Catholic News Headlines

Pope encourages seminarians to love God and neighbor (Vatican Press Office)

Catholic World News - 7 hours 25 min ago
The Pope encouraged seminarians of the Venerable English College to “nurture your interior life, learning to close the door of your inner cell from within,” so as to help “make a firm and life-long commitment to the Lord.”

Love Jesus and love your nation, Pope tells Cuban faithful (Vatican Press Office)

Catholic World News - 7 hours 25 min ago
Without mentioning the leadership change, the Pontiff made his remarks as Raúl Castro stepped down from the presidency. Castro remains the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Papal audiences (4/21) (Vatican Press Office)

Catholic World News - 7 hours 25 min ago
Pope Francis received, in separate audiences, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the community of the Venerable English College of Rome, and pilgrims from two Italian dioceses.

On messages and messengers

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 29 min ago
In this latest apostolic exhortation, the pope clearly describes what is going on in the Catholic Twitterverse and blogosphere: there are people out there whose stock and trade is defamation and slander, who "bear false witness," who lie and who vilify others. 

Christian democracy could help what ails American politics

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 29 min ago
Distinctly Catholic: The natural home for religiously-based ideological disposition in the U.S. used to be the Democratic Party, but for the past three decades, the religious right has been the face of Christianity in American public life. Both parties seem unable to restore health to politics.

Wisconsin immigration activists call out Speaker Ryan's failure on Dream Act

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 29 min ago
Wisconsin immigration activists supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients are not ruling out further protests, even though House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will retire from Congress at the end of this legislative session.

Catholic colleges seek creative solutions in tough times

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 29 min ago
A 1937 report of the National Catholic Educational Association focuses on educational standards and quality and on competing in the higher education marketplace without sacrificing Catholic culture's distinctiveness. Some 80 years later, that language remains timely.

Pope, bishops demand end to Nicaragua violence over social security reform

Crux Now - 10 hours 6 min ago

ROME – As tensions continue to rise in Nicaragua, with over two dozen people killed by Daniel Ortega’s government forces on Saturday, Catholic bishops in the country have a clear message: stop the violence and stop the repression, because we’re with the people.

Pope Francis joined their voices on Sunday, during his weekly address after praying the Regina Coeli with thousands who’d gathered in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square.

“I’m very worried over what’s happening these days in Nicaragua, where, following a social protest, clashes took place that even caused some victims,” he said.

“I express my closeness in prayer to that beloved country, and I join the bishops in asking for an end to any type of violence,” Francis said, adding that every “useless spilling of blood must be stopped,” and the issues at hand need to be resolved “peacefully and with a sense of responsibility.”

Since Wednesday, massive protests have been taking place in Nicaragua, mostly headed by young people, who are against a recently announced reform of the social security system. The government measures raised the contribution of workers and employers while reducing future pensions, which has led to one of the biggest crises in the Ortega administration.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007. Left-leaning, he’s the leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, named after Augusto César Sandino, who led the Nicaraguan resistance against the United States occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930s.

On Sunday, he withdrew changes to the social security system that triggered deadly protests.

Speaking about the protesters, the majority of whom were students, one bishop called them the “moral reservoir” of the country, while others insist that the Church’s position is not that of opposition to the government, but of support of the people.

“I would like to thank you, in the name of the Church, because you are the moral reservoir that we have,” said Bishop Silvio Baez, the auxiliary of Managua, the country’s capital city. “You have woken the nation up.”

The prelate was addressing a group of some 2,000 students who on Saturday were protesting Ortega’s regime. They were gathered in the cathedral of Managua.

Encuentro de los obispos de Managua y todo el clero de la Arquidiócesis con los jóvenes que están en la Catedral de Managua, para agradecer su testimonio, animarles en su lucha por la justicia social y ofrecerles nuestro apoyo y oraciones.

— Silvio José Báez (@silviojbaez) April 21, 2018

The previous day, Baez had promised the Catholic clergy was not going to “leave the young people who are in the cathedral alone, we’re going to protect them against everything.”

On Saturday, Baez also said that because of his critical view when it comes to political issues, he’d gone to the cathedral with Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and the clergy from the diocese. When they arrived on the ground, the students applauded.

Addressing the youth gathered, he said that the Catholic Church is supporting their cause because it’s “fair,” and urged them not to be manipulated by political ideologies because their cause is one of “social justice.”

“Be careful,” he said, according to various local reports. “Do not be blinded by political ideologies. The cause you have is one of social justice. Pope [Francis] has said this repeatedly: ideologies are harmful, because they have a partial view of reality.”

“We have to be attentive when it comes to ideologies, because they search for their own interests, economic and political,” Baez said. “And Pope [Francis] has said a very important thing regarding ideologies: ideologies think in the name of the people, but they aren’t willing to allow the people to think.”

The prelates visited the cathedral a day after violent clashes between protesters and the police force, which took place in the area surrounding the cathedral. On Saturday, the clashes became even more violent, resulting in the death of at least two dozen people, over 80 wounded, and several whom, at the time of this report, remain unaccounted for.

The twitter account “SOS Nicaragua,” said on Saturday night local time that the auxiliary bishop had “defended and protected students, the resources and the medical personnel inside the cathedral,” defending “the house of God and its principles.”

Journalist Mario Rueda, also on Twitter, stated that a nun and a priest negotiated with the Sandinistas to leave the area surrounding the cathedral, avoiding further clashes, this time between two factions of civil society.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Baez was very active on Twitter, sharing news reports on the rising tensions in Nicaragua, denouncing shots being fired in different parishes, and re-posting quotes attributed to him, presumably during his address to the youth in the cathedral, including one that said: “History depends not only on the will of the powerful, but above all, on the capacity of the peoples to organize.”

Luis Herrera, rector of the cathedral, said on Saturday that agents of the National Police went into the church’s grounds “shooting their weapons,” something the security force denied, despite evidence reported by journalists on the ground.

The government is censoring the press, including shutting down the national network for transmitting images of the protests. Images shared through social media, however, showed police officers firing tear gas and other projectiles into the Catholic cathedral.

Denying responsibility, Ortega said on Saturday that “small groups of the opposition” are behind the violence, as they “conspire against the model of alliances, because they think that they can take the government and they don’t care at what price.”

The situation in the country began deteriorating on Wednesday, but became even worse when, on Saturday morning, the Central American nation woke up to find the army deployed in several cities.

On Friday, the United Nations High Commission for Human rights urged the authorities to avoid further attacks against the protesters and the media. By then, according to the government, three people had been killed in the violent clashes, and dozens had already been wounded.

The UN office also expressed concern over the fact that news outlets were being closed for covering the protests, and called for the protection of both the protesters and journalists. However, a reporter was among those killed on Saturday, gunned down as he was doing a Facebook Live.

“The Nicaraguan State has to fulfill its international obligations to guarantee that the people can freely exercise their rights of freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful gathering and association,” a government spokesman said.

In a statement released on Friday, the Nicaraguan bishops’ conference rejected the reforms to the social security system and expressed its support of the “scream of the Nicaraguan youth.”

Saying that walking back a decision is a “sign of humanity,” the bishops urged the government to dialogue with the different sectors to solve the conflict, warning that it can become worse if the needed actions aren’t taken on time.

Rejecting the government’s oppression, the bishops also urged the people to continue raising their voice against the measures, exercising their right to protest peacefully, something defended both by “civic and evangelic values.”

“There are social sins that no human being can ignore,” they wrote.

Irish bishops speak out as government launches campaign to legalize abortion

Crux Now - 10 hours 6 min ago

A day after the Irish prime minister officially launched his government’s campaign to repeal the country’s constitutional pro-life protections, Bishop Denis Brennan of the Diocese of Ferns said the move “will strip the voiceless of their most fundamental right and make all talk of any other human rights irrelevant for them.”

The Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum on May 25 on whether or not to repeal the 8th amendment, which was passed in 1983, and guarantees the right to life of the unborn.

Ireland currently has some of the strongest pro-life protections in Europe.

(Abortion is also mostly illegal in Northern Ireland – the only part of the United Kingdom where this is the case – and its laws will not be affected by the referendum.)

On Saturday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar launched the ‘Yes for Repeal’ campaign, which has been supported by the government and most of the major media.

RELATED: Irish pro-lifers launch ‘vote no’ campaign for referendum on unborn

The government has argued that if the referendum passes, abortion will only be legal up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, although there would be no constitutional limits on abortion, and the Irish legislature will be free to pass additional abortion legislation.

In a pastoral message issued on Sunday, Brennan said voters in the referendum will be the unborn baby’s last line of defense, and they should carefully weigh this responsibility and act in the best interest of the unborn child.

“What repeal would mean is very clear, namely that the unborn boy or girl whose heart beats at 21 days – and the older unborn baby who has all of her / his vital organs at twelve weeks – will have no rights at all in Irish law, should people vote yes to repeal,” the bishop said.

“This twelve-week-old unborn baby – who is now enjoying for the first time the ability to kick, to move and to yawn – would, in the first stretches of young life, be without the basic protection of the right to life itself,” he said.

According to the latest Sunday Times poll, released on April 22, 47 percent of the Irish population support repealing the pro-life protections, while 29 percent say they will vote no, with 24 percent undecided.

This is a 2 percent drop in support for repeal since last month, but the ‘No’ campaign still has a lot of ground to cover.

RELATED: Dublin archbishop says Pope Francis “visibly upset” by children’s unmarked graves at care home

Once the most Catholic nation in Europe, in 2015 Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage in which 62 percent of the voters backed changing the constitution to allow the practice.

Revelations of clerical sexual abuse over the past decades, as well as other scandals, has left public confidence in the Church at its lowest level in the history of Ireland.

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Primate of All Ireland, told Crux the bishops are trying to avoid the abortion referendum becoming framed as a purely Catholic issue.

“Abortion is not wrong because the Catholic Church says it’s wrong, abortion is wrong in itself. The taking of a life of an innocent human being at any stage in its development is gravely wrong and can never be justified, and that’s not just because I said it,” the archbishop said on April 17.

He said that although the bishops are active within their diocese, they have avoided being prominent during the national debate “because if we try to say anything at national level that often it will be selectively reported or negatively reported.”

Therefore, Martin said the bishops are encouraging the lay faithful “to be gently acting as missionaries for life.”

“And I think that is happening: In families, in communities, in parishes, on the ground, in workplaces, where lay faithful are finding their voice, perhaps for the first time, finding their voice and speaking out on this critical issue,” he said.

RELATED: Irish prelate says summit must uphold marriage but not homophobia

The bishops’ conference did issue a statement in March calling for keeping the pro-life protections in the Irish constitution, although insisting the right to life is not a religious issue, but one of human rights, which “makes sense to people of all faiths and none.”

Several individual bishops have also issued statements to be read out in the parishes within their dioceses.

Martin did say the bishops will become more vocal as the referendum neared, and he expects more public statements.

In the statement issued on Sunday, Brennan said that no referendum can change moral truth.

“The direct and intentional killing, of an unborn human being, would be just as immoral the day after it was ‘legalized’, as it had been, the day before,” the Ferns bishop said.

“None of us should ever have the power to decide on the death of another,” Brennan said.

“To concede to any person the right to intentionally take the life of another – in this case the life of a voiceless unborn child – is not only to redefine human life as less than sacred, it is also to make a hierarchy of human life – where some lives are deemed to be of no value at all,” he continued.

“In matters of life and death, none of us is a supreme judge who can decide the fate of another, least of all the vulnerable and the voiceless, the unborn child,” Brennan said.

Pope Francis is expected to visit the country during the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Dublin from August 21-26, 2018.

Three priests in Togo suspended after protesting bishop at Chrism Mass

Crux Now - 10 hours 6 min ago

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – Three African priests have accused their bishop of arrogance and disdain towards his co-workers, in addition to engaging in hate speech. The three belong to the Diocese of Kpalimé in Togo, and were suspended by their bishop for refusing to renew their promise of obedience during the March 28 Chrism Mass.

Father Yves-Paul Azaglo, Father Gerson Gale and Father Daniel Gbadji were suspended by Bishop Benoît Alowonou on April 4, but the sentences were made public on April 13 when they were read out over Radio Maria Togo, the local Catholic station.

The three priests stand accused of “scandalous behavior” during the Chrism Mass at Holy Spirit Cathedral in Kpalimé, which is about 75 miles north of Lomé, the capital of Togo.

They refused to renew their vows, keeping their seats as their brother priests stood to pledge allegiance to the bishop. They also tried to incite the people to disrupt the Mass and spoke harsh words to the bishop personally.

In an April 3 statement, the Bishops’ Conference of Togo condemned the actions of the priests, calling them “scandalous and sacrilegious,” and called on Alowonou to take canonical measures against them.

Although their actions at the Chrism Mass triggered their suspensions, the priests were already in trouble with their bishop.

According to his degree of suspension, Azaglo is accused of being “guilty of refusing to obey his bishop, especially during transfers made on September 8, 2017.”

The priest refused to leave St. Joseph de Danyi Kudzravi Parish, where he was the administrator, for Sts. Peter and Paul Parish at Notsè, where the bishop had appointed him associate pastor (in effect, a demotion.)

Gbadji was accused of violating the conditions of a sabbatical year that Alawonou had granted him and of staying “irregularly” in the Diocese of Atlanta in the United States.

Gale, the founding parish priest of St. Joseph of Assahoun Fiagbe church, joined in the other two priests’ protest.

The suspension decrees however on the three priests “to repent of their offenses and to make appropriate amends for the damage and scandal caused by their acts” in accordance with Canon Law 1347 (2) which stipulates that “an offender who has truly repented of the delict and has also made suitable reparation for damages and scandal or at least has seriously promised to do so must be considered to have withdrawn from contumacy.”

The bishop also called on the priests to undertake a period of “spiritual healing in a monastery.”

These actions, the decrees state, would allow the bishop to “review the eventual conditions of exercising the priestly ministry.”

The three priests held a press conference on April 12, 2018, and said their actions were not “a kind of rebellion” against the bishop.

“Our reaction is that of indignation, of anger, of the consternation of a section of God’s people who are victims of both physical and mental torture,” said Gale.

They said they were being “financially asphyxiated” by having their Mass stipends cut and accused the bishop of refusing to sign priests’ travel documents, even when a priest is ill.

They said the bishop was retaliating for an open letter from March 2016, requesting Alowonou review his governing methods.

The letter had said that “the human, pastoral and financial management of the diocese is disastrous and catastrophic. The exercise of authority is far from evangelical.”

The three priests also accused the bishop of being autocratic and bureaucratic, and said they could not stand by and watch in silence as the bishop “mismanaged” the resources of the diocese, in order not to be accomplices to “the many scandals” plaguing the Church in Kpalimé.

“Unfortunately, our cries of pain are not taken well by the bishop with the support of the Episcopal Conference of Togo,” they said.

“With all avenues for redress exhausted, we do not see the Good Shepherd around us that Jesus talks about –  the Good Shepherd who takes good care of his sheep,” the priests said.

Even before their suspension, they said they weren’t afraid of what would eventually happen to them.

“We are aware of the risks of our action. We know the tradition of the Church. But we have chosen that risk and justice over complacency and injustice,” said Gale.

“Whatever happens, no one can stop us from practicing our faith, in truth and in dignity.”

The priests said they always remain open and available to the dialogue with Alowonou, “which, in our eyes, is the only way out of the crisis.”

However, they said, “We are not ready for compromise.”

Apr. 23 Optional Memorial of St. George, martyr and St. Adalbert, bishop and martyr, Opt. Mem.

Veneration of St. George comes to us from the east, probably from Palestine where he was held in high honor as a martyr. Regarded as the patron of Christian armies, he is venerated under this title by the Latins as well as by the Greeks.

Could a California bill ban Christian teaching on homosexuality?

CNA General News - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 6:59 PM

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 22, 2018 / 04:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A proposed law in California could have a chilling effect on free speech, warn critics who fear that it could ban efforts to explain and promote Christian teaching on sexual morality.

“The broad reach of AB 2942 leaves even simple religious speech on same-sex attraction or activities open to legal action and impinges on the basic human right of freedom of religion,” said the California Catholic Conference in a statement.

Assembly Bill 2943, which passed through the California State Assembly on Thursday, would make any transaction relating to practice to change someone’s sexual orientation unlawful. The bill now will go to the California State Senate.

AB 2943 seeks to amend the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CRLA), a law that protects consumers from sellers who are mischaracterizing their product or service.

The bill would ban advertising or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts. It defines such efforts as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

The inclusion of “efforts to change behaviors” as a banned activity has led some critics to fear that the bill could be used to prohibit the promotion of Christian sexual morality - through books, counseling, or teaching.

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) has voiced opposition to the bill, and released a letter on its website urging Californians to contact their legislators to prevent it from becoming law.

The conference is concerned that the bill’s definitions are too broad, and seek to prevent adults from making decisions for themselves.

“AB 2943 would take something completely intangible - ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ – and add it to the CRLA,” the conference said.

Further, given that conversion therapy is already illegal for people under the age of 18 in the state, the California Catholic Conference questioned, “why would proponents wish to take away the freedom of adults to seek counselling” for issues regarding sexual orientation or behavior.

These concerns were echoed by Bill May of the Marriage Reality Movement, who told CNA that he feels the bill is “absurd” and inhibits the ability of people spreading “the Gospel’s universal call for repentance and changes in behavior.” May believes that if the bill were to become law, it could result in legal issues for preachers who discuss sexuality.

“Passage would lead to more harassment and possible legal challenges against preaching, literature, conferences and organizations that address sexual morality," said May.


Vatican official calls for “shared response” to apparent “dead-end” in Alfie Evans’ case

Crux Now - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 4:53 PM

LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says only an alliance between the parents, other members of the family, and health care workers can determine the best way to help Alfie Evans.

Alfie – only 23-months-old – has an undiagnosed brain disease, and Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool has argued that any further treatment would be futile, and not in Alfie’s interest.

His parents – Thomas Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20 – have fought an ongoing legal battle to allow them to take Alfie abroad for treatment.

The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome has offered to admit the child and treat him, but the British courts have not let Alfie’s parents remove him from Alder Hey.

On Friday, the UK Supreme Court sided with the Alder Hey Hospital and gave them the go-ahead to remove Alfie’s ventilator.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Paglia said “we cannot escape a strong discomfort, mainly due to the feeling of being at a dead-end where we risk being defeated.”

He called for a “shared” process to try and find a solution to the problems that have arisen in Alfie’s case.

RELATED: Pope Francis meets with father of Alfie Evans, says only God is ‘master of life’

On Saturday, Alfie’s father released a statement saying he has filed an appeal – the family’s second – with the European Court of Human Rights. A previous appeal to the Strasbourg-based institution was rejected on March 28.

Evans had a private meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday, and the pontiff instructed the Vatican’s Secretary of State to make sure the Bambino Gesù was ready to receive Alfie if he was able to be moved from England.

Mariella Enoc, president of the Bambino Gesù, on Saturday confirmed the Secretary of State had been in contact with her and relayed the pope’s desire that she do “everything possible and impossible” to allow Alfie to come to Rome.

In an interview with Vatican Insider, Enoc said she has written to the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and reiterated the Bambino Gesù’s willingness to receive Alfie. She also said the medical staff at her hospital had given the English hospital a detailed plan of how the child could be transported to Rome, and what treatment would be given when he arrived.

“We do not propose any cure. The child is not healable at the moment, the child is not curable… and according to our concept this means we can take care of him,” she said.

Enoc also forwarded a letter from the mothers of patients at the hospital’s satellite campus in Palidoro, about 25 miles from Rome.

The pope visited the facility in January, and the mothers wrote a letter to Enoc thanking her for allowing the visit.

The Apil 20 letter noted that some of the children visited by Francis have “conditions similar to that of little Alfie Evans.”

The mothers said they wanted to express their closeness to his parents, “to whom we feel deeply connected due to the common suffering from the illnesses of our children.”

“Our children are not suffering, they are only living. And even today they can feel the beauty and warmth of the sun and of our soft touches on their faces. Please do not deprive little Alfie and his parents of the joy of these caresses,” the letter read.

Enoc told Vatican Insider she has sent the text of the letter – signed “from the mothers of Palidoro” – to the president of Alder Hey Hospital.

“I know that this letter will probably not change anything, but I felt – for purely humanitarian reasons – to accept and send this testimony,” she said.

RELATED: Italian bishop starts prayer campaign for Alfie Evans

Meanwhile, a group of bishops in Brazil made a video in support of Alife, saying, “We affirm what has been part of the deposit of faith of the Catholic Church, life is sacred and inviolable and under no circumstances can it, under any argument, be vilified or suppressed.”

The Brazilians then reiterated their desire that “all medical care be provided to little Alfie Evans and that his rights be granted and needs be provided.”

The person who helped facilitate the meeting between Francis and Evans, Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, has started a worldwide prayer campaign for Alfie Evans – using social media and in cooperation with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

Eucharist Unites

Zenit News - English - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 3:11 PM
Pope Francis: The Eucharist Reconciles us and Unites us

Audience Pilgrims from Dioceses of Bologna and Cesena-Sarsina

Pope Francis: The Eucharist Reconciles us and Unites us

Audience Pilgrims from Dioceses of Bologna and Cesena-Sarsina

Venerable English College: Pope Speaks of Love

Overcome Fear with Prayer, Love and Sense of Humor

Regina Coeli Address: Good Shepherd Sunday and the Healing of a Cripple (Full Text)

Regina Coeli Address: Good Shepherd Sunday and the Healing of a Cripple

Pope Francis Ordains 16 New Priests

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Pope Francis: Identity as Disciples of the Risen Lord

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for His sheep.’

Nicaragua: Pope Prayers for Victims of Violence

‘I join the Bishops in asking that the violence cease, the useless shedding of blood be avoided and the questions opened be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility.’

Four New Priests Join Pope for Regina Coeli Blessing

‘Listen, Discern, Live the Call of the Lord.’

Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors Hears from Survivors

“I hope our visit will help the PCPM to develop a wider network of survivors who are willing to advise and support the ongoing work of the Commission in a similar way.”

The post Eucharist Unites appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors Hears from Survivors

Zenit News - English - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 1:23 PM

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met this week in Plenary Assembly in Rome.

The first day of the meeting was dedicated to hearing from members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission from England and Wales. The gathering was part of the PCPM’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the thoughts and contributions of people who have been abused inform all aspects of the Commission’s work.

The visitors said that the experience of being listened to so carefully by the Commission members was empowering. They could see that their sharing, and putting victims first, had an impact on the Commission.

One of the SAP members said: “I hope our visit will help the PCPM to develop a wider network of survivors who are willing to advise and support the ongoing work of the Commission in a similar way.”

The PCPM said it is grateful to the SAP group for generously sharing their expertise and experiences with the Assembly. This will help the Commission to develop effective ways to integrate the voice of survivors into the life and ministry of the Church.

During their Plenary Assembly, the PCPM heard presentations on ‘The outcome of the Australian Royal Commission’; on ‘The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’ and on ‘The role of Faith Communities in overcoming abuse trauma’.

On Saturday 21 April 2018, Pope Francis received the Members of the Commission in a private audience. The Holy Father stated his intention to definitively confirm the Commission’s Statutes. Members spoke to the Holy Father about their priorities, which are reflected in the following Working Groups:

• Working with Survivors
• Education and Formation
• Safeguarding Guidelines and Norms

The Working Groups are an integral part of the Commission’s working structure. Between Plenary Assemblies, these groups bring forward research and projects in areas that are central to the mission of making the Church ‘a safe home’ for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. The Plenary Assembly concluded on Sunday 22 April.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created by Pope Francis in March of 2014 to propose the most opportune initiatives for the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults, to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches.

For more information visit the PCPM website.

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Four New Priests Join Pope for Regina Coeli Blessing

Zenit News - English - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 1:11 PM

Pope Francis reminded the crowds of Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Coeli on April 22, 2018, that it is the fourth Sunday of Easter — and the Day of Prayer for Vocations:

“The theme is: ‘Listen, Discern, Live the Call of the Lord.’ I thank the Lord because He continues to arouse in the Church stories of love for Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glory and at the service of brothers. Today, in particular, we thank Him for the new priests I ordained a short while ago in St. Peter’s Basilica.  And we ask the Lord to send many good laborers to work in His field, as well as multiply the vocations to the consecrated life and to Christian marriage. As I was saying, today I ordained sixteen priests. Of these sixteen, four came here to greet you and to give the Blessing with me.”

The post Four New Priests Join Pope for Regina Coeli Blessing appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Nicaragua: Pope Prayers for Victims of Violence

Zenit News - English - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 12:52 PM

“I’m concerned about what’s happening these days in Nicaragua, where clashes broke out following a social protest, which also caused some victims,”  Pope Francis said April 22, 2018, after praying the Regina Coeli with the crowds in St. Peter’s Square. “I express my closeness in prayer to that country, and I join the Bishops in asking that the violence cease, the useless shedding of blood be avoided and the questions opened be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility.”

News reports on the 22nd pegged the death toll from clashes between government forces and anti-government protestors at more than two dozen.

The post Nicaragua: Pope Prayers for Victims of Violence appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Pope Francis: Identity as Disciples of the Risen Lord

Zenit News - English - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 12:42 PM

“The Liturgy of this fourth Sunday of Easter continues with the intent to help us rediscover our identity as disciples of the Risen Lord.,” Pope Francis reminded the crowds in St. Peter’s Square in his remarks before reciting the Regina Coeli on April 22, 2018. “In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter declares openly that the healing of a cripple, carried out by him, of which the whole of Jerusalem was talking, happened in the name of Jesus, because “’here is salvation in no one else’(4:12).”

The Holy Father continued: “Each one of us is in that healed man – that man is a figure of us: we are all there –, our communities are there: each one can be healed from the many forms of spiritual infirmity that he has – ambition, sloth, pride – if we accept, with trust, to put our existence in the hands of the Risen Lord. ‘By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…this man is standing before you well’ (v. 10), affirms Peter.”

In answer to the question of who it is that heals, who is this Christ, Pope Francis repeats the answer Jesus gave: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for His sheep (John 10:11).” And through His healing, he enables followers “to live a beautiful and fruitful life”.

The Pope reminded the crowd that they are called to “know Jesus” and this requires an encounter with Him: “abandoning self-referential attitudes to set out on new roads, indicated by Christ Himself and opened on vast horizons”. He concluded:

“To open ourselves to Jesus, so that He enters inside us. A stronger relationship: He is risen, so we can follow Him our whole life. In this Day of Prayer for Vocations, may Mary intercede, so that many will respond with generosity and perseverance to the Lord, who calls to leave everything for His Kingdom.”

Full Text of the Pope’s Commentary

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Pope Francis to new priests: Be like Jesus the Good Shepherd

Crux Now - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 10:32 AM

ROME – On Sunday, Pope Francis ordained 16 men to the priesthood, reminding them to be like Jesus the Good Shepherd in the way they serve the members of their spiritual flock and minister to those who are lost and searching for God.

“Always have before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to seek and save what was lost,” the pope said in a homily before the ordination of 16 priests during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica April 22.

“Conscious of having been chosen among men and elected in their favor to attend to the things of God, exercise in gladness and sincere charity the priestly work of Christ,” he continued, “solely intent on pleasing God and not yourselves or human beings, [or] other interests.”

The priestly ordination coincided with “Good Shepherd Sunday” and the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

The new priests, who have been studying for the priesthood at different seminaries in the diocese of Rome, come from countries around the world, including Madagascar, Vietnam, Myanmar, Colombia, and El Salvador.

As in the past, for his homily Francis used the “ritual homily” from the Italian edition of the “Pontificale Romano,” the Catholic liturgical book containing rites performed by bishops, including the ordination of priests, adding a few of his own thoughts to the text.

Reflecting on the Sacrament of Penance in particular, Francis urged the men about to be ordained to “not get tired of being merciful. Think of your sins, your miseries that Jesus forgives. Be merciful.”

It is “through your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect,” he noted, “because it is joined to the sacrifice of Christ, which for your hands, in the name of the whole Church, is offered bloodlessly on the altar in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.”

He pointed out to the 16 men that in their priestly ministries they will be participants “in the mission of Christ, the only Master,” and advised them to read and meditate tirelessly on the Word of God “to teach what you have learned in faith, to live what you have taught.”

“[May] your teaching, joy and support to the faithful of Christ be the fragrance of your life,” he continued, “that with word and example you can build the House of God which is the Church.”

Following Mass, Pope Francis led pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square in praying the Regina Coeli, the traditional prayer for Easter.

Francis reflected briefly on the day’s Gospel, where Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep,” stating that the words of Jesus in this passage cannot be reduced to an emotional suggestion.

They have a concrete effect, he said: “Jesus heals through his being a shepherd who gives life. Jesus says to each one: ‘Your life is so valuable to me, that to save it I offer all of myself.’”

Noting that Jesus also says, “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me,” the pope said shows us that Jesus desires a personal relationship with each person, one which reflects “the same intimate relationship of love between Him and the Father.”

“He is attentive to each of us, knows our heart deeply: He knows our strengths and our faults, the projects we have achieved and the hopes that have been disappointed. But he accepts us as we are, he leads us with love,” he said, and in turn, “we are called to know Jesus.”

University in Pakistan gets a Catholic church

Crux Now - Sun, 04/22/2018 - 10:20 AM

MUMBAI, India – A Catholic Church on the premises of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad “will leave a message of love and harmony” throughout Pakistan, according to the president of the country’s bishops’ conference.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church was inaugurated on April 15, and Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad said the words of Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had been fulfilled: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

Arshad thanked the administration of the University of Agriculture – one of the top research institutions in the country – for showing interest in the Christian community at the university and for allowing them to have a place of worship.

The university’s vice chancellor, Muhammad. Zafar Iqbal, said it was important to meet the religious needs of the university’s Christian students and staff.

“The mosque or church both are sacred places for worship of God and I believe in interfaith harmony and said church building in the university’s premises is a living example of Christian-Muslim brotherhood,” Iqbal said.

“This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that a church was constructed at a university and other government institutions should follow these steps to ensure minority rights as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan,” he continued

Arshad told Crux the inauguration of the church will have numerous consequences: “Respect for other religions, giving a message of peace and harmony, facilitating the integration of religious minorities into larger society, demonstrating the importance of learning and knowing about other religions, and allowing students of different religions to learn to live together.”

Cecil S. Chaudhry, the executive director of the bishops’ conference National Commission for Justice and Peace, said the move was a “positive step,” especially given the recent attacks by Islamists against the country’s small Christian minority.

“This move I feel would be beneficial in bridging any gaps between the majority and minority while also providing a message of respecting members of different faiths in all spheres of life especially educational institutions. Equal citizenship is a right of every individual regardless of caste, color or creed as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan,” Chaudhry told Crux.

“I feel such an initiative should be followed by other major educational Universities as it would promote interfaith harmony while also addressing any sense of deprivation to the students from the Christian faith that their rights are being safeguarded and duly taken into consideration,” he said.

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