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Epiphany: “The manifestation of the Lord to all peoples’

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 11:51 AM

POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 6 January 2021

[Multimedia]

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, buongiorno!

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany, that is, the manifestation of the Lord to all peoples: in fact, the salvation wrought by Christ knows no boundaries. It is for everyone. Epiphany is not an additional mystery, it is always the same mystery as the Nativity, viewed, however, from the dimension of light, the light that illumines every man and women, the light to be welcomed in faith and the light to bring to others in charity, through witness, in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Isaiah’s vision, reported in today’s Liturgy (see 60:1-6), resounds in our time and is more timely than ever: “darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness the peoples” (v. 2), the text from Isaiah says. With that background, the prophet announced the light: the light given by God to Jerusalem and destined to enlighten the path of all the peoples. This light has the power to attract everyone, near and far, everyone sets out on the path to reach it, verse 3). It is a vision that opens the heart, that makes the breath come easier, that invites hope. Certainly, the darkness is present and threatening in everyone’s life and in the story of humanity; but God’s light is more powerful. It needs to be welcomed so that it might shine on everyone. But, we can distance this light from us. But we can ask ourselves: “Where is this light?” The prophet caught a glimpse of it from afar, but that was already enough to fill the heart of Jerusalem with irrepressible joy. Where is that light?

The Evangelist Matthew in his turn, recounting the episode of the Magi (see 2:1-12), shows that this light is the Baby of Bethlehem, it is Jesus, even if His kingship was not accepted by everyone. Rather some rejected it, like King Herod. He is the star who appeared on the horizon, the awaited Messiah, the One through whom God would inaugurate His kingdom of love, His kingdom of of justice and of peace. He was born not only for some, but for all men and women, for all peoples. The light is for all peoples, salvation is for all peoples.

And how does this “radiation” come? How does Christ’s light shine in every place and at every moment? It has its own method of expanding. It does not do so through the powerful means of this world’s empires who always seek to seize power. No, Christ’s light spreads through the proclamation of the Gospel. Through proclamation…by word and witness. And with this same “method”, God chose to come among us: the Incarnation, that is, by drawing near to the other, encountering the other, assuming the reality of the other and bringing the witness of our faith, everyone. This is the only way that Christ’s light, who is Love, can shine in those who welcome it and attract others. Christ’s light does not expand only through words, through fake methods, commercial ones…. No, no, through faith, word and witness. Thus the light of Christ expands. The star is Christ, but we too can and must also be the star for our brothers and sisters, as witnesses of the treasures of goodness and infinite mercy that the Redeemer offers freely to everyone. Christ’s light does not expand through proselytism. It expands through witness, through the confession of the faith. Even through martyrdom.

Therefore, the condition is to welcome this light within, to welcome it always more. Woe to us if we think we possess it, no; woe to us if we think that we only need to “manage” it! No. Like the Magi, we too are called to allow ourselves to be fascinated, attracted, guided, illuminated and converted by Christ: He is the journey of faith, through prayer and the contemplation of God’s works, who continually fills us with joy and wonder, an ever new wonder. That wonder is the always the first step to go forward in this light.

Let us invoke the protection of Mary on the universal Church, so that it might spread throughout the entire world the Gospel of Christ, the light of all the peoples, the light of every people.

After praying the Angelus with the faithful, Pope Francis continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am following carefully and with preoccupation the events in the Central African Republic where elections recently took place in which the people have manifested the desire to pursue the path of peace. I invite all of the parties to a fraternal, respectful dialogue, to reject any form of hatred and to avoid any form of violence.

I extend my affection to the brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, who, according to their tradition celebrate the Nativity of the Lord tomorrow. To them, I extend my most heartfelt wishes for a Holy Christmas in the light of Christ our peace and our hope.

On today’s feast of Epiphany the World Missionary Child Day is celebrated which involves many children and boys and girls around the world. I thank each one of them and I encourage them to be joyful witnesses of Jesus, seeking to always bring fraternity among your peers.

I cordially greet all of you connected through various means of communication. A special greeting goes to the Three Kings Procession Foundation that organizes events of evangelization and solidarity in numerous cities and villages in Poland and in other nations.

I wish you all a Happy Feast Day! Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your meal and arrivederci.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Epiphany 2021: Homily of Pope Francis

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 11:44 AM

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica
Wednesday, 6 January 2021

[Multimedia]

 

The Evangelist Matthew tells us that the Magi, when they came to Bethlehem, “saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2:11). Worshiping the Lord is not easy; it does not just happen. It requires a certain spiritual maturity and is the fruit of an at times lengthy interior journey. Worshiping God is not something we do spontaneously. True, human beings have a need to worship, but we can risk missing the goal. Indeed, if we do not worship God, we will worship idols – there is no middle way, it is either God or idols; or, to use the words of a French writer: “Whoever does not worship God, worships the devil” (Léon Bloy) – and instead of becoming believers, we will become idolaters. It is just like that, aut aut.

In our day, it is particularly necessary for us, both as individuals and as communities, to devote more time to worship. We need to learn ever better how to contemplate the Lord. We have somewhat lost the meaning of the prayer of adoration, so we must take it up again, both in our communities and in our own spiritual life. Today, then, let us learn a few useful lessons from the Magi. Like them, we want to fall down and worship the Lord. To worship him seriously, not as Herod said: “Let me know where the place is and I will go to worship him”. No, that worship is not good. Ours must be serious!

The Liturgy of the Word offers us three phrases that can help us to understand more fully what it means to be worshipers of the Lord. They are: “to lift up our eyes”, “to set out on a journey” and “to see”. These three phrases can help us to understand what it means to be a worshiper of the Lord.

The first phrase, to lift up our eyes, comes to us from the prophet Isaiah. To the community of Jerusalem, recently returned from exile and disheartened by great challenges and hardships, the prophet addresses these powerful words of encouragement: “Lift up your eyes and look around” (60:4). He urges them to lay aside their weariness and complaints, to escape the bottleneck of a narrow way of seeing things, to cast off the dictatorship of the self, the constant temptation to withdraw into ourselves and our own concerns. To worship the Lord, we first have to “lift up our eyes”. In other words, not to let ourselves be imprisoned by those imaginary spectres that stifle hope, not to make our problems and difficulties the centre of our lives. This does not mean denying reality, or deluding ourselves into thinking that all is well. On the contrary, it is a matter of viewing problems and anxieties in a new way, knowing that the Lord is aware of our troubles, attentive to our prayers and not indifferent to the tears we shed.

This way of seeing things, which despite everything continues to trust in the Lord, gives rise to filial gratitude. When this happens, our hearts become open to worship. On the other hand, when we focus exclusively on problems, and refuse to lift up our eyes to God, fear and confusion creep into our hearts, giving rise to anger, bewilderment, anxiety and depression. Then it becomes difficult to worship the Lord. Once this happens, we need to find the courage to break out of the circle of our foregone conclusions and to recognize that reality is much greater than we imagine. Lift up your eyes, look around and see. The Lord asks us first to trust in him, because he truly cares for everyone. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he provide for us? (cf. Lk 12:28). If we lift up our eyes to the Lord, and consider all things in his light, we will see that he never abandons us. The Word became flesh (cf. Jn 1:14) and remains with us always, for all time (cf. Mt 28:20). Always.

When we lift up our eyes to God, life’s problems do not go away, no; instead we feel certain that the Lord grants us the strength to deal with them. The first step towards an attitude of worship, then, is to “lift up our eyes”. Our worship is that of disciples who have found in God a new and unexpected joy. Worldly joy is based on wealth, success or similar things, always with ourselves at the centre. The joy of Christ’s disciples, on the other hand, is based on the fidelity of God, whose promises never fail, whatever the crises we may face. Filial gratitude and joy awaken within us a desire to worship the Lord, who remains ever faithful and never abandons us.

The second helpful phrase is to set out on a journey. Before they could worship the Child in Bethlehem, the Magi had to undertake a lengthy journey. Matthew tells us that in those days “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying: ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him’” (Mt 2:1-2). A journey always involves a transformation, a change. After a journey, we are no longer the same. There is always something new about those who have made a journey: they have learned new things, encountered new people and situations, and found inner strength amid the hardships and risks they met along the way. No one worships the Lord without first experiencing the interior growth that comes from embarking on a journey.

We become worshipers of the Lord through a gradual process. Experience teaches us, for example, that at fifty we worship differently than we did at thirty. Those who let themselves be shaped by grace usually improve with time: on the outside, we grow older – so Saint Paul tells us – while our inner nature is being renewed each day (cf. 2 Cor 4:16), as we grow in our understanding of how best to worship the Lord. From this point of view, our failures, crises and mistakes can become learning experiences: often they can help us to be more aware that the Lord alone is worthy of our worship, for only he can satisfy our innermost desire for life and eternity. With the passage of time, life’s trials and difficulties – experienced in faith – help to purify our hearts, making them humbler and thus more and more open to God. Even our sins, the awareness of being sinners, of experiencing such bad things. “But I did this… I did…”: if you approach it with faith and repentance, with contrition, it will help you to grow. Paul says that everything can help us to grow spiritually, to encounter Jesus, even our sins. And Saint Thomas adds: “etiam mortalia”, even the bad sins, the worst. But if you respond with repentance it will help you on this journey towards encountering the Lord and to worship him better.

Like the Magi, we too must allow ourselves to learn from the journey of life, marked by the inevitable inconveniences of travel. We cannot let our weariness, our falls and our failings discourage us. Instead, by humbly acknowledging them, we should make them opportunities to progress towards the Lord Jesus. Life is not about showing off our abilities, but a journey towards the One who loves us. We are not to show off our virtues in every step of our life; rather, with humility we should journey towards the Lord. By keeping our gaze fixed on the Lord, we will find the strength needed to persevere with renewed joy.

And so we come to the third phrase: to seeTo lift up our eyes; to set out on a journey; to see. The Evangelist tells us that, “going into the house they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2:10-11). Worshiping was an act of homage reserved for sovereigns and high dignitaries. The Magi worshiped the One they knew was the king of the Jews (cf. Mt 2:2). But what did they actually see? They saw a poor child and his mother. Yet these wise men from far-off lands were able to look beyond those lowly surroundings and recognize in that Child a royal presence. They were able to “see” beyond appearances. Falling to their knees before the Babe of Bethlehem, they expressed a worship that was above all interior: the opening of the treasures they had brought as gifts symbolized the offering of their own hearts.

To worship the Lord we need to “see” beyond the veil of things visible, which often prove deceptive. Herod and the leading citizens of Jerusalem represent a worldliness enslaved to appearances and immediate attractions. They see, yet they cannot see. It is not that they do not believe, no; it is that they do not know how to see because they are slaves to appearances and seek what is attractive. They value only the sensational, the things that capture the attention of the masses. In the Magi, however, we see a very different approach, one we can define as theological realism – a very “high” word, yet helpful – a way of perceiving the objective reality of things and leads to the realization that God shuns all ostentation. The Lord is in humility, he is like that humble child, who shuns that ostentation which is precisely the product of worldliness. A way of “seeing” that transcends the visible and makes it possible for us to worship the Lord who is often hidden in everyday situations, in the poor and those on the fringes. A way of seeing things that is not impressed by sound and fury, but seeks in every situation the things that truly matter, and that seeks the Lord. With Saint Paul, then, let us “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).

May the Lord Jesus make us true worshipers, capable of showing by our lives his loving plan for all humanity. Let us ask for the grace for each of us and for the whole Church, to learn to worship, to continue to worship, to exercise this prayer of adoration often, because only God is to be adored.

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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“In the Baptism of Christ, his humble love and a manifestation of the Trinity”

Fri, 01/08/2021 - 11:35 AM

“With the wish to understand that Jesus’ decision to be in solidarity with sinners, confusing himself with them and asking for John’s Baptism, expresses his will to redeem humanity from within.”

 

In the Baptism of Christ we contemplate his humble love and a manifestation of the Trinity[1].

 

Roman Rite – Baptism of the Lord – Year B – January 10, 2021

Is 55: 1-11; Ps Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6; 1 Jn 5: 1-9; Mk 1,7-11.

 

Ambrosian Rite

Is 55, 4-7; Ps 28; Eph 2: 13-22; Mk 1,7-11.

 

 Introduction: a strange way of presenting yourself.

The narration of the baptism of Jesus, taken today from the evangelist Mark, shows that from the beginning of his public life the Son of God presented himself not boasting of his heavenly origins but following the path of abasement and humility.

Thirty-year-old Jesus began his public ministry by going to the Jordan to receive from John the baptism of penance and conversion. What happened there is humanly paradoxical. John the Baptist was amazed when he saw Jesus who in line with sinners was coming to be baptized. Recognizing in him the Messiah, the Holy One of God and the one who is without sin, John manifests his bewilderment. He himself, the baptizer would have liked to be baptized by Christ, but the Son of God exhorted him not to resist and to accept to carry out this act to do what was necessary to “fulfill all justice”. But then: “Does the Son of God need penance and conversion?” Certainly not. However, the one who is without sin places himself among sinners to be baptized and to perform this gesture of penance.

The Holy One of God joins those who recognize their need for forgiveness and ask God for the gift of conversion, that is, the grace to return to him with all their heart to be totally his. It is about the inseparable relationship between mercy and conversion. In this relationship we find on the one hand the free and superabundant gift of salvation and on the other hand our need to change and the recognition of our sin. We can thus obtain the forgiveness through which, with the reconciliation, our freedom approaches Jesus and asks him what to do. God restores our original face to us, far beyond what we can imagine and deserve.

Jesus wants to take the side of sinners, unite with them, and show them God’s closeness. Jesus shows solidarity with us and with our effort of converting so to leave our selfishness and to detach ourselves from our sins. He tells us that, if we accept him in our life, he can elevate us and lead us to the height of God the Father. This solidarity of Jesus is not “made” of mere words and simple intentions. The Son of God truly immersed himself in our human condition. He lived it fully, except for sin, and therefore he can understand its weakness and fragility. For this reason, he has compassion for men, chooses to “suffer with” them and to become penitent with us.

It is the work of God that Jesus wants to accomplish: the divine mission to heal the wounded and the sick, and to take upon himself the sins of the world with the power of humble and generous love.

Thanks to this humble act of love on the part of the Son of God, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifested in the form of a dove while a voice from above expresses the complacency of the Father who recognizes his only Son, the Beloved. It is the true epiphany (= manifestation) of the Most Holy Trinity that testifies to the divinity of Jesus and to his being the promised Messiah, the One whom God sent to free his people so that they may be saved (cf. Is 40: 2).

Thus, it is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that we hear in the first reading of today’s Mass: the Lord God comes with the power to destroy the works of sin and his arms exercise his strength to disarm the devil. However, let us not forget that these arms are the arms stretched out on the cross and that the power of Christ is the power of the One who suffers for us. It is the loving power of God, different from the violent power of the world. God comes with a fatherly power that destroys sin and transfigures the sinner.

Truly, the Redeemer acts as a true good shepherd who feeds the flock, gathers it so that it is not scatter (cf. Is 40,10-11) and offers his life so that it may have life. It is through his redemptive death that man is freed from the dominion of sin and is reconciled with the Father. It is through his resurrection that man is saved from eternal death and made victorious over the devil.

 

1) The Baptism of Jesus and our baptism.

This Sunday we celebrate the fact that Jesus was baptized[2] by John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River in the Holy Land. John calls the sinners to be washed in the river before doing penance. Jesus comes to John to be baptized. Did He therefore confessed himself a Sinner? Certainly not.

Then, why Christ, the Innocent, went to the Jordan to be baptized?

We can answer to this question with St. Jerome: “For a threefold reason the Savior was baptized by John. First, because, being born man like others, He must respect the law with justice and humility. Second, to demonstrate with his baptism the effectiveness of John’s baptism. Third to show, by sanctifying the waters of Jordan through the descent of the dove, the advent of the Holy Spirit in the washing of the believers “(Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 1, 3, 13).

Another question arises. Why do we celebrate and live this mystery of the Baptism of Jesus?

To express our gratitude to Jesus. In his Baptism, Christ, the sinless one, assumed all our sins and, showing God’s closeness to man’s path of conversion, made himself in solidarity with us and redeems us. The redemptive value comes from the fact that the innocent Jesus, out of pure love, made himself in solidarity with the guilty and thus transformed their situation from within. In fact, when a catastrophic situation such as that caused by sin is assumed in favor of sinners out of pure love, then this situation is no longer under the sign of opposition to God, but, on the contrary, under that of docility to the love that comes from God (cf. Gal 1,4) and becomes a source of blessing.

This act of extraordinary humility was dictated by the wish to establish a full communion with each one of us, and by the desire to achieve genuine solidarity with us in our human condition.

This act of Jesus anticipated the Cross, the acceptance of death for our sins and those of all humanity. Jesus takes upon his shoulders the burden of guilt of all humanity and begins his mission putting himself in the place of sinners and in the perspective of the cross.

With this act of belittling himself, Jesus wanted to conform totally to the loving plan of God the Father.

If we want to revisit the questions expressed just above in another way “Why, then, did the Father desire this? Why did He sent his only Son into the world as the Lamb to take upon himself the sins of the world (cf. Jn 1:29)? the answer is: to give to humanity the life of God and his spirit of love so that every man can draw from this inexhaustible source of salvation. This is why Christian parents bring their children as soon as possible to the baptismal font, knowing that the life which they have given to them calls for a fullness and a salvation that only God can give. Parents therefore become collaborators of God, transmitting to their children not only physical but also spiritual life.

 

2) Our baptism.

Certainly Jesus’ baptism was a baptism different from the one we, as children or adults, have received, but not without a profound connection to it. Basically, the whole mystery of Christ in the world can be summed up by the word “baptism”, which in Greek means “immersion”. The Son of God, who from eternity shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit the fullness of life, was “immersed” in our reality of sinners to make us participating to his own life. He became man, was born like us, grew up like us and, on reaching adulthood, manifested his mission which began precisely with the “baptism of conversion” administered by John the Baptist. His first public act, as the Gospels tell us, was to go to the Jordan to receive baptism mingling among repentant sinners. John was naturally reluctant, but Jesus insisted because that was the will of the Father (cf. Mt 3, 13-15).

Finally, to the question “What does it mean for us to live this feast of the Baptism of Jesus?” the answer is “It means to live in the baptism of Jesus up to the point when he has taken everything from each of us and has given us everything.” How does He take all from us? Through our Baptism.

Therefore, since Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father, was baptized, the sky has been truly open and continues to open, and we can entrust every new life that blossoms or that, already adult, wants to immerse itself in the true God, in the hands of one who is more powerful than the dark powers of evil. This is Baptism: to give back to God what came from him.

Baptism, in fact, is more of a washing and a purification. It is more than becoming part of a community. It is a new birth. It is a new beginning of life. In Baptism we give ourselves over to Christ – he takes us unto himself so that we no longer live for ourselves but through Him, with Him and in Him. We live with Him and thus for others. In Baptism we surrender ourselves, we place our lives in his hands so that we can say with St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

Baptism implies this news: our life now belongs to Christ and no longer to ourselves. For this reason, we are not alone even in death, but we are with Him who lives forever. Greeted by Christ in his love, we are free from fear and we live in and of the love of the One Who is Life.

 

3) The Baptism of the Author of Baptism.

The Gospel passage, proposed in this Sunday commemorating the baptism of the Lord, opens with two statements by John the Baptist: “After me comes he who is mightier than I” “ I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit “(Mk 1,7-8). The preaching of John the Baptist is encapsulated in the function of drawing attention to Jesus. In its extreme simplicity (see note 1), the story of the baptism of Jesus is full of important meanings.

First: Jesus – in Mark 1: 7-11 – is presented in two dimensions of his mystery: a man from humble beginnings (“came from Nazareth of Galilee”) and the beloved Son of God.

Second: the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Spirit, the heavenly voice, everything converges in indicating that, with the manifestation of Jesus on the banks of the Jordan, the Messianic times begins. The heartfelt invocation of Isaiah 63:19 (“if you would slash the heavens and come down”) has been heard. After remaining closed for a long and silent time, the sky opens, the Spirit is back among the people and the word of the Lord returns to resonate.

In Baptism the movement of Christmas repeats itself: God descends again, enters in each of us, is born in us so that we are born in God, and Christ becomes the center of all Christian life. This is a fact that the consecrated Virgins in the world are called to testify in a particular way.

The consecrated Virgins bring to completion the Christian vocation received in Baptism by accepting their vocation and living being a woman as a complete gift to God.

In the path of their human and spiritual maturity, the consecration in the Ordo Virginum offers them a way to live in fullness their humanity that baptism had grafted into Christ.

In this way of life, they develop a personal originality as a gift for oneself and for others. Their life, totally centered in God, becomes an example of relationship with themselves, with others, with God, in the Church and in each social and cultural context.

In the rite of consecration, the consecrated virgins, called by God the Father by a design of love (Rite of Consecration of Virgins, 34), receive a “new spiritual anointing” (RCV, 29) rooting them in the baptismal consecration. With the celebration of the consecratio these women experience a new way to participate to the trinitarian life, in which the baptism had already entered them, and God sustains them in fidelity from day to day (RCV, 53).

 

Patristic Reading

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop

Oratio 39 in Sancta Lumina, 14-16, 20: PG 36, 350-351, 354, 358-359) 



The baptism of Christ

 

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

 

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.

 

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

 

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

 

Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

***

[1] In fact, the Father gives witness to the Son, the Holy Spirit as a dove descends from heaven, and the Son bows his immaculate head to be baptized to manifest himself as the redeemer from the slavery of sin. “What a great mystery in this celestial Baptism! The Father makes himself heard from heaven, the Son appears on earth, the Holy Spirit manifests himself in the form of a dove: in fact, we cannot speak of true Baptism nor of true remission of sins, where there is not the truth of the Trinity, and the remission of sins cannot be granted where one does not believe in the perfect Trinity. ” (Chromatius of Aquileia, Discourse 34, 1-3).

[2] All the evangelists have written about this event (Mt 3, 13-17; Mk 1, 9-11; Lk 3, 21-22; Jn 1.29 to 34). Let’s read the text of Mark (1, 9-10): “In those days (Jesus) came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. And, coming out of the water, he saw the heavens open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.” Jesus had come to the Jordan from Nazareth where he had spent the years of his “hidden” life. Before his arrival, he had been heralded by John who, exhorting people to a “baptism of repentance’, had preached “After me comes one who is stronger than me and to whom I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1, 7-8). We were at the threshold of the messianic era. With John’s preaching the long preparatory period which took place through the whole of the old covenant and, it can be said, of all human history, came to end. John felt the greatness of that decisive moment that he interpreted as the beginning of a new creation in which he discovered the presence of the Spirit hovering over the first creation (Gen 1.2). He knew and professed himself to be only the herald, the precursor, and the minister of the one who would come to “baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

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Liturgy Q&A: More on Pro Populo Masses

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 9:09 PM

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum university.

 Q: Pursuant to our December 8 comments on the obligation of the pastor to say a Mass for the people, a priest from Toronto asked: “What’s the assistant to the pastor in that regard? Being a co-worker in the parish for spiritual well-being of the faithful in a particular parish, doesn’t he have to say Mass for such intentions?

 On the one hand, we can say yes, insofar as every priest must offer Masses and prayers for the souls entrusted to his care.

 However, the assistant does not have a canonical obligation to set aside a specific Mass for this purpose.

 The reasons behind this are multiple and often entwined in concrete historical contexts. For example, in former centuries Mass stipends constituted a substantial part of a priest’s income, especially poorer clergy who were not assigned a specific pastoral role.

 Therefore, while the parish priest had several sources of income and therefore could renounce any stipend, this was not always the case with his assistants.

 There was also the desire to satisfy the many requests of Masses on the part of the faithful.

 For this, and many other reasons, when canon law was first codified in 1918 only the pastor received a canonical obligation to say a pro populo Mass, and thus it remained in the 1983 reform.

 In today’s altered circumstances this might change in any future revision of the code.

 * * *

 Editor’s Note: Look for the Liturgy Column at ePriest

 ZENIT will soon close its English-language edition, but plans call for Father Edward McNamara, LC, to continue his liturgy column at ePriest in the near future.

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Zenit English Thanks Readers and Supporters

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 5:07 PM

Every Christmas is unique and the real Christmas is the birth of Christ. The Child Jesus comes to us with His smile and open arms offering us all His love.

Each New Year brings changes and challenges. That certainly has been true in 2020.

To this unusual year, given the family, economic, political and social circumstances caused by COVID-19, is added the suspension of Zenit’s daily and weekly services in Spanish, English, and Italian — 23 years of service to the Pope and to the Church, with the best team that any means of communication could have, with unbounded commitment:

  •  To delicacy and respect for all the topics addressed,
  •  To remaining untiring in adversity,
  •  To seek truth over recognition,
  •  To thinking always of the good of Zenit’s readers.

We give thanks to each and every employee and collaborator.

We especially thank the readers and subscribers for their loyalty and perseverance in following our services for their personal good and that of others: a responsibility we have never forgotten, which encouraged us to carry out our daily work. THANK YOU.

Heartfelt thanks to the donors with whose support we have been able to reach here. Thanks to you, we have been a means of communication which has lived of its readers’ donations, and whose exigency has been to carry forward evangelization to all corners of the world. Thanks to you, 23 are many years serving the Pope and the Church. THANK YOU.

Thanks to all the members of the Catholic Church who have helped us to do our work, from the Vatican to Episcopal Conferences, Dioceses, parishes, convents, and monasteries. THANK YOU.

Let us pray to the Child Jesus to guide and accompany us throughout 2021. Place at His feet in the Nativity Scene all that we have accomplished together, which only He knows. Christ came into the world to save us and to bring us peace. Through Zenit, we have transmitted this message to all.

All of us who have served the English edition of Zenit have our readers in our prayers and ask your prayers for us as we serve the Church in the future.

This is our last news dispatch but the mission of evangelizing will continue through all of us.

 

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Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri in South-East Nigeria Kidnapped

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 4:56 PM

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped the auxiliary bishop of the Catholic archdiocese of Owerri in Imo State, Moses Chikwe., reported Fides News Agency.

He was reportedly kidnapped on Sunday night alongside his driver whose name was not stated. The bishop’s car was later found near the Assumpta Cathedral in Owerri, located in southeastern Nigeria. The kidnapping was confirmed by the Archbishop of the diocese, His Exc. Mgr. Victor Obinna.

A statement signed by the Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi called for prayers for the quick release of the Auxiliary Bishop.
“So far, there has been no official reports of any correspondence with the kidnappers”, said Fr. Samjumi. “Trusting in the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray for his safety and quick release”.

The police have activated two special teams, the Quick Intervention Team (QUIT) and the Anti Kidnapping Unit (AKU), to locate Mgr. Chikwe and arrest his kidnappers.

The kidnapping of the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri took place just a week after the kidnapping of another Catholic religious, Fr. Valentine Oluchukwu Ezeagu, kidnapped on December 15 by gunmen, on his way to his father’s funeral. The priest was then released on December 16

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Pope Francis appoints Bishop Dermot Farrell as New Archbishop of Dublin

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 4:14 PM

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed the Most Reverend Dr. Dermot Farrell, until now Bishop of Ossory, as Archbishop of Dublin.

Archbishop-elect Farrell replaces the Most Reverend Archbishop Diarmuid Martin whose request for retirement has been accepted by Pope Francis and becomes effective from today, the day of the appointment of his successor.  The date for taking over the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Dublin will be announced at a later time and, during the interregnum until the installation of the new Archbishop, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Martin by Decree as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Dublin with all the rights, faculties and duties of a diocesan bishop.  Bishop Farrell becomes Archbishop-elect of Dublin and continues in the capacity of the Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory.

Dermot Farrell was born in 1954, the eldest of seven children of the late Dermot and Carmel Farrell, in Garthy, Castletown-Geoghegan, Co Westmeath, in the Diocese of the Meath.

After his primary education in Castletown-Geoghegan and Streamstown, he attended Saint Finian’s College, Mullingar.  In September 1972 he began his studies for the priesthood at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1976, as part of his philosophical studies.   During his theological studies, he was awarded a Bachelor in Divinity Degree in 1979 and a license in Theology in 1981, both by the Pontifical University, Maynooth.

He was ordained to the priesthood in Saint Michael’s Church, Castletown-Geoghegan on 7 June 1980.

Upon the completion of his studies, he was appointed as Curate in the Cathedral Parish of Christ the King, Mullingar.  In 1985 he began doctoral studies in the Gregorian University and, in 1988, was awarded a Doctoral Degree in Theology, for a dissertation entitled: The Dogmatic Foundations of Bernard Häring’s Thought on Christian Morality as a Sacramental Way of Life.

His final year in Rome also saw him serving as a Director of Formation in the Pontifical Irish College.

Following his return from Rome he was appointed Curate in Tullamore Parish and in 1989-90 he began lecturing in Moral Theology at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  In 1990 the Maynooth College Trustees appointed him Executive Assistant to the President of College and to membership of the Faculty of Theology, holding the post of Director of the one-year Religious Studies Programme.  In 1993 he was appointed Vice-President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and in 1996 was appointed President of the College, a position he held until his retirement in 2007.

In 1997 he was named as an Honorary Prelate of His Holiness.  From September 2007 until 2018 he served as Parish Priest of Dunboyne and Kilbride Parish, Co Meath, and was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Meath in 2009.

Bishop Farrell has extensive administrative experience: he has served on various boards and committees, among them, the Board of Allianz plc; the Governing Body of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth; the Theological Department Irish Inter-Church Committee, and as National Director of the Permanent Diaconate, and he is currently Chairman of Veritas Communications.

His appointment as Bishop of Ossory by Pope Francis was announced on 3 January 2018, and he was ordained bishop in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, on 11 March 2018.

He was elected Finance Secretary of the Irish Bishops’ Conference in March 2019.

Bishop Farrell’s episcopal motto “Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini” is taken from Psalm 124.

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Sant’Egidio, Peace: Virtual Manifestation on January 1 Across the World

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 3:37 PM

On January 1, the Community of Sant’Egidio will stream testimonies from different countries, such as Mozambique, Lebanon, Syria, South Sudan, and Central Africa. Voices from humanitarian corridors and from the Greek Island of Lesbos will be heard, plus a message from Pope Francis.

Even if the lockdown imposed by the pandemic does not allow this year the holding of the traditional march to Saint Peter’s Square on World Peace Day, Sant’Egidio Community does not forgo starting the New Year together with those who work for a more just and more human world, free of war, terrorism and all forms of violence. Therefore, on January 1 it invites to take part, at 11:05 am, in streaming on www.santegidio.org – to

“Peace in all lands 2021,” a “virtual manifestation” across different areas of the world, to be concluded in connection with the Pope’s Angelus.

Responding to the theme that the Holy Father chose for the Day, “The Culture of Care as Path to Peace,” after an introduction by the Community’s President, Marco Impagliazzo, in the course of the event, which will be translated into several languages and followed in all the Continents, voices and testimonies will be heard from: the Dream Centers, for the treatment of AIDS in Africa and the prevention of COVID-19, in particular, that of Zimpeto, in Mozambique, visited a year ago by the Pope; the north of the same country, where the attacks of armed groups have not only created many victims but thousands of displaced people; Lebanon, where last summer’s explosion has further weakened a nation already in great suffering.

There will also be the talk of the humanitarian corridors, opened by Lebanon itself (for Syrian refugees) and from the Greek Island of Lesbos; of the peace process in South Sudan and Central Africa, where presidential elections have just been held and where the path to disarmament and national dialogue must be protected.

At the end of an intense tour among the wounded of the world and the hopes for peace, there will be a connection with Pope Francis’ Angelus to hear his message.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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Pope Offers Condolences for Death of Famed Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 3:25 PM

Pope Francis today sent a telegram of condolence (in Latin, of course) for the passing of famed Vatican Latinist Fr. Reginald Foster, OCD.

Fr. Foster, a friar of the Discalced Carmelite Order, died in his hometown of Milwaukee,  Wisconsin, on Christmas Day, at the age of 81.

The late Carmelite friar—beloved of Vatican Radio listeners as “The Latin-lover”—served as one of the Vatican’s foremost experts in the Latin language for nearly 40 years.

Pope Francis sent a telegram on Monday to Fr. Saverio Cannistrà, the Father General of the Order of Discalced Carmelite Friars, to express his condolences, reported Vatican News. The note was signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The Latin expert worked from 1970 until 2009 in the Latin Letters section of the Secretariat of State, translating papal and Vatican documents into Latin.

Pope Francis said Fr. Reginald “demonstrated the brilliance of Latin to copious numbers of students.”

And the Holy Father prayed that the Latinist of the Popes might receive from God “recompense in full measure.”

Besides his official duties in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Reginald became known throughout the world as “The Latin-lover”—a pseudonym bestowed upon him by his friends at Vatican Radio.

He taught for years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and held an annual Aestiva Romae Latinitas, always offered free-of-charge.

In 2010, the University of Notre Dame awarded Fr. Reginald an honorary Doctorate for his contribution to Latin studies.

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JUST IN: Vatican Lays Out 20 Points for ‘Universal & Fair Destination of Vaccines’

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 12:36 PM

‘Vaccine for all. 20 points for a fairer and healthier world’

This is the title, or rather vehement exhortation, of a joint document published today, Dec. 29, by both the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The text, published by the Holy See Press Office and accompanied by a press release, “reiterates the critical role of vaccines to defeat the pandemic, not just for individual personal health but to protect the health of all.”

“The Vatican Commission and the Pontifical Academy of Life remind world leaders that vaccines must be provided to all fairly and equitably, prioritizing those most in need,” it says.

Moreover, the document explores the issues and priorities arising at the various stages of vaccine journey, from research and development to patents and commercial exploitation, including approval, distribution and administration.

Echoing Pope Francis’ recent Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message, “it calls on world leaders to resist the temptation to participate in “vaccine nationalism”, urging nations and companies to cooperate – not compete – with each other.”

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, who also leads the specialized Commission expressed his gratitude to the scientific community for developing the vaccine in record time.

“It is now up to us,” the Vatican prefect underscores, “to ensure that it is available to all, especially the most vulnerable. It is a matter of justice. This is the time to show we are one human family.”

Similarly, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, stresses “The interconnectedness that binds humanity has been revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Together with the Commission,” he highlights, “we are working with many partners to point out lessons the human family can learn and to develop an ethics of risk and solidarity to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

Moreover, the Secretary of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Mons. Bruno Marie Duffé, points out: “We are at a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic and have an opportunity to start to define the world we want to see post-pandemic.”

Father Augusto Zampini, Adjunct Secretary of the same dicastery with an important role on the Commission also observes: “The way in which vaccines are deployed – where, to whom, and for how much – is the first step for global leaders to take in committing to fairness and justice as the principles for building a better post-COVID world.”

Below is the Vatican-provided English text of the document:

***

Vaccine for all. 20 points for a fairer and healthier world

Vatican Covid-19 Commission in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life

This Note consists of three parts:

A. Context

B. On vaccines

C. Guidelines for the Vatican Covid-19 Commission

A. Context

Covid-19 is exacerbating a triple threat of simultaneous and interconnected health, economic and socio-ecological crises that are disproportionately impacting the poor and vulnerable. As we move towards a just recovery, we must ensure that immediate cures for the crises become stepping-stones to a more just society, with an inclusive and interdependent set of systems. Taking immediate actions to respond to the pandemic, keeping in mind its long-term effects, is essential for a global and regenerative “healing.” If responses are limited solely to the organizational and operational level, without the re-examination of the causes of the current difficulties that can dispose us towards a real conversion, we will never have those societal and planetary transformations that we so urgently need (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 7). The various interventions of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission (“Commission”), established by Pope Francis as a qualified and rapid response to the pandemic, are inspired by this logic, and so is this Note, which deals specifically with the issue of Covid-19 vaccines.

B. On vaccines

Fundamental principles and values

1. On several occasions, Pope Francis has affirmed the need to make the now imminent Covid-19 vaccines available and accessible to all, avoiding “pharmaceutical marginality”: “if there is the possibility of treating a disease with a drug, this should be available to everyone, otherwise an injustice is created”.[1] In his recent Urbi et Orbi Christmas message,[2] the Pope stated that vaccines, if they are “to illuminate and bring hope to all, need to be available to all… especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet”. These principles of justice, solidarity and inclusiveness, must be the basis of any specific and concrete intervention in response to the pandemic. The Pope even talked about it in the Catechesis during the General Audience of 19 August 2020, offering some criteria “for choosing which industries to be helped: those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the least, to the common good and care for creation”. Here we have a broad horizon that evokes the principles of the Church’s Social Doctrine,[3] such as human dignity and the preferential option for the poor, solidarity and subsidiarity, the common good and the care of our common home, justice and the universal destination of goods.[4] This also recalls the values that in the language of public health constitute the shared values in health emergencies: equal respect for people (human dignity and fundamental rights), reduction of suffering (solidarity towards those in need or sick), correctness or fairness (no discrimination, and fair distribution of benefits and burdens).[5]

2. The Pope’s reminder to the pharmaceutical companies highlights that the final moment of vaccine administration is not the only one that must be taken into account to reach its universal and fair destination. Rather, its entire “life cycle” must be considered, from the very beginning. We shall therefore proceed in this text by examining the various stages of the vaccine journey, ranging from production to approval, from administration to distribution, on which the recent Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) also insists.[6] In each of these phases we recognize ethical implications that we must duly take into account so as to analyse the much needed political-economic, organizational and communication decisions. We will conclude with some recommendations for concrete actions, which can mobilize civil institutions and networks, as well as ecclesial agents, in order to contribute to an equitable and universal access to the vaccine.

Research and production

3. The first issue that is often raised around vaccine production concerns the biological materials used for their development. According to the available information, some of the vaccines that are now ready to be approved or applied use cell lines from voluntarily aborted foetuses in more phases of the process, while others use them in specific laboratory tests.[7]

4. This issue has already been addressed by the Instruction Dignitas Personae,[8] from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (8 September 2008). Once we establish that the aim of (public) healthcare cannot justify voluntary abortion in order to obtain cell lines for vaccine production – and thus their distribution and marketing is also morally unlawful in principle – the Instruction states: “within this general picture there exist differing degrees of responsibility. Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such “biological material”. The theme has been addressed in the recent Note from the very same Congregation, with specific reference to Covid-19 vaccines.[9]

5. The Pontifical Academy for Life returned to the matter with two Notes (5 September 2005 and 31 July 2017 respectively). In particular, the second referred to these preparatory techniques by ruling out “a morally relevant cooperation between those who use these vaccines today and the practice of voluntary abortion. Hence, we believe that all clinically recommended vaccinations can be used with a clear conscience and that the use of such vaccines does not signify some sort of cooperation with voluntary abortion. While the commitment to ensuring that every vaccine has no connection in its preparation to any material originating from an abortion, the moral responsibility to vaccinate is reiterated in order to avoid serious health risks for children and the general population.”

6. The various mechanisms of production and action of the vaccine are significant when it comes to the logistics of distribution (especially in relation to the temperature at which they are stored), and their ability to protect against infection or the clinical manifestation of the disease. In the first case, when the vaccine protects against infection, it contributes to “herd” immunity. Conversely, in the latter case, when the infection arrives without clinical manifestations, the vaccine does not reduce the circulation of the virus (hence the need to directly vaccinate those who are most at risk).[10]

7. The issue of production is also linked to that of vaccine patents. The financing of research has followed different paths, in the form of both the investment of resources from States (issued directly to research, or though prior purchase of a certain number of doses), and donations from private entities. It is therefore a matter of specifying how the vaccine can effectively become a “common good,” as already expressed by several political leaders (eg. the President of the European Commission[11]). In fact, since it is not an existing natural resource (such as air or oceans), nor a discovery (such as the genome or other biological structures), but an invention produced by human ingenuity, it is possible to subject it to economic consideration, which allows the recovery of the research costs and risks companies have taken on. Nonetheless, given its function, it is appropriate to consider the vaccine as a good to which everyone should have access, without discrimination, according to the principle of the universal destination of goods highlighted by Pope Francis (cf. no. 1). “We [cannot] allow the virus of radical individualism to get the better of us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters… letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity”.[12]

8. The sole purpose of commercial exploitation is not ethically acceptable in the field of medicine and healthcare. Investments in the medical field should find their deepest meaning in human solidarity. For this to happen, we ought to identify appropriate systems that favour transparency and cooperation, rather than antagonism and competition. It is therefore vital to overcome the logic of “vaccine nationalism”,[13] understood as an attempt by various States to own the vaccine in more rapid timeframes as a form of prestige and advantage, procuring the necessary quantity for its inhabitants. International agreements are needed, and are to be supported, in order to manage patents so as to facilitate universal access to the vaccine and avoid potential commercial disruptions, particularly to keep the price steady in the future.

9. The industrial production of the vaccine could become a collaborative undertaking between states, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations so that the production can be carried out simultaneously in different parts of the world. As it has happened for the research – at least partially – it is desirable that positive synergy also occurs in the production stage. This would allow the enhancement of existing plants in the various areas in which vaccines will be administered, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity.

Approval, distribution and administration

10. Once the various phases of the experimental studies have been completed, the question arises as to how the product can be approved in the current emergency situation by the regulatory authorities to put it on the market and use it in different countries. Given the diversity of the bodies recognized as competent for such authorization, and the international dynamics of the pandemic, it is necessary to coordinate the procedures necessary to achieve this objective and promote cooperation between regulatory authorities.

11. In the public debate, there are different positions on the criteria of administration and access to the vaccine. Despite the difference, however, we find certain lines of convergence that we intend to support. There is agreement on the priority to be given to professional categories engaged in services of common interest, in particular health personnel. This also includes activities that require contact with the public (such as school and public security), vulnerable groups (such as the elderly, or people with particular pathologies). Of course, such a criterion does not resolve all situations. A grey area remains, for example, when defining the priorities of vaccine implementation within the very same risk group. A more attentive stratification of populations could help resolve these dilemmas (e.g. vaccine in areas with higher density maximizes its benefits). In addition, other relevant aspects besides health (such as the different practicability of restrictive measures) for a fair distribution must be taken into account.

12. This order of administration, at an international level, implies that “the priority must be given to vaccinating … some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries” (WHO Director).[14] That some countries receive the vaccine late due to prior large-scale purchase by richer states must be avoided. It is a question of agreeing on the specific percentages according to which to concretely proceed. Vaccine distribution requires a number of tools that must be specified and implemented to achieve the agreed objectives in terms of universal accessibility criteria. The CDF recalls the existence of “a moral imperative for the pharmaceutical industry, for governments and international organisations, to guarantee that effective, safe and ethically acceptable vaccines are made available in the poorest countries, in a manner that is not burdensome for them.”[15] In particular, it is necessary to develop a distribution program that takes account of the collaboration needed to deal with logistical-organizational obstacles in areas that are not easily accessible (cooling chains, transport, healthcare workers, the use of new technologies, etc.). The characteristics of the vaccine also affect this aspect (e.g. storage temperature). This confirms the need for an international body with the task, the moral authority, and the operational capacity to coordinate the various stages of the vaccine process. At present, the World Health Organization remains an important reference point – to be strengthened and improved – regarding the emerging problematic issues.

13. On the moral responsibility of undergoing vaccination (also on the basis of what has been said in n. 3), it is necessary to reiterate how this issue also involves the relationship between personal health and public health, showing their close interdependence. In the light of this connection, we consider it important that a responsible decision be taken in this regard, since refusal of the vaccine may also constitute a risk to others. This also applies if, in the absence of an alternative, the motivation is to avoid benefiting from the results of a voluntary abortion. In fact, in these cases, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith states, it can be considered “morally acceptable”, under precise conditions, “to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”[16] This is a matter of material passive cooperation (as opposed to formal cooperation), since it is indirect and remote,[17] particularly given the intention underlying the decision, the contingency with respect to the accused immoral event, and the current circumstances in which we find ourselves. Therefore, the criteria that would make ethically illicit the decision to vaccinate are non binding. For this reason, such refusal could seriously increase the risks for public health.[18] In fact, on the one hand, those categories of people who cannot be vaccinated (e.g. immunosuppressed) and who can thus only rely on other people’s vaccination coverage (and herd immunity) to avoid the risk of infection, would be more exposed. On the other hand, becoming ill leads to an increase in hospitalizations, with subsequent overload for health systems, up to a possible collapse, as has happened in various countries during this pandemic. This hinders access to health care which, once again, affects those who have fewer resources. The Bishops of England and Wales have recently reaffirmed that “individuals should welcome the vaccine not only for the sake of their own health but also out of solidarity with others, especially the most vulnerable”.[19]

C. Guidelines for the Vatican Covid-19 Commission

14. For the sake of clarity on the work of the Commission, some guidelines for its work in relation to the vaccine are given below. The general intention is to obtain a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 so that treatment is available to all, with a particular concern for the most vulnerable, respecting equity across the full spectrum of the vaccine development/deployment (research, design, production, funding, distribution, programs and implementation). Transparency and correct communication are essential to foster trust and adherence to the vaccine process. [20]

15. Objective 1: Ethical-scientific evaluation. Based on the science available, the Commission will be able to contribute to evaluations on vaccine quality, methodology and pricing necessary for equitable distribution to the most vulnerable.

Actions required: Work closely with major organizations who are developing, evaluating, delivering, and administering vaccines with the possibility, when necessary, of informing opinions on public positions on the quality/equity of proposals for distribution and utilization. For this reason, the Commission aims to have access to the most accurate scientific information as well as to make use of various abilities to audit proposed vaccine and treatment strategies, in particular with regard to their impact on the most vulnerable. As the Holy Father indicates, “We cannot allow the various forms of nationalism closed in on themselves to prevent us from living as the truly human family that we are.” We must provide “vaccines for all … [placing] before all others the most vulnerable and needy!”[21]

16. Objective 2. Global cure with “local flavour”.[22] A global cure, with local flavour (locally informed vaccine programs): we aim to develop resources to assist local Churches in preparing for this vaccine initiative and treatment protocols to those in their particular communities.

Actions required: Work closely with the Dioceses and Christian communities worldwide to understand their varied needs and use that information to develop robust positions, recommendations and tools appropriate to various needs. This will start by listening to local Churches and then helping them to advocate for certain structures and supports from the government and other agencies.

17. Objective 3. Partnership and participation. To have a close collaboration with the many organizations that are necessary to contribute to the planning, execution and evaluation of recommendations for global vaccine administration.

Actions required: Work with representatives from major institutions and organizations involved as well as global health organizations, NGOs, and donor organizations to help in developing, evaluating and participating in solutions.

18. Objective 4. Joining forces. Effective collaboration with the working groups of the Commission and other ecclesial groups to propose best possible recommendations to the Church.

Actions required: Work with the other Commission Task Forces using the framework of Laudato si and Fratelli Tutti taking into account their recommendations for the final recommendations made by the Commission.

19. Objective 5: Leadership. Deepening the understanding and commitment of the Church in protecting and promoting the God-given dignity of all.

Actions required: Help the universal Church and the world articulate and model the deeper reasons for meeting this challenge as a global human family. The Church could offer to function as a catalyst for addressing this challenge in a manner that reflects an awareness and respect for the dignity of all.

20. Objective 6. The Church at the service of “healing the world”.[23] Leading by example in ways that are clear and contribute significantly, among other things, to achieving the goal of equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments.

Actions required: Creatively use the voices of the Church worldwide to speak, exhort and contribute to assuring that quality vaccines and treatments are available to the global family, especially the vulnerable. The Church has many ways to assist in this such as her health networks, the Bishops’ Conferences, multiple church organizations who do outreach to the poor, religious communities, etc. Consider donations to groups that work to get treatments and vaccines to those most in need.

_______________

[1] Pope Francis, 2020. “Address to the Members of the Banco Farmaceutico Foundation, September 19, 2020.

[2] Pope Francis, 2020. “Urbi et Orbi – Christmas 2020”. December 25, 2020

[3] Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, nn. 105-208.

[4] Pope Francis, 2020. To Heal the World. Catechesis on the PandemicIntroduction.

[5] Cf. Nuffield Council for Bioethics, 2020. Fair and equitable access to Covid-19 treatments and vaccines. London: NCB, p. 3. London: NCB,p. 3

[6] CDF, 2020. “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, December 21, 2020, n.6.

[7] Cf. Charlotte Lozier Institute, Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates and Abortion-Derived Cell Lines, 3 December 2020, in https://lozierinstitute.org/update-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-and-abortion-derived-cell-lines/

[8] CDF, 2008. Instruction Dignitas Personae: On Certain Bioethical Questions, n. 35.

[9] Cf. CDF, 2020. “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, December 21, 2020. nn.2-3.

[10] «Allocation guidelines must balance the obligation to assist individuals most likely to benefit against the obligation to secure the greatest aggregate benefit across the population». In: Wu, J.H., John, S.D, and Adashi E.Y., 2020, “Allocating Vaccines in a Pandemic: The Ethical Dimension”, The American Journal of Medicine, November 2020, Volume 133(11).

[11] President Von der Leyen has repeatedly expressed that the Covid-19 vaccine needs to be addressed as a public good, since all the efforts to tackle the pandemic can only succeed if we work together for the common good. See for example her later speech https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/ov/SPEECH_20_2258

[12] Pope Francis, 2020. “Urbi et Orbi – Christmas 2020”. December 25, 2020.

[13] Ghebreyesus, Tedros, 2020. “WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19”, 4 September 2020.

[14] Ghebreyesus, Tedros, 18 August 2020.

[15] CDF, 2020. “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, December 21, 2020. n.6

[16] CDF, 2020. “Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, December 21, 2020.

[17] According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today is remote, inoculation with the new Covid-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally justified”. USCCB, 2020, “Moral Considerations Regarding the New Covid-19 Vaccines.

[18] As highlighted on a note on the website of the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM), if there is no other option but to take available vaccines in order to protect every human life and the health of all, vaccination cannot be considered to be in cooperation with evil (e.g. with abortion), but a rather a direct act of care for life. Cf. CELAM, 2020, “Vacunas con Fetos Abortados”.

[19] Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Department for Social Justice, 2020. “Covid-19 and Vaccination”.

[20] “The imbalanced and opaque sequence that characterized the early distribution of the limited supplies of the drug remdesivir should serve as a cautionary tale. The same mistakes must not be repeated. Only transparent and consistently applied allocation procedures will ensure public trust, especially in the case of vaccines. Ensuring that the allocation of vaccines is effective, fair, and justifiable to all is a priority that must not be compromised.” In: Wu, J.H., John, S.D, and Adashi E.Y., 2020, op. cit.

[21] Pope Francis, 2020. “Urbi et Orbi – Christmas 2020”. December 25, 2020.

[22] Pope Francis, 2020. Fratelli Tutti. On Fraternity and Social Friendship, n. 143.

[23] Cf. Pope Francis, 2020. To Heal the World – Catechesis on the pandemic. Vatican: LEV.

[01628-EN.01] [Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided text]

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Archdiocese of Lahore Supports Former Christian Prisoners for Creation of Businesses

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 1:49 AM

“We give thanks to God because today we are able to support our brothers so that they create their own entrepreneurial activity. They have suffered a lot over the past five years. We have taken this initiative to ensure that 42 innocent former prisoners can run a new business to support their families and not depend on anyone. This is a Christmas gift for all of you, to restore stability to your life, to allow you to live with dignity. Let us pray for your good and invoke the blessings of God for your families”, said Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore, intervening in the framework of the meeting held in the church of Saint John of Youhanabad, in Lahore, on the evening of December 19.

As Fides learned, the Archbishop also thanked the Pakistani government and Ijaz Alam Augustine, Minister for human rights and religious affairs in the province of Punjab, for their cooperation and support in releasing 42 Christian prisoners accused of having participated in clashes and riots after the suicide attacks perpetrated against two churches in Lahore in March 2015. Addressing those present, Archbishop Shaw also said: “We want to support you fully and we wish to see you engaged in a thriving activity so that you can live a happy life”.

Fr. Francis Gulzar, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lahore and Parish Priest of the Catholic Church of St. John, informs: “Helping them in starting a personal economic enterprise is the best way: we handed out rickshaws (means of transport) to ten people, to others motorcycles with trailers. Still, others have received support for the opening of commercial activity such as a grocery store, a catering activity, a decoration store and sale of curtains and carpets, a store that sells construction materials”. Fr. Gulzar adds: “Among the beneficiaries, there is also a former Muslim prisoner, who was in prison with them”.
Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw and Ejaz Alam Augustine met the former prisoners, encouraging them for the future. The Minister said: “We appreciate the important support provided by the Church for the development of people. It is our government’s priority to free innocent prisoners”.

Christians were arrested after two suicide bombers hit two churches, Christ Church (Protestant) and St. John Church (Catholic), on March 15, 2015, in Youhanabad, the largest Christian district in Lahore, where over 100,000 Christians live. During the attacks, 70 people were injured and 15 people died. Among them Akash Bashir, a young Catholic who had blocked the perpetrator of the attack at the entrance of Saint John’s Church, thus saving the lives of the 1,500 people present inside.

After the attacks, Christians protested on the streets of the city. Two Muslim men were lynched in the riots accused of being linked to suicide bombers. Following the lynching, 42 Christians were arrested by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore but were found innocent and released after five years on January 29, 2020.

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Don’t Discard the Elderly, says Bishop in Philippines

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 1:49 AM

On Holy Family Sunday, a Catholic bishop in the Philippines has called for more attention to the older men and women and the lessons they sow, reported CBCP News.

Speaking during Mass, Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said that the elderly deserve not only care but the recognition they have much left to give.

“They have important roles to play, even if they are weakened by age. Let us not put them aside,” Pabillo preached at the Holy Family Parish Church in Makati City.

“And the elderly, although they may now bring less material resources, yet they are repositories of wisdom and of faith,” he said.

He stressed that one treasure that the elders have is their deep faith “because it has been tested by life”.

The bishop pointed to the wisdom of the older folks and the great role they can play in a culture that values “material productivity”.

In this kind of culture, according to him, the older folks are often “bypassed and set aside”.

“Let us respect and listen to them. Their stories and lessons are important to us,” Pabillo added.

“Really, we help one another in the family and each one, including the elderly and the weak, can contribute to the well-being of the family,” he also said.

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Cardinal Bo’s Message for the New Year

Tue, 12/29/2020 - 1:48 AM

Dear Brothers and Sisters   in Myanmar                                                            1 January 2021

Happy New Year.

May this new year come as a blessing to all of you.  Birth of the new year is also birth of hope.   Let us celebrate hope as one nation.  We leave behind 2020 with all its challenges. That was an unforgettable year.   It caused pain, it wounded us deeply.   Globally it emerged as an arrogant enemy against human survival.  Life and livelihoods are threatened. Starvation is a reality to nearly 122 million people in the world.  It was an existential disruption.

But 2020 is not the story of human submission, it is the story of human resilience.  As the doors of 2020 were closing, the scientists have won a strategic battle against our enemy.  The vaccine came with an astonishing speed. Hope is in the horizon.  Covid also will end.

The year 2020 also proved to be the year of compassion.  Our generous Myanmar people rose against the prospect of chronic starvation through sharing their food when lockdown came in.  For a country that was facing pre-Covid socio-economic morbidities, our people’s response was poignant.   When nature attacks us, we stand together.    Once again, we have proved that we are a golden land, not because we have jade and diamonds.  We are a golden land because our people’s hearts are made of gold.   They can melt at the sight of the tears of fellow human beings.  For a country with a fragile health infrastructure, the surge and rate of death was controlled by the inspiring example of our front-line health workers. The government responded with commendable clarity.  Guns in war areas have fallen silent.  Compassion has become the common religion.  This is a golden opportunity to build a new Myanmar of justice and peace.

Covid like any other disaster globally uncovered the underlying visceral injustice.  Pope Francis was eloquent in articulating that the virus did not attack all people equally.  Economically and socially marginalized communities are disproportionally infected and die.  Virus kills.  Discrimination also kills.  Disempowerment kills. Poverty kills.

Covid is a pandemic that needs not only a vaccine but a surgery.  Social surgery.  Surgery in our priorities, in the way treat the poor and the vulnerable.    It is becoming clear, that extensive destruction of forests resulted in this virus jumping from exotic animals into the human population.  We face an existential crisis: the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

Any disorder, or disruption of social order, is a challenge. But it is also an opportunity.  To build back better, set our moral compass towards the vulnerable, let the arc of history bend towards economic and environmental justice.  Pope in his latest booklet “Let us dream together”, says Covid offers a great opportunity to reset priorities.  Even superpowers which spend billions on war machine realized their folly when they understood they have more soldiers than doctors, more guns than ventilators.

For all of us in Myanmar, this is a lifetime opportunity. Covid is not the only pandemic that diluted the dignity of our people.  The senseless chronic war and displacement of seven decades is the worst pandemic.  In a country of enormous resources, enforced poverty is a cruel pandemic.  Millions of our youth forced into unsafe migration and modern forms of slavery are the heart-wrenching pandemic.   Time has come to make all these pandemics to disappear from our wounded history.

I call upon all to ‘dream together’ for a new Myanmar.  We can do it together.  2020 saw our people voting overwhelmingly for democracy and peace.  Even in ethnic areas, people voted for the national party, hoping it would bring peace.  Signs are clear: times to heal our fragmented identities based on race, religion, and language.  Too much blood and tears have been shed. Heal this wounded nation through reconciliation.  There is no peace without justice. Let those who rule respect the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all. There is dignity in diversity.

This country has been open for loot for too long.  The illicit economy robs billions from the people of Myanmar.  Drugs, Gems, Jades, Teak, and other resources, above and below the ground, are looted by international mafias, mercenaries, and their local enablers.  Democracy is waging an asymmetric war.  As a nation, we need to rise up against these evil forces that eat out of the bowels of the poor.

Let us dream together for a day when peace based on economic and environmental justice prevails in Myanmar, the day when all the refugees, internally displaced people will return home as full citizens.  Let us dream for the day, democracy marches without any impediment, let us dream for the day when religions will be instruments of peace and reconciliation, let us dream for the day we will really become the ‘Golden Land’ when all the resources are shared in a transparent way, let us dream of the day when we will move away from the shameful tag as the ‘least development country’ into the most developed nation in South East Asia.

Let the nightmares of 2020 fade away.  Let a new Myanmar of dreams rise again. Let a new Myanmar of peace, health, and wealth become a reality to all of us.

Wishing my countrymen and women, a blessed New Year,

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar.

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National Youth Day in Philippines Postponed to 2022

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 4:11 PM

The National Youth Day festivities, set to take place in Naga City next year, has been postponed due to the raging coronavirus pandemic, according to CBCP News.

The gathering will now take place in a still undetermined month in 2022, the youth arm of the Philippine bishops’ conference said.

Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the Commission on Youth, said that the Covid-19 situation still constitutes a major concern.

“The Archdiocese of Caceres continues to commit to hosting a physical gathering of NYD not in May 2021 but in 2022,” Garganta said.

“We pray that things will improve and that 2022 will be a better year for our young people to come together,” he said.

It will be the first time that Caceres will host the national youth event.

In 1986, the bishops’ hierarchy declared every December 16 as National Youth Day.

The event is held in a different host diocese every two or three years, with local celebrations taking place in the intervening years.

The last NYD was held in Cebu City in April 2019 and was attended by more than 20,000 pilgrims from across the country.

Church leaders have earlier decided to move the grand celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines from April 2021 to April 2022.

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Pope Announces Several Episcopal Appointments

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 3:46 PM

Appointment of metropolitan archbishop of Shillong, India

The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Victor Lyngdoh of Jowai as metropolitan archbishop of the archdiocese of Shillong, India.

 

Appointment of bishop of Bridgetown, Barbados

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of Bridgetown, Barbados, the Reverend Neil Sebastian Scantlebury, of the clergy of Saint Thomas of the Virgin Islands, United States of America, until now chancellor of the same diocese and parish priest of the Saint Ann parish, in the island of Saint Croix.

Curriculum vitae

Bishop Neil Sebastian Scantlebury was born on 1 October 1965 in Barbados. After receiving a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of the West Indies at Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, he transferred to the American Virgin Islands. He continued his formation at Mount Saint Mary’s University of Emmitsburg, Maryland, United States of America, where in 1999 he was also awarded a Master of Arts in sacred scripture. Besides English and the Creole language, he knows Latin, Spanish, and French.

He was ordained a priest on 18 May 1995 for the clergy of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands, United States of America.

Since ordination he has held the following offices: parish vicar of the Holy Family Church, Saint Thomas (1995-1997); parish administrator and parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Saint John (1997-2003); chancellor of the diocese (2000-2003); rector of the Cathedral (2003-2009); and parish priest of the Holy Family Church, Saint Thomas (2009-2020). From 2009 to the present he has served as chancellor of the diocese and, since 2020, parish priest of the Saint Ann parish, in the Island of Saint Croix.

In addition, he has participated in several Councils: of Caritas, for the protection of minors, and the teaching group of the Saints Peter and Paul High School, where he taught mathematics and theology.

 

Appointment of bishop of Malindi, Kenya

The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of the diocese of Malindi, Kenya, the Reverend Msgr. Wilybard Lagho, of the clergy of Mombasa, until now vicar general of the same metropolitan archdiocese.

Curriculum vitae

Msgr. Wilybard Lagho was born on 23 March 1858 in Taita-Taveta, in the metropolitan archdiocese of Mombasa. He studied philosophy at Saint Augustine’s Senior Seminary of Mabanga, diocese of Bungoma, in the years 1980 to 1982, and theology at Saint Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary of Nairobi from 1982 to 1986.

He was ordained a priest on 25 April 1997, and incardinated in the metropolitan archdiocese of Mombasa.

He subsequently held the following offices: parish vicar (1987-1988), parish priest of Saint Michael’s parish in Giriama, Christ the King Parish in Miritini and diocesan director of youth and vocational pastoral ministry (1988-1990), and rector and teacher at the Saint Mary’s Minor Seminary in Kwale (1990-1992). He then obtained a Master’s degree in religious studies from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi (1992-1994) and a licentiate in Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo and at the PISAI in Rome (1994-1998). He served as parish vicar (1998-1999), teacher and formator at the Saint Matthias Mulumba Senior Seminary in Tindinyo (2000-2002), teacher and rector of Augustine’s Senior Seminary in Mabanga (2002-2006), director of the diocesan office for Catholic Education and parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima in Kongowea (2006-2008); and from 2008 to the present, vicar general of the archdiocese of Mombasa.

Since 2011 Msgr. Lagho has served as president of the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC) Association and is the diocesan head of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue. He has also served as consultor of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (2008-2014) and consultant of DANMISSION – Missionary Association of the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Denmark (2015-2016).

Resignation of bishop of Ragusa, Italy

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Ragusa, Italy, presented by Bishop Carmelo Cuttitta.

 

Resignation of bishop of Troyes, France

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Troyes, France, presented by Bishop Marc Stenger.

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Pope Francis Appoints New Bishop of San Bernardino, California

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 3:31 PM

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald R. Barnes, 75, from the Office of Bishop of San Bernardino, California. Bishop Alberto Rojas, up until now coadjutor bishop of the same diocese, will succeed him as bishop of San Bernardino.

Bishop Rojas was born January 5, 1965, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, a small state in the central part of the country. His parents are Fidel Rojas (deceased) and Maria De la Cruz Garcia. He has three sisters and four brothers.

Bishop Rojas was raised in a devoutly Catholic household and attended Catholic elementary school and high school in his community. He heard the call to the priesthood in his early teens and entered the Diocesan Seminary of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Aquascalientes at the age of 15. During his seminary formation in Aguascalientes, he also attended Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades.

Following a visit with family members in California, Bishop Rojas made the decision to complete his seminary formation in the United States. He entered the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois where he would complete his theological studies and earn a master’s degree in Divinity. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago by Francis Cardinal George on May 24, 1997, at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

In the first years of his priestly ministry, Bishop Rojas served as Associate Pastor of St. Gregory the Great parish and then St. Ita parish in Chicago. “I was involved in many pastoral programs and doing ministry with people of all ages from many cultures was a great learning and joyful experience,” he recalls of his years as a parish priest. In 2002, Cardinal George asked him to join the faculty of the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary where he taught for the next eight years.

He was ordained a bishop on August 10, 2011, at Holy Name Cathedral and is the only man that Cardinal George ordained both a priest and a bishop. He chose as his Episcopal Motto, Nos basta el amor de Dios (God’s love is all we need).

In his service to the Archdiocese of Chicago as Auxiliary Bishop, Bishop Rojas served as the Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate III and later Vicariate I. He worked extensively in Hispanic ministry, serving as Cardinal George’s Liaison to Hispanic Catholics and the Archbishop’s Delegate to Consejo Pastoral Arquidiocesano Hispano-Americano. At the national level, he has served as a Spiritual Assessor for the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry (NACDDHM).

Bishop Rojas has served on five committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Catholic Home Missions, Hispanic Affairs, Liturgy, the Church in Latin America, and, most recently, V Encuentro as the Lead Bishop for Region VII.

On December 2, 2019, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States announced that Pope Francis had appointed Bishop Rojas as the Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino.

Reflecting on his journey as a bishop at the time of his appointment as Coadjutor, Bishop Rojas stated, “Becoming a bishop has been a powerful, humbling, and learning experience because I never thought I would be one. However, in serving the people of God along with my brother priests, religious sisters, parish leaders, other auxiliary bishops, Cardinals, lay ecclesial movements, and lay people in general, I have become more aware of who we are as Catholic Church. There is a beauty and a challenge in becoming part of the Church Jesus Christ founded once we understand the purpose of His mission which is the salvation of souls. But we also know Jesus is in charge, He is with us, and has given us the Holy Spirit to lead our steps along the way.”

The Diocese of San Bernardino comprises 27,293 square miles in the state of California. It has a population of 4,622,361 people of whom, 1,797,173 are Catholic.

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Objectives and Initiatives of ‘Amoris Laetitia Family’ Year

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 3:17 PM

The “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year (March 19, 2021- June 26, 2022) has five objectives, pointed out the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life on December 27, 2020. “To spread the Document’s content,” “to proclaim that the Sacrament of Marriage is a gift,” to render families actors of the family pastoral,” “to make young people conscious of the importance of formation to the truth of love and of the gift of oneself,” “to broaden the gaze and action of the family pastoral . . . so as to include spouses, children, young people, the elderly and situations of family fragility.”

Among the “initiatives” already planned, is a “day for grandparents and elderly people,” but also a Forum in June 2021, and ten videos of Pope Francis on the Document, testimonies of handicapped people, pastoral proposals, preparatory catecheses for Rome’s 10th World Meeting of Families in June 2022.

The Dicastery quotes first of all the Post-Synodal Document: “The Christian proclamation concerning the family is truly good news” (Amoris Laetitia, 1).

 Opening and Closing

 Pope Francis will open the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year on March 19, 2021. On that day the Church will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia “on the beauty and the joy of family love.” He will close it on June 26, 2022, on the occasion of the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome.

This is how the organizing Dicastery explains the “project.” The “Amoris Laetitia” Year is an initiative of Pope Francis, which intends to touch the world’s families through different proposals of a spiritual, pastoral and cultural nature, able to be implemented in parishes, dioceses, Universities, Ecclesial Movements, and family Associations.”

“The pandemic experience has made evident the central role of the family as domestic Church and the importance of community links between families, which make the Church a “family of families” (AL 87),” underscores the Dicastery.

This is why the family “merits a year of celebrations because it is placed at the center of the engagement and care of the whole pastoral and ecclesial reality.”

There are five objectives:

“1. To spread the content of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” to have people experience that the Gospel of the family is a joy that fills the heart and our whole life” (AL 200). A family that discovers and experiences the joy of having a gift and of being a gift to the Church and the society, “can become a light in the darkness of the world” (AL 66). And today the world is in need of that light!

“2. To proclaim that the Sacrament of Marriage is a gift and that it has in itself a transforming power of human love. To this end, it is necessary that Pastors and families walk together in pastoral co-responsibility and complementarity between the different vocations in the Church (cf. AL 203).

“3. To make families protagonists in the Family Pastoral. To this end, “an effort of evangelization and of catechesis directed to the heart of the family” (AL 200) is necessary because a disciple family also becomes a missionary family.

“4. To sensitize young people to the importance of being formed in the truth of love and in the gift of oneself with initiatives dedicated to them.

“5. To broaden the gaze and action of the family pastoral so that it becomes transversal to the family, to include the spouses, the children, the young people, the elderly and situations of family fragility.”

Initiatives and Resources

 “1. Forum “Where are we with Amoris Laetitia? Strategies for the implementation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation,” from June 9 to 12, 2021, with leaders of the family pastoral of Episcopal Conferences, and international family Movements and Associations.

“2. Project “10 Amoris Laetitia Videos”: The Holy Father will recount the chapters of the Apostolic Exhortation, with families that will give witness of certain aspects of their daily life. Every month a video will be diffused to awaken the pastoral interest of the family in the dioceses and parishes of the whole world.

“3. #IamChurch: diffusion of some video testimonies on ecclesial leadership and the faith of handicapped people.

“4. To walk as a family”: 12 concrete pastoral proposals to walk as a family inspired by Amoris Laetitia.

 “5. In view of the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome in 2022, the dioceses and families of the whole world are invited to spread and reflect further on the catecheses that will be made available by the diocese of Rome and to engage in ad hoc pastoral initiatives.

“6. Celebration of a day for grandparents and elderly people.”

 “Tools of family spirituality, of formation and pastoral action in preparation for marriage, education to affection of young people, on the sanctity of spouses and families that live the grace of the Sacrament in their daily life, will be diffused,” adds the same source.

In addition, the Dicastery announces that international “University symposiums will be organized to explore the content and the implications of the Apostolic Exhortation in relation to the topical questions that affect families of the whole world”

The 2022 World Meeting in Rome

 “Family love: vocation and way of holiness” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the next World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Rome in June 2022.

“On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and three years after the promulgation of Gaudete et Exsultate,” explains the Dicastery, “this meeting intends to put forward family love as vocation and way of holiness, to understand and share the profound and salvific meaning of family relations in daily life.”

The meeting will be organized by the diocese of Rome and the Roman Dicastery and, initially planned for the fifth anniversary of Amoris Laetitia as well as three years after Gaudete et Exsultate, that is, in 2021. It was moved to 2022 because of the pandemic.

“On giving form to the concrete experience of love,” explains the Dicastery, “ marriage and the family manifest the lofty value of human relations, in the sharing of joys and trials, in the unfolding of daily life, in guiding people to the encounter with God. This path, lived with fidelity and perseverance, reinforces love and realizes the vocation to sanctity proper to each person that is concretized in conjugal and family relations. In this sense, Christian family life is a vocation and a path of sanctity, an expression of the “most beautiful face of the Church” (Gaudete et Exsultate 9).”

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester

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Feast of the Holy Innocents

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 1:40 PM

by Rafael Mosteyrin

Celebrated today, December 28, is the feast of the Holy Innocents and Father Rafael Mosteyrin, priest of the Opus Dei, offers the following article.

* * *

We are all capable of the best and of the worst. On Palm Sunday, the majority of those in Jerusalem celebrated Jesus’ entrance. Three days later, many who acclaimed Him on His arrival, shout and cried out for His crucifixion.

Jesus was born just three days ago, and He has changed the history of the world. Today, the 28th, we recall the killing of innocent children, out of hatred and envy of Jesus. These are inconsistencies that can be repeated in the life of each one of us: God loves us and we sin by disobeying his Commandments. However, as long as we repent, God always forgives us.

King Herod was afraid that the Messiah, although only a newborn baby, would take away his throne. As he didn’t know who He was, to be rid of Him, Herod gave thought to one of the evilest ideas of the whole of humanity’s history. He ordered his soldiers to go to Bethlehem, so that that Child, whom he knew was defenseless, wouldn’t survive.

He asked the soldiers to kill the children under two years old who were born in Bethlehem and its surroundings (Matthew 2:16). However, God who wants to save us, sent an Angel to warn Joseph in a dream, asking him to leave the city. Mary mounted the donkey again, now with Jesus in her arms. And Joseph held the reins, journeying to Egypt. Saint Joseph is an example of swift obedience, which is always the best way to be.

Herod was afraid when he discovered that a competitor had been born. It’s the usual envy, which doesn’t let him see the good of others. Herod sends the Wise men to Bethlehem and asks them for information, so that he can also go to adore Him: what a false attitude!

Yet, we are also like that; we lie, dissimulate, make a false face to get what we want.

A few years ago, during a public debate, Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod, said he was in favor of some types of abortion. A doctor then asked him, “Would you permit a tuberculous woman to abort, given grave congenital defects, vexed by her brutal and alcoholic husband? The scientist answered that it was a clear case to allow it.

The doctor who asked the question then asked the auditorium for a minute of silence. Because, according to that criterion, Professor Monod would have killed Beethoven himself.

The easiest thing is almost never convenient, as Beethoven himself demonstrated later, with his life of tireless work, and that’s why he is a genius. I tell this in connection with his 250th anniversary this year 2020, so that we also realize what that killing was of the Holy Innocents, and the current killing of every innocent child, born or unborn.

The Holy Innocents are children that were murdered, when they were already born, because of Herod’s envy.

If it’s already painful to know of a person’s death, before he/she is born, imagine what it was like to see the death of all those children younger than two years of age, because of Herod’s decision — and for what?

It’s a mystery that leads us to ask God to have good always triumph over evil, in the first place, in our own life. Good is what brings out the best in each person, and evil the worst. God is never the cause of evil, but man is, who has used is freedom badly and who can commit the most tremendous murders.

Today is a day in which traditionally jokes are played. It’s a way of remembering those children, who didn’t have the time to play, who were pure innocence, and who, we are certain, went straight to Heaven, having given their life innocently.

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Better Oversight of Spending & Investments at Heart of Pope’s New Motu Proprio

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 1:24 PM

As Pope Francis works toward greater financial transparency and accountability in the Vatican, he has given a new mandate to improve oversight of spending and investments, including of Peter’s Pence.

The Pope’s new Motu Proprio “A Better Organization,” published today, Dec. 28, by the Holy See Press Office, continues the attempt at overhauling Vatican finances.

Converting into law what he already wrote in his Aug. 25 letter to the Secretary of State, this Motu Proprio, a statement from the Press Office underscored, “represents another important step in the reform of the Curia.”

Noting the decision comes before Jan. 11, for the implementation of the 2021 budget, the Vatican clarified “the Commission instituted by the Holy Father for the passing of the economic and financial functions of the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, for the management, and to the Secretariat for the Economy, for the control, which was worked on over the last weeks, will continue, as was foreseen, to specify some technical details until February 14.”

The new law will reduce the number of economic managers in the Holy See and concentrate administrative, management, economic and financial decisions in the Dicasteries.

“With the motu proprio,” the Vatican explained, “the Holy Father wishes to proceed to a better organization of the Roman Curia and to a more specialized functioning of the Secretariat of State, which will be able to help him and his Successors with greater freedom on questions of greater importance for the good of the Church.”

The functions of the so-called “Administrative Office” of the Secretariat of State, the press  release noted, are reduced, given that it will no longer have to manage or decide on funds and investments.

“The Motu Proprio,” it stated, “establishes a greater control and a better visibility of Saint Peter’s Pence and of the funds that come from donations of the faithful.”

In addition, specific controls–the mandate said–are reinforced on some entities related to the Holy See, which manage funds that come from donations.

“With these decisions,” the Holy See Press Office’s statement concluded, “the Holy Father expresses his personal commitment and that of the Roman Curia, for greater transparency, a clearer separation of functions, greater efficacy in controls and greater adjustment of the economy of the Holy See to the mission of the Church,” so that “the People of God who help with their generosity to support the mission of the Bishop of Rome, can do so with the confidence that their contributions are administered appropriately and transparently with the exercise of the due controls.”

Link to full Italian text: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/12/28/0694/01624.html

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Holy Father’s Message to Participants in 43rd European Meeting Animated by Community of Taize

Mon, 12/28/2020 - 1:07 AM

Here is a translation of the Message sent, in the name of the Holy Father Francis, by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to the participants in the 43rd European Meeting animated by the Community of Taize, being held online this year due to the pandemic, from December 27, 2020, to January 1, 2021, on the theme: “Hoping in Season and Out of Season.”

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The Message

 To the participants in the 43rd European Meeting animated by the Community of Taize,

TAIZE

Dear Young People,

For over forty years, the Community of Taize has prepared a European Meeting every year in a big city of the Continent, and several generations of young people have taken part in it. Pope Francis is happy to join you, again this year, in thought and prayer. The health situation this time, not permitting such a gathering, you have given proof of creativity and imagination: although dispersed, you are linked in an unprecedented way thanks to the new means of communication. And, at the same time, you extend this meeting to young people of all the Continents. May these days, during which you pray together and support one another in faith and confidence, help you to hope “in season and out of season,” , as the theme of the message stresses, which will accompany you throughout the year 2021.

The very fact that you “meet,” even though you do so, exceptionally, in a virtual way, already puts you on the path of hope As the Holy Father said in his Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, “no one can face life in an isolated way. We have need of a community that supports us, which helps us and in which we help one another mutually to look ahead” (n. 8). Don’t be one of those that sow despair and arouse constant mistrust, this would be to neutralize the strength of the hope that the Spirit of the Risen Christ offers us. On the contrary, let yourselves be inhabited by this hope, it will give you the courage to follow Christ and to work together with and for the most destitute, in particular those that find it hard to face the difficulties of the present time. “Hope is audacious, it is able to look beyond personal comfort, little securities and compensations that shrink the horizon, to open oneself to great ideals that make life more beautiful and more dignified. Let us walk in hope!” (Fratelli Tutti, n. 55). Throughout this year, may you be able to continue to develop a culture of encounter and of fraternity, and to walk together towards this horizon of hope revealed by Christ’s Resurrection.

The Holy Father blesses each one of you, dear young people; he also blesses the Brothers of the Community of Taize, as well as your families and all those around the world taking part with you in this international meeting.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State of His Holiness

[Original text: French]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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