VATICAN INSIDER: ARCHBISHOP GUSTAVO GARCIA SILLER AND V ENCUENTRO – CARDINAL SEAN O’MALLEY ORDAINS 30 SEMINARIANS TO THE DIACONATE

Many days in my life are so filled with events, celebrations, meetings, people, preparing and doing TV spots and radio programs, and even unexpected events that, on occasion, no time is left for my daily column. Yesterday and today have been two such days.

Yesterday, in particular, was the annual diaconate ordination at the North American College, and a report and photos follow below. Today Pope Francis departed on his three-day pilgrimage – the 16th foreign trip of his pontificate – to Georgia and Azerbaijan.  I’ll let you follow that on EWTN television and on our website.

This weekend I am going to do something I very rarely do in this great, historic and extremely beautiful country, namely, take a two-day weekend and travel to Florence with cousins visiting from Chicago, one of whom has never been to Italy so we are all thrilled to have this occasion.

I hope your weekend will be as special as ours will surely be and I’ll get back to you on Monday, as usual.

VATICAN INSIDER: ARCHBISHOP GUSTAVO GARCIA SILLER AND V ENCUENTRO

My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller of San Antonio. We spoke at the papal residence of Santa Marta during the days that he and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles were in Rome to present to various Vatican offices a program about, by and for Hispanic Americans in the Church called V Encuentro –the V Encounter. Abp. Gustavo is a dear friend – the oldest of 15 children, by the way! – and our conversation covered V Encuentro, migration, the US elections and much, much more including a few surprises.

I forgot to take photos that day but if you refer to my September 24 Facebook post, you will see the photos that Marthamaria Morales, in Rome with the two archbishops and their delegation, posted on her page that were later shared on mine.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

CARDINAL SEAN O’MALLEY ORDAINS 30 SEMINARIANS TO THE DIACONATE

Yesterday, September 29, was a very special day for 29 young men from the United States and 1 from Australia, from the archdiocese of Melbourne, as they were ordained deacons at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston. These 30 future priests all study at the Pontifical North American College and represent 27 U.S. dioceses in addition to the one in Australia. In some cases the bishops of these dioceses were present.

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After the diaconate ordination, NAC offers a reception for the young men and their family and friends who are in Rome for the occasion. It was a very big affair this year and, to be honest, I don’t recall such a large number of family and friends present for this beautiful day. And a beautiful day it was – very warm temperatures and clear, blue skies.

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This has always been a special day for me personally as I have been a big fan and supporter of the North American College for years and know many faculty members and a number of the seminarians.

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What is so lovely about this day is how prominent families are in this celebration, the families of the new deacons and the NAC family.

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Strong, faith-filled families are almost always behind a vocation – families for whom the faith is important, including frequent, often daily, Mass, prayers at mealtimes, learning and passing on the faith and, most importantly on the role of parents who both accept and encourage a vocation to the priesthood.

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Of the young men I have spoken to over the years, all indicated that their family life was behind their choice for the priesthood – prayer life, family rosary, Mass attendance, their parents as role models and the family support for the call to the priesthood.

With their time in Rome, the seminarians and deacons now have an extended family – the wonderful and supportive seminary family at the North American College and, in many ways, the family of the Universal Church in Rome.

At the reception with Auxiliary Bishop Rassas of Chicago and one of the very special families that Diane and I met that afternoon.

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In addition to the 30 men ordained yesterday, a number of NAC seminarians were ordained in the U.S. in their home dioceses. All will be ordained to the priesthood at the end of their last year at NAC, returning to their home dioceses for priestly ordination.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Rome for the new deacons, for their families and for all of us because, after all, these young men our future pastors!

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF SHIMON PERES

POPE SENDS CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF SHIMON PERES

Pope Francis, upon learning of the death overnight of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, sent the following telegram to current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Excellency Shimon Peres, and I wish to convey to you and to all the people of Israel my heartfelt condolences. I fondly recall my time with Mr. Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late President’s tireless efforts in favour of peace. As the State of Israel mourns Mr. Peres, I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples. In this way, his legacy will truly be honoured and the common good for which he so diligently laboured will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path towards enduring peace. With the assurance of my prayers for all who grieve, especially for the Peres family, I invoke the divine blessings of consolation and strength upon the nation. FRANCISCUS PP.”

Pope Francis met President Shimon Peres in 2014 during his three-day trip in late May to Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.A month later, he welcomed Peres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to the Vatican and together they planted an olive tree in the gardens. The pontiff met Peres again in September 2014 in the Vatican. Peres’ term as presidemnt had ended in July of that year-

The closest I ever was to former Israeli President Shimon Peres was on December 29, 2008 when I attended the reception he offered at his residence for the heads of the Christian Churches in Israel. This is a yearly event for the exchange of New Year’s greetings between the president and the religious leaders.

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At the time, I was in Bethlehem at the Jacir Palace Hotel for a 10-day visit over the Christmas period. On the 29th, I had gone to Jerusalem with a pastor friend of mine in Beit Sahour, Fr. Faysal, who had business at the Latin Patriarchate. There was the usual stop at the Israeli checkpoint (Bethlehem is in Palestine), documents were shown, questions were asked and the car was examined from top to bottom. We were okayed to pass through and I spent the day at the Patriarchate before going to President Peres’ home.

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Just last Monday evening in the Vatican, Pope Francis met with members of the World Jewish Congress.

POPE TO EMBARK ON THREE-DAY TRIP TO GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN

Just one piece of news today – the days are filled with visitors, two cousins who are my houseguests, preparations for the blessing tomorrow of the new EWTN offices and then on Thursday the annual North American College diaconate ordination in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by a reception at the College…a momentous event in the life of the young men who will be ordained priests in their own dioceses next summer.

POPE TO EMBARK ON THREE-DAY TRIP TO GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN

The Vatican has released details of the Holy Father’s upcoming three-day trip to the republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, his 16th foreign apostolic visit. The trip will take place on the themes of peace and brotherhood, concluding his message of peace during his June trip to neighboring Armenia last June.

Pope Francis is scheduled to leave the Vatican on Friday morning, headed for the Georgian capital Tbilisi. His first encounter there will be with the president, with government authorities and representatives of civil society gathered at the imposing presidential palace. From there he goes on to meet the country’s Orthodox leader Patriarch Elia, who was also on hand for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the newly independent nation back in 1999.

The final event on Friday will be a visit to the Syro-Chaldean church of St Simon the Tanner, one of three different rites making up the small Catholic community in the former Soviet nation. The Pope will join Syro-Chaldean bishops from around the world to pray for peace in Syria and Iraq.

The Holy Father starts his second day with Mass at a stadium in Tbilisi named after one of Georgia’s most famous footballers. Significantly, a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate will also be present at the Mass, a sign of growing friendship despite the many doctrinal difficulties that continue to divide leaders of the two Churches.

In the afternoon, the Pope will meet with priests, religious and seminarians at one of the two Catholic parishes in the capital, before greeting several hundred disabled and vulnerable people being cared for by members of the Camilian order.  The Pope’s final event in Georgia will be a visit to the patriarchal cathedral in the nearby ancient city of Mtshketa, listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

On his third and final day, Pope Francis flies from Tbilisi to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan where he’ll celebrate Mass for the tiny Catholic community at the only parish church run by the Salesian order. In the afternoon he’ll make a courtesy visit to the president and meet the region’s Muslim leader, Sheik Allashukur Pashazade, before taking part in an interfaith encounter with representatives of all the other religious communities in the country.

 

POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!” – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!”

There was a beautiful Mass Sunday morning in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for the Jubilee of Catechists with tens of thousands of them from around the world filling the Square.

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“On this Jubilee for Catechists,” said the Pope in his homily, “we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and center: The Lord is risen! Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centerpiece, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen! The Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this.”

Francis reminded the catechists that, “Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming the blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.”

In addressing the faithful in St. Peter’s Square following Mass and ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the two Mexican priests who had been abducted and killed the previous Sunday – and just hours before hearing of the same fate for a third Catholic priest.  He prayed that ongoing violence in Mexico might end.

In fact, the archdiocese of Morelia announced that the body of a priest abducted in Mexico a week ago and shot at point blank range has been found, just hours after Pope Francis had issued a heartfelt appeal for an end to the violence in that country. Fr. Jose Lopez Guillen had, like the two priests last week, been robbed and abducted in the western Mexican State of Michocan on the very same day the bodies of the other two priests were found.

The Holy Father also expressed his support for the pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican bishops. Saying: “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”

The abduction and murders of the three priests in the space of a week occurs at a time when Church leaders have been requesting increased protection for clergy. The violence against clergy takes place as the Church in Mexico takes a strong stance in defense of traditional marriage, at he same time that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to change laws so that to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions and equate them as marriage.

The Catholic Multi-Media Center notes that 15 priests have been murdered in Mexico in less than four years.

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The press office today released the declaration that you can read below about the visit by President Joseph Kabila of the Congo to Pope Francis. However, members of the press pool attending the audience noted that the atmosphere seemed decidedly different from other papal audiences with heads of State. AP reported: “The audience Monday was a brief 20 minutes, with interpreters. The pope didn’t greet Kabila in the reception room where, according to Vatican protocol, Francis would normally greet a visiting head of state. Rather, a glum-looking Francis waited for Kabila in his library.” (AP photo)

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Here is the Vatican report:

Today, Monday 26 September 2016, the Holy Father received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, who subsequently met with His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

In a statement, the Holy See’s Press Office said during the “cordial discussions,” the good relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were evoked, “with particular reference to the important contribution of the Catholic Church in the life of the nation, with its institutions in the educational, social and healthcare spheres, as well as in development and the reduction of poverty. In this context, mutual satisfaction was expressed for the signing of the framework Agreement between the Holy See and the State, which took place on 20 May this year.”

Particular attention was paid, the comunique continues, “to the serious challenges placed by the current political challenge and the recent clashes that have occurred in the capital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration between political actors and representatives of civil society and religious communities, in favor of the common good, through a respectful and inclusive dialogue for the stability of peace in the country.”

Finally, the Parties focused on the persistent violence suffered by the population in the east of the country, and on the urgency of cooperation at national and international levels, in order to provide the necessary assistance and to re-establish civil co-existence.

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER RECOUNTS HER STORIES OF MOTHER TERESA – CAN THERE BE MORAL CLARITY IN VOTING CHOICES? READ ON…

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER RECOUNTS HER STORIES OF MOTHER TERESA

My guest this weekend on “Vatican Insider” is Susan Conroy who tells her story of years with St Teresa of Calcutta. Susan made her first trip to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in 1986. In 1987, at the request of Mother Teresa herself, Susan stayed in the Order’s convent in the South Bronx, New York, in contemplation of the religious life. She did not enter the Order but, in 1991, during Lent, she returned to Calcutta to work with the Sisters among the dying destitutes. She and Mother Teresa kept in touch until Mother’s death in 1997. Susan has written several books on Mother Teresa so stay tuned for that wonderful story.

Susan at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the previous day’s canonization of Mother Teresa:

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

CAN THERE BE MORAL CLARITY IN VOTING CHOICES? READ ON…

So many people have told me, in person and via email, that they are quite concerned about how to vote in the 2016 elections, that the choices for presidential candidates pose a real dilemma – morally, politically, personally – and they want guidelines, especially from the U.S. bishops.

Well, there are guidelines at www.usccb.org, including the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/). And the bishops also note what they call the “Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines During Election Season,” starting with “Political Responsibility Guidelines”  (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm).

If you are perplexed, take your time and read these.

I offer an additional guideline for you.

Earlier today, I posted the following on FB, noting that I got this from a FB friend and that I had also just listened, per her link, to the homily at Mass at EWTN by Father Steve! Superlative indeed! The ultimate voters guide – no names mentioned but you’ll get it immediately. Here is what my friend wrote, including the caps: THIS IS A MASTERPIECE OF A HOMILY by Father Stephen Imbarrato on how we as Christians need to VOTE and to THINK and PRAY about how we will vote. PLEASE LISTEN AND PLEASE SHARE!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq_gdIspz00

You will not have any doubts about voting when you listen to this homily.

We have learned that Donald Trump has enlisted a large group of conservative, pro-life Americans as advisors to his campaign. Read the following piece by Joan Frawley Desmond for information about Trump’s reasons and learn who these advisors are:

(National Catholic Register) WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has tapped a leading abortion-rights foe to launch a nationwide effort to mobilize pro-life voters in the final weeks before U.S. voters go to the polls.

The appointment of Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), as the leader of Trump’s national pro-life coalition marked a new front in his battle to activate the GOP base. In a recent letter to pro-life leaders, Trump also vowed to support the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end late-term abortions nationwide,” protect the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of elective abortions, and defund Planned Parenthood.

“As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, the help of leaders like you is essential to ensure that pro-life voters know where I stand, and also know where my opponent, Hillary Clinton, stands,” wrote Trump in a letter that outlined his pro-life policy goals.

“Your help is crucial to make this contrast clear in the minds of pro-life voters,” Trump continued, “especially those in battleground states.”

“The whole plan is to rally pro-life voters around the nation, especially in battleground states, and let them know where the Trump ticket is on life issues,” Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of the Susan B. Anthony List and a former GOP congresswoman from Colorado, told the Register.

Dannenfelser’s endorsement signaled that some pro-life leaders and grassroots activists had finally warmed to Trump, after a long and often acrimonious courtship.

Back in January, Dannenfelser was among a group of pro-life leaders who warned Iowa Republicans not to trust the real estate tycoon, who once described himself as “pro-choice.” Not only did she challenge the candidate’s pro-life credentials, she also raised questions about his character.

But as Trump clinched the necessary delegate votes, pledged to put a pro-life jurist on the U.S. Supreme Court, and selected pro-life Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate, some of the skepticism began to fade.

Asked to explain Dannenfelser’s about-face, Musgrave told the Register that Trump had earned her support.

“The commitments that Donald Trump has made to the pro-life community are extraordinary,” she said.

“We have never gotten these commitments from any other candidate, including the last two candidates who were pro-life.”

“While Clinton and the Democratic Party have talked about doing away with the Hyde Amendment, Trump has pledged to make the Hyde Amendment permanent,” she explained.

To read the entire article by Joan Frawley Desmond, click here:

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/trump-makes-strong-play-for-pro-life-vote-as-race-tightens

To see those names and read more about the Trump appointments, click here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/kschiffer/donald-trump-names-33-members-to-council-of-catholic-advisers

POPE TO JOURNALISTS: FOSTER TRUTH, PROFESSIONALISM, RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY

Today is one of those days when even a 15-minute delay in back to back appointments can wreak havoc on a schedule. Because of a slew of meetings that start late afternoon and go into mid-evening, I don’t have time to post all the items I had planned but below you will find the most important piece of news today, a talk by Pope Francis to an Italian group of journalists.

What the Holy Father said must be an integral party of our work – truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity – is what I try to do with every word I write, every TV segment I tape, every radio show on which I appear.  All the extra time I spend in researching a statement or getting background on a story so that only the truth is being told, is eminently worth it. I want to stand tall at the end of a work day, knowing I have helped people to learn and understand, that I have cleared up doubts, not created them, that I have straightened out confusion, not contributed to it.

A great talk by the Holy Father – think of it the next time you pick up a paper or go online for a story!

The photo in this story is from ANSA at news.va – if you substitute yours truly for the fellow with the mic, you have an image of what I do twice weekly for At Home with Jim and Joy (tune in today at 2 pm ET!)

POPE TO JOURNALISTS: FOSTER TRUTH, PROFESSIONALISM, RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, telling them that truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity were essential elements in their work.

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Meeting with the assembled Italian journalists in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Thursday, Pope Francis told them that there were few professions that have “so much influence on society like that of journalism.” He noted that they are usually the ones who are there to record what he called,  the “first draft of history”, “the building of the news agenda and introducing people to the interpretation of events.”

He also noted that the journalistic profession was one that was continually adapting to changes in the way people digest news through new forms of media.

In his discourse the Pope stressed three essential elements in the work of a journalist, that he said, could serve to “improve the society in which we live”: To love the truth, to embody professionalism and to respect human dignity.

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He said that loving the truth meant not only stating it, but living it  and bearing witness to it in their work, adding, “even in journalism we must be able to discern between shades of grey surrounding the events that we are called to tell.”

Speaking about the second element, professionalism, Pope Francis underlined that when there was professionalism, journalists remained “a cornerstone, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralistic society.”

Respecting human dignity

On the subject of human dignity, the Pope stressed the importance of responsible journalism and he reiterated earlier comments he made about rumors being a form of “terrorism,” and how you can kill a person with language. The Holy Father went on to say that “journalism cannot become a weapon of destruction “of people and even nations.” Criticism, is legitimate, he added, “as well as the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections.”

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Pope Francis during his discourse also commented on the changing communication’s environment of the Holy See. He said that it was experiencing a renewal process from which journalists should benefit, adding “the Secretariat for Communication will be the natural point of reference for your valuable work.”

 

“BE MERCIFUL AS THE FATHER,” A CALL TO “BE SIGNS, CHANNELS AND WITNESSES TO HIS MERCY” – POPE CONDEMNS KILLING OF TWO PRIESTS IN MEXICO – AN ANGELIC ROMAN BRIDGE

I returned to Rome yesterday, safe and sound and with all my luggage and, after a great night’s sleep, I now face the ever-bustling, there’s-something-on-the-calendar-every-day fall season of visitors, special events, concerts and embassy receptions, houseguests, parish council meetings, the diaconate ordination at the North American College and the blessing of new EWTN offices for CNA.

Speaking of travel, I received the following advisory today from the U.S. Embassy and wanted to pass it on in the event you might have a reservation on Alitalia for tomorrow: “The U.S. Embassy in Italy informs U.S. citizens that a union representing Alitalia pilots and flight attendants has announced its intention to strike on Thursday, September 22 as part of ongoing negotiations.  Multiple Alitalia flights could be affected.  Please note that the strike may be cancelled depending on the status of these negotiations; travelers should check with Alitalia prior to their scheduled travel for the latest information.”

And now, the news, including a fun story about a Roman bridge, and this September 21 papal tweet: Dialogue is born when I am capable of recognizing others as a gift of God and accept they have something to tell me.

“BE MERCIFUL AS THE FATHER,” A CALL TO “BE SIGNS, CHANNELS AND WITNESSES TO HIS MERCY”

Before presiding the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square this morning, Pope Francis stopped in the Paul VI Hall to greet a number of faithful who were ill. Weather reports had predicted rain this morning and the Vatican felt it prudent to move some people indoors.

Actually, the audience went off without a hitch and Pope Francis enjoyed his usual ride in the popemobile, greeting the faithful, kissing babies and small ones and being serenaded by a group of musicians from Indonesia. (photo news.va)

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His weekly catechesis was focused on mercy, as it has been during this Holy Year of mercy, noting that, “merciful love is the only path, for by it we are able to make known the Father’s mercy that has no end.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said in the English summary, “In our Gospel passage this morning, we are reminded of our call to be merciful even as our heavenly Father is merciful.  When we look at salvation history, we see that God’s whole revelation is his untiring love for humanity which culminates in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  So great a love can be expressed only by God.”

Jesus’ call to humanity to be as merciful as the Father,” continued the Holy Father, “however, is not a question of quantity.  Instead it is a summons to be signs, channels and witnesses to his mercy.  This is the Church’s mission, to be God’s sacrament of mercy in every place and time.

Francis went on to explain that, “as Christians, therefore, God asks us to be his witnesses, first by opening our own hearts to his divine mercy, and then by sharing that mercy towards all people, especially those who suffer.  In this way, our works of mercy and charity will offer to the world a glimpse of the face of Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus explains that we especially show the Father’s mercy when we pardon one another, for we express the free gift of God’s love, and help one another on the way of conversion.  Jesus invites us also to give freely, for all we have has been freely given to us by God, and we will receive only in the measure that we freely give to others.  Merciful love is the only path, for by it we are able to make known the Father’s mercy that has no end.”

The Pope stressed throughout the catechesis how important it is to forgive in order to achieve a merciful heart. We all need to give, but also to forgive. “If God has forgiven us, why can we not forgive? Are we bigger than God?” And he said; “Mercy is to give, forgiving is to give.”

 POPE CONDEMNS KILLING OF TWO PRIESTS IN MEXICO

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the killing of two Mexican priests and has sent a telegram of condolences assuring their diocese and families of his prayers.

Father Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Father José Alfredo Suarez de la Cruz were abducted from their Church in the State of Veracruz’s northern city of Poza Rica on Sunday.  Their bodies, with bullet wounds, were found the following day. (photo news.va)

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The telegram, sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father, expressed the Pope’s profound sadness for the killing of the priests who were respectively the parish priest and the vicar of the Our Lady of Fatima church in Poza Rica.

The Pope strongly condemned the brutal attacks on the lives and on the dignity of the people involved and urged the clergy and all members of the diocese to continue to pursue their mission despite the difficulties.

He said  he is praying for the eternal rest of the priests, for their families and for the entire parish community.

The telegram was addressed to Bishop Trinidad Zapata of Papantla.

Poza Rica and its surrounding territory has been the scene of drug-related gang violence and trafficking for many years. But it’s unclear why the Catholic priests were targeted.

Priests have been killed before in Mexico, but many of the killings have occurred in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. The two murders bring the total number of Catholic priests killed in Mexico since 2012 to 14.

AN ANGELIC ROMAN BRIDGE

(From ChurchPOP – September 21)  Rome is overflowing with beautiful art. On every corner, it seems, there’s some gorgeous church, or ancient fountain, or stunning masterpiece from a famous artist. For visitors who aren’t used to it, it can be a bit overwhelming!

The Ponte Sant’Angelo, or Bridge of Angels, is one of these incredible sights. But unless you look closely, you’ll miss its deeper meaning.

The Ponte Sant’Angelo goes all the way back to the first century. During the medieval period, it was sometimes called the “Bridge of St. Peter” since it was how most pilgrims crossed the Tiber River to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. But the bridge took on a new meaning in the 17th century when Pope Clement IX commissioned new statues.

Artistic genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini came up with the plan. There’d be 10 statues of angels, but each would be holding something special: the arma Christi, or instruments of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s really easy to miss if you’re not looking carefully; the average person probably just sees beautiful angels. But sure enough, all the angels are holding objects related to the suffering and death of Christ.

It’s a really beautiful way to remember and honor the sacrifice of our Lord, especially for pilgrims making their way to one of the most important churches of Christendom!

Below are pictures of all the statues look like and what each angel is holding.

PS FROM JOAN: Two of the original statues are in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte near the Spanish Steps! This is truly one of Rome’s must see churches!

Click here to see those photos! https://churchpop.com/2016/09/20/the-powerful-meaning-of-romes-bridge-of-angels-most-people-miss/

VATICAN INSIDER: THE AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE ST. TERESA TAPESTRY – POPE VISITS NEONATAL HOSPITAL AND HOSPICE FOR TERMINALLY ILL

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back with you next Tuesday when I return to Rome – but check just in case I have some photos to post from the Family Celebration. Also check Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420)

VATICAN INSIDER: THE AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE ST. TERESA TAPESTRY

As you know, I am in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend for the EWTN Family celebration but I’ve been working on “Vatican Insider” to bring you the latest Vatican news and also, as I do every weekend, a conversation with a guest. You won’t want to miss this week’s interview segment when I talk to Michael Collopy, a portrait photographer whose life story could make a fascinating movie, especially his years with Mother Teresa! Wait till you hear his stories!

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Most importantly, Michael is the photographer behind the images on the tapestry displayed for St. Teresa’s canonization. Did you know that? Stay tuned and hear him tell that story – a story that should be better known.

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Here are the two photos that inspired the artist Chas Fagan to paint the image for the tapestry (sorry for the repeat photo of the hands – have tried for 15 minutes to cut/delete it).  Fagan had never met Mother Teresa and so relied on the images from a man who had known her for 15 years! You see his photos and then the Fagan painting inspired by those photos.

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David Ramsey Commercial Photography 1124 S. Mint St Studio C Charlotte, NC 28203 704.376.2139 [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Image Size:L (7360 x 4912), FX 2016/06/30 15:35:27.10 Time Zone and Date:UTC-5, DST:ON RAW (14-bit) Nikon D800 Lens:VR 105mm f/2.8G Focal Length:105mm Focus Mode:AF-S AF-Area Mode:Single VR:OFF AF Fine Tune:OFF Aperture:f/14 Shutter Speed:1/60s Exposure Mode:Manual Exposure Comp.:0EV Exposure Tuning: Metering:Matrix ISO Sensitivity:ISO 100 Device: White Balance:Color Temp. (5000K), 0, G1 Color Space:Adobe RGB High ISO NR:OFF Long Exposure NR:OFF Active D-Lighting:OFF Image Authentication: Vignette Control:Normal Auto Distortion Control:ON Picture Control:[NL] NEUTRAL Base:[NL] NEUTRAL Quick Adjust:- Sharpening:2 Contrast:0 Brightness:0 Saturation:0 Hue:0 Filter Effects: Toning: Optimize Image: Color Mode: Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Latitude: Longitude: Altitude: Altitude Reference: Heading: UTC: Map Datum: [#End of Shooting Data Section]

Forgot to mention how you can listen to VATICAN INSIDER and Michael Collopy this weekend:

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE VISITS NEONATAL HOSPITAL AND HOSPICE FOR TERMINALLY ILL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has made two more of his impromptu visits to hospitals and social service centres as part of his regular Friday initiatives during this Year of Mercy.

The Pope began by making a surprise visit to the Accident and Emergency department and to the Neonatal unit of Rome’s San Giovanni hospital.

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After putting on a mask and completing the other health and safety procedures, the Pope stopped beside the incubators of twelve new born babies, five of whom are suffering from severe complications, including one set of twins. The Holy Father offered words of comfort and support to all of the parents, before going on to meet with staff and families at the nursery on the floor above.

Later in the afternoon the Pope visited some thirty terminally ill patients at the Villa Speranza Hospice, located in the north of Rome as part of the Gemelli University Hospital Foundation.

A note from the Holy See press office explained that through these two ‘Mercy Friday’ encounters, Pope Francis wished to “send a strong signal about the importance of life from its first moment until its natural end”. Welcoming life and guaranteeing its dignity at all times, the statement said, is a teaching that the Pope regularly reiterates. Through these two visits, it concluded, he has given a concrete and tangible sign of the importance of caring for the weakest and most vulnerable in order to show mercy in our lives.

 

CARDINAL DOLAN: “CATHOLICS FOR CHOICE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ANY WAY”

CARDINAL DOLAN: “CATHOLICS FOR CHOICE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ANY WAY”

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2016 — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement alerting the public to a deceptive ad campaign calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement follows: A Statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities:

An abortion advocacy organization called “Catholics for Choice” (CFC) placed deceptive full-page newspaper ads in multiple cities on September 12 calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.

CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching — and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland,. . . “Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

CFC’s extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

According to a July 2016 poll. . . conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’ – POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES – PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

I arrived in Birmingham yesterday afternoon, got settled in at the Sheraton hotel, just across from the city’s convention center where this weekend’s EWTN Family Celebration will be held, and thern had dinner with Fr. Frank Pavone, Janet Morana, Fr. Steve Imbarrato, Elena Rodriguez and Kathy Ranelli, all of EWTN’s “Defending Life” program. Fun evening, great food and very interesting conversation.

I did a bit of work this morning before going to the network to appear live on “At Home with Jim and Joy.” It was a barrel of fun and the time passed so quickly it was unbelievable. But don’t we always say, “how quickly time passes when you’re having fun!”

I also met a number of “Joan’s Rome” fans in studio and we had some time to speak and will see each other again at the Family Celebration. Met more fans in the hotel as people start to arrive from around the state and country for this annual celebration.

I’m now in the hotel to work on a new edition of “Vatican Insider” that will air this weekend – more on that tomorrow.

I have just one comment to make about visiting the U.S. in summer time or any time the weather is really hot. Why do hotels, stores, restaurants, cafes, convention centers, etc., etc. all have to have the air conditioning at such low levels you could be excused for thinking you just got off a plane in Antarctica!

You cannot visit America when it is summer unless you have packed a shawl, a long-sleeved sweater, a suitcoat or some jacket to put over your summer clothing just to stay reasonably warm inside a building. When the temps and humidity are really high – as they are now in Birmingham, AC is the way to go, but not the excessive low temps – just give us enough to make us feel comfortable.

And you know what? The food gets cold much faster when a restaurant has very cold AC. That is just logical.

And now to three news stories from yesterday and today that I wanted to bring to you – important words and events. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at some of the meetings mentioned in the third story about the Jubilee of Papal Diplomats.

PAPAL TWEETS: September 15: The Church is called to walk with Jesus on the roads of the world, in order to meet the humanity of today.

Yesterday: The Church’s forgiveness must be every bit as broad as that offered by Jesus on the Cross and by Mary at his feet.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘TO KILL IN THE NAME OF GOD IS SATANIC’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday morning celebrated Mass for the French priest of Rouen, Fr. Jacques Hamel, whom he described, is part of the chain of Christian martyrs that runs throughout the history of the Church. (photo news.va)

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Father Hamel was murdered while celebrating Mass in his Parish Church by two men swearing allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in July. Linda Bordoni reports:

To the congregation gathered at Santa Marta, which included Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen and 80 other pilgrims from the diocese, Pope Francis said that “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

Reflecting on the many martyrs that are part of the history of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said: “this is a story that repeats itself in the Church, and today there are more Christian martyrs than there were at beginning of Christianity.”

Today, he continued, there are Christians “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, have their throats slit because they do not deny Jesus Christ.”

This history, said Francis, continues with our Father Jacques: he is part of this chain of martyrs.

“Father Jacques Hamel was slain as he celebrated the sacrifice of Christ’s crucifixion. A good man, a meek man, a man who always tried to build peace was murdered (…). This is the satanic thread of persecution,” he said.

Pope Francis continued: “What a pleasure it would be if all religious confessions would say: ‘to kill in the name of God is satanic’.”

The Holy Father concluded his homily by holding up Fr. Hamel and his example of courage and said we must pray to him to grant us meekness, brotherhood, peace and the courage to tell the truth: “to kill in the name of God is satanic.”

On the altar, a simple photograph of Fr. Hamel who was slain by two Islamist fanatics while celebrating Mass in the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26, 2016.

The liturgy was broadcast live by the Vatican Television Station.

POPE ISSUES MOTU PROPRIO HARMONIZING CANON LAW CODES

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another in several different specific areas regarding the discipline of the sacraments, and ecclesial identity of the faithful.

The Holy Father has introduced material changes only to the Code of Canon Law that governs the Latin Church, in order to bring the Latin code into harmony with the Eastern code, especially as regards the valid celebration of marriages with spouses of mixed Rite, the circumstances under which a spouse may change Rite, how to determine the Rite to which a child belongs properly, and other questions in a similar vein.

A note issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts explains that the reason for the reforms is that of responding to the desire to facilitate the pastoral care of all the faithful, especially of those  very great and increasing numbers of Eastern Christians living in predominantly Latin environments.

Vatican Radio then presented the motu proprio in its original Latin.

PAPAL DIPLOMATS DISCUSS ISLAM AND GENDER AT JUBILEE EVENT

(Vatican Radio) Papal diplomats from around the world are in Rome this week for a special Jubilee event that includes both practical refresher seminars and moments of spiritual reflection with the Holy Father.

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Relations with Islam, gender culture and other challenges facing the Church today are on the program, as Philippa Hitchen reports.

The year of mercy may be drawing to a close but Pope Francis is maintaining a packed agenda of Jubilee events. From September 15th to 17th he’s meeting with over a hundred representatives of the Holy See working in locations right across the globe. Of the 108 diplomatic missions in existence today, 103 are headed by archbishops serving as papal nuncios, while the other five posts are permanent observers to international organisations.

The Jubilee event began on Thursday morning with Mass, presided over by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in St Peter’s Basilica, followed by two seminars held in the Synod Hall. The first of these was focused on the Pope, the Church and the world today, led by Professor Piero Coda, president of the Sofia University Institute founded by the Focolari movement just south of Florence. The second session, led by Rev. Robert Ghal from the Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome is entitled ‘Genesis and the case of gender culture’ and will be followed by dinner with Pope Francis at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens.

On Friday morning participants will have a working session with officials from the Secretariat of State and in the afternoon they’ll attend a third seminar, focused on interreligious dialogue and relations with Islam, led by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran. In the evening, they’ll join heads of all the Curial offices and ambassadors accredited to the Holy See for a reception in the Vatican museums.

The final day, Saturday, will include many of the 40 retired apostolic nuncios and will be a time for spiritual communion, starting with Mass concelebrated with Pope Francis in the Santa Marta chapel. That’ll be followed by a reflection from Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life. The diplomats will then make their way through the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica before meeting together with Pope Francis in the Clementine hall of the apostolic palace.

The event concludes with a lunch in Santa Marta, but the Pope has invited all 163 staff members of the nunciatures and diplomatic missions for their own Jubilee here in the Vatican on November 18th.