700 POLES IN ROME TO MARK 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN PAUL’S ELECTION – ABORTION IS “LIKE HIRING A HITMAN TO SOLVE A PROBLEM” – SYNOD FINAL DOCUMENT: FOLLOWING THE FRANCIS LINE?

700 POLES IN ROME TO MARK 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF JOHN PAUL’S ELECTION

Pope Francis on Wednesday met some 700 Polish pilgrims from Krakow, who are in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the election of St. Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16. He greeted them in the Paul VI Hall before going to St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

St. Pope John Paul II served as the Archbishop of Krakow from 1964 until his election as pope on 16 October, 1978.

Greeting the pilgrims from Krakow who are in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the election of John Paul II, Pope Francis expressed admiration for his predecessor’s great abundance of gifts, which he largely inherited from the treasure of faith and holiness of Poland and its Church.

Richness of Polish faith
Mentioning saints from Krakow such as Stanislaus and Queen Hedwig, Albert and Faustina, Pope Francis said Pope John Paul learned from them about the boundless dedication to Christ and the great sensitivity for every man, which, he said, were manifested in his priestly, episcopal and papal ministry.

John Paul II also knew how to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, to make it bear fruit for the benefit of his compatriots who through various painful events of their history never lost their faith in God and were faithful to their culture rooted in the Christian spirit.

Human rights, dignity
Pope Francis said that in his fidelity to his culture and Christian faith, John Paul II sought to “ensure that the Church stood up as the guardian of the inalienable rights of man, of the family and of peoples, in order to be a sign of peace, justice and integral development for the whole human family.”

But at the same time, the Polish pope always underscored the priority of grace and obedience to God’s will, before any human calculation.

This rich heritage of John Paul II, Pope Francis said, is for Christians, especially his compatriots, a challenge to be faithful to Christ and to respond with joyful dedication to God’s call to holiness in the daily specific personal, family and social situation of everyday life.

ABORTION IS “LIKE HIRING A HITMAN TO SOLVE A PROBLEM”

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Commandments during Wednesday’s general audience saying that welcoming life as God’s gift corrects a vision of life interpreted as a problem to be eliminated.

Francis reflected on the Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill. When life is welcomed as a gift from God, he said, the vision of interpreting life through the lens of eliminating problems can be corrected.

He reaffirmed that the Fifth Commandment is concise and to the point. It is “a defending wall for the foundational value in human relations: the value of life”, he said.

A Gift of God is not a problem

Pope Francis then noted a contradictory approach to life: the suppression of “human life in the mother’s womb in order to safeguard other values”: It is not right to ‘take out’ a human being, no matter how little, to resolve a problem. That is like hiring a hitman to resolve a problem.

Fear is the culprit

Fear leads to violence and rejection, the Pope continued. Welcoming life as a gift of God leads to accepting life in all of its expressions. He noted that parents are in need of true support should they discover that the baby they are expecting will be disabled, saying: “A sick child, …just as an elderly person, needs assistance…. He or she who is presented as a problem is in reality God’s gift who can draw me out of my self-centeredness to make me grow in love.”

God’s love is the measure for life

The world’s idols prompt people to reject life, the Pope said. Pope Francis listed these idols: money, power, and success. He called them “mistaken parameters by which to evaluate life”. Whereas “the only authentic measure for life is love, the love that God has for it!”

ENGLISH SUMMARY:
Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now consider the injunction against killing. We could say that every evil is caused by a disregard for life. Assaults upon life occur in many situations, from war and exploitation to the suppression of the vulnerable, elderly and unborn. Ultimately it is fear that gives rise to the rejection of life. To welcome the other, however, challenges such fear. We see the attitude that welcomes rather than rejects life in the heart-rending concern of parents for a sick child. Their desire to protect and save is a sign of life’s precious value, seen above all in those who suffer, who are in fact God’s gift, and who help us to grow in his love. God’s love is the only authentic measure of life, whose secret is revealed by Jesus, who embraced the rejected, weak, poor and sick throughout his life and upon the cross. In the midst of our weaknesses, Christ seeks our hearts in order to reveal to us the joy of love. As the Gospel reminds us, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

SYNOD FINAL DOCUMENT: FOLLOWING THE FRANCIS LINE?

For weeks here in Rome we have been hearing that the synod’s final document is already “a done deal,” that is, officials in the Roman Curia close to the Pope and Francis himself already knew the direction they wanted the synod to take and have been quietly putting talking points together behind the scenes.

The Instrumentum laboris or working document that came out months ago would be a guideline for synod participants but in reality contained the main points the Pope et al wanted to see in the final synod document submitted by participants that would be sent to the Pope so he could write his exhortation.

In other words, why hold the synod if things were already decided?

The Vatican today released the names of the 12 members of the Commission for the Preparation of the Final Document. They include the Relator General of the 2018 synod, the head of the Synod of Bishops, 2 special secretaries, 3 members named by the Pope and 5 elected by continent.

When I was working at the Vatican I learned that, for the Vatican, there are only 5 continents. I was always taught – and today believe – there are 7 continents: North America, South America Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctic.

In the list of 5 continental commission members, there is Vatican City (Cardinal Turkson is from Africa), Mexico, India, Italy and Australia. Only one has English as his mother tongue, Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne.

Here’s an interesting take on this issue, given the release today of the names of the members of the Commission

https://cruxnow.com/synod-of-bishops-on-youth/2018/10/10/papal-allies-and-friends-tapped-to-shape-synods-conclusions/

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CARDINAL NICHOLS ON ABORTION VOTE IN IRELAND

CARDINAL NICHOLS ON ABORTION VOTE IN IRELAND

Cardinal Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, said:

“Today I offer my prayerful support to the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, Eamon Martin and Diarmuid Martin, and their statements following the Referendum in Ireland on changes to its Constitution.

“Our commitment to mothers and their unborn children remains unchanged. We must do all we can to ensure that the deliberate taking of an unborn human life is not an option that anyone would choose. The denial of life to another human being, a brother or sister, is an wrong that harms our fragile humanity. We work and pray for the day when this truth is widely accepted and laws permitting abortion are seen for what they are.

“Our pro-life convictions have to be consistently expressed in action, in support of women who are trapped in difficult and painful circumstances and in support of the children they are carrying.

“May God bless Ireland and its generous hearted people. May that love, in every family, be a protection for the unborn, whatever the law may now permit.”

 

VATICAN DOCUMENT: MONEY MUST SERVE, NOT RULE – CHURCH LEADERS ASK PRAYERS FOR IRISH REFERENDUM ON ABORTION

Following is a brief and very good summary of a somewhat complex document presented today in the Holy See Press Office by Vaticannews.va and Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges. Hopefully our leaders in Congress and banking institutions and other financial and economic bodies will see this document and read it attentively. That really sounds like wishful thinking, doesn’t it!

The second story comes from Ireland via a CNA/EWTN colleague.

VATICAN DOCUMENT: MONEY MUST SERVE, NOT RULE

Entitled ‘Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones: Considerations for an Ethical Discernment regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System’ the new document has been prepared by two major offices of the Holy See.
By Susy Hodges

The 15-page page document, jointly prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, was unveiled on Thursday at a news conference in the Holy See Press Office.

Love for integral good: the key to authentic development

The document begins by stressing the Church’s concern for the integral development of every person, saying “Love for the integral good, inseparable from love for the truth, is the key to authentic development.”

Turning to the state of the world’s economy, the document calls for more regulation of markets and financial systems, saying economic crises show they are not able to govern themselves and need a strong injection of morality and ethics. It also urges universities and business schools to educate the next generation of business leaders about ethics and not just profits.

The document goes on to say that profit for the sake of profit and not for the greater good is “illegitimate” and condemns what it called a “reckless and amoral culture of waste” that has marginalized “great masses of the world’s population, deprived them of decent labour and left them without any means of escape.”

Obsolete criteria continue to govern the world

The document also expresses regret over what it calls a failed opportunity to correct the failings within the world’s economic-financial systems.

“The recent financial crisis could have been the occasion to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities that would neutralize the predatory and speculative tendencies and acknowledge the value of the actual economy.”

While acknowledging “many positive efforts at various levels,” the document speaks of its regret that “there does not seem to be any inclination to rethink the obsolete criteria that continue to govern the world.”

On the contrary, it writes, “the response seems at times like a return to the heights of myopic egoism” that excludes any consideration of the common good or a concern “to spread wealth” and eliminate “the inequality so pronounced today.”

Money must serve, not rule!

What is at stake, said the document, is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being “excluded and marginalized” from development while “a minority exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth.”

Warning that “selfishness makes everyone pay a high price,” the document says that if we want “the real well-being of humanity, money must serve, not rule!”

CHURCH LEADERS ASK PRAYERS FOR IRISH REFERENDUM ON ABORTION

Dublin, Ireland, May 17, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- With a referendum vote that could legalize abortion in Ireland just days away, the country’s clergy and Church leaders are asking the world for prayers.

In a video message posted to YouTube, Irish priest Father Marius O’Reilly appeals to Catholics and Christians around the world to pray for the country of Ireland ahead of the vote, particularly through praying the rosary and offering Masses.

O’Reilly noted that while other countries have legalized abortion through legislation or court decisions, “Ireland would be the first country in the world where the people would legalize abortion,” he said.

“We can’t allow that to happen. And so I’m making an appeal to you today – please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland,” he said.

On May 25, Irish citizens will vote whether they want to repeal the country’s eighth amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. Under current law, the practice of abortion in Ireland is illegal, unless the mother’s health is deemed to be endangered. Pro-life Irish citizens are encouraging a “no” vote on the referendum.

The eighth amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval. It reads, in part: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Despite the high percentage of the population – 78 percent – that identifies as Catholic, polling has predicted that the vote will be close.

Two months ago, EWTN Ireland started a 54-day rosary novena campaign for the “affirmation of the inestimable value of every human life.”

The campaign’s website urges “all people of good will to join together in prayer in defence of unborn babies and their mothers. All those professing faith, and those professing secular values, are invited to join as one voice on behalf of the unborn babies and their mothers: to affirm the life of the most vulnerable who may be classed as terminally ill, disabled or ‘unwanted’.”

A Christian prayer and a secular affirmation were also included on the campaign’s site.

EWTN Ireland as well as many clergy are particularly urging Catholics to pray a nine-day rosary novena leading up to the vote, starting on Thursday, May 17 and ending on Friday, May 25, the day of the referendum.

The novena website Pray More Novenas, which sends out daily reminders for various prayers, has also begun a novena through the intercession of the Irish Our Lady of Knock specifically for the abortion referendum.

There is also a prayer and fasting initiative, inspired by Sr. Briege McKenna (O.S.C.) that calls for Masses and days of prayer and “medically safe” fasting to be offered for the “Reparation, Conversions of hearts and Protection of the 8th amendment.”

Pro-life group Human Life International has asked for the offering of 1,000 Masses for the referendum, and has a form on their website where the Masses offered for this intention may be added to the calendar.

In his video, Fr. O’Reilly recalled Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to the country, during which he urged Irish citizens to defend life.

“He said to the Irish people ‘you must protect life;’ he knew what was coming down the road. And so the Irish people took this very, very seriously and rosary crusades began all around the country,” O’Reilly said.

This also led to the proposal of the constitutional amendment that is currently in place, which gave equal protection to mother and child “so that Ireland would be a country that in the constitution would say that the unborn child has a right to life.”

“This was an incredible gift from God for our country because it meant that the politicians couldn’t just bring in abortion when they wanted. They would have to put it to the people,” he added. “And so we fought it for years and years and now in 2018 we’re being asked to vote on abortion.”

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Catholic Irish-American men’s fraternity, has asked its members to set aside May 18 as a day of prayer in solidarity with the Save the 8th Campaign.

“Every prayer for a ‘No’ vote is a compassionate plea to spare Ireland the pain America has suffered for 45 years,” Ancient Order of Hibernians National President James F. McKay said, alluding to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that mandated legal abortion across the country.

He encouraged prayers invoking the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Fatima to “save Ireland’s mothers and unborn from the evils of abortion.”

He also encouraged immediate social media outreach as well as discussions with family and friends about “the importance of protecting the unborn.”

Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb. used his May 18 column in the Southern Nebraska Register to ask readers to join him in prayer that the people of Ireland will choose life.

“I pray that the people of Ireland will see that the legalization of abortion in countries around the world has not made women free. That abortion has only caused more violence, more ruin, and more despair,” Bishop Conley said.

The bishop said the Catholic faith “has long given the Irish people an acute and attentive sense of human dignity, human rights, and justice,” but Ireland has secularized in part due to “Church leaders who failed to give authentic and faithful witness to the Gospel.”

Conley, who spent a semester in Ireland as a 20-year-old recent Catholic convert, said “my introduction to the day-to-day practice of my newfound Catholic faith was in Ireland.”

“It has now been over 40 years since I spent those four delightful months in Ireland, but I still remember vividly the strong faith of the Irish people and how Catholicism ran deep in the Irish soil and soul. I owe so much to the Irish people for nurturing me in my Catholic faith. And we, as a country, owe so much to the Catholic Church in Ireland for bringing that same faith to these shores.”

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL – POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA – KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Today’s papal tweet: When something makes us suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: “Do not fear! Go ahead! I am with you!”

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee. Since we taped this in Rome, I have also learned that Vicki has been named as a corresponding member of the Pontifical academy for Life. She was a member in the academy previously but its strategies, membership and statutes have been reformed under Pope Francis…another topic for another time.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) 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. 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 9:00am (ET). 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 YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA

(A follow up to my FB post of yesterday)

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has ordered the Belgian arm of the Brothers of Charity religious order to stop offering euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican letter sent at the beginning of August, which gives the Catholic charity until the end of August to stop the practice at all of its 15 centers in Belgium.

Euthanasia is legal in the country, and in May the Brothers of Charity Group which administers the Belgian hospitals announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia on psychiatric patients.

The charity said in a statement it would be performed only if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives”.

Joint letter affirming magisterium

Pope Francis also ordered Brothers of Charity who serve on the group’s board to sign a joint letter to their Superior General declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign the joint letter renouncing the practice of euthanasia will face sanctions under canon law, while the Catholic charity group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.

Brothers of Charity statement

Bro. René Stockman, General Superior of the Brothers of Charity, released a statement in response to the position of his Belgian brothers.

“The central point and the foundation within Christian ethics is that life is absolute, which cannot be touched. Life is a gift from God and entails an assignment. And because life is absolute, it is a state worthy of protection,” he wrote.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgium charity, said it had received the Vatican’s request but had not yet responded.

He confirmed the charity’s hospitals had received requests from patients seeking euthanasia recently but could not say whether any procedures had been performed.

KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  “The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world,” said Cardinal Yeom. “The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace,” he said.

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a “gift from Mary.”

“For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons,” said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. (Vatican Radio)

 

A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

This past weekend was jam-packed with important ecclesial moments: the consistory Saturday to create 17 new cardinals, the closing on Sunday of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and the end of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy and the signing by Pope Francis’ of his post Jubilee Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”) at the end of Mass.

With the new cardinals, there are now 228 members of the College of Cardinals: 121 cardinal electors, that is, cardinals under the age of 80 who can vote in a future conclave and 107 non electors, those over the age of 80 who, though they may not vote in a conclave could theoretically be elected Pope.

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SATURDAY: “A MYSTAGOGY OF MERCY: LOVE, DO GOOD, BLESS AND PRAY

In his homily at Saturday’s consistory for the creation of new cardinals, Pope Francis told the new Eminences that, “The Gospel passage we have just heard (cf. Lk 6:27-36) is often referred to as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’.  After choosing the Twelve, Jesus came down with his disciples to a great multitude of people who were waiting to hear him and to be healed.  The call of the Apostles is linked to this ‘setting out’, descending to the plain to encounter the multitudes who, as the Gospel says, were ‘troubled’.

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“Instead of keeping the Apostles at the top of the mountain, their being chosen leads them to the heart of the crowd; it sets them in the midst of those who are troubled, on the “plain” of their daily lives.  The Lord thus shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’.”

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The Holy Father explained that, “there are four actions that will shape, embody and make tangible the path of discipleship.  We could say that they represent four stages of a mystagogy of mercy: love, do good, bless and pray.  I think we can all agree on these, and see them as something reasonable.”

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Then he noted that “the problem comes when Jesus tells us for whom we have do these things.  Here he is very clear.  He minces no words, he uses no euphemisms.  He tells us: love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you (cf. vv. 27-28).

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“Ours is an age of grave global problems and issues,” continued Francis. “We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.  We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy. An enemy because they come from a distant country or have different customs. An enemy because of the color of their skin, their language or their social class. An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith.  An enemy because…

“And, without our realizing it, this way of thinking becomes part of the way we live and act.  Everything and everyone then begins to savour of animosity.  Little by little, our differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence.  How many wounds grow deeper due to this epidemic of animosity and violence, which leaves its mark on the flesh of many of the defenseless, because their voice is weak and silenced by this pathology of indifference!  How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us!  Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings.

“The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting.  We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals. We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin color, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites.  None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches.”

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SUNDAY: A HOLY DOOR OF MERCY IS CLOSED BUT NOT THE HEART OF JESUS

In his homily at Mass on Sunday, Solemnity of Christ the King, after closing the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis said, “even if the Holy Door is closed, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open wide for us.” And he explained that the power of Christ the King “is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things.”

“In order to receive the kingship of Jesus,” said the Holy Father, “we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him.  How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world.  How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross.  The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works.

“This Year of Mercy,” he continued, “invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential.  This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission.  Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.”

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MONDAY: POST JUBILEE APOSTOLIC LETTER, MISERICORDIA ET MISERA.

Pope Francis signed his Post Jubilee Year Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, at the end of Mass Sunday and it was made public Monday morning, November 21. In this 7,400-word letter the Pope wrote: “In light of the ‘great graces of mercy’ we have received during the Jubilee, our first response is to give thanks to the Lord for His gifts. But in going forward, we must also continue to celebrate mercy, especially in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, including in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in the other Sacraments, especially in Reconciliation and in Anointing of the Sick, the two ‘sacraments of healing’.”

The breaking news of that document was Pope Francis’ decision to extend indefinitely the permission he gave to priests at the start of the Holy Year of Mercy to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion, an excommunicable offense.

In the Apostolic Letter he wrote: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.” And he also said: “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled” with God.

Because abortion has always been a very grave sin, punishable by excommunication, the possibility of granting forgiveness always rested under the authority of a bishop. A bishop could hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who had been specifically trained in this area. However, in 2015, Pope Francis had said he was allowing all priests to grant absolution for an abortion for the duration of the Holy Year, which ran from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016.

Now, with a view to carrying out Francis’ vision of a merciful Church, priests may, on a permanent basis, absolve the sin of abortion, an act the Pope has called “this agonizing and painful decision.” Francis asked priests “to be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation” for faithful who had abortions.

Here is what he wrote, in part in the Apostolic Letter:

The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.

“A favorable occasion for this could be the 24 Hours for the Lord, a celebration held in proximity to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This initiative, already in place in many dioceses, has great pastoral value in encouraging a more fervent experience of the sacrament of Confession.

  1. Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year,[14] is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.

“For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins.[15] For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.

Pope Francis also invites the Church to Celebrate a World Day of the Poor:

“During the ‘Jubilee for Socially Excluded People’, as the Holy Doors of Mercy were being closed in all the cathedrals and shrines of the world, I had the idea that, as yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year, the entire Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.”

Click here for the complete Apostolic Letter: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20161120_misericordia-et-misera.html

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.

HOME, SWEET ROME! – POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

HOME, SWEET ROME!

Your roamin’ Catholic correspondent is again back in the Eternal City following one of the best vacations ever – delightful, fun-filled and extraordinarily relaxing days with my Hawaiian ohana (family) and then a visit with my sister and her family, including nieces and nephews I had not seen in two years and one, little Charlotte, whom I had never met! Photos were posted by my nieces on my Facebook page in case you are curious!

Vacation time has ended but I have promised myself to try and relax a bit each workday just as I did in Hawaii. To make time to smell the flowers, to enjoy a Roman piazza for a few minutes more than planned, to phone friends just to say ‘ciao’. I’d like to do what a speech and drama teacher taught us in high school: the next time you walk home from school, look up, not down, and come back to class and tell me what you saw that you never noticed before.

A page on my desk calendar says “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘Gee I wish I’d spent more time at the office’.” And that’s true even when you really love your work, as I do!

A very important story broke on September 1 as I was enroute from Los Angeles to Rome. I arrived Rome yesterday and, after I unpacked my luggage, including my computer, I followed some of the news about the just-published papal letter and saw a fine piece on Fr. Douglas Vu’s Facebook page. Fr. Vu, based in Birmingham Alabama, and I are good friends and I respect how he explained this extraordinary piece of news from Pope Francis, and how he also warned about misinterpretations and media spin.

I thus decided to share his post on my own Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) so as not to possibly do an injustice to a vitally important piece of news because of jetlag. And, as I said yesterday, if you want the truth about this matter, read Fr. Vu’s entire post.

In the event you have been checking in at this blog post but not on Facebook here again is that story.

If you already saw this on Facebook, make some time to smell the flowers!

POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER ON JUBILEE INDULGENCES INCLUDES PERMISSION FOR PRIESTS TO GRANT ABSOLUTION FOR SIN OF ABORTION

Fr. Vu introduced the news referring to the http://www.news.va publication of the Holy Father’s letter on absolution for the sin of abortion during the Holy Year of Mercy in this fashion

Friends,

Please be very careful and be prudent on what you might hear, read, see in the news, or post on social media this week about the LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ACCORDING TO WHICH AN INDULGENCE IS GRANTED TO THE FAITHFUL ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY

First, please read the entire letter (only 2 pages), the link is here: http://w2.vatican.va/…/papa-francesco_20150901_lettera-indu…

Here is an article from Catholic News Service could help you to understand about the context of this letter: “Administering mercy: Facilitating forgiveness does not downplay sin” – Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Always, but especially during a Holy Year, the Catholic Church does everything possible to help Catholics repent of their sins, receive forgiveness and draw closer to God.

The church’s law and its canon lawyers are part of that effort, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and a prelate of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court handling matters of conscience.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy would open Dec. 8, he also said he would appoint “missionaries of mercy” to preach and teach about God’s mercy. They will be given special authority, the pope said, “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”

Then, in a letter released at the Vatican Sept. 1, Pope Francis announced his decision “to concede to all priests for the jubilee year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

The first step, of course, is to recognize an action is a sin and confess it, expressing contrition and a willingness to do penance. Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s action is designed to ensure that the path to penance and reconciliation is not blocked by a priest not having the full authority to offer absolution in the name of God and the church.

In an interview with Catholic News Service June 2, before the pope announced the extended faculties, Bishop Arrieta said the pope’s mention of “reserved” sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

The missionaries of mercy will have the “faculties” or authority to remove the excommunication and grant absolution in those cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary, he said.

Some commentators have questioned whether the pope’s plan for mercy will send the message that abortion isn’t a serious sin.

But for Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, a ministry promoting healing and forgiveness for those who regret an abortion, it is a crucial part of the Year of Mercy.

“For millions of women, in their hearts abortion is the unforgiveable sin,” Thorn said during a telephone interview from her home in Milwaukee. “This sin holds people hostage,” she said. “Some women keep coming back confessing the same sin” over and over, Thorn said. “She knows she has committed a sin — the hard part is to convince her of God’s mercy.”

In the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law, Bishop Arrieta said, the offenses that carry automatic excommunication are: apostasy, heresy and schism; profanation of the Eucharist; physical violence against the pope; attempted absolution of an accomplice in sexual sin; attempted ordination of women; consecration of a bishop without papal approval; violating the secrecy of the sacrament of confession; recording the words of a confessor or penitent during confession; procuring, performing or actively assisting or pressuring a woman into having an abortion.

“All sins can be forgiven,” Bishop Arrieta said, but more serious sins are also considered crimes under canon law and carry penalties. In order to receive absolution, a person must be allowed to receive the sacraments, which he or she cannot do while under the penalty of excommunication.

However, when an excommunicated person is in danger of death, any priest can hear his or her confession and grant absolution, the bishop said. That is because the priority in the church’s law is the salvation of souls.

“All the barriers of canonical penalties fall when faced with the need to save souls and the danger of death,” he said.

When a woman goes to confession seeking absolution for abortion, “the problem is not the sin, but the penalty, which prevents the reception of any sacrament,” Bishop Arrieta said, which is why Pope Francis is making special global provisions.

In most dioceses of the United States, England and several other countries, the bishops regularly give all their priests the faculties to grant absolution for abortion. But in other places, like Italy, such permission is given only on special occasions.

During the April 19-June 24 public exposition of the Shroud of Turin, for example, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin granted his priests such faculties to “demonstrate the Father’s mercy toward those who repent of an evil committed.”

He said, however, the permission would be valid only during the shroud’s public display so as not to “diminish the rigor of the law,” which is designed to teach people how seriously wrong it is to kill an innocent life.

Bishop Arrieta said that when the Code of Canon Law was being revised in the 1970s and ’80s, church officials had long, passionate discussions about removing the penalty of automatic excommunication for an abortion. After all, the serious sin of murder does not carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.

The penalty was maintained, however, because officials believed it could “give a distorted impression that the church no longer sees abortion as so grave,” he said. “Sin is sin,” Bishop Arrieta said, and the offenses that can carry automatic excommunication are especially serious, but a Holy Year is an especially serious time of grace.

“The pope is not saying abortion is no longer important. No. It’s important,” the bishop said. “It is the most frequent cause of excommunication.” By granting a special faculty to certain priests during the Year of Mercy, he said, Pope Francis is trying to balance a desire “to facilitate reconciliation as much as possible” while also “trying to form consciences” about the seriousness of abortion. “The church has a spiritual patrimony and during a Holy Year, it encourages the faithful to draw on this patrimony” for the grace and strength to reconcile with God and begin a new life, he said.

The pope is not saying that any sin is unimportant, the bishop said. “No, not at all. The pope is saying the church is like a field hospital in the middle of battle and the treasure of the merits of Christ and of the saints must be distributed broadly” to heal the wounded.

END of article

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  1. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on abortion: http://www.vatican.va     (Paras 2270 through 2276)
  2. Link to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the sacrament of penance and reconciliation: http://www.vatican.va     Go to: PART TWO
    THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY –
    SECTION TWO, THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCHCHAPTER TWO  THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING – ARTICLE 4
    THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION (starting with Para 1422)
  3. Please talk to a Catholic bishop, priest, or deacon if you need help to understand the teaching of the Church on faith and morals.
  4. If you are live in the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama and you need help to make a good confession, please contact me and I am happy to assist you (email: Fr.Vu (at) stsbhm.org
  5. Please get this post so more Catholics and people of Christian faith and people of good will might learn