Browsing News Entries

Pope's Message to World Movement of Christian Workers

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the International Meeting of the World Movement of Christian Workers which has been taking place in Ávila, Spain, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

120 delegates representing the Movement, present today in 79 countries are attending the event. The theme of the meeting is, "Land, Home and Work for a Worthy Life". The message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, stresses that "the dignity of the person is closely united to these three realities" that remind us that the fundamental experience of the human being "is to feel rooted in the world, in one Family, in a society. "

"Land, home, and work - continues the Message - means fighting because every person lives in a manner consistent with his dignity and nobody is discarded. To this we encourage our faith in God, who sent his Son into the world because, sharing the story of his people, living in a family and working with his hands, he could redeem and save the human person with his Death and resurrection ".

Finally, the Pope urges the Christian Workers Movement "to persevere with renewed impetus in the effort to bring the Gospel into the world of work".

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis renews prayer for Venezuela

(Vatican Radio) The Pope during his Angelus  in St Peter's Square on Sunday once again addressed his thoughts to Venezuela. Greeting the Venezuelan Catholic community in Italy he renewed his prayer for what he called, this "beloved country".  Pope Francis' prayer comes on a crucial day for Venezuela: this Sunday marks the popular referendum promoted by the opposition to say no to the constituent assembly proposed by President Maduro. The country's bishops support the initiative, which is not recognized by the authorities, to counteract - they say - the attempt to establish a Marxist military dictatorship. Meanwhile, as the political crisis deepens, the humanitarian crisis worsens. Italian Caritas has published a report entitled which shows that over 11,000 children died in 2016 for lack of medicines and maternal mortality rose by almost 70%. Faced with the food, health and safety crisis, the Italian Bishops' Conference has also offered to contribute 500,000 euros.

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: As the sower Jesus performs a spiritual radiography of our heart

(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday to the pilgrims and tourists who braved the heat in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis recalled the Gospel reading of the day, the famous parable of the sower. 

Listen to our report:

The Pope explained that the sower is Jesus, but the parable itself, the Pope went on to say concerns us, as it speaks of the soil and not the sower.

The Holy Father noted that “Jesus performs, so to speak, a "spiritual radiography" of our heart”, which is the ground upon which the seed of the Word falls. Our heart, he added, "is like the soil, it can be good when the Word bears fruit, but it can also be hard, and waterproof."

Pope Francis also described how in between these forms of soil, there are two types of land.  The first, he said, is a stony ground where the seed cannot put down deep roots. This, the Pope added, “is the superficial heart that welcomes the Lord, wants to pray, love and testify, but does not persevere..."

The Holy Father continued, then “there is the thorny ground, full of rocks that suffocate the good plants." This form of soil, he said, was the world seduced by wealth and greed, adding that the rocks were the vices that inhabit a person’s heart.

With the Lord’s help, underlined Pope Francis, we can reclaim the land in the form of confession and prayer that removes the stones and thorns and purifies our hearts.

During his address the Holy Father remembered the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel, who is celebrated on July 16th.



(from Vatican Radio)

Pope endorses campaign to put 'Laudato Sì' into action

(Vatican Radio) Following the 2nd anniversary of the publication of his encyclical “Laudato Sì – On Care of our Common Home”, Pope Francis has endorsed a pledge campaign that aims to mobilize at least 1 million people to directly engage in turning the encyclical’s message into action. 

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Organized and promoted by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the pledge  calls on those who sign to answer the call of Laudato Sì by praying with and for creation, living more simply, and advocating to protect our common home.

The "Laudato Sì Pledge campaign" has received support from Church leaders from around the globe including Cardinal Turkson, Cardinal Tagle, Cardinal Ribat, Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Marx. It has also garnered the support of major environmental leaders.

Tomás Insua, Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, said, "We are grateful and inspired by Pope Francis' endorsement of the Laudato Si' Pledge. With 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, we have a critical role to play in tackling climate change and the wider ecological crisis. Pope Francis has already changed the discussion around climate change and this pledge is inviting us to put the Church's teachings into action and answer the urgent call for strong political action and lifestyle change put forth in Laudato Si'."

The Pope's endorsement adds to the momentum of recent Catholic climate action: Pope Francis requested that Angela Merkel uplift the Paris climate accord during the G20 summit, several Catholic organizations recently divested from fossil fuels, GCCM joined other Christian groups calling on governments to take strong action before the G7 last month and the Movement’s Executive Director joined other scientific, political and faith leaders in publishing a letter in Nature Magazine pushing the G20 to recognize the urgency of the climate crisis. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to catechists: Be creative

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to an International Catechetical Symposium which is taking place this week at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires, and has as its theme “blessed are those who believe”.


In the message to the symposium, the Holy Father points out that “being a catechist is a vocation of service in the Church, that has been received as a gift from the Lord and must in turn be transmitted.”

He goes on to say that the catechist walks with Christ, therefore is not a person who starts from his own ideas and tastes. He or she  looks for the Lord and that searching makes their heart burn.

Pope Francis also notes in his message that the role of the catechist is a creative one because this person seeks different ways and means to announce the good news of Christ. The Pope adds that “this quest to make Jesus known as supreme beauty leads us to find new signs and forms for the transmission of the faith.”

The means may be different, the Holy Father underlines, “but the important thing is to keep in mind the style of Jesus, who adapted to the people around him in order to bring them the love of God.”

The Pope continues that, it is necessary to know how to "change" and adapt, in order to transmit God’s message even though the message itself is always the same.

Finally, Pope Francis encourages catechists taking part in the symposium to be joyful messengers, guardians of good and beauty who shine in the faithful life of the missionary disciple.”


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to beatify a bishop and a priest in Colombia

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will beatify two martyred Colombian clerics when he travels to visit their South American nation in September.

The director of the Holy See Press office, Greg Burke, said that Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos will be beatified on September 8th during an open-air Mass in the city of Villavicencio presided over by the Pope.  

Linda Bordoni reports:

It was thanks to Bishop Jaramillo’s work of evangelization and promotion of the local Church in a vast territory where contraband and drug trafficking were rampant that development was made possible. Jaramillo was taken hostage in 1989 by armed bandits some 800 kilometers east of Bogota, and found dead the following day, shot with four bullets to the head.

Francis also recognized the martyrdom of Father Pedro Ramirez who was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948 when guerrilla factions set upon him as he sought refuge in his parish church. He refused to flee and abandon the people so the insurgents destroyed the door of the building, seized him and accused him of hiding weapons in the adjacent convent. They killed him on April 10 and impeded the faithful from giving a Christian burial to his mortal remains for some ten days. To this day, Father Pedro is known in Colombia as “the martyr of Armero.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to make his first apostolic visit to Colombia from 6 to 11 September, visiting the cities of Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena.

The journey is a pastoral one but is widely expected to further cement the peace accords signed by the government and the FARC rebel group aimed at putting an end to five decaded of civil conflict. The country’s second largest guerrilla group – the ELN – is also currently holding peace negotiations in neighboring Ecuador.


(from Vatican Radio)

Quo Vadis?

To be sure, the Vatican doesn't observe The 4th... still, the place's annual obsession with fireworks over these days has never exactly been a secret.

At least, it's not for those who've been around here long enough. Even for that, though, in terms of the broad sweep of things, what we've just seen – and what's yet to come of it – is simply on another level.

Long story short, apart from the days surrounding B16's resignation and the Conclave that followed, this scribe simply can't recall a more dramatic nor impactful news-cycle than the one suddenly sprung over the last 10 days: to top it off, of what're now the three principal dicasteries of the Roman Curia, two of their heads were wiped out within 48 hours.

Lest that didn't sink in the first time, read it again.

Put another way, when a Consistory isn't the top-line of the week – let alone the month – in which it happens, Peter and Paul gets lost in the shuffle, and no less than the Pope's pick for the largest diocesan seat in Europe is practically an afterthought, if you don't know how uncharted this is, you're not paying attention.

All around, while July 1 normally signals the end of the circus, the threads now afoot have made the period ahead anything but routine. For starters, we're 10 days out from a moment without precedent – the Vatican's de facto #2 cardinal in a criminal court back home, facing the specter of watershed sex-charges (their precise nature still to be clarified). And that's leaving aside the customary last files already decided, but not yet announced... a good few events of wider import on tap... and, indeed, the sheer unknown that's always with us.

As you might expect, by this point in a "normal" July, this scribe can really use a breather. Frankly, that's all the more so this time around, but finding one will be a bit trickier than usual. So if and when things are able to go quiet here for a couple days here and there over the next few weeks, hope you'll understand – as they take the brunt the rest of the time, my family and friends would appreciate it.

When it comes to the major stuff, however, the intent is to be in the saddle here – at least, to the degree that you make it happen.

Ergo – with a boatload of thanks to everyone who's helped the shop get through the first round of these days – as the bills are ever a work in progress, keeping all this going is the one part of this work that's in this readership's hands...

Again, all thanks – especially now, this side of the screen sure doesn't want the plug pulled... but for those who haven't yet grasped the ongoing lesson of the Northeast, well, looking at somebody else and thinking that "They'll do it" is the ultimate reason for why things close.

Lastly, while some have been griping this way over how the "Holy Office" train blew through last weekend, suffice it to say, the initial reports on it simply didn’t meet Whispers’ standards of verification – and on a move as high-octane as that, the sheer risk of getting it wrong just wouldnt've been worth destroying one’s reputation over (even if, given history, that very confluence would’ve been deliciously fitting).

Still, much as the standard “rule of three” wasn't reached before the announcement itself, one senior Vatican op did confirm the buzz amid the war-zone of last Friday afternoon, tipping the full outcome of the moment at hand in these words:

“Yes, Müller is leaving.... And Pell will never return.”

At least so far, time and events have proven him right....

For the rest, stay tuned – that is, as you will so permit.


Ambrose, Charles, Montini, Martini... and Mario – For Milan, The Pope's "Inside Job"

And so, after months of anticipation, "The Big One" has arrived – arguably the most significant personnel choice of any Pope Francis will make across his pontificate.

Yet while the ancient chair of Milan has been occupied over 18 centuries by saints, future Popes – and, more recently, the intellectual heavyweights of their respective ecclesial eras – in selecting its 144th holder, Papa Bergoglio opted instead for the "man behind the curtain," picking Bishop Mario Delpini, the 65 year-old auxiliary and lead vicar-general of the Lombard church, to lead Europe's largest diocese, comprising some 5 million Catholics served by more than 1,100 parishes. (Above, the archbishop-elect is seen with Francis during his March visit to the city.)

Despite having served as top aide to Cardinal Angelo Scola practically since the now-retiring prelate's arrival six years ago, a contrast of style was clear at the noontime announcement in the Milanese Curia, as Scola donned his red-trimmed house cassock, while the archbishop-elect – known for bicycling around Italy's financial and media hub – made his debut in a faded tab-shirt and rumpled suit (below).

Oft-tipped in the Italian rumblings leading up to today's move, among the locals Delpini's ascent has evoked comparisons to the newly-elected Paul VI's pick of another native son – his own lead deputy, Giovanni Colombo – to fill the seat after the then-Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini became the post's last holder to be elected to the papacy.

Over his 42 years of priesthood, the incoming archbishop's ministry has been spent mostly in the central rungs of the sprawling, immensely complex local church, being tapped by its successive chiefs as seminary rector, regional vicar, auxiliary, and then the de facto overseer of the Curia. (At the behest of Scola's predecessor, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Delpini was named an auxiliary in 2007 by then-Pope Benedict XVI.)

Beyond allowing for a remarkably smooth transition that'll see Delpini hit the ground running, it was indeed observed during the stakes that the eventual choice shares a key focus with Francis' recent nominee as vicar for Rome, Archbishop Angelo DeDonatis: on top of his duties as vicar-general, like DeDonatis the Milanese likewise coordinates the mega-diocese's efforts for the continuing formation of priests.

Striking a humble tone in his first remarks upon the appointment, Delpini joked to the throng of clergy and media on hand today that, "people who know me might say I'm a good guy... but archbishop of Milan? Somebody else would be better.

"My inadequacy can be found just in the names [of prior archbishops]," he said "illustrious [names] like Angelo, Dionigi, Carlo Maria, Giovanni, Giovanni Battista, etc. But Mario – what kind of name is that?

"As you can see, it's just some run-of-the-mill bishop."

The "biking bishop" can say that all he likes, but history shows his new reality to be rather different – beyond being thrust into the global stratosphere with his ascent, as noted here over recent weeks, five of Delpini's nine predecessors over the last century have either been beatified, elected to the Papacy, or both.

"I need everybody," Delpini said today, voicing his hope that "our church should reveal in an ever more evident way the threads of synodality and co-responsibility that Vatican II marked out.... I need all the men and women who live in this diocese... to help this Ambrosian church to be creative and welcoming, poorer and more simple, that it might be freer and happier."

In keeping with recent custom for the post, Delpini will be installed in the seat of Saints Ambrose and Charles in late September to coincide with the beginning of the church's pastoral year after the summer hiatus. By longstanding tradition, the formal "entrance" of a new archbishop into the city is conducted as a grand spectacle, with the region's civic leadership, the top brass of the Italian church, and an overflow throng outside the Duomo (cathedral) all out in force; the future Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini SJ is seen above at his 1979 arrival, having been ordained as the 141st archbishop at the Vatican by John Paul II.

While most Curial business has ceased for the vacation season of July and August, it's standard procedure that diocesan appointments already decided will still be announced over the next ten days or so.

Above all, however, given the fallout of last week's transition at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most important nod on-deck is that of its new Archbishop-Secretary to replace the incoming Prefect, Archbishop Luis Ladaria SJ.

Though the lead official of a Roman dicastery sets his office's general direction and serves as its external "face," the second-in-command is at least as critical a figure in light of his responsibility for managing the daily nuts and bolts of its workload – which, in the CDF's case, tends to involve no shortage of the Curia's most sensitive and significant business.


For the New Cathedral, Un Nuevo Pastor – At Long Last, Zarama Nabs Raleigh's Big Chair

(Updated 9.30am with presser video, etc.)

For all the twists and turns (and loops) of an eventful vacancy in Eastern North Carolina's 59-county fold, the nod still falls to the long-tipped frontrunner: at Roman Noon on this 5th of July, the Pope tapped Luis Rafael Zarama, the 58 year-old auxiliary of Atlanta, as sixth bishop of Raleigh – its more than 500,000 Catholics doubled in size over the last decade, a majority of them Hispanic.

The move completes a rare "trade" of hats rolled out over the last several weeks, as the latter's own Fr Ned Shlesinger was snapped up by Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a second auxiliary for the million-member Atlanta church. And as those who listened closely at the May presser announcing that move might recall the veiled yet conspicuous Wilt-line that "Raleigh may talk to me again – soon"... well, "soon" has come to pass (and on the foreseen timetable, to boot).

With his move to the land of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, the Colombian-born pick inherits the new crown jewel of the church's landmark emergence in the "New South": the 2,000-seat, $41 million Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus (below), which will be dedicated three weeks from today in fittingly massive form by the project's visionary, Bishop Michael Burbidge, who was transferred to Arlington last October.

Zarama will be installed in the new space on Tuesday, 29 August. Gratefully, the cathedral's cost isn't among the challenges ahead – thanks to a redo of the initial plans that removed several of the proposed structure's pricier elements, in a rarity for an effort of this magnitude, its construction and outfitting is said to be practically paid off.

On another historic front, the choice marks a watershed – recruited by Atlanta from his homeland before his 1993 ordination, Zarama becomes the first Latino to helm a Southern diocese outside of Florida. As for what awaits, meanwhile, given reports of some tensions between Colombians and Mexicans in the Raleigh trenches, that situation – among others – just got rather more interesting.

Himself a sweetheart par excellence, even for today's usual introductory presser, Zarama's already had his maiden turn before his new charge – the act indeed seen as an "audition" at the time, the eventual appointee was brought in to celebrate this year's Chrism Mass in Raleigh due to the vacancy, nabbing high marks across the board with this homily, beginning with his admission that "my legs are shaking":

The local intro set for 10am ET today, here's the Chancery livefeed:

Developing – again, lest anybody forgot, there's no shortage of "more to come" going around.


"This Is the Dignity of America, The Reason She Exists...."

And so, from the place where it all began, to one and all, a blessed and Happy 4th.

Much as the text is part and parcel of every civic feast here, it's never more fitting than on this day: the Prayer for the Nation written and first delivered 225 years ago (at the first National Synod) by John Carroll of Baltimore – a cousin of the lone Catholic to sign the Declaration, the founding shepherd of the church in these United States....
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope Francis, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own Bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his[/her] excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance.

To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.
*   *   *
In the time since, the Nativist paranoia of ages past actually did end up panning out: the Popes have indeed made their conquest across the Atlantic... just not by "commanding" the faithful across an ocean to dig a tunnel beneath it to Rome.

The outlandish we'll always have with us – and, to be sure, no one should understand that better than an American Catholic.

In reality, the story of (Romish) church and state on these shores has mostly come to embody the promise sketched out by James Gibbons at Trastevere some 13 decades ago: namely, that when it comes to the practice and spread of the faith in these States, "we are indebted... to the civil liberty we enjoy in our enlightened republic."

What this age tends to forget, however, is that with freedom comes responsibility... and filling in the blanks is the unique and irreplaceable service of the free institutions of faith.

On that front, Catholicism's ultimate tribute to the American experiment marks its 30th anniversary this fall: John Paul II's farewell to the country – the final word of the now-saint's most extensive coast-to-coast tour....
As I leave, I express my gratitude to God also for what he is accomplishing in your midst. With the words of Saint Paul, I too can say with confident assurance "that he who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1, 6-7). And so I am confident too that America will be ever more conscious of her responsibility for justice and peace in the world. As a nation that has received so much, she is called to continued generosity and service towards others.

As I go, I take with me vivid memories of a dynamic nation, a warm and welcoming people, a Church abundantly blessed with a rich blend of cultural traditions. I depart with admiration for the ecumenical spirit that breathes strongly throughout this land, for the genuine enthusiasm of your young people, and for the hopeful aspirations of your most recent immigrants. I take with me an unforgettable memory of a country that God has richly blessed from the beginning until now.

America the beautiful! So you sing in one of your national songs. Yes, America, you are beautiful indeed, and blessed in so many ways:

- in your majestic mountains and fertile plains;
- in the goodness and sacrifice hidden in your teeming cities and expanding suburbs;
- in your genius for invention and for splendid progress;
- in the power that you use for service and in the wealth that you share with others;
- in what you give to your own, and in what you do for others beyond your borders;
- in how you serve, and in how you keep alive the flame of hope in many hearts;
- in your quest for excellence and in your desire to right all wrongs.

Yes, America, all this belongs to you. But your greatest beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native-born son and daughter.

For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness in the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenceless ones.

The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person:

- feeding the poor and welcoming refugees;
- reinforcing the social fabric of this nation;
- promoting the true advancement of women;
- securing the rights of minorities;
- pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defence; all this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.

Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God.

This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenceless ones, those as yet unborn.

With these sentiments of love and hope for America, I now say goodbye in words that I spoke once before: "Today, therefore, my final prayer is this: that God will bless America, so that she may increasingly become - and truly be - and long remain one Nation, under God, indivisible. With liberty and justice for all."

May God bless you all.

God bless America!