Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis prays for victims of Sierra Leone mudslide

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his “closeness” to those who have loved ones in the tragic mudslide that struck Sierra Leone.

A telegram signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy Father is praying for all those who have died; and that he invokes “divine blessings of strength and consolation” on their grieving family and friends.

The telegram assures rescue workers of Pope Francis’ solidarity and support.

The full text of the telegram, addressed to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown, can be read below:

Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: Listen to the Lord not horoscopes or fortune tellers

(Vatican Radio)"When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square.

He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Audience: ‘Divine mercy is foundation of Christian hope’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope with pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, saying that God’s mercy as embodied by Jesus both transforms us and renews our hope.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

In his address to pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about God’s mercy and forgiveness as the driving force or the “motor” of Christian hope.

He reflected on the passage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 7:44-50) in which Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and a precious ointment.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ merciful action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of his time. Jesus, he said, embraced sinners and the “untouchables” of his day, rather than rejecting them as was commonplace.

“Jesus, faced with human pain, feels mercy; Jesus’ heart is merciful. Jesus feels compassion. Literally: Jesus feels a tremor within.”

The Pope said Jesus’ astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy.

And this gives a sure foundation to our hope.

Pope Francis then invited all present to reflect on the cost of sin.

“Jesus does not go to the cross because He heals the sick, preaches charity, or proclaims the beatitudes. The Son of God goes to the cross above all because He forgives sins, and because He wants the total and definitive liberation of the human heart.”

Finally, Pope Francis said God’s mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.

“[W]e are all poor sinners, in need of the mercy of God Who has the strength to transform us and to restore our hope every day.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis decries attack on Nigerian churchgoers, violence in CAR

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to “every form of hatred and violence”, especially those “perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray”.

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

Listen to our report:

At his General Audience, Pope Francis said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.”

At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope also decried an incident which occurred on Wednesday in the Central African Republic.

“And, unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community.”

He expressed his desire that attacks on places of worship should cease.

“I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

After a brief pause, the Holy Father invited all present to think about “our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic” and to pray for them.

He then led the crowd in the recitation of the Hail Mary.

Pope Francis already on Monday sent a telegramme of condolences to Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi following the attack on the church in his diocese.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope sends video message to Church in Peru

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to Catholics in Peru, ahead of his planned pastoral visit there next January. The short video message was published on the website of the archdiocese of Lima by Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne.

Listen to our report: 

In the message Pope Francis talks about the wealth of human resources that characterize the past and present of the Church in the South American nation. Peru has many great saints, he says, who have contributed to the building up of the Church, helping it to move from fragmentation to unity.

Saints work for unity

A saint, the pope continues, is someone who always work to create unity, just as Jesus did, and a saint must always follow in his footsteps.

In the video the pope invites all Peruvians to follow on this path and to work for unity, looking to the future with hope, rather than with bitterness or skepticism. A Christian always looks ahead with hope, he concludes, because he or she always hopes to see the realization of what the Lord has promised.

Pope to visit Chile and Peru

Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Chile and Peru from January 15th to 21st, visiting the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, as well as the capital Lima.

(from Vatican Radio)

"In the Breach of the Divide" – On Day One, ArchChuck Talks Church's Checkered Flag

All of six years ago, Fr Chuck Thompson was a parish priest in Louisville and vicar-general to its archbishop.... And today, a rapid rise completes itself – across the Ohio River from his hometown, he’s now his former boss’ equal as head of Indiana’s metropolitan church.

For the first time in the reign of Francis, an appointee of his own holds the distinction of being the youngest American archbishop. Yet anyone who’d conflate the 56 year-old’s youth with "inexperience" is sorely mistaken; whether as an alum and professor of Indy’s Benedictine seminary at St Meinrad, his lifelong closeness to his now-predecessor, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, or his time already served on the Indiana bench, as transitions go, this one’s as seamless as it gets.

Nevertheless, there are some things even the “ArchChuck” still has to learn – for one, the Pallium “nail” (pin) is worn over one’s left shoulder, not the right.

Having marked the hour of his June appointment by taking a run through the streets he’s long known as an “adopted son” of Indianapolis, after breaking into tears on being seated in its Chair, the Pope’s pick formally took the reins today with an unusual, but fitting break from custom, sharing his vision for the 300,000-member church’s road ahead – a call from polarization to reconciliation rooted in what (a decade ago this week) Benedict XVI once termed the church’s “Great ‘Et Et’... and doing so as two of this pontificate’s Stateside “great powers” – one of them his cardinal-predecessor – approvingly looked on.

Given the possibility that the preach was really a stealth plea for BBN loyalties to be accepted in Hoosier Country, well, even an archbishop can dream....

For the substance, meanwhile, here’s the game-film:


Moving rapidly to bridge the long divide within Stateside Catholicism's most gerrymandered outpost – uniquely carved so that Meinrad would remain within its lines – the traveling Chuck-show begins this very weekend with a Sunday Mass two hours and over 100 miles to the south in New Albany: a significant nod to his new charge's heavily-Protestant, oft-disregarded rural tier... or, as the archbishop of Anchorage calls it, "home."

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In Raleigh, The Church Has Arrived

Over the decade ending next spring, the Stateside church will have opened four new cathedrals. The sign of the times, however, lies in the specifics – all but one have been built to serve Catholicism's epic emergence in the heart of the American South.

Though the cycle doesn't wrap up until early 2018, yesterday saw the dedication of the largest of the group: Raleigh's 2,000-seat, $46 million Cathedral of the Holy Name of Jesus – the new hub for a 550,000-member fold not only doubled in size over the last decade, but tripled since 1990 on the back of massive migration both from the Rust Belt and Latin America.

Impressive as the upgrade is on its own, that's all the more the case considering what the new structure replaces: the 250-seat downtown church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, designated as the diocesan seat upon Raleigh's founding in 1924, and until now the smallest cathedral in the continental United States. Given the population boom, the parish's dozen weekend Masses have invariably drawn overflow crowds stretching past its doors; over the site's final Sunday, it was said that some of the liturgies saw people gathered around the windows outside and straining to follow along. (Even with the expanded space, the new cathedral parish will still celebrate seven liturgies each weekend.)

Built on a century-old property initially acquired by Maryknoll missionaries, while local officials have aimed to compare Holy Name's size to St Patrick's in New York and the Stateside fold's other storied outposts, another stat is more telling: with its launch, Raleigh is now home to the largest mother church of an American see that isn't an archdiocese. As Catholics barely comprised a single percent of North Carolina's population until the last quarter-century, the milestone further consolidates the faithful's historic ascent in the Tar Heel State, which has likewise birthed what's said to be the nation's largest parish – the 10,000-family behemoth at St Matthew's in suburban Charlotte.

Its copper dome already an established presence on the Raleigh skyline, the finished cathedral represents an evolved design from its first draft; after the early plans garnered criticism over their cost and concept, a scaled-back reworking based on wider consultation expanded the narthex, loaded the transepts with altar-facing pews and ditched a number of bells and whistles like an underground parking garage. At the same time, as a nod to its local context, the Romanesque-inspired product features quintessentially American touches – mostly red brick on the outside, and apart from the stained glass and life-size statues of 26 saints around the nave, a lack of interior adornment in favor of a strikingly white decor, both a traditional hallmark of the South’s Protestant churches as well as a choice reminiscent of the nation's first cathedral, Baltimore's Basilica of the Assumption, which was conceived with an eye to architecturally inculturating Catholicism to the American experiment. (In this particular instance, the latter piece is all the more significant: North Carolina’s first resident bishop, James Gibbons, was baptized in the Baltimore shrine and was sent to Wilmington as the state’s founding vicar-apostolic, serving there from 1868-72 before returning home to the Premier See, where he would become its first cardinal-archbishop and reign for 45 years.)

Marked in turns by reverence and exuberance, yesterday's rites capped an unusually emotional year for the project's builder, who fittingly – and gratefully – returned to do the honors with relish.

Upon learning of his transfer to Arlington last fall as nearly a decade of planning, fundraising and construction neared the finish line, Bishop Michael Burbidge understandably wept. And on coming back to see his vision brought fully to life – delivering it on-time, on-budget and without any enduring debt – as he said early yesterday, "My knees buckled."

In the end, however, the moment was nonetheless bound to be fleeting. Handed the keys to the building by the construction team as the first of multiple ovations thundered through the space, Burbidge promptly passed them to his successor, Bishop Luis Zarama, who takes possession of the cathedral and its marble and gilt throne as his own in late August.


And if that poetic moment – the handover from a Northeast-born Anglo to a Hispanic immigrant in the church's "New South" – doesn't sum up the reality of this era in the nation's Catholic history, then nothing ever could.

*   *   *
Here, fullvid of the three-hour Dedication Mass – and its 70-page worship aid:


...and to mark the occasion, a prime-time special aired last night on the city's NBC affiliate, WRAL:


In the short term, the final lap of the US' new cathedral crop comes early next year – of course, again in the South. Amid the church's exponential growth in East Tennessee, Knoxville's $28 million, 1,500-seat replacement for Sacred Heart Cathedral will be opened on March 3rd, overflowing with frescoes and capped by a Florentine-style dome.

That said, what's arguably the Stateside fold's most prominent and intensely-watched project of the kind is now formally underway out West: within the last six weeks, construction finally began for the conversion of Orange County's landmark Crystal Cathedral into the seat of its 1.3 million-member diocese, with completion currently eyed for sometime in mid-2019.

Five years since the 34-acre campus made famous by Dr Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" was purchased for a song by the growing Orange church, the work on its centerpiece belies the reality that the rest of the site's half-dozen buildings have already been put to ecclesial use, with the diocesan Chancery, a school, several media entities and more already based there at full tilt.

Liturgically, meanwhile, the campus' first worship space – the 1960s-era Arboretum – is serving as the de facto Cathedral church for the time being, hosting most of the diocese's major events and drawing over 12,000 people every weekend across 14 Masses in four languages: English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

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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.

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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.

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