instruments” of catechesis to ensure that no one lacks “the support of grace,” he said.

Catechists must be formed, “first of all by example,” who are “increasingly able to accompany these people so that they grow in faith and give their genuine and unique contribution to the Church,” he said.

Pope Francis closed his address voicing hope that within the Christian community, people with disabilities can themselves increasingly “be catechists, even with their testimony, to transmit the faith in a more effective way.”

Though his speech was little over 10 minutes long, the Pope stayed with the group for more than an hour, personally shaking hands with participants. 

Catechesis must encounter the disabled with love, archbishop says

Rome, Italy, Oct 21, 2017 / 02:01 am (CNA).- The Church must learn “how to encounter disabled people today, how to allow them to have an encounter with Christ in the silence of their own interior and in the signs that indicate his presence in brothers; how to foster their commitment to witness and to be protagonists in the community as catechists, and therefore believers who transmit the faith, living it and teaching it,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella said Friday.

“God directs his word to everyone, no one excluded,” the archbishop said Oct. 20. “He finds ways in which to speak to the people who derive from the multiformity of his being,” while addressing the misperception that intellectually disabled people cannot understand the Catholic faith.

God communicates through the dynamics of “support, inclusion and integration,” he said, adding that “a person can be blind, but hear; can be deaf, but perceive; can be unable to reflect, but grasp the intimacy of the strength of presence.”

Archbishop Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, offered these remarks in a keynote speech on the opening night of a Vatican-sponsored conference dedicated to catechesis for those with intellectual disabilities.

The conference, titled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church,” is taking place Oct. 20-22 at the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome.

Over 420 people who work in catechesis are registered for the conference, and come from professions and countries all over the world.

In addition to Fisichella, other speakers include Baroness Sheila Hollins of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and representatives from dioceses around the world, who will present methods for the catechesis of disabled people. Disabled people participating will lead moments of prayer throughout the gathering.

Participants will also have an audience with Pope Francis during the event, demonstrating the Pope's keen interest in the topic.

In his speech, Fisichella said addressing the topic of disability within the Christian community is “urgent” because of the social and cultural stigmas that people with disabilities often face today.

Recounting several examples of situations when people with disabilities have been discriminated against, he noted that in 2015 an elderly parent who was beaten for taking a reserved parking spot when buying medicine for his son, who was having an epileptic emergency.

He also pointed to how in August of this year a disabled teenage girl was raped in the Italian town of Piacenza, and her attacker immediately set free. Another example was how, earlier this month in Naples, seven couples who had made adoption requests refused the offer of a child with Downs Syndrome.

“The bullying and arrogance of the stronger” can always happen to anyone, Fisichella said, but noted that it's also always true “that when this happens to a person who is disabled, and therefore weak and defenseless, then the disdain and the complaint” must be more forceful.  

Fisichella reflected on the way that God relates to man, saying it is the Lord from the beginning who chose to speak and reveal himself to man. Revelation, and the response of faith, begins with “the act of love from which comes God’s decision to reveal himself and the purpose of calling one to share in his own life,” he said.

There are different stages of revelation, he said, noting that each one “is marked by the love of God.”

“It's a love that reaches the heart of every person, meeting them in their interior, where the perception of a presence that gives meaning to life is best expressed,” he said.

Faith, he said, is “a personal act which testifies to having encountered God who made himself known.”

Faith “is never far from love,” Fisichella said, explaining that love itself “generates faith and sustains it with the strength of hope.”

“Love comes from God and returns to God,” he said, and “this completely transforms man, because it renders him capable of relating to himself and others with a love he receives as a gift and which he himself cannot produce.”

Fisichella said that “one can think of catechesis as a desire to stay for a long time in order to grow in knowledge of the Lord Jesus,” adding that the heart of catechesis is “to make the life of the believer a path where through the knowledge of what is believed we enter into the mystery by celebrating it with the prayer of the entire people of God.”

To fully understand this, it's necessary that “it be made easier to understand the impact that catechesis can have on people with disabilities,” he said.

Ultimately, the goal of catechesis is “to make it so that God seizes everyone, whatever state they are in, because the primacy lies with him,” Fisichella said, stressing that God “finds the most adequate means to communicate his life of love and to make the love he invests in a person felt.”

The archbishop pointed to music, song and art, which all bespeak love, he said, allowing those who experience them to understand God in a different way, he said. So “no one is excluded from the Word that God speaks, with which he makes himself known to each one.”

He then spoke of the need to promote the “culture of encounter” that Pope Francis speaks of so often, with a special emphasis on friendship, brotherhood and solidarity.

We must learn to take the initiative on this, the archbishop said, explaining that a true culture of encounter “does not stop at a few hurried moments, and in the form of formalities.”

“Rather, it feels the duty to 'entertain' itself with people, of giving one's own time without the hurry that prevents them from entering into depth (of) the encounter with the richness of experience acquired and with the charisms which are offered to each person, no one excluded, for the growth of the entire community.”

“A culture of encounter, then, is to welcome the mystery of the brother in order to understand better the mystery of his own existence,” Fisichella said, adding that this “culture” must also be a place where “the dimension of the Church, a community that lives communion, becomes the criteria of judgement and testimony of our presence in today's world”

Our responsibility, then, “is to transmit the faith in a living way, and not to create obstacles, so that it reaches everyone, above all those who are preferred by the Lord.”

 

Defining our values: What Catholics can take from Bush's speech

New York City, N.Y., Oct 20, 2017 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- In a rare political speech on Thursday, former president George W. Bush had blunt words for America: Remember your identity or lose your freedom.

Bush spoke Oct. 19 at the “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In The World” event at the Lincoln Center in New York.

Almost nine years removed from the nation’s highest political office, Bush offered a reflection on the current state of the country. At the heart of his reflection was a diagnosis – and a powerful wake up call:

“We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.”

Bush’s words ring true in a country still deeply divided one year after a contentious presidential election that polarized families, friends, and neighbors. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, 80 percent of respondents categorized the U.S. as “mainly divided” or “totally divided.”

From birth control to gun control, from questions of undocumented immigrants to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, America is fractured. And that division has become vitriolic, manifesting itself in insults spewed across comment boxes and hostile clashes in the media.

After exploring a litany of symptoms – from bigotry and nativism to fake news and gang violence – Bush offered his remedy for the polarization plaguing America: “we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.”

But in a country so divided, what are our values?

In his address to the United States Congress in September 2015, Pope Francis laid out a set of values that he thinks define America at its best.

“A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as (Abraham) Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to ‘dream’ of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton,” the Pope said.

Catholics have an important role to play in shaping the values that define society. Deus Caritas Est, the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, teaches, “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful.”

The U.S. bishops, in their document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, note, “This duty is more critical than ever in today's political environment.” While there may be a temptation for retreat or discouragement, the bishops say, this is actually “a time for renewed engagement.”

In the early Church, Christians stood out from the rest of the Roman Empire. They took care of orphans and widows. They founded hospitals and schools. They cared for the poor. They didn’t work on Sundays. They loved their enemies.

Today, the U.S. Church is called to stand out, too. In a nation torn apart and confused about its own identity, people are exhausted from fighting and weary from talking past one another without ever being heard. People are looking for a better way.

Amid the political and social turmoil, Catholics can offer that better way. They can offer what the bishops describe as “a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.”

And they can do it by engaging with others civilly, by creating the “culture of encounter” that Pope Francis refers to so often.

This lesson is critical for America’s future. Will the next generation be raised in a culture of encounter, or in what Bush describes as a culture of “casual cruelty,” marked with animosity and dehumanization? The former president notes with urgency that “our young people need positive role models” because “bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”

George W. Bush is right. America does need to return to her values. But first she needs to figure out what they are. And Catholics can help lay the groundwork for that, by working to create a society where people can dialogue without fear, where they discuss their different views without being attacked or demonized, ultimately a society where people can encounter truth.

As we approach the one-year mark after the most contentious election in recent history, Catholics have an opportunity to show Christian charity in their interactions with others. It’s a small gesture. But it could be the first step in helping people recognize, as the former president put it, “the image of God we should see in each other.”