POPE TO ORDER OF HOLY SEPULCHRE: “ROOT CHARITABLE WORKS IN PRAYER”

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Below is a piece about the papal audience today to members of the Consulta of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I am honored to be a Dame of that Order, especially because what the members around the world do in and for the Holy Land is absolutely astonishing. To learn more about us, here is a link to the official website of the Order: http://www.oessh.va/content/ordineequestresantosepolcro/en.html

The symbol of the Order, a symbol embroidered on the white capes of the knights and the black capes of the dames, is the celebrated Jerusalem Cross. There are two interpretations to the design of the Jerusalem Cross: One is that the five crosses represent the five wounds of Christ. The second is that the large Cross represents the Crucifixion and the four smaller ones represent the four corners of the earth to which Christ sent His Apostles after the Resurrection.

I have this cross on my desk. In the center is soil from the Holy Land.

POPE TO ORDER OF HOLY SEPULCHRE: “ROOT CHARITABLE WORKS IN PRAYER”

As the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre concludes its ‘Consulta’, Pope Francis encouraged the knights and dames to root their charitable works in prayer and to assist persecuted Christians.

Pope Francis addressed members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on Friday at the end of its 4-day Consulta. (photo vaticannews)

The Consulta is the Equestrian Order’s general assembly, which takes place every 5 years. Ranking members gather in Rome “to discuss the great questions of the Order’s mission and life.”

American Cardinal Edwin O’Brien is the Grand Master of the Order, appointed by the Holy Father.

Pope Francis took the opportunity to highlight “the dramatic situation of Christians who are persecuted and killed in ever-greater numbers.”

He also called attention to a type of “white martyrdom, like, for example, that type which occurs in democratic countries when religious freedom is limited.”

He exhorted the knights and dames of the Holy Sepulchre to offer both “material aid” and “prayer, constantly invoking the Blessed Virgin, whom you venerate under the title of ‘Our Lady of Palestine’. She is the caring Mother and Help of Christians, for whom she obtains strength and comfort in pain from the Lord.”

Path to peace
Pope Francis also thanked the Equestrian Order for supporting the Church’s pastoral and cultural initiatives.

“I encourage you to continue your commitment, alongside the Latin Patriarchate, to addressing the refugee crisis that has led the Church over the past five years to provide a significant humanitarian response throughout the [Middle East].”

He congratulated the Order for opening its educational initiatives and health programs to all people, “independently of the community they belong to and the religion they profess.”

The Pope said this openness helps “pave the way for the recognition of Christian values, the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, mutual respect, and reciprocal understanding.”

Pope Francis said the Order’s work contributes to achieving peace in the Middle East.

Spiritual growth of members
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre is present in more than 30 nations and areas around the world, providing education and formation programs.

Pope Francis said the Order’s primary aim is related to “the spiritual growth of its members”. Each knight and dame, he said, should take part in religious formation programs, “so that each member may consolidate their indispensable relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially in prayer, meditation on Holy Scripture, and studying the doctrine of the Church.”

He invited the Order’s leaders “to offer an example of intense spiritual life and concrete adhesion to the Lord. …Do not forget that you are not a philanthropic organization, whose aim is to improve the material and social standing of those you assist.”

The Holy Father said members of the Holy Sepulchre Order are called focus their efforts “on the evangelical love of neighbor, so as to bear witness everywhere to the goodness and care with which God loves every person.”

At the conclusion of the audience, Pope Francis blessed an icon of “Our Lady, Help of Persecuted Christians”.

“Let us together invoke Mary’s care for the Church in the Holy Land and more generally in the Middle East, together with her special intercession for those whose lives and freedoms are in danger.” (vaticannews)

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PRESS OFFICE ON PAPAL AUDIENCE WITH ISRAELI PRESIDENT RIVLIN – THE JERUSALEM POST ON PRESIDENTIAL VISIT – CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN THE HOLY LAND ON ISRAEL’S NATION STATE LAW – HOLY SEE REITERATES ISRAEL-PALESTINE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, JERUSALEM STATUS QUO

A fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and Israel was signed in Jerusalem on December 30 1993: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/archivio/documents/rc_seg-st_19931230_santa-sede-israele_en.html

Action on some of the provisions involving taxes, visas for Catholic workers and other issues are still pending on the part of Israel. Below are a few pieces that give some background on the state of relations between the Holy See and Israel.

PRESS OFFICE ON PAPAL AUDIENCE WITH ISRAELI PRESIDENT RIVLIN

“Today, 15 November, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by H.E. Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

“During the cordial discussions, which took place around the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the positive relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel were evoked and, with regard to the state authorities and the local Catholic communities, the hope was expressed that suitable agreements may be reached in relation to some issues of common interest.

“Mention was made of the importance of building greater mutual trust in view of the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians so as to reach an accord respecting the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, and of the Jerusalem question, in its religious and human dimension for Jews, Christians and Muslims, as well as the importance of safeguarding its identity and vocation as City of Peace.

“Finally, attention turned to the political and social situation in the region, marked by different conflicts and the consequent humanitarian crises. In this context, the parties highlighted the importance of dialogue between the various religious communities in order to guarantee peaceful coexistence and stability.”

RIVLIN THANKS POPE FRANCIS FOR FIGHTING ANTISEMITISM

(THE JERUSALEM POST)

President Reuven Rivlin met with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on Thursday morning, and thanked the pontiff for his support in the fight against antisemitism on behalf of Israel and world Jewry.

“Your absolute condemnation of acts of antisemitism and your definition of such acts as anti-Christian are a significant step in the ongoing fight to stamp it out,” said the president.

Rivlin also discussed the controversy between the Jerusalem city government and church over municipal property taxes. “The State of Israel has full freedom of worship for all religions in all holy places,” Rivlin said.

In February, the municipality announced its intention to start collecting taxes from properties owned by churches that are not prayer houses. The municipality notified the Finance, Interior and Foreign ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office that it will start collecting NIS 650 million in tax from 887 properties. It said that until February it had refrained from such tax collections because the state did not permit it.

The move outraged churches based in Jerusalem, which in a rare protest closed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The audience was Rivlin’s second with Pope Francis. Their first meeting, also at the invitation of the Pope, took place in 2015.

The president and his wife Nechama received an official welcome to the Vatican, reviewing the Pontifical Swiss Guard in their traditional uniforms.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN THE HOLY LAND ON ISRAEL’S NATION STATE LAW

The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land released a statement on 2 November responding to the Nation State Law of 19 July 2018 passed by the Israeli Knesset.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews. November 5)

It is out of a “spirit of dialogue” that the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land speak out in a statement responding to the “issue of the Nation State Law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 19 July 2018.

We are all citizens
The legislation at issue limits the promotion and protection offered by the State of Israel to “Jewish citizens of the State of Israel”. In direct response to this, the Bishops write:
“We must draw the attention of the authorities to a simple fact: our faithful, the Christians, our fellow citizens, Muslim, Druze and Baha’i, all of us who are Arabs, are no less citizens of this country than our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Discrimination
The Bishops also draw attention to the ongoing tension arising from the definition of Israel’s democracy being both “Jewish” and “democratic”. It is the Jewish majority who determines what this means, while the Arab minority experiences the discrimination caused by the imbalance of the “Jewish” element over the “democratic”. An ongoing struggle to “protect the rights of all citizens, to guarantee as much as possible the values of equality, justice and democracy” received a milestone victory with the 1992 passage of the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the statement says.

Legal discrimination
Recent passage of the new Nation State legislation “is a blow to these values”, the statement continues. Now there is a “constitutional and legal basis for discrimination” because “Jewish citizens are to be privileged over and above other citizens”. In addition to “seriously downgrading the standing of the Arab language”, the law ignores “Palestinian Arabs, other major religious communities, Christians and Muslims as well as Druze and Baha’i”.

Demand for equality
The statement continues with a declaration that the above-mentioned groups “demand to be treated as equal citizens.” In addition, equality must incorporate civic, ethnic, and religious identities. This demand is based on the fact that “Jerusalem and the whole of this Holy Land is a heritage we share with Jews and Muslims, Druze and Baha’i, a heritage we are called upon to protect from division and internecine strife”.

Call to rescind the law
In conclusion, the Bishops “call on the authorities to rescind” the law since it is contradictory to both the humanistic and democratic basis of Israeli legislation and international law. Thus all can be assured that the “State of Israel seeks to promote and protect the welfare and the safety of all its citizens”.

Signatories
There are 25 signatories to the statement, representing the Latin, Armenian, Melkite, Chaldean and Maronite Churches, as well as the representatives of men and women religious serving in the Holy Land.

HOLY SEE REITERATES ISRAEL-PALESTINE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, JERUSALEM STATUS QUO

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York on October 18 addressed a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East and the Palestinian question.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

The Holy See has reiterated its unwavering support for a fair, durable and early solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through the resumption of negotiations aimed at reaching a Two-State solution, with Israel and a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security within internationally-recognized borders.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York made the call in an address on Thursday to a UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian question.

Legitimate aspirations of both peoples

While expressing grave concern over facts on the ground, the Vatican diplomat called on both sides to demonstrate wisdom, responsibility and the political will to reach a historic peace agreement that would meet the legitimate aspirations of both peoples.
“Persevering dialogue based on good will ,” he said, “must replace inflammatory rhetoric, violence and conflict.” “Innocent civilians must never be the target of terror or overwhelming military actions,” he stressed.

Noting that states in and outside the Middle East have exacerbated the Israeli-Palestinian discord and the intra-Palestinian divisions for their own interests, Arch. Auza urged these states to rather facilitate and sustain the peace process.

“Status quo” for Jerusalem status

The status of Jerusalem has been a painful issue between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.

At the UN, Arch. Auza reiterated the Holy See’s support for the historic “status quo” of Jerusalem, in line with UN resolutions, rejecting any unilateral measure aimed at changing it.

He asserted the Holy See stand that the Holy City be a place of convergence and peace and that the followers of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam be guaranteed free and unhindered access to the Holy Places.
Palestinian refugees

The Holy See official also expressed serious concern over the dire humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees. Arch. Auza urged that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), that is providing some 5.6 million Palestine refugees with the most basic human needs, be allowed to function fully in order to prevent the situation from worsening. (from October 19)

USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK – ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE – POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

The following column was prepared yesterday but my computer died – or was in a comatose state – before I finished writing and editing so could not post it. All is well today, at least so it seems, so here is the news from November 13 and a bit on today’s general audience with Pope Francis.

Among the offerings I had for yesterday was a penetrating piece by the Register’s Matthew Bunson on the request by the Vatican that the USCCB, as they meet in their fall assembly, delay any vote on further action in the clerical sex abuse issue, especially their plan to propose standards of conduct for bishops and how bishops might be disciplined or punished if in violation of those standards. This was to be the centerpiece of the November meeting. The Vatican asked that the bishops delay these proposals until the February 2019 meeting that Pope has called for in Rome for all the heads of Episcopal conferences throughout the world to address the abuse scandal

Two interesting pieces of news from November 13 from the Holy See Press Office

1. The Pope named Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while remaining archbishop of Malta. For years he worked at the CDF before becoming an archbishop and he has been the Pope’s point man on important cases regarding clerical sex abuse. You might recall that Francis sent Scicluna earlier this year to Chile to investigate allegations of clerical sex abuse. The Pope had called the allegations ‘calumny’ but when Scicluna presented a massive report backing those who were abused, the Holy Father, in all humility, did an about-face, saying he was wrong and also “part of the problem.” Chile’s bishops came to Rome for a meeting and resigned en masse but the Pope has so far only accepted a small number of those resignations.

2. The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis, welcoming the invitation of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and of the (nation’s) bishops will undertake a trip to Morocco on March 30-31, 2019, visiting the cities of Rabat and Casablanca. The program will be published in due time

USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK

Matthew E. Bunson (National Catholic Register)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened its Fall Assembly in Baltimore Monday with an agenda of prayer and deliberations on dealing with bishop accountability in the face of the scandal surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The agenda lasted only a few minutes before being upended by the announcement that no votes would be taken on several key items of reform at the request of the Holy See.

The decision by the Holy See – specifically the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops under its prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet – asked the bishops not to vote on a new “Code of Conduct” for bishops and the creation of a lay-led board to investigate accusations of misconduct against bishops. The news came as a complete surprise to virtually all of the bishops in attendance, even as it raises significant questions about the prospects for finding solutions to the clergy sex abuse crisis and the McCarrick scandal and signals a blunt rejection of the U.S. bishops.

Some might even go so far as to describe the Vatican’s decision and its timing a deliberate act of humiliation of the U.S. bishops at a time when they are trying in good faith to grapple with the greatest crisis in the history of American Catholicism.
“Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.”

The U.S. bishops were only a few minutes into their morning session when the conference’s president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, gave the news to his disbelieving brother bishops. The decision, he told them, was at “the insistence of the Holy See” and had been delivered to him only the night before the start of the fall meeting.

The surprise and anger were palpable in the room in the Marriott hotel in Baltimore, and Cardinal DiNardo himself went on to express his own disappointment.

“Brothers,” he said, “I am sure that you have concerns about this, as I do myself. Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.” In an address to the conference that had to be altered by the shocking news, Cardinal DiNardo stressed, “We remain committed to the program of episcopal accountability. Votes will not take place, but we will move forward.”

He again apologized to the victims of abuse and pledged to go forward.
In a news conference just a few hours later, he again urged Catholics to understand there is no lessening of their resolve.

“We have accepted these events [of the Holy See request],” he said, “we’ll keep pushing and moving until we get to a point until it becomes action. We are not happy.”

He explained further that the demand of the Holy See had come in the form of a letter from the Congregation for Bishops. The stated reason, the cardinal explained, was that the Holy See desired all votes on new measures related to the crisis be delayed until after the February meeting in Rome that Francis has called. That gathering will bring together the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences to discuss the global sex-abuse crisis.

While the stated reasons are defensible enough, the request short-circuited months of preparations by the officials of the U.S. bishops’ conference and the genuine desire of the bishops in Baltimore to take highly anticipated concrete steps both to make progress in the crisis but also to try and regain some of the credibility that had been lost in a summer of scandals, attorneys general reports and simmering anger among the faithful over disgraced Archbishop McCarrick. The shocking events also completely overshadowed what was supposed to be one of those steps in restoring credibility: a day of prayer and penance.

The original plan was to devote most of the first day to prayer and to hearing from abuse victims, as well as reflections on the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9, on sackcloth and ashes, and the great reformer St. Charles Borromeo who was willing to face assassination to bring authentic renewal to his archdiocese of Milan in the 16th century.

The day of prayer, penance and adoration followed by deliberations and votes was potentially doubly significant.

First, it would have anchored the subsequent deliberations in a proper spiritual context, tying the important reality of institutional reform to the need for a corresponding authentic spiritual reform. Second, it would have served as a first step toward the planned longer and presumably deeper reflection, prayer and penance in January that will take place at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.
Francis and Synodality

The notion of prayer had one additional facet. During their September meeting with Francis, Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president of the USCCB, expressed their desire for the Holy See to launch a full investigation into the McCarrick scandal.

In reply, Francis encouraged them to cancel the fall assembly and have prayer and penance. The bishops took to heart the Pope’s suggestion but then also pushed ahead with the debate and vote on the plans to deal with the crisis. It was a compromise with the Pope’s recommendation, a down payment on the week of prayer in Chicago in January and a first step of offering the Catholic faithful a tangible set of proposals for the future.

The vote itself would have benefited from the credibility of action. They had a plan entering the assembly, and while it might not have been perfect and perhaps might not have passed the critical eye of the Congregations for Bishops and the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was something the bishops could point to as a first concrete and transparent step.

Francis, however, wanted days of prayer and no votes. He apparently got his wish. But after asking frustrated and angry Catholics — many victims included — to wait for years for the bishops to begin holding themselves accountable, the idea of waiting months longer might seem intolerable to many. The Congregation for Bishops saw potential problems with the bishops’ proposals and acted firmly but with also painful timing.

To the bishops, of course, there is the requirement of obedience to the Vicar of Christ. At the news conference Monday, Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, the outgoing head of the Bishops’ Committee on Communications, both emphasized the importance of obedience.

Bishop Coyne said in answer to a question on why not just vote anyway, “Bishops by our very nature are collegial. … We work in union with each other to come to a collegial place. So when the Holy See asks us to work in collegiality, that’s what we do.”

Cardinal DiNardo added, “We are Roman Catholic bishops in communion with our Holy Father in Rome and he has people in Vatican congregations, and we are responsible to him to be attentive. Given that attentiveness, of faith, when we receive this letter we respond.”

The demand of the Holy See and the response of the bishops also exemplified another major issue, one that also emerged out of seeming nowhere during the Synod on Youth: synodality. From the closing days of the synod to the first day of the bishops’ meeting, the definition of synodality has been debated and interpreted.
In his morning address, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, taught, “Pope Francis asks us to be a synodal and humble Church. A Church that listens. We need to listen once more to the voice of Christ.”

Synodality means, as the nuncio stressed, listening. It has also been described as a journeying together. Was what happened on Day One in Baltimore a moment of synodality or were the U.S. bishops treated to the sheer raw exercise of power?
When asked if he saw the action of the Holy See as synodal, Cardinal DiNardo described it as “quizzical,” theorizing that the Congregation for Bishops might have considered the U.S. bishops to have been too hasty in crafting their proposal.
“I’m wondering if they could turn the synodality back on us,” he added. “My first reaction was, ‘This didn’t seem so synodical.’ But maybe the Americans weren’t acting so synodically either. But it was quizzical to me, when I saw it.”

Over the next days, the bishops will discuss the most important approaches to the crisis, and while there may not be a vote, the bishops will likely have plenty to say. Look for a final statement and a series of resolutions to salvage something from the disastrous news that began their journey together in Baltimore. Will the road ahead continue to be a long and tortured one? Will Pope Francis be listening?
Pray for our bishops and pray for our Holy Father.

ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE

November 13, 2018 Tuesday
Dear Brothers Bishops in the US,
I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.
I am fasting and praying for you.
+Arch. Carlo Maria Viganò Your former Apostolic Nuncio
November 13, 2018 Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

In his continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, the Pope during his General Audience reflects on the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”.

In his Catechesis devoted to the eighth commandment, Pope Francis told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday that Christians are called to be “truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others.” Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the Pope said that, “our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth.”

Where there is a lie there is no love

When a person is not communicating authentically, underlined the Pontiff, it is a serious matter because it inhibits relationships and therefore inhibits love. “Where there is a lie, he continued, there is no love. ”

Beware of Gossip

Gossiping, Pope Francis pointed out, kills. It kills, he explained, “because the tongue kills, like a knife.” Be careful, the Pope added, the gossip “is a terrorist because he or she throws a bomb and leaves.” “Christians are not exceptional men and women, said the Pope, “we are, however, children of our heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint us, and places in our hearts the love for our brothers and sisters.”

God is truth

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” he stressed, means living as children of God, acting in accordance with his will and trusting in him. “It bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord. “I trust God”, concluded Pope Francis, “ this is the great truth.”

Here is the official English language summary of the Pope’s catechesis at the General Audience on 14th of November 2018:

Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now turn to the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this commandment “forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others” (No. 2464). We are called to be truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others. Our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person (cf. Jn 14:6), who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). In the mystery of his life, death and resurrection, he disclosed the deepest meaning of our life on earth, and invited us to share in his divine life. His gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, enables us to become adoptive sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and to dwell in his love as brothers and sisters. The eighth commandment bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord.

POPE TO PONTIFICAL ACADEMY: SCIENCE PROVIDES THE ‘CHARITY OF KNOWLEDGE’

POPE TO PONTIFICAL ACADEMY: SCIENCE PROVIDES THE ‘CHARITY OF KNOWLEDGE’

Pope Francis meets in audience with members of the Pontifical Academy of Science gathering in Rome on Monday for the Plenary Assembly, thanking them for their contribution to contemporary world problems.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) is meeting in Rome for its Plenary Assembly. Members of the Academy met in audience with Pope Francis on Monday. The Pope welcomed them and thanked them for their contribution to providing solutions for many of the world’s contemporary problems.

Scientific world and society
Pope Francis began his address acknowledging that the scientific world is more aware of how complex the world and human beings are. He noted that this has led science to be less isolated and more open to spiritual and religious values. “Commonly shared opinions” and the “desire for happiness” often influence scientific research, the Pope added. Therefore, the relationship between values and people, society and science “demands a rethinking” that promotes the “integral advancement” of each person and the common good. As a part of society, the scientific community is called to serve humanity and its integral development, the Pope said.

Science at the service of the human family
Some areas Pope Francis named as “possible fruits” of that service are: climate change, nuclear arms, fossil fuels, and deforestation. Science has identified the risks in these areas, the Pope said, so they can also propose convincing solutions to the world’s leaders.

Solutions
The Pope said he appreciates that the PAS is employing the latest knowledge to propose solutions and combat “scourges” confronting society. “Human trafficking” and the consequent “forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking”, and the “elimination of hunger and thirst” are the two issues the Pope focused on. He mentioned that there are “eight hundred million needy and excluded” persons in the world suffering from lack of food and water. A “change in our way of living” is necessary, he said.

Lack of will
Turning his remarks to the political sphere, Pope Francis expressed that there “is a lack of will and political determination to halt the arms race and end wars”. This is necessary to move toward developing “sources of renewable energy,” “ensuring water, food and health for all,” and investing capital for the common good.

“Charity of knowledge”
The Church expects a “positive service” from science, Pope Francis said – the “charity of knowledge,” as St. Paul VI termed it. Knowledge is what the scientific community has, Pope Francis continued. In the name of those who rarely benefit from the world’s knowledge, the Pope advocated for them.

“May your research benefit all, so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated; may politics and economics draw indications from you on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.”

PAINFUL ANNIVERSARIES AND THE MADNESS OF WAR

With his permission, I share a friend’s thoughts and reflections on today’s anniversary – the centenary of the end of World War I – on the madness of war and on man’s inhumanity to man.

PAINFUL ANNIVERSARIES AND THE MADNESS OF WAR

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War (for us youngsters it is now called “World War One”… we had not yet learned to number them back in 1918). Personally it is a poignant reminder that at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, the horror of that madness was finally brought to a close.

Estimates vary, but some forty million combatants and civilians were killed in that war. And if that wasn’t enough, returning solders helped scatter the “Spanish Flu”.

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide — about one-third of the planet’s population — and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims. Included in the 675,000 American deaths was that of my grandfather (I’m named after him). That war and its aftermath touched every household in America and Europe.

After “World War Two”, which killed some sixty million people (3% of the world population), came other military conflicts. And almost exactly fifty years ago this month, I too was swept up and sent off to war. And at its end, yet another national monument was added to commemorate the string of war deaths.

All of this carnage has always puzzled me. Why are we humans so bent on killing one another? If Earth has been visited by aliens from other solar systems, our uncivilized history has surely scared them off. Why make friends with such immature inhabitants?

And today we are still at war… our economies spend an enormous amount on ways to kill one another. It is madness… and we never learn from history. It all seems so “normal”. If war wasn’t enough, around the world we even kill our unborn children… many are just too inconvenient to have around. In America alone, over 45 million “legal” abortions have taken the lives of the innocent and defenseless.

In the eyes of God, all of this killing must seem sheer madness. What kind of people are we? We slaughter our neighbors and family members. But then a recent survey says that a third of Americans do not even believe in God as depicted in the Holy Bible. I just do not understand it. God surely loves us dearly to put up with us.

It is the time in our Church year when we reflect on the big picture of eternity. We hear in the Sunday Readings about right and wrong… sin… Heaven and Hell. I think it is ironic that at this time of year we are also experiencing the great clergy scandal of abuse. It somehow fits into theme of great sins… Judgment Day… and Hell.

Now you can see why I personally love the 12th century icon that depicts the “Ladder of Divine Ascent”… It shows that until the last moments of our lives we are never far from the clutches of Satan.

Two of the various images of the icon of the Divine Ladder of Ascent


You can also see why my visions of Heaven are of a vast Garden of Eden… with few occupants. Apparently all those who do believe in the Holy Trinity think they automatically have a golden ticket to enter Paradise… a “get-out-of-Hell-free” card. I suppose we have a different concept of the “Last Judgment”… or are the “Elect” exempt from that?

I suppose I’m rather glum these days. Too many anniversaries of war; too many priests and bishops (who should know better) committing horrible sins against innocents; too many screaming protesters worried about losing their rights to murder their babies; too many wacko governments wanting to mass murder those who do not agree with their agenda or faith… and on and on.

Fortunately in the Fall, we are also hearing about the immense power of Our Lady, the Rosary, Saint Michael the Archangel, and the amazing graces afforded us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

So I do see hope. In Hawaii we recently celebrated our local Saints who, on Molokai, “served the poorest of the poor, and those sent off to die out of sight and mind”. Holy men and women who not only loved God with all their might, but also loved their neighbors more than themselves.

This celebration conference brought together many wonderful Catholics who are doing much tilling in the Vineyard of the Lord. I see many saints among them… no they will not be canonized to become official “Saints”, but they are none the less living saints. They give us hope… hope that Mother Church and faithful Christians will overcome the temptations of this material world and assist many souls yearning to spend eternity with Christ.

So I ask that you all pray….
Pray for the World…
Pray for Peace…
Pray for the Church…
Pray for the Americas…
Pray for non-believers…
Pray for those fallen away from Church…
Pray for the children (from conception to
natural death)…
Pray for the persecuted and defenseless…
Pray for those who are about to die… and
Pray for those working so diligently in the Vineyard of the Lord.

For those who love God, there is hope for all Mankind.

POPE FRANCIS AND CATHOLICOS GEWARGIS PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS – CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN ON THE BONES FOUND IN VATICAN NUNCIATURE

Remember the disputed presidential election returns in Florida in 2000 when people were called in for a recount and results seemed to depend on what “hanging chads” said about a vote – the chad being that part of a ballot that was to have been punched out of the paper ballot by a machine so that the space next to a candidate’s name was clearly marked. Was the “chad” really punched out of the ballot and the candidate chosen – or was it “hanging” as a result of error?

As I mentioned Tuesday, election day in the U,S., there is no patron saint of elections, although the story did circulate that St. Chad – yes, there is a real St. Chad of Lichfield, England – was the patron of the disputed 2000 U.S. elections. He died March 2, 672.

There is a now a recount in Florida – will people be turning to St. Chad?!

As to “VATICAN INSIDER” this weekend, tune in for sure when I bring you the latest news updates and, in the interview segment, I talk to a Polish priest who speaks about a friend of his – St. John Paul!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE FRANCIS AND CATHOLICOS GEWARGIS PRAY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis signed a Common Statement on Friday with Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos and Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, in which they appealed for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The two religious leaders signed the statement at the end of their meeting in the Vatican, following a moment of prayer for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. (photo vaticanmedia)

In the statement, the Pope and the Patriarch encourage their ongoing theological dialogue and call for an end to violence against Christians in the Middle East, saying it is impossible to imagine a Middle East without Christians.

“This conviction is founded not simply on religious grounds, but also on social and cultural realities, since Christians, with other believers, greatly contribute to the specific identity of the region: a place of tolerance, mutual respect and acceptance.”

Christians risk leaving the region, they note, if peace is not restored through dialogue. “A truce maintained by walls and displays of power will not lead to peace, since genuine peace can only be attained and preserved through mutual listening and dialogue.”

Pope Francis and Patriarch Gewargis also appealed to the International Community to put in place “a political solution that recognizes the rights and duties of all parties involved.”

Finally, the two leaders affirm the need for inter-religious dialogue “grounded in an attitude of openness, truth, and love.”

Dialogue, they say, “is also the best antidote to extremism, which is a threat to the followers of every religion.”

CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN ON THE BONES FOUND IN VATICAN NUNCIATURE

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State responded to journalists asking about the bones found in the Vatican nunciature to Italy in Rome at the end of October.

“There has been no connection made with Emanuela Orlandi by the Holy See,” Cardinal Parolin stated. He went on to say, “I do not know who connected this case with Orlandi.”

Journalists representing SIR (Servizio Informazione Religiosa, a news organization supported by the Italian Episcopal Conference) followed up, asking why the Vatican Secretariat of State immediately involved the Italian authorities. Cardinal Parolin explained that it was “simply done in order to be transparent—so that there would not be any accusation that the Holy See wanted to hide something. Things are being done with greater openness and transparency. Human remains were found, there’s the desire to get to the bottom of what was done, whose [bones] they are. And so help was asked of Italy.” (vaticannews)

(JFL: As I wrote in an October 31 post about the finding of the bones at the nunciature, media here immediately surmised that the bones might be those of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who went missing in 1983, or of Mirella Gregori, another minor who disappeared that same year.

Investigators will be comparing the cranium and teeth with DNA of the two girls in their possession. Orlandi’s disappearance has been one of Italy’s biggest mysteries for the past 35 years. There have been as many theories as to why she disappeared – or was kidnapped – as there are Agatha Christie novels.

Emanuela’s father worked for IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank. The family lived inside Vatican City. The Orlandi family, Vatican officials, including the gendarmes and Rome police have followed every lead that came to them over the years, including numerous reports of sightings of Emanuela, both in Italy and abroad.)

AMERICAN CHRISTIAN BROTHER A STEP CLOSER TO SAINTHOO

AMERICAN CHRISTIAN BROTHER A STEP CLOSER TO SAINTHOOD
Pope Francis on Thursday, in a meeting Wednesday with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the new prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints authorized the promulgation of 16 decrees concerning 24 persons.

He also authorized the Congregation to promulgate a special decree on the heroic virtues and the confirmation of the cult from time immemorial of the Servant of God Michael Giedrojć, regarding him as Blessed. This act of the Pope declaring a person Blessed without the need for a beatification ceremony is called “equipollent”! beatification, or “equivalent” beatification. Michael Giedrojć, a professed layman of the Order of St. Augustine, was born in Giedrojce (Lithuania) around the year 1420 and died in Krakow (Poland) on May 4, 1485.

The Pope also authorized 15 other decrees regarding miracles, martyrdom and heroic virtues of 23 people, bringing them a step closer to sainthood.

One of those was for the martyrdom of American Servant of God James Alfred Miller, a professed Brother of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He was born in Stevens Point (USA) on September 21, 1944, and was killed in hatred of the faith in Huehuetenango (Guatemala) on February 13, 1982.

Novitiate photo –

From the Christian Brothers website:

Brother James Miller Biography

Brother James (Santiago) Miller, FSC, was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in September 1944. He first met the Brothers when he attended Pacelli High School there, and he entered the juniorate in Glencoe, Missouri, in September 1959. He began his year of novitiate in June 1962, and following his formation years he started teaching. After professing his perpetual vows in 1969, he was sent to Bluefields, Nicaragua until 1974 when he was sent to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. In July 1979 his superiors directed him to leave the country because the Sandinista revolution was in progress, and they feared he might be at risk.

In January 1981 he was allowed to return to Central America, this time to Guatemala. He taught at the secondary school in Huehuetenango and worked at the Indian Center where young indigenous Mayans from rural areas studied and trained in agriculture. The relations between the Brothers at the Indian Center and the Guatemalan military were often strained. To meet its quota of army conscripts, the government often rounded up Indian boys from the streets. Although students were exempt from military service, the boys from the Center were often conscripted into the army. When that happened, a Brother would present proof to the authorities that the boy in questions was a student. The military would then reluctantly release him.

Two days before Brother James was killed, a Mayan pupil was forced into the army. A Brother tried to obtain his release from the authorities, but his petition was refused. By his adamant demands the Brother infuriated these authorities. In the afternoon of February 13, 1982, while he was repairing a wall at the Indian Center where his boarders lived, three hooded men shot Brother James point blank. He died instantly. Some saw his death as a warning to the Brothers to cease interfering in government affairs. Attempts to identify his assassins were unsuccessful.

Brother James’ cause of martyrdom was undertaken by the Diocese of Huehuetenango in 2009 and received the Decree of Validity in Rome in July 2010 when he was designated a “Servant of God” and a martyr for the faith. The process leading to his beatification continues with the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome.

For further info, photos, etc., visit: http://www.cbmidwest.org/WP1/the-beatification-of-brother-james-miller-fsc/