PAPAL MESSAGE FOR 24th WORLD DAY OF THE SICK – U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS POPE FRANCIS WILL “TOUCH ON THE CORE VALUES THAT AMERICA HOLDS UP” – VATICAN STATS ON THE CHURCH IN CUBA AND IN THE U.S.

Pope Francis’ latest tweet: God loves the lowly. When we live humbly, he takes our small efforts and creates great things.

The Vatican announced today that the Holy Father has appointed Bishop James Vann Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, U.S. as bishop of Kansas City-Saint Joseph. He succeeds Bishop Robert Finn who resigned in April, having been found guilty several years earlier of failure to report sexual abuse cases.

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR 24th WORLD DAY OF THE SICK

The Vatican today released Pope Francis’ Message for the 24th World Day of the Sick, celebrated annually on the February 11th feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The international celebration will take place in 2016 in the Holy Land. The theme of the papal Message is “Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary.”

Pope Francis starts by noting that, “The 24th World Day of the Sick offers me an opportunity to draw particularly close to you, dear friends who are ill, and to those who care for you. This year, since the Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, I wish to propose a meditation on the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle through the intervention of his Mother. The theme chosen – Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like Mary: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ is quite fitting in light of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.”

He writes that, “The main Eucharistic celebration of the Day will take place on 11 February 2016, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Nazareth itself, where ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’. In Nazareth, Jesus began his salvific mission, applying to himself the words of the Prophet Isaiah, as we are told by the Evangelist Luke: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord’.”

The Holy Father underscores that, “illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning.”

Yet, he urges us to have faith: “In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.”

In a beautiful image, the Holy Father says, “The wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the center there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign; around him are the disciples, the first fruits of the new community; and beside Jesus and the disciples is Mary, the provident and prayerful Mother.  Mary partakes of the joy of ordinary people and helps it to increase; she intercedes with her Son on behalf of the spouses and all the invited guests.  Nor does Jesus refuse the request of his Mother.  How much hope there is in that event for all of us!  We have a Mother with benevolent and watchful eyes, like her Son; a heart that is maternal and full of mercy, like him; hands that want to help, like the hands of Jesus who broke bread for those who were hungry, touched the sick and healed them.  All this fills us with trust and opens our hearts to the grace and mercy of Christ.”

U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS POPE FRANCIS WILL “TOUCH ON THE CORE VALUES THAT AMERICA HOLDS UP”

The US Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, in an interview with Vatican Radio, described his emotion and that of his fellow Americans as they ready for the Pope’s arrival in the U.S. from Cuba on September 22. Ambassaor Hackett used terms such as, “[T]o listen to him with open hearts,” in “an excitement of faith,” which is the proper disposition of “a generous people” and a “nation of many peoples. (photo: news.va)

AMB KEN HACKETT

Vatican Radio writes: “Focused on the Holy Father’s participation in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, the apostolic journey to the United States from September 22 to 27 is taking place under the banner: ‘Love is our Mission’. The stay is scheduled to include at least one historical first: Pope Francis is to address a joint meeting of Congress on September 24th. In a conversation with Vatican Radio’s Director of English Programming Sean-Patrick Lovett, Ambassador Hackett said, “[H]e will touch on those core values that America holds up.”

What of the reception the Holy Father can expect from US lawmakers at a time in which they are politically divided? “We’re going to listen to him with open hearts when he talks about migration, and poverty, and climate. You know, they’re smart people in Congress and they’re going to say: well, there’s a partisan element to us but there is also a human element to us and when the Holy Father talks about how we treat our Earth.”

The US Ambassador to the Holy See expects the Holy Father to challenge the humanity of his people, as well. “[H]e will make a mark when he meets with the homeless in Washington,” Hackett said, adding, “that’s wonderful for a very particular reason: it highlights the situation that we know as a nation we should be doing more to address.” Pope Francis is also scheduled to visit a prison. “Our correctional system has kind of gone out of control in a way, and I hope that he speaks about capital punishment, and solitary confinement, and using our prison system and correctional system as a rehabilitative rather than just straight punitive action,” the Ambassador said.

Perhaps most significant, however, is the personal moment of this visit for Ambassador Hackett, himself a Catholic. “I’m so proud, so proud,” the Ambassador said. “To realize that the Pope is coming to the United States’ three cities [Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York]: wonderful, just wonderful.”

Click here to read the full and very interesting interview on Vatican Radio: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/09/15/amb_hackett_%E2%80%9Can_excitement_of_faith%E2%80%9D_ahead_of_popes_visit/1171872

VATICAN STATS ON THE CHURCH IN CUBA AND IN THE U.S.

The Central Statistics Office of the Church has published some data relative to the Catholic Church in Cuba and the United States, given Pope Francis’ impending visit to those two countries, The statistics are from December 31, 2013.

On that date, Cuba’s population was 11,192,000 inhabitants, of whom 6,775,000 – about 60.5 percent – are Catholics. There are 11 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 283 parishes and 2,094 pastoral centres. There are currently 17 bishops, 365 priests, 659 men and women religious, 85 seminarians, and 4,395 catechists. The Church has six centers for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. The charitable and social centers belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious in Cuba include 173 hospitals and clinics, one home for the elderly or disabled, two orphanages and nurseries, and three special centers for social education or re-education and institutions of other types.

On December 31, 2013, the U.S. population was 316,253,000 inhabitants, of whom 71,796,000 are Catholics, representing 22.7 per cent of the population. There are 196 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 18,256 parishes and 2,183 pastoral centers. There are currently 457 bishops, 40,967 priests, 55,390 men and women religious, 381,892 catechists and 5,829 seminarians. The Church has 11,265 centers for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to church run charitable and social center or centers directed by ecclesiastics or religious, there are 888 hospitals and clinics, two leper colonies, 1,152 homes for the elderly or disabled, 1,090 orphanages and nurseries, 981 family advisory centers and other centers for the protection of life, and 4,295 special centers for social education or re-education and institutions of other types.

 

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