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The World Seen From Rome
Updated: 27 min 4 sec ago

In Nigeria, Confrontation with Deadly Violence Leaves Catholic Teen in Grip of Fear

1 hour 35 min ago

AFUNU GAMBO is a Catholic student at St. Matthew Primary & Secondary School. She is 16 and lives in the Zango Kataf region of Kaduna State, Nigeria. Afunu’s father has died and her mother has to take care of the family of four. Like too many youngsters in Nigeria, it was her lot to witness first-hand brutal violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. It happened two years ago. Her experience has kept her out of school for a couple of years now. She said of her feelings: “I detested school and didn’t want to have anything to do with school again; I had become afraid of life itself.” This is what happened:

“One fateful day, I happily went to school and, after the assembly, there came a noise from the outside; out of curiosity, I peeked out to see what was going on: I saw people running helter skelter and all the students as well as the teachers were panicking. The teachers gathered all the students and announced that all was not well; they said that there was a violent fight going on between Muslims and Christians. We were told that everybody should remain calm and wait for their parents to come pick them up; school would be closed until further notice.

“I was afraid; all I could think was: ‘who would take me home?’ Then, all of a sudden, there was the sound of a gunshot, a short distance from my school; out of fear, we all rushed to our various classes; and, looking out the window, I saw a woman who had been shot dead. I didn’t know here; it was one of the student’s mothers, who had come rushing to come to school in order to save her son’s life. I was shivering, I had never seen someone being killed before; nor had I ever seen human blood until that day; tears gushed from my eyes and I was chilled to the bone.

“Everyone felt that they were going to die that day; a teacher gathered all the students as well as other teachers in one classroom and locked the door. We spend two or three hours there, without food or water, and no one dared make a move. Finally, policemen came to our rescue, took us to the police station and later in the day our parents came to us.

“My beautiful dream of achieving something meaningful in the future has been shattered and this experience made me so angry and sad. That same day, in the evening, I thought that all the drama had ended; but I did not know that my 12-year-old sister also had a harrowing experience.

“She was on her way back from school and was not aware of the clash between Muslims and Christians; she felt trapped, as she saw people running, running for their lives; she started running herself, and lost her way, ending up in a neighboring village. We searched for her diligently but she was nowhere to be found; my family and I cried our eyes out; just when we were about to give up, we found her in the church with a strange man who told us how he found my sister in that neighboring village—in a state of shock, she finally remembered the name of her school, which helped the man trace her back to our village.

“These incidents made me very sad and angry. The saddest moment of my life came when I was separated from my friends during the incident; and how I came to detest school and how my dream of becoming a nurse seemed to have gone down the drain. I lost my self-confidence and my sense of self-determination.

“Yet, in all that I have gone through, God has been faithful; he has been my pillar of strength by using Sister Maureen Ahyuwa to help me overcome my fear and regain my sense of self-determination once again, even though I am still in the process of fully recovering. I pray that one day I will regain my self-confidence and overcome my fear and go back to school once again.”

Patience Ibile

Patience Ibile writes for Aid to the Church in Need is an international papal charity, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS);www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)

Pope Francis to Wash Feet of 12 Prisoners on Holy Thursday

3 hours 27 min ago

This Holy Thursday, Pope Francis will perform the traditional washing of the feet at the “Regina Coeli” Prison in Rome, for the celebration of the Holy Mass in coena Domini, announced the Vatican on March 20, 2018.

The visit, it noted, will involve an encounter with detainees who are patients in the infirmary; the Eucharistic celebration with the rite of the washing of the feet of twelve detainees, and a meeting with some detainees.


Archbishop Jurkovič Affirms Holy See Defense of Migrant Rights

5 hours 42 min ago

“Pope Francis reminds us that, also in the context of forced migrants: ‘defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted’,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the Second Formal Consultations towards a Global Compact on Refugees – Part I, in Geneva, on March 20, 2018.

“While it is our common hope that the root causes of refugee movements could be eliminated, we must acknowledge, with regret, that refugees always have been part of our human history…as recent emergencies have demonstrated, while the causes of forced movements are manifold, there is one tragic common denominator: millions of people forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their countries,” the archbishop said.


Statement by Archbishop Jurkovič

Mr. Moderator,

The Delegation of the Holy See extends its gratitude to the UNHCR and, in particular, to the Assistant High Commissioner for his able leadership and thorough presentation of this latest Draft.

Pope Francis reminds us that, also in the context of forced migrants: “defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.”1 In this regard, we welcome the well-articulated objectives and vision outlined in Part I of the Draft; these are rooted in well recognized values and principles that constitute a common patrimony of humanity enshrined in international law.

While it is our common hope that the root causes of refugee movements could be eliminated, we must acknowledge, with regret, that refugees always have been part of our human history, and that the plight of refugees continues to be “a shameful wound of our time” 2 . Regrettably, as recent emergencies have demonstrated, while the causes of forced movements are manifold, there is one tragic common denominator: millions of people forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their countries.

In this regard, the role of faith-based groups, which have an enduring presence and are often the first providers of protection during emergencies, is crucial. Their response is driven by solidarity, compassion and a deep understanding of the local context. In my Delegation’s view, it is vital that the Draft delineates better the links between such groups and the UNHCR so that the protection mandate may be better achieved.

Mr. Moderator,

The Delegation of the Holy See expects that the Global Compact on Refugees will make a difference in alleviating the stories of pain and in supporting the stories of hope among those caught in a desperate search for a more secure and dignified existence. At the same time, given the undue burden placed on certain countries, we are pleased that the Draft also acknowledges the efforts of those States that, in spite of their own hardships, have kept their borders and hearts open to welcome refugees through generous and admirable responses, and thus ought to receive tangible and prompt support from the international community.

In fact, the treatment granted to refugees by the international community, and the support provided to those States carrying the burden of caring for the refugees in their respective territories, constitute a true litmus test of our shared humanity and solidarity.

Mr. Moderator,

Lastly, the Delegation of the Holy See wishes to emphasize the importance of preventing and addressing the root causes of refugee movements. Open questions must be resolved by means of diplomacy, dialogue and prevention, which are also basic requirements in the promotion of integral human development that is built on peace and security.

The most comprehensive and effective way of achieving durable solutions is to ensure the right of all to live and thrive in dignity, peace and security in their countries of origin. In this regard, my Delegation wishes to note the importance of promoting dialogue and reconciliation, which are essential elements to achieve the conditions for safe, voluntary, and dignified return. Let us not forget that the human person is inherently capable of forgiveness. Alas, this virtue is too often ignored, even though it is absolutely essential during and after periods of crisis.

Thank you, Mr. Moderator.


1 Pope Francis, Address to the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017.

2 Cf. Pope John Paul II, Letter to the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees, 25 June 1982.


Copyright © 2017 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

FEATURE: The Feast of St. Joseph — Also Father’s Day — Celebrated in Rome

6 hours 34 min ago

The Feast of St. Joseph was celebrated throughout Italy and the entire world yesterday.  The weather in Rome started with hail at 8:00 in the morning, followed by strong rain for several hours. Yet at 3:30 in the afternoon when clergy, religious, parishioners, pilgrims, and visitors gathered in front of the Basilica Parrochiale of San Giuseppe Trionfale in Rome the sun started to break through.  As the statue was carried outside to be the focal point of the procession, the sun shined so very bright that sunglasses were needed.

The procession was led by the Band of the Gendarmeria of the Vatican and presided over by His Excellency, Monsignor Paolo Ricciardi, Bishop for the Pastoral Care of the Diocese of Rome.

This beautiful procession started at the Basilica San Giuseppe Trionfale and continued through the neighborhoods of Prati and Trionfale with deep devotion, prayers and singing by family members of all ages and anziani (respected, revered older senior citizens), young people, babies in strollers, children on the shoulder of their fathers, little children making the sign of the cross and praying along with their parents and nonni (grandparents).

Traffic stopped, Rome transit buses waited patiently with the passengers on the buses craning to see the beautiful statue of St. Joseph with the child Jesus. Store keepers and restaurant employees and patrons exited their stores to join in the devotion. Romans opened their window shutters to watch, and stepped out to their terraces anxious to be part of this beautiful tradition. Beautiful songs and prayers, known by all, were recited together in Italian showing the strong devotion to Saint Joseph and of course asking “San Giuseppe prega per noi”, translation–Saint Joseph pray for us

The prayerful group extended to at least seven city blocks in length, and concluded at the parish where Mass was held.  This parish conducted a program for three days prior to the Solemnity of St. Joseph which included prayers, Masses, a bicycle event for the entire family and community, music and theater in preparation for this feast day. Later in the evening the sound of fireworks could be heard throughout Rome in celebration of this feast day.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of many causes, especially fathers, families, married couples, children, pregnant women, workers, craftsmen, against doubt, the dying, and a happy and holy death. He is also the guardian and protector of the Universal Church. He has two feast days: St. Joseph the Husband of Mary on March 19th, and St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st.


For March 19, St. Joseph’s Feast Day, Zenit wishes a warm St. Joseph’s Day to all Joseph’s and Josephine and to all the fathers worldwide 

A Decalogue of Chapels in a Vatican Lagoon?

9 hours 49 min ago

The Vatican will get 10 new chapels, an exhibit uniting Church, architecture and the world.  It is all part of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale: Vatican Chapels. The exhibit runs May 26 – November 25, 2018.

“The Holy See, which represents the Catholic Church in its entirety, makes its first entrance to the arena of the Biennale di Architettura di Venezia. It does so landing in the lagoon on the splendid island of San Giorgio, penetrating a woodland oasis not with graphic representations or models but with a veritable sequence of chapels,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and commissioner of the Holy See Pavilion, at a March 20, 2018 press conference. “These are true and proper temples in Christian worship, even if in a minor form compared with cathedrals, basilicas, and churches. Each chapel contains two fundamental liturgical elements: the ambo (pulpit or lectern) and the altar. These are the expression of the Holy Word that is proclaimed and the Eucharistic Supper that is celebrated by the assembly of believers.”

The Cardinal explained that the number of chapels expresses a “sort of decalogue of presences. Visiting the chapels will be a pilgrimage that is both religious and secular.

“The project … is based on a precise model, the ‘woodland chapel’ built in 1920 by the famous architect Gunnar Asplund in the Cemetery of Stockholm,” explained Professor Francesco Dal Co, curator of the Holy See Pavilion. “To help visitors understand the reasoning behind this choice, an exhibit space will be set up as the first episode encountered at the entrance of the Pavilion of the Holy See, displaying the drawings and model of Asplund’s chapel.”

The theme of the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter, mediation, and salutation – as Asplund put it – was suggested to ten architects who were invited to design and build ten chapels in a wooded area at one end of the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Therefore this will be a composite, distributed pavilion, visited in stages along an itinerary that is also a spiritual pilgrimage.

The chapels created by the architects, thanks to the indispensable support of important contractors and contributors, will be arranged in “an utterly abstract natural setting, marked only by its presence on the lagoon, its openness to the water,” as Dal Co explains, emphasizing the unique, original character of the initiative that has granted the architects complete freedom to design “without any reference to commonly recognized canons.” Inside the chapels, the shared fulcrum and identifying, unifying feature is represented by the presence of the altar and the lectern. The choice of the invited architects was based on the decision to focus on designers capable of applying different expressive languages, all strong characters from the standpoint of constructive experimentation, belonging to different generations and hailing from Europe, Australia, Japan, the United States and South America, in order to reflect the universal – indeed “catholic” – nature of the Church.

The architects who have designed the ten chapels and the exhibition space of Vatican chapels are: Andrew Berman (USA), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Javier Corvalàn (Paraguay), Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores (Spain), Norman Foster (UK), Terunobu Fujimori (Japan), Sean Godsell (Australia), Carla Juaçaba (Brazil), Smiljan Radic (Chile), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal), while Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel are the designers of the pavilion that will contain the exhibition of the drawings of Gunnar Asplund for the “Skogskapellet,” the “Woodland Chapel” in Stockholm.


The following are the interventions by Cardinal Ravasi and Professor Dal Co:


Intervention of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi


The Holy See, which represents the Catholic Church in its entirety, makes its first entrance to the arena of the Biennale di Architettura di Venezia. It does so landing in the lagoon on the splendid island of San Giorgio, penetrating a woodland oasis not with graphic representations or models but with a veritable sequence of chapels. These are true and proper temples in Christian worship, even if in a minor form compared with cathedrals, basilicas, and churches. Each chapel contains two fundamental liturgical elements: the ambo (pulpit or lectern) and the altar. These are the expression of the Holy Word that is proclaimed and the Eucharistic Supper that is celebrated by the assembly of believers.

The number of chapels is also symbolic as it expresses a sort of decalogue of presences fitted within the space: they are similar to voices that have been transformed into architecture and resound with their spiritual harmony in the drama of daily life. A visit to the ten Vatican Chapels, then, is a sort of pilgrimage that is not only religious but also secular. It is a path for all who wish to rediscover beauty, silence, the interior and transcendent voice, the human fraternity of being together in the assembly of people, and the loneliness of the woodland where one can experience the rustle of nature which is like a cosmic temple. Preceding this procession is an emblem: the “Woodland Chapel” by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund who, nearly a century ago (1920) and from a different region, evoked with his project the constant quest of humanity for the sacred within the spatial horizon of nature in which we live.

Architects from different backgrounds and diverse experiences have come to the island of San Giorgio to represent this “incarnation” of the temple in history, the dialogue with the plurality of cultures and of society, and to confirm the “catholicity” which is the universality of the Church. They come from nearby Europe with its complex historical configuration and from distant Japan with its unique religious roots, from the vivacious spirituality of Latin America and the seemingly secularized USA, as well as remote Australia that actually reflects contemporary concerns.

There was a precedent for this entrance of the Holy See into the Biennale Architettura. In 2013 and then in 2015, the Holy See entered two editions of the Biennale Arte with its own pavilions, offering a primordial message on the theme “In the Beginning” from the Judeo-Christian Holy Scriptures. In the first edition, the artists took into their hands, as had been done for centuries, the biblical book of Genesis with its opening line, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is also the start of being and of existing. Contemporary art saw the return of this thematic subject of the creation of the universe and of humanity, the de-creation (the Flood and Babel), and the re-creation with the beginning of the history of redemption in Abraham. During its second presence at the Biennale Arte, there was instead the ideal incipit of the New Testament. This proposes another completely new beginning that descended from divine eternity and became bound up with human historical and contingent fleshliness: “In the beginning was the Word … and the Word became flesh”, as we read in the famous hymn that is used as the prologue to John’s Gospel.

The choice was clear and explicit and meant a change of direction compared to the recent past. For the last century, in fact, a lacerating divorce had opened up between art and faith. They have actually always been sisters, to the point that Marc Chagall had no hesitation in saying that “for centuries the painters have dipped their brushes in the colored alphabet that was the Bible”, the “Great Code” of western culture, as defined by the artist William Blake. Then, however, the roads divided.

On one side, art had left the temple; the artist had placed the Bible on a dusty shelf to pursue instead the secular road of modernity, often fleeing the use of figures, symbols, narrations and sacred words. Indeed, artists often considered the message as an ideological gallows and instead dedicated themselves to stylistic exercises that were more and more elaborate and self-referential or even sometimes desecrating provocations. Art was entrusted to an esoteric criticism that was incomprehensible to most people and became enslaved by the ways and means of a market that was often artificial and even excessive.

On the other side, theology looked almost exclusively to systematic speculation that believes it has no need of signs or metaphors; it too had put into storage the great repertoire of Christian symbols. In the ecclesial sphere, there was a return to copying the modules, styles, and genres of the past, or alternatively the use of a simpler amateurism, or worse, we adapted to the ugliness that pervades the new urban suburbs and the aggressive building schemes, raising modest sacred buildings that are devoid of spirituality, beauty or an encounter with the new artistic and architectural languages that were meanwhile being elaborated.

From this situation, a desire emerged for a new encounter between art and faith, two worlds that in earlier times intertwined but that had then become mutual strangers. It is a path of encounter that is certainly hard and complex and that feeds on reciprocal suspicion and hesitation and even fear of making things worse. It is a dialogue that in architecture has already registered significant steps and that began halfway through the last century, not just through the work of theologians and pastors who were sensitive to the issue, but also in the official magisterium beginning with Paul VI and his 1964 meeting in the Sistine Chapel with the artists. John Paul II’s 1999 Letter to Artists followed and then the new encounter of Benedict XVI in the same Sistine Chapel in 2009.

This first entrance of the Catholic Church to the Biennale Architettura occurs during the pontificate of Pope Francis. In the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – a sort of programmatic manifesto he authored at the beginning of his Petrine ministry (24 November 2013) – he wanted to renew a classic trajectory of Christianity, the so-called via pulchritudinis, that is, beauty as a religious path, aware of St. Augustine’s assertion that “we do not love, except what is beautiful” (De Musica VI, 13, 38). Concretely, the pope exalted “the use of the arts in evangelization, building on the treasures of the past but also drawing upon the wide variety of contemporary expressions so as to transmit the faith in a new language of parables”.

It is striking that the following declaration appears in the Statutes of Art from the 14th-century artists of Siena: “We are those who show the illiterate people the marvelous works carried out by virtue of the faith”. And St. John Damascene, the great defender of art in the 8th century against the iconoclasm that was being pushed by the emperor and large sections of the Church at that time, suggested: “If a pagan comes to you and says: ‘Show me your faith!’ You must take him to a church and show him the decorations and explain the series of sacred paintings”.

Pope Francis concludes as follows: “We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those unconventional modes of beauty which may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others”.


Intervention of Professor Francesco Dal Co

Vatican chapels

Vatican chapels is composed of 10 chapels and of the Asplund Pavilion.

The project for the Pavilion of the Holy See at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale is based on a precise model, the “woodland chapel” built in 1920 by the famous architect Gunnar Asplund in the Cemetery of Stockholm. To help visitors understand the reasoning behind this choice, an exhibit space will be set up as the first episode encountered at the entrance of the Pavilion of the Holy See, displaying the drawings and model of Asplund’s chapel.

With this small masterpiece, Asplund defined the chapel as a place of orientation, encounter, and meditation, seemingly formed by chance or natural forces inside a vast forest, seen as the physical suggestion of the labyrinthine progress of life, the wandering of humankind as a prelude to the encounter.

This theme has been proposed to the ten architects invited to build ten chapels, gathered in the densely wooded area at the end of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, to form the Pavilion of the Holy See, together with the space set aside for Asplund’s drawings.

In our culture, we are accustomed to seeing the chapel as a space created for different reasons and aims inside a larger and often already existing religious space. The practice behind this perception has produced many models that share the factor of taking form in and belonging to an “other” space, a space of worship, a cathedral, a church, or more simply a place identified for having hosted an unusual occurrence, selected as being a recognized destination. In the modern era, these models have given rise to the consolidation of a canon.

The request addressed to the architects invited to construct the Pavilion of the Holy See thus implies an unusual challenge, since the designers have been asked to come to terms with a building type that has no precedents or models. The chapels designed by the architects, in fact, will be isolated and inserted in an utterly abstract natural setting, characterized only by its way of emerging from the lagoon, its openness to the water. In the forest where the “Asplund pavilion” and the chapels will be located there are no destinations, and the environment is simply a metaphor of the wandering of life. This metaphor, in the case of the Pavilion of the Holy See, is even more radical than the one configured by Asplund, who built his chapel amidst the trees, but inside a cemetery. For these reasons, the architects of the Pavilion of the Holy See have worked without any reference to generally recognized canons, and without being able to rely on any model from a typological viewpoint, as is demonstrated by the only apparently surprising variety of the projects they have developed.


Catechumens at the Easter Vigil

10 hours 37 min ago

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

 Q: I am looking for some guidelines in the sacramentary that tell us how to guide catechumens during the Easter vigil Mass, especially the first part (the Service of Light), but there are none. Does it mean catechumens do the same as the faithful during the paschal candle procession? — D.Z., Beijing


 A: Effectively, there are no precise instructions regarding catechumens in the missal or in the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults for this part of the Easter vigil. All the instructions are for the Rite of Baptism.

 There are, however, some sensible annotations in diocesan norms which, while not binding, could be applied elsewhere.

 For example, one diocesan liturgy office at the rubric, “All light their candles from the flame of the paschal candle and continue in procession” adds the following note:

 “While not explicitly mentioned, catechumens would not use candles at this point. The candles are a sign of Christ indwelling the baptized; the catechumens will receive their candles after their own baptism.”

 This would appear to be a logical point and would underline better the reception of the lighted candle during the baptismal rite.

 After the Service of Light, the catechumens would have no particular role until the baptismal liturgy begins.

 With respect to this liturgy, the U.S. bishops’ conference has an explanation of some of the novelties found in the most recent edition of the Roman Missal. We offer some extracts:

 “The Service of Light

 “The Paschal Candle is brought forward. This candle should be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size that it may convey the truth that Christ is the light of the world. This description is developed in no. 94 of Built of Living Stones which reminds us that the Paschal Candle is the symbol of the ‘light of Christ, rising in glory,’ scattering the ‘darkness of our hearts and minds.’ ‘Above all, the Paschal Candle should be a genuine candle, the pre-eminent symbol of the light of Christ. Choice of size, design, and color should be made in relationship to the sanctuary in which it will be placed …’ (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts [1988], no 82).

 “The candle is then prepared in rites which are no longer optional. The celebrant cuts a cross into the candle with a stylus. Then he makes the Greek letter Alpha above the cross, the letter Omega below it, and the four numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross, saying the words indicated. After these rites, the priest lights the candle from the new fire and says: May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds. (Easter Vigil, no.14)

 “The organization of the procession is more clearly described in the new Missale Romanum. One of the ministers takes burning coals from the fire and places them in a censer (thurible) and the priest, in the usual way, places incense into it. The deacon, or in his absence another appropriate minister accepts the Easter candle from the celebrant and a procession is formed. The order of procession is the thurifer with smoking thurible, preceding the minister holding the candle, followed by the ministers and the priest and the people. All hold unlit candles (EV, no.15). Just as the children of Israel were guided at night by the pillar of fire, so Christians follow the risen Christ.

 “The places at which the proclamation, Light of Christ, are sung now differ from what was in the previous Missale.

 “The new places are: at the door of the Church (after which the priest lights his candle), in the middle of the Church (after which all light their candles), and before the altar, facing the people. The Missale instructs the deacon to place the candle in a large candle stand prepared either next to the ambo or in the middle of the sanctuary (EV, no. 17). The lights of the Church are then lit with the exception of the altar candles which are lit just before the intonation of the Gloria (EV, nos. 17 and 31).

 “Before the Easter Proclamation, the priest gives his candle to one of the ministers and blesses incense as at the Gospel during Mass. Having asked for and received the blessing, the deacon announces the Easter proclamation from the ambo or at a lectern. This poetic text captures the whole Easter mystery placed within the context of the economy of salvation. In the absence of a deacon the priest himself or another concelebrating priest may announce the Easter proclamation. If, however, a lay cantor announces the proclamation, the words, My dearest friends, up to the end of the invitation are omitted, along with the greeting, The Lord be with you (nos. 18-19). The reference to the Conference of Bishops adapting the text by inserting acclamations is no longer mentioned.

 “Liturgy of the Word

 “One of the unique aspects of the Easter Vigil is the recounting of the outstanding deeds of the history of salvation. These deeds are related in seven readings from the Old Testament chosen from the law and the prophets and two readings from the New Testament, namely from the apostles and from the gospel. Thus, the Lord ‘beginning with Moses and all the prophets’ (Lk 24.27, 44-45) meets us once again on our journey and, opening up our minds and hearts, prepares us to share in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup. The faithful are encouraged to meditate on these readings by the singing of a responsorial psalm, followed by a silent pause, and then by the celebrant’s prayer. The Missale adds a sentence about the nine readings proposed, saying that ‘all of these must be read whenever it can be done, so that the character of a Vigil which takes place over some duration of time can be observed’ (EV, no. 20).

 “The new Missale recognizes that ‘nevertheless, where grave pastoral circumstances demand it, the number of readings from the Old Testament may be reduced’ (EV, no 21). At least three readings from the Old Testament should be read always including Exodus 14 (EV, no. 21). The reference found previously in the Missale to the possibility of having only two Old Testament readings in extreme necessity is omitted.

 “The Missale is very specific about the priest singing the Alleluia before the Gospel: ‘After the Epistle has been read, all rise, and the priest solemnly intones the Alleluia three times, raising his voice a step each time. All repeat the Alleluia each time. If necessary, the psalmist intones the Alleluia. Mention is then made of the psalmist or cantor singing Psalm 117 and the people responding, “Alleluia” (EV, no. 34). This psalm is often recited by the apostles in their Easter preaching’ (Acts 4.11-12; Mt 21.42; Mk 12.10; Lk 20.17).

 “The Missale directs explicitly that the homily, even if it is brief, is not to be omitted (EV, no. 36). This requires that the homilist carefully prepare and craft the homily so that it captures the tremendous mysteries being celebrated on this most holy of nights.

 Liturgy of Baptism

 “The Missale has reorganized the rubrics for this entire section of the Vigil (nos. 37-58). Nevertheless, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults should always be consulted in conjunction with the rubrics mentioned here in the Missale. This is especially true when Baptisms are taking place by means of immersion.

 “Christ’s Passover and ours are given full expression when baptismal water is blessed in the font and when the Christian initiation of adults, or, at least the baptism of infants, takes place at the Easter Vigil. Even if there are no candidates for baptism, the blessing of baptismal water should take place in parish churches. At the very least, baptism should be commemorated by the blessing of water intended for sprinkling upon the people.

 “The rubrics describe two instances of Baptism at the Vigil. If there is a procession to the baptistery or the font, the catechumens are called forward and presented by their godparents. If there are children, they are carried by their parents and godparents to the front of the assembly. Those who are to be baptized, along with their godparents, are led first by a minister with the Easter candle; the other ministers, deacons and priest follow after them. This procession is accompanied by the singing of the Litany of the Saints. The priest then gives the introductory statement.

 “If the Baptisms take place in the sanctuary, the priest makes the introductory statement and this is followed by the singing of the Litany of the Saints.

 “The Missale reminds the celebrant that during the blessing of the water his hands are outstretched (EV, no. 44).

 “Numbers 48 to 53 of the rubrics for the Easter Vigil of the Missale Romanum describe the initiation process. As was mentioned before, it is important to closely consult theRite of Christian Initiation of Adults on this matter. Number 48 of the rubrics for the Easter Vigil mentions that after the renunciation and profession of faith ‘if the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens did not take place beforehand, as part of the immediate preparatory rites, it takes place at this moment.’ Of course no. 33 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults points out: ‘The National Conference of Catholic Bishops approves the omission of the anointing with the oil of catechumens both in the celebration of baptism and in the optional preparation rites for Holy Saturday. Thus, anointing with the oil of catechumens is reserved for use in the period of the catechumenate and in the period of purification and enlightenment, and is not to be included in the purification rites on Holy Saturday or in the celebration of initiation at the Easter Vigil or at another time.’

 “Number 49 of the rubrics for the Easter Vigil notes that when there are many to be baptized, the priest may ask for the renewal of baptismal promises of all present immediately after the profession of faith made by those to be baptized, along with the godparents and parents.

 “The celebration of Confirmation is to take place in the sanctuary as indicated in the Pontifical or the Roman Ritual.

 Liturgy of the Eucharist

 “Care should be taken that, particularly in regard to this night’s celebration of the Eucharist, the liturgy is not done in haste and that all the rites and words should be given their full force.

 “The Missale has incorporated into itself rubrics found in nos. 241-243 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. These allow for a commemoration of the baptized and their godparents to be made in the Eucharistic Prayer. Proper formulas are found in the Roman Missal for each of the Eucharistic prayers (EV, no.63). The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults indicates that these formulas are found in the section for ritual Masses, ‘Christian Initiation: Baptism.’

 “The Missale reminds the priest that before he says, This is the Lamb of God, he may make a brief remark to the neophytes about their first Communion and ‘about the preciousness of so great a mystery, which is the climax of initiation and the center of the Christian life’ (EV, no. 64). In no. 65 the rubrics for the Easter Vigil indicate the desirability for the neophytes as well as all the faithful, if the diocesan Bishop consents, to receive Communion under both kinds.”

 An example of such remarks could be the words of Pope Benedict XVI during the 2011 Easter Vigil:

 “Dearest sons and daughters, I turn to you who in this glorious night, reborn by water and the Holy Spirit, receive for the first time the bread of life and the cup of salvation. May the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord always make you grow in his friendship and in communion with the whole Church, may it be the constant food for the journey of your life, and a pledge of the eternal banquet of heaven.”

 Finally, some diocesan norms recall that if there are candidates for reception, that is, candidates who are already baptized Christians desiring to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, then the Celebration of Reception begins after the rite of sprinkling the people and before the Prayer of the Faithful.

 * * *

 Readers may send questions to zenit.liturgy@gmail.com. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

Pope Offers Cure for Depression and Fatigue

11 hours 56 min ago

Pope Francis recommended looking at the crucifix as the cure when people are depressed or tired, according to the Vatican News report of his March 20, 2018, homily at Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

The Holy Father cited the story in Numbers 21:4-9:

The Bronze Snake

4They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,c to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived

The Pope noted how the people became frustrated by the long journey, lost hope, complained and suffered the bites of serpents.  The serpents are an external system of poisoned hearts.

But the people could be saved by gazing on the serpent Moses made and placed on a pole. And what was its power?

“It was prophetic: it was the figure of Christ on the cross,” Pope Francis said. “By looking only at their own strength, they forgot the Lord’s strength, which had liberated them from 400 years of slavery.”

The Holy Father drew the analogy: “And here is the key to our salvation, the key for having patience on the journey of life, the key to overcome our deserts: looking at the Crucifix.” Like the people in the deserve healed by looking at the serpent, we can be healed by Jesus and his wounds, “for by those wounds we have been healed.”


The Numbers on the Holy Father

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 7:41 PM

While every Pope draws a certain amount of praise and criticism, there is no debating the fact that Pope Francis has been busy – and the Vatican Press Office has released the numbers to prove it.

His work includes canonizing 880 saints, creating 61 cardinals, and a vast amount of travel.  Here are the statistics:

Lumen fidei (20 June 2013)
Laudato si’ (24 May 2015

Apostolic Exhortations
Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013)
Amoris laetitia (19 March 2016)

Misericordiae vultus (11 April 2015)

Motu Proprios
3 in 2013
2 in 2014
4 in 2015
9 in 2016
4 in 2017
1 in 2018

General audiences 219

Themes of the Wednesday Catechesis
Profession of Faith
The Sacraments
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Church
The Family
Christian hope
The Holy Mass

Angelus/Regina Coeli 286

International trips: 22
Pope Francis has traveled a total of 250,000km visiting: Brasil, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, South Korea, Albania, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Turkey, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Cuba, the United States, Kenya, Uganda, Central African Republic, Mexico, Greece, Armenia, Poland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Chile, Peru

Trips within Italy: 18

Pastoral visits to the parishes of Rome: 16

III Extraordinary Synod on the Family (5-19 October 2014)
XIV Ordinary Synod on the Family (4-25 October 2015)
XVI Ordinary Synod on Youth (3-18 October 2018)
Special Synod on the Amazon (October 2019)

Special Years
Year of Consecrated Life (29 November 2014–2 February 2016)
Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy (8 December 2015–20 November 2016)

Special Months
Extraordinary Missionary month (October 2019)

World Days
World Day of fasting and prayer for Peace I: Syria (7 September 2013)
24 Hours for the Lord a Friday in Lent (inaugurated in 2014)
World day of prayer for creation: 1 September (inaugurated in 2015)
World day of the poor: 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (inaugurated in 2017)
Sunday of the Word: One Sunday during the Liturgical Year (inaugurated in 2017)
World Day of Migrants and Refugees: Second Sunday of September (inaugurated 14 January 2018)
World day of prayer and fasting for peace II: South Sudan, Congo, and Syria (23 February 2018)

World Youth Days
28th World Day in Rio de Janeiro: 23-28 July 2013
31st World Day in Krakow: 26-31 July 2016
34th World Day in Panama: 22-27 January 2019

Consistories for the creation of Cardinals
Pope Francis has created a total of 61 cardinals. Of these, 49 are electors and 12 are non-electors (one of whom has subsequently died)
19 Cardinals created on 22 February 2014
20 Cardinals created on 14 February 2015
17 Cardinals created on 19 November 2016
5 Cardinals created on 28 June 2017

Pope Francis has canonized a total of 880 saints, 800 of whom are the Martyrs of Otranto
9 canonization ceremonies in the Vatican
3 canonizations ceremonies outside of the Vatican: United States, Sri Lanka, Portugal
5 canonizations equipollent


Iraq: Christianity Could Disappear

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 7:36 PM

Christianity will be reduced to a token presence in Iraq – unless more families are given aid to return to their villages on the Nineveh Plains, according to a priest helping them home.

Father Salar Kajo of the Churches’ Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC), which aims to rebuild nine Christian towns and villages, fears that unless more is done to enable displaced Christians to go back to their homes – and soon – they could leave Iraq.

According to the NRC, 37,031 Christians have returned over the last 12 months – but Father Kajo expressed concerns for those who are still displaced in Kurdish northern Iraq (around 120,000 Christians were driven from their homes by Daesh (ISIS) in summer 2014).

He said: “We have to rebuild now – if we take more time families will leave and Christianity will disappear from Iraq.”

According to Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda, up to 6,000 Christian families have emigrated over the last four years.

Father Kajo stressed: “It is urgently necessary for everyone to return to their towns and villages” as most of the region’s Christians “have spent the last three years as refugees in their own country, Iraq”.

The priest praised Faith-based organizations which have provided support – but was critical of a lack of help from the international community.

He said: “If the Christians do all go home this will only be because of help from organizations like Aid to the Church in Need – because we are getting no help from governments.”

In 2017 Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need provided more than £8.2 million for projects in Iraq – including more than £1.7 million for reconstruction of homes and churches.

Father Kajo added: “After a year of rebuilding, the only channel of aid has been through the Church.”

So far Hungary is the only government which has provided any help.

With support from bodies such as ACN and the Hungarian aid programmes, the NRC has renovated more than 22 percent of the homes they aim to restore.

The priest added that returning Christians have forgiven neighbors who collaborated with the jihadists, helping Daesh to occupy and rob houses and burn their villages.

Father Kajo said: “The first thing these families did on returning to their villages was to go and visit their Muslim neighbors, to ask them how they were.

“And they told them that they wanted to return to live in peace and recover the spirit of mutual coexistence.”

But there are also concerns that new employment opportunities are needed before life can return to normal.

Father Kajo said: “The great challenge in many cases now is for them to find work.”

The priest visited many of the villages of the Nineveh Plains on the day the Iraqi army drove out Daesh.

He said: “In Batnaya, the first place I visited was the church and I could see that everything had been destroyed.

“Lying on the ground there were Bibles and lectionaries that had recently been burnt. Before leaving the village, the militants of Daesh made a special point of ransacking the churches.”

Father Kajo stressed that Christians were keen to restart their old lives.

“We want to return, to recover our dignity and to work and live as we did before Daesh. This is our land, this is our identity.”

Archbishop Auza Chairs UN Side Event on Rights of Women

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 7:31 PM

Pope Francis has been continuously calling attention to the practice of what he has called “ideological colonization,” which happens when powerful and wealthy nations, agencies and foundations compel countries that were once militarily and economically colonized to accept secularized practices with regard to human sexuality, life, family, and anthropology, as a condition for development assistance.

This according to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in his remarks at a Side Event during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, dedicated to the theme of “Promoting the Integral Development of Women and Girls in Africa in the Era of Ideological Colonization.” The event was sponsored by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

Nowhere has this ideological colonization been taking place more, Archbishop Auza said, than on the continent of Africa, where money for population control programs has dwarfed the assistance given for health, water, sanitation, and education. Archbishop Auza quoted from the 2015 Common Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Africa and Madagascar that describes in clear language what’s happening and the euphemisms that are being employed. Archbishop Auza stated that the development system “should never be used as a Trojan Horse to attack the culture and religious values of developing nations” and that when this happens, it must be called out. The Holy See sponsored event featured four women from Africa who shared their expertise and experience as to how the practice of ideological colonization is affecting African women and girls.


The archbishop’s remarks follow:

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Speakers,
Delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s event on the theme of “Promoting the Integral Development of Rural Women and Girls in Africa in the Era of Ideological Colonization,” which the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See is co-sponsoring together with Culture of Life Africa, the Campaign Life Coalition and Human Life International.

When Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2015, speaking immediately before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he called attention to how the need for development can sometimes be used, he said, “as a cover for all kinds of abuse and corruption, or for carrying out an ideological colonization by the imposition of anomalous models and lifestyles that are alien to peoples’ identity.”

In the 30 months since that address, he has repeatedly returned to the subject of ideological colonization. This phrase describes the attempt of powerful and wealthy donors to compel developing countries that were once militarily and economically colonized to accept secularized practices with regard to human sexuality, life, family and even basic anthropology, as a condition for the reception of development assistance. Pope Francis has even called this type of development extortion tantamount to a “world war … not with weapons but with ideas.”

At the beginning of January, when he met in the Vatican with Ambassadors from across the world accredited to the Holy See, he discussed the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and sought to illustrate how in ideological colonization even reverence for human rights is being manipulated to try to advance new ideas and practices against the dignity and values of those in developing nations.

“Debatable notions of human rights,” the Pope said, “have been advanced that are at odds with the culture of many countries. The latter feel that they are not respected in their social and cultural traditions, and instead [are] neglected with regard to the real needs they have to face. Somewhat paradoxically, there is a risk that, in the very name of human rights, we will see the rise of modern forms of ideological colonization by the stronger and the wealthier, to the detriment of the poorer and the most vulnerable.”

Nowhere has this practice taken place more than in the developing parts of the continent of Africa, which receives more than 50 billion dollars of aid annually from Western donors. In the last 20 years, there has been a shift in foreign aid budgets from development aid for education, health, water supply, sanitation and other essential needs in favor of population control programs. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s recent analysis of Foreign Aid to Africa (2014) has demonstrated that more money is given for population control programs than for health, water supply, sanitation, and education.

No one has detailed this phenomenon better than those who are enduring it. In 2015, the Catholic Bishops of Africa and Madagascar spoke out together in a Common Declaration about how some foreign governments are trying to impose their values on African peoples as a condition for receiving urgently needed health supplies, educational investments, other forms of development assistance and basic military help. Their language is strong and specific about how their human dignity and so many of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration are being bulldozed in order to receive the help needed to lift their peoples out of poverty.

“Selfish and perverse interests,” they write, “are imposing themselves on our continent with a speed that keeps on accelerating, with unabated aggressiveness, in an ever more organized and powerfully financed manner, introducing individualism and hedonism, both of which are so foreign to what we are and want to be, into our societies. This [is] a terrifying resurgence of a colonialist spirit under the guise of the appealing names of liberty, equality, rights, autonomy, democratization, and development.

Condoms, contraceptives, sex education programs fabricated elsewhere, … so-called ‘safe abortions,’ have become commodities that are more accessible to Africans than the way of delivering integral development, of which we have such a vital need. It can no longer be denied that under the euphemism of ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights,’ such programs are plainly imposed as a condition for development assistance. Such is also the case of the so-called ‘gender perspective,’ according to which motherhood, the filial and nuptial identity of the human being and the family based on marriage between a man and a woman would be ‘discriminatory stereotypes.’”

This process of ideological colonization needs to be called out. The development system should never be used as a Trojan Horse to attack the cultural and religious values of developing nations. We would never intend to criticize development assistance, but when it becomes an instrument of imposition and control over poorer peoples’ and nations’ ways of life and values systems, we have to call it out.

Today’s event features four voices who will share with us their expertise and experience as to how this ideological colonization is affecting African women and girls, particularly in the vast rural areas of the continent. We will hear about what’s happening, how it is violating the deep, indigenous values of African women and girls, the suffering it is causing, and the constant legal battles and social divisions it is provoking. They are eager to share with us their experiences and perspectives.

Thank you for coming to listen to their testimony.

Copyright © 2018 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

Pope Ordains Three New Bishops

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 1:54 PM

Pope Francis added three new bishops to the service of the Church on Monday, March 19, 2018, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy Mass and Episcopal Ordination were held in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The three new bishops are:

– Mons. Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag of the clergy of the Diocese of Pelplin (Poland), born on February 6, 1968, in Więcbork (Poland), ordained priest on 30 May 1993, elected titular Archbishop of Maastricht and nominated Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua on February 15, 2018;

– Mons. Alfred Xuereb of the clergy of the Diocese of Gozo (Malta), born October 14, 1958, in Gozo (Malta), ordained priest on May 26, 1984, titular Archbishop of Amantea and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia on February 26, 2018;

– Mons. José Avelino Bettencourt of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Ottawa (Canada), born May 23, 1962, in the Azores (Portugal), ordained priest on May 29, 1993, elected titular Archbishop of Novigrad and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Georgia and Armenia February 26, 2018.

Pope Francis Fields Five Questions From Youth

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 1:41 PM

Pope Francis launched the March 19-24, 2018, Pre-Synodal Meeting in Rome, organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

The Holy Father responded to five questions from the young delegates, as reported by Vatican News:

How can young people help victims of human trafficking?

The Pope described this abuse, and even torture, as the “slavery of today”. The Pope went on to denounce the evil of exploiting women. He had especially strong words for baptized Catholics who pay for prostitutes. This is a “crime against humanity”, he said. Pope Francis called on young people to fight for the dignity of women, and concluded by asking forgiveness for all the Catholics who take part in these “criminal acts”.

 Where should a young person look for guidance in making life choices?

“The wise person”, he said, “is the one who is not scared of anything, but who knows how to listen and has the God-given gift of saying the right thing at the right time”. The Pope warned that when young people fail to find their “path of discernment”, they risk shutting themselves off. This can become like carrying a “cancer” inside, he said. And this risks weighing them down and taking away their freedom.

 How can we teach young people to be open to their neighbor and to the transcendent?

Pope Francis said education should teach three basic languages: the head, heart, and hands. The language of the head means thinking well and learning concrete things. That of the heart means understanding feelings and sentiments. The language of the hands is making use of the gifts God has given us to create new things. The key, he said, is to use all three together.

How is a young person preparing for the priesthood to respond to the complexities of present-day culture – like tattoos, for instance?

The question, from a young Ukrainian seminarian, spurred the Holy Father to reflect on the priest as a “witness to Christ”. He said, however, that Clericalism is “one of the worst illnesses of the Church” because it confuses the “paternal role of the priest” with the “managerial role of the boss”. As for tattoos, don’t be afraid of them but use them as a way to start a conversation.

 How can young women religious balance the dominant culture in society and the spiritual life in accomplishing their mission?

The Pope stressed the importance of helping people to “mature affectively”, nothing that sometimes young people are formed spiritually but other areas are neglected in an effort to protect them.  However, this results in “deformation”.  It is vital to have formation in four pillars: intellectual, communitarian, apostolic and spiritual.

While the Pre-Synodal Meeting will have about 300 “in-person” participants, youth from around the world can participant via internet.  More information is available on the meeting website.

‘The Church Is Young at Heart,’ Pope Reminds Young People

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 1:37 PM

The Church is young at heart…

Opening the pre-synod this morning, March 19, 2018, on the Feast of St Joseph in Rome, Pope Francis noted this as he addressed more than 300 young people gathered in the Eternal City to share together ahead of this synod and whose outcomes will be taken into consider during the October synod.

It is interesting to recall that the Maria Mater Ecclesiae International Pontifical College, where the Pre-Synod will be held and where the Pope was this morning, received 20 years ago, on March 19, the visit of Pope St John Paul II, “great promoter of youth.”

The upcoming synod is another gesture of closeness, demonstrating the Church’s interest to listen to and to give young people an opportunity to express their concerns, to find the way of supporting them.

In his address today, Pope Francis underscored that close dialogue with younger generations is a great help.

“I invite you then, this week, to express yourselves frankly and freely,” he noted, adding: “You are the protagonists and it is important that you speak openly.”

“‘But I am ashamed, the cardinal will hear me …’ Hear what?, he’s used to it.

The Pope assured them that their contribution will be taken seriously.

“We need you young people, living stones of a Church with a young face, but not made up, as I said: not artificially rejuvenated, but revived from within.”

“And you provoke us to get out of the logic of ‘but it’s always been like that,’ he stressed. “And that logic, please, is a poison. It’s a sweet poison, because it calms your soul and leaves you as anesthetized and does not let you walk. To get out of the logic of ‘always has been done this way,’ to remain creatively in the wake of authentic, yet creative, Christian tradition.

The Pope repeated his recommendation that Christians read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, citing the creativity of those men.

“Those men knew how to go on with a creativity that if we do the translation to what it means today, it frightens us!”

Pope Francis concluded, thanking them and reminding them to pray for him.

Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien of Scotland Dies

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 12:54 PM

Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien , Archbishop Emeritus of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews, Scotland, died on March 19, 2018 at 80.

Indicted for “inappropriate sexual behavior with seminarians in the 80s, he renounced “the rights and prerogatives of the cardinalship” in 2015.

Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien was born on March 17, 1938 in Northern Ireland. He was ordained priest on April 3, 1965. During his pastoral life, he was Spiritual Director at St. Andrew’s College of Drygrange and Rector of St. Mary’s College of Blairs from, 1978 to 1985.

He was appointed Archbishop of Edinburgh and Saint Andrews on May 30, 1985 and consecrated Bishop on August 5. John Paul II created him Cardinal in the Consistory of October 21, 2003. From 2002 to 2012 he was President of the Episcopal Conference of Scotland.

Benedict XVI accepted the early resignation of Cardinal O’Brien, relieved of his pastoral responsibilities on February 25, 2013. He did not take part in the Conclave that elected Pope Francis in March 2013, and left Scotland for a time “of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance,” in May 2013.

A Papal Thank You to the Folks Back Home

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 12:46 PM

As might be expected, Pope Francis received many greetings and prayers from people in his native Argentina on the 5th anniversary of his election as Pope, March 13, 2018.

According to Vatican News, the Holy Father responded with a “very personal” letter, sent to the Argentine Bishops’ Conference and approved for public release (in Spanish).

In the second paragraph of the letter, Pope Francis writes of his “great and intense” love of his country for which, he says, “I pray every day”. He goes on to ask forgiveness of “those who may be offended by some of my gestures”. “Although God entrusted me with such an important task, and helps me”, explains the Pope, “He did not free me from human frailty”.

The Holy Father also invited Argentinians to participate in his mission by suggesting: “If ever you are pleased about things I do well, I want you to feel like they are your own. You are my people, the people who trained me, prepared me and offered me to serve others… Remember the Lord has called one of you to bring a message of faith, mercy, and fraternity to many corners of the earth”.

Entire Letter of Pope Benedict’s Letter to Vatican Communications Prefect Msgr Vigano

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 10:55 AM

A personal letter of Benedict XVI on the continuity with the pontificate of Pope Francis was made public by the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, who received it on the occasion of the presentation of the ‘Theology of Pope Francis’ collection, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), which took place Monday in the course of a press conference at Rome in the Marconi Hall of the Palazzo Pio.

This week, the letter was published by the Vatican in its entirety. Here is a Zenit working translation of the letter:


Benedict XVI

Pope Emeritus


Vatican City

February 7, 2018


Most Reverend Lord

Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano

Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication

00120 Vatican City


Most Reverend Monsignor,

Thank you very much for your kind letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole. I applaud this initiative, which intends to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice by which Pope Francis is only a practical man bereft of particular theological or philosophical formation, whereas I was only a theoretician of theology, who little understood the concrete life of a Christian today. The small volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and, therefore, help to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, although with all the differences of style and temperament.

However, I do not feel like writing on them “a brief and dense theological page.” In all my life it was always clear that I have written and have expressed myself only on books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven small volumes in the near future, all the more so as other commitments await me, which I have already assumed.

Only as an aside I would like to note my surprise for the fact that, figuring among the authors is also Professor Hunermann, who during my pontificate came to light for having headed  anti-papal initiatives. He took part significantly in the release of the “Kolner Erklarung,” which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor,” attacked virulently the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of Moral Theology. Also the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft,” which he founded, was thought by him initially as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Then the ecclesial thinking of many theologians blocked this orientation, rendering that organization a regular meeting instrument among theologians.

I am certain that there will be understanding for my denial and I greet you cordially,


(Signed) Benedict XVI

Pope Points Out to Priests Two Conditions for Proper Discernment

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 4:27 AM

Pope Francis pointed out to priests and seminarians two conditions for correct discernment.

On Friday morning, March 16,the Holy Father received, in Paul VI Hall, priests and seminarians from some 150 Pontifical Colleges and Ecclesiastical Boarding Schools of Rome, accompanied by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who addressed a few words to the Pontiff, reported the Holy See.

The Holy Father then answered five questions on priestly formation and spirituality, posed by representatives of four Continents (Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia), stemming from the document Ratio fundmentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, the “Gift of the Presbyterial Vocation,” published by the Roman Dicastery on December 8, 2016. Vatican News offered a synthesis of the questions and the Pope’s answers, pronounced from the fullness of the heart.  

Before the Pontiff’s arrival, the meeting was the occasion for priests and seminarians to pray together and sing songs, one song being dedicated to Blessed Argentine parish priest Brochero, sung by the Argentine Priestly College, reported L’Osservatore Romano.

Never Alone

For the European Continent, a French seminarian asked the Pope how to reconcile the presbyterial ministry with the fact of feeling themselves “disciples and missionaries.”

For the Pope, “the priest must be a man always on the way, a man who listens and is never alone. He must have the humility to be accompanied.”

A second question on discernment was posed by a seminarian of Sudan, for the African Continent.

The Two Conditions of Discernment

The Holy Father highlighted “two conditions” for “a true discernment”: “to do so in prayer before God,” and to consult someone else, a guide capable of listening and of giving guidelines.”

“When there isn’t discernment in priestly life” there is “rigidity and casuistry” and one is “incapable of advancing”, everything “becomes closed” and “the Holy Spirit doesn’t work.” The Pope recommended that priests “take the Holy Spirit as companion on the way,” while remarking that often “one is afraid of the Holy Spirit,” one wants to “put Him in a cage.”

Not Functionaries of the Sacred

A Mexican priest asked the Pope for America, how to safeguard the priest’s balance in the course of life. And the Pope stressed the importance of the priest’s “human formation”: “It’s necessary to be normal human persons capable of laughing, of listening to a sick person in silence, of consoling with a caress. There must be a form of paternity and fruitfulness, which enables one to give life to others. They must be “father priests, and not functionaries of the sacred, or employees of God.”

The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest

For North America, a United States deacon asked about the traits of the spirituality of the diocesan priest. The Pope answered pointing out the three components of “diocesanite”: to cultivate one’s relation with one’s Bishop, with one’s brother priests, and with the people of the parish, who are his children. “If you work on these three fronts, you will become saints,” said the Pontiff.

An Examination of Conscience

A priest of the Philippines posed for Asia, the question on permanent formation. The Pope recommended to take care of the “human, pastoral, spiritual and communal formation” of the priest. He specified a “permanent formation born from the awareness of his weakness” and that it’s “important to know one’s limitations.” The Holy Father also invited each one to examine how he lives  “virtual communication,” how he “uses his mobile phone,” how he addresses temptations against chastity, which will come inevitably,” and how to be “able to keep oneself from pride, from the attraction of money, of power and of comfort.”


All Is Ready to Begin the Pre-Synod with Young People in the Vatican

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 3:52 AM

The Pre-Synod on young people is all ready to begin. Pope Francis will ‘open’ the encounter, deciding to spend the morning of March 19 to be with young people, reported Vatican News.

It is interesting to recall that the Maria Mater Ecclesiae International Pontifical College, where the Pre-Synod will be held, received 20 years ago, on March 19, the visit of John Paul II, “great promoter of youth.”

It’s another gesture of closeness, demonstrating the Church’s interest to listen to and to give young people an opportunity to express their concerns, to find the way of supporting them.

During his visit to Mexico, the Holy Father gave one of the great definitions of youth during his trip to Mexico, when he said to them: “You are the wealth of your country.”



Papal/Pio Blessing

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 2:16 PM
Angelus Address: On the Need to Gaze at the Crucifix

‘In the Image of Jesus Crucified Is Unveiled the Mystery of the Death of the Son of God as Supreme Act of Love, Source of Life and of Salvation for Humanity of All Times’

Pope Francis: Jesus Doesn’t Answer with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’

“The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”

Holy Father: ‘May Padre Pio Bless You All’

Recalls March 17, 2018, Visit to Pietrelcina and to San Giovanni Rotondo.

Holy Father: ‘May Padre Pio Bless You All’

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 1:40 PM

Pope Francis expressed his gratitude for his March 17, 2018, visit to Pietrelcina and to San Giovanni Rotondo, the places most associated with St. Padre Pio, in remarks after praying the audience with a crowd of some 20,000 on March 18, 2018. And he asked the saint’s blessing on those present.

“Yesterday I went on a visit to Pietrelcina and to San Giovanni Rotondo. I greet affectionately and thank the communities of the dioceses of Benevento and Manfredonia, the Bishops – Monsignor Accrocca and Monsignor Castoro – the consecrated, the faithful, the Authorities. I’m grateful for the warm welcome and carry all in my heart, but especially the sick of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, the elderly and the young people. I thank those that prepared this visit that I truly won’t forget. May Padre Pio bless you all.”