Today is the feast of St. Blaise – have you had your throat blessed?

From: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/blaise.htm:

Blaise of Sebastea – also known as Blase, Blasien, Biagio; Died c. 316.

Catholics might remember Saint Blaise’s feast day, February 3, because of the Blessing of the throats that takes place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said.  Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise. It is believed he was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.  Saint Blaise is the patron of physicians, sick cattle, wax- chandlers, woolcombers, and of wild animals because of his care for them and of those with throat maladies.   He is invoked against afflictions of the throat. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Blaise was much venerated throughout Central Europe.


Pope Francis this morning, in a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorized the congregation to promulgate the decree of martyrdom for Servant of God Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez (El Salvador, 1917-1980), archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980.

He also authorized decrees for martyrdom for Servants of God Michal Tomaszek (Poland, 1960) and Zbigniew Strazalkowski (Poland, 1958), professed priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Alessandro Dordi, Italian diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Peru on 9 and 25 August 1991, as well as a decree for heroic virtues of Servant of God Giovanni Bacile, Italian priest (1880-1941).

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of the cause for Archbishop Romero, will hold a press briefing in the Vatican at noon Wednesday. On January 9 it had been announced by the congregation that Abp. Romero was killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith), a necessary requirement for beatification as a martyr. Congregation members voted unanimously for martyrdom of the slain archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated by a sniper on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass because of his vocal opposition to El Salvador’s military dictatorship.


Pope Francis said Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Monday afternoon to mark the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, exactly one year ahead of the close of the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened on the First Sunday of Advent.

The blessing of the candles, a sign and symbol of that Light which is Christ, preceded the liturgy which then began with a candle-light procession into the basilica, as the choir intoned the antiphon: “Christ, light unto the Nations, and glory God’s people, Israel.”


Pope Francis focused his homily on the virtue of obedience, calling it the keystone of religious life. He spoke of Mary’s and Joseph’s obedience to the law when presented Jesus in the Temple, and also highlighted Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father.

“Before our eyes we can picture Mother Mary as she walks, carrying the Baby Jesus in her arms, She brings him to the Temple; she presents him to the people; she brings him to meet his people. … The Mother walks, yet it is the Child who goes before her. She carries him, yet He is leading her along the path of the God who comes to us so that we might go to Him. Jesus walked the same path as we do, and shows us the new way… . For us, consecrated men and women, this is the one way which, concretely and without alternatives, we must continue to tread with joy and perseverance.”

Francis continued, “Fully five times the Gospel speaks to us of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the ‘law of the Lord’. Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. … In the same way, all those who follow Jesus must set out on the path of obedience. … For a religious, to advance on the path of obedience means to abase oneself in service, that is, to take the same path as Jesus, who ‘did not deem equality with God a thing to be grasped’. By emptying himself he made himself a servant in order to serve”.

For consecrated persons, this path “takes the form of the rule, marked by the charism of the founder. For all of us, the essential rule remains the Gospel, yet the Holy Spirit, in His infinite creativity, also gives it expression in the various rules of the consecrated life which are born of the sequela Christi, and thus from this journey of abasing oneself by serving.”

In the account of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, wisdom is represented by two elderly persons, Simeon and Anna: “persons docile to the Holy Spirit, led by Him, inspired by Him,” said the Holy Father. He noted that, on this occasion, it is the elderly, rather than the young, who are creative: “the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience. The elderly, like Simeon and Anna, see in the Child the fulfillment of the Law and the promises of God. And they are able to celebrate: they are creative in joy and wisdom.

Francis said that “obedience and docility is not something theoretical; it too is subject to the economy of the incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a specific rule, docility and obedience to one’s superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is always docility and obedience in the concrete.”

In persevering along the path of obedience, “personal and communal wisdom matures, and thus it also becomes possible to adapt rules to the times; indeed, true ‘renovation’ is the fruit of wisdom forged in docility and obedience. The strengthening and renewal of consecrated life are the result of great love for the rule, and also the ability to look to and heed the elders of one’s congregation.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with an exhortation, directed especially to all those in consecrated life: “Let us bring others to Jesus, but let us also allow ourselves to be led by him.  This is what we should be: guides who themselves are guided.” (Source: VIS, Vatican Radio)


The Vatican Tuesday presented the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking that will be held on February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who, after being freed, became a Canossian Sister and was canonized in 2000. This special day, promoted by the Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the “Justice and Peace” council and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), will have as its theme, “A light against human trafficking.”

Presenters at today’s press conference included Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; and Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” The other speakers were Sister Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General; Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC, coordinator of Talitha Kum (the International Network of Consecrated Life against Trafficking in Persons); Sister Valeria Gandini, SMC; and Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, coordinator of the European Talitha Kum network.

Cardinal Turkson, speaking in English, reiterated , “millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. For those who cry out – usually in silence – for liberation, St Josephine Bakhita is an exemplary witness of hope. We, victims and advocates alike, could do no better than be inspired by her life and entrust our efforts to her intercession.”

“The Holy Father,” he added, “invites us all to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

The cardinal explained that the International Day against Human Trafficking constitutes “a mobilization of awareness and prayer on a global scale. Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches … from awareness to prayer … from prayer to solidarity … and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more.”

On the occasion of this first day of prayer and reflection, all dioceses, parishes, associations, families and individuals are invited to reflect and pray in order to cast light on this crime, as indicated by the theme of the initiative. In addition, prayer vigils will be held in different countries, culminating in the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on February 8.

On that day, the faithful are invited to recite the following prayer:

“O God, when we hear of children and adults, deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force.

We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good.

Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. Amen”. (Source VIS)


(UCANEWS – Manila) – Pope Francis has apologized for rushing his visit to Leyte province last month during his apostolic visit to the Philippines. In a letter to Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo, the pontiff said he was “deeply saddened” that a weather warning forced him to cut short his visit by four hours.


“This prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the cathedral later that afternoon,” said Pope Francis. “I ask your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at that time,” he added.

Heavy rains and strong winds brought by Typhoon Mekkhala forced the pope to depart Leyte for Manila four hours ahead of schedule.

Some 130,000 people braved the weather to attend the January 17 Mass celebrated by the pope for survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 7,500 people and affected millions of others when it made landfall in the Philippines in November 2013.

“Returning to Rome, I wish to convey with these words my profound gratitude for your hospitality in the Archdiocese of Palo. May the Lord repay you abundantly for your goodness,” read the pope’s letter.

Pope Francis thanked Archbishop Du “for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of trials.” The pope’s letter was dated January 21 but was only made public by the Archdiocese of Palo on Tuesday.

Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15 to 19.


My question about why St. Peter’s dome has not been illuminated in recent days has been answered and it is rather what I thought it might be – new lighting. In fact, Vatican Radio reported this morning that new LED lighting for the facade and dome of St. Peter’s Basilica will be turned on Friday evening at about 6, simultaneous with the illumination of the the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square. There will be 315 new clusters of LED lights to illuminate the basilica and, most importantly, to offer the Vatican a signifiant savings in energy consumption. The lighting ceremony follows that of the unveiling of the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s square. Traditionally this is unveiled on Christmas Eve, the moment that Baby Jesus is placed in the crib.

Have you been to the Vatican website lately – www.vatican.va? There are images of all the Popes up to now with their name as Pope, their birth name and place of birth and the beginning and ending dates of their pontificate.


The Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, was made public today by the Vatican and placed on its website (see link below). This is separate from an assessment done by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Today’s report was “Given in Rome, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, September 8, 2014 Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” and signed by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect, and Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., Secretary.

Speakers at the press conference (which aired simultaneously online) included Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary; Mother Mary Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., director of the Apostolic Visitation in the United States; Sister Sharon Holland, I.H.M., president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR); Sr. Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), and Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., assistant to the Visitation Committee.

Cardinal Braz de Aviz explained that the Visitation was initiated “because of our awareness that apostolic religious life in the United States is experiencing challenging times. Although we knew that any initiative of this magnitude would have its limits, we wished to gain deeper knowledge of the contributions of the women religious to the Church and society as well as those difficulties that threaten the quality of their religious life and, in some cases, the very existence of the institutes.

“Our final report on the Apostolic Visitation is addressed to the women religious of the United States as well as to the Church’s pastors and faithful. In addition to publishing this general report, our dicastery will send individual reports to those institutes that hosted an on-site visitation and to those institutes whose individual reports indicated areas of concern. We will also send letters of thanks to those institutes that participated in the first two phases of the Visitation. … We are aware that the Apostolic Visitation was met with apprehension by some women religious as well as the decision, on the part of some institutes, not to collaborate fully in the process. While this was a painful disappointment for us, we use this present opportunity to express our willingness to engage in respectful and fruitful dialogue with those institutes which were not fully compliant with the Visitation process.”

Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M, secretary of the Congregation, gave an overview of the final report. He explained that the dicasteries of the Apostolic See regularly authorize Apostolic Visitations, which involve sending one or more visitors to evaluate an ecclesiastical entity in order to assist the group in question to improve the way in which it carries out its mission in the life of the Church.

He also gave some statistics: the Apostolic Visitation involved 341 religious institutes of women religious that engage in apostolic ministry and which have a generalate, provincialate and/or initial formation program in the United States. Both diocesan and pontifical right institutes, to which approximately 50,000 women religious throughout the United States belong, were part of the Visitation. Each province of institutes that had more than one province in the United States was considered a separate unit, for a total of 405 entities involved in the Visitation.

He noted that the congregation appointed a woman Religious from the United States, Mother Mary Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., as Apostolic Visitator, granting her the faculties to design and carry out the Visitation. She, in turn, chose a core team of American religious who assisted her throughout the process.

The archbishop explained that the Visitation took place between 2009 and 2012 and was divided into four phases. In the first phase, 266 superiors general (78% of their total number) voluntarily engaged in personal dialogue with the Visitator. Subsequently, all major superiors were asked to complete a questionnaire requesting empirical data and qualitative information regarding the spiritual, community and ministerial life of the individual institutes. On-site visits were then conducted in a representative sample of 90 religious institutes, representing about half of the apostolic women religious in the United States. In the final phase of the Visitation, the Visitator submitted to our dicastery a final general report on the major issues and trends in women’s religious life in the United States. While these trends cannot be presumed to apply to each of the institutes, they were significant enough to warrant mention in her report.”

The 5,275 word Report can be accessed here:   http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/12/16/0963/02078.html

The full text of the Report is also available at: http://www.uisg.org; http://www.vidimusdominum.org; http://www.lcwr.org; http://www.cmswr.org; and http://www.usccb.org.

The Final Report has an Introduction, followed by 12 sections: 1. The Apostolic Visitation to Institutes of Women Religious in the United States: Rationale and Overview; 2. Empirical Findings of the Apostolic Visitation; 3. Charism and Identity of the Religious Institutes 4. Vocation Promotion and Religious Formation; 5. Praying with the Church; 6. Called to a Life Centered on Christ; 7. Community Life; 8. The Service of Authority; 9. Financial Stewardship; 10. Collaboration in the Evangelizing Mission of the Church; 11. Ecclesial Communion and 12. Conclusion:

Following is a link to the Holy See Press Office bulletin with the speeches given at today’s press conference: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/12/16/0962/02072.html

There are some interesting and generally pretty fair headlines in the media today as they report on the Final Report and press conference: Vatican probe ends with an olive branch for American nuns; Vatican Report Finds American Nuns are a Graying Workforce; Vatican report on US nuns is conciliatory, stresses teachings; Vatican Report Cites Achievements and Challenges of US Nuns;



The LCWR is an association of more than 1,500 leaders of U.S. congregations of women religious. Together they represent more than 80% of the 57,000 women religious in America. (https://lcwr.org)

In 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) initiated a doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) conducted by (then) Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio. The LCWR responded at the end of 2009 and a subsequent report was made by Bishop Blair in 2010. See the April 2012 CDF document (below) for reasons why mandate was initiated.

Cardinal William Levada was the prefect of the CDF in 2008 when this assessment was mandated.


APRIL 18: The above-mentioned reports (LCWR 2009 – Bishop Blair 2010) were included in the document issued by the CDF on April 18, 2012 and published on the website of the U.S. Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/upload/Doctrinal_Assessment_Leadership_Conference_Women_Religious.pdf

JUNE 12:

“Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, released a statement Tuesday about a meeting at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about the doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group that represents about 80 percent of American sisters.

“He said, “Today the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States of America. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, the Holy See delegate for the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting.” Fr. Lombardi noted that, “the meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality.”

“The CDF in fact, on April 18 issued an assessment of the conference that noted “serious doctrinal problems” and significant need for reform. Since then, there has been a vehement outcry in the U.S. from members of the LCWR as well as from Catholic faithful who support many of the ministries operated by women religious.

“The press office statement continued. “According to Canon Law – canons 708 and 709 – a conference of major superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local conference of bishops. The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.”

“Sisters Pat Farrell and Janet Mock, respectively president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, attended the meeting.”

JULY 25:

Part of a Catholic News Service (CNS) story by Cindy Wooden. CNS is the news service of the U.S. Bishops Conference.

“VATICAN CITY — Asked about how he would handle the most controversial cases he inherited, the new head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office said, “For the future of the church, it’s important to overcome ideological conflicts from whatever side they come.”

“German Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in early July, told the Vatican newspaper that the congregation’s discussions with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and with the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious would focus on the fact that being Catholic means believing what the church teaches.

“Although he has been a member of the congregation for five years, Muller told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that it would take him some time to get up to speed on all of the details of the congregation’s work.

“But, in the interview published Wednesday, the archbishop was asked what he thought about the ongoing discussions aimed at bringing the traditionalist SSPX back into full communion with the church and about the congregation-ordered reform of the LCWR, the organization that brings together the superiors of most religious orders of women in the United States.

“….In an apparent reference to the LCWR, he said, “One cannot profess the three religious vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) and not take them seriously.”

FOR FULL STORY, click here: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1203123.htm

(Since this report, Muller has been made a cardinal)



Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -Opening Remarks By Cardinal Gerhard Müller

I am happy to welcome once again the Presidency of the LCWR to Rome and to the Congregation. It is a happy occasion that your visit coincides with the Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, two great figures important for the Church in our times. I am grateful as well for the presence and participation of the Delegate for the implementation of the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment, Archbishop Peter Sartain.

As in past meetings, I would like to begin by making some introductory observations which I believe will be a helpful way of framing our discussion.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL REMARKS: http://www.doctrinafidei.va/muller/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20140430_muller-lcwr_en.html