US BISHOPS SHARE MORNING WITH POPE FRANCIS: CELIBACY BOOK SAGA CONTINUES

US BISHOPS SHARE MORNING WITH POPE FRANCIS: CELIBACY BOOK SAGA CONTINUES

Pope Francis spent nearly three hours this morning meeting with American bishops from Region IX who are in Rome for their ad limina apostolorum visit. Region IX includes the dioceses of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. In these meetings with bishops, occasionally saying something in English but mostly through a translator, Pope Francis has always let it be known that the bishops can say anything they want and ask anything they want – a “no holds barred” encounter, as he said in one of his earlier meetings.

You will learn more about the U.S. bishops’ ad limina visits this weekend on Vatican Insider when I talk with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas. He was present at the papal encounter this morning.

Re: the saga of the book on the priesthood and celibacy co-authored by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah: I only want to reiterate the last part of the Register story that I posted yesterday:

“The Register asked both Archbishop Gänswein and Nicolas Diat ** or comment. Archbishop Gänswein has yet to respond, but on Jan. 15 Diat confirmed to the Register Cardinal Sarah’s summary of events, most notably stressing that the cardinal showed Benedict in person a draft copy of the cover during a private audience.

“Cardinal Sarah sent a confidential letter [to Benedict] on Nov. 19 with the full text. The proofs were complete: introduction, the two texts, and the conclusion,” Diat explained. “Then, on Dec. 3, he showed the draft cover during an audience with Benedict XVI.”

Diat also maintains that as recently as last Thursday, Jan. 9, Archbishop Gänswein spoke with Davide Cantagalli who is working on the Italian edition, and that during their conversation Archbishop Gänswein “gave his support for all the work Italian editors were doing.” Cantagalli told the Register that Diat’s comments regarding him were “false” but would not offer further details when asked.

**Nicolas Diat, a French journalist and author who has worked with Cardinal Sarah on his previous three books (God or Nothing, The Power of Silence and The Day Is Now Far Spent) and assisted in editing the current book, “From the Depths of our Hearts.”

The French publisher Fayard, has this photo of the book on their website:

U.S. publisher Ignatius Press offers this cover:

Ignatius said in a January 14 statement: “Ignatius Press published the text as we received it from the French publisher Fayard. Fayard is the publisher with whom we have collaborated on three other Cardinal Sarah titles. The text we received indicates the two authors are Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. That text also indicates that Benedict XVI co-authored an introduction and a conclusion with Cardinal Sarah, as well as his own chapter on the priesthood, wherein he describes how his exchanges with Cardinal Sarah gave him the strength to complete what would have gone unfinished.”

PUBLISHER STANDS BY CO-AUTHORED BOOK ON PRIESTLY CELIBACY

PUBLISHER STANDS BY CO-AUTHORED BOOK ON PRIESTLY CELIBACY

The Twitter universe exploded today with news about the release of a book entitled, “From the Depths of Our Hearts” by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI after a tweet in Spanish essentially denied that Benedict XVI had written for or given approval of said book.

Tweets have been circulating all day from Cardinal Sarah (I have posted them and translated when necessary from the original French or Italian), from fans and from detractors. (You can find all of these and more on my Twitter account: https://twitter.com/joansrome)

Just as the cardinal seemed to be clearing up any doubts in his myriad tweets, the Vatican news portal released the following story about Archbishop Georg Gaenswein who is both private secretary to Benedict XVI and head of the Prefecture of the Papal Household for Pope Francis. He had contacted two news agencies, KNA and the Italian ANSA.

The archbishop is quoted as saying, “I can confirm that this morning, at the indication of the Pope emeritus, I asked Cardinal Robert Sarah to contact the publishers of the book requesting them to remove the name of Benedict XVI as co-author of the book itself, and also to remove his name from the introduction and conclusions”.

“The Pope emeritus in fact knew the Cardinal was preparing a book,” Archbishop Gänswein added, “and had sent a short text of his on the priesthood,” authorizing the Cardinal to use it as he wished. But the Pope emeritus “had not approved any project for a co- signed book, nor had he seen and authorized the cover. It was a misunderstanding, without questioning the good faith of Cardinal Sarah.”

And that seemed to contradict what Cardinal Sarah released today as an official “Communique from His Eminence Monsieur Robert Sarah.” Following is my translation:

“Last September 5, after a visit to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where Benedict XVI lives, I wrote to the pope emeritus to ask him if it was possible for him to compose a text on Catholic priesthood, with particular attention concerning celibacy. I explained to him that I myself had begun to write a reflection in prayer. I added: ‘I imagine that you would think that reflections on your part might not be opportune because of the polemics they could provoke, perhaps in newspapers but I am convinced that the entire church needs this gift which could be published at Christmas or the beginning of the year 2020’.

“On September 20, the pope emeritus thanked me in writing and said that, for his part, even before receiving my letter, he had begun to write a text on this subject but said his strength did not allow him to edit a theological text. In any case, my letter encouraged him to resume this long work. He added that he would transmit it to me when the translation into Italian would be finished.

“On 12 October, during the synod of bishops for the Amazon, the pope emeritus sent me in a very confidential folder a long text, the fruit of his work of preceding months. “Noting the ample nature of this text in its depth as well as its form, I immediately thought it would not be possible to propose this to a newspaper or magazine with respect to its volume and its quality. I therefore immediately proposed to the pope emeritus the publication of a book that would be an immense good for the Church, putting together his text and mine. After several exchanges with regard to the development of the book, I finally sent on November 19 a complete manuscript to the pope emeritus including, as we decided of common accord, the cover, joint (in common) introduction and conclusion, Benedict XVI’s text and my text. On November 25, the pope emeritus expressed his great satisfaction concerning the edited texts and he just added: ‘For my part I am in agreement that the text to be published in the form you have envisioned’.

“On December 3, I went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to thank once again the pope emeritus for having granted me such great confidence. I explained to him that our book would be printed during Christmas vacation, that it would appear Wednesday, January 15 and that as a consequence I would come to bring him the work at the beginning of January upon returning from a trip to my native land.

“The polemics that I have seen in the last hours insinuating that Benedict XVI was not informed about the appearance of the book “From the depths of our Hearts,” is profoundly despicable. I have sincerely pardoned all those who have slandered me or who wish to oppose me to Pope Francis. My attachment to Benedict XVI remains intact and my filial obedience to Pope Francis absolute.”

Along with one of his tweets today, Cardinal Sarah included photocopies of 3 of the letters exchanged with Benedict XVI, including the hand-written signature of the Pope emeritus.

The book is due to appear tomorrow in French, published by Fayard, and in February in English, published by Ignatius Press.

Here is a communique from Ignatius Press on this matter:

Statement from Ignatius Press on From the Depths of Our Hearts

The cover of the English text of “From the Depth of Our Hearts” –

SAN FRANCISCO — In light of recent developments with respect to the Ignatius Press title “FROM THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEARTS,” Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, issues the following statement:

“Ignatius Press published the text as we received it from the French publisher Fayard. Fayard is the publisher with whom we have collaborated on three other Cardinal Sarah titles. The text we received indicates the two authors are Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. That text also indicates that Benedict XVI co-authored an introduction and a conclusion with Cardinal Sarah, as well as his own chapter on the priesthood, wherein he describes how his exchanges with Cardinal Sarah gave him the strength to complete what would have gone unfinished.

Given that, according to Benedict XVI’s correspondence and Cardinal Sarah’s statement, the two men collaborated on this book for several months, that none of the essays have appeared elsewhere, and that a joint work as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style is ‘a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contribution be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole,’ Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication.

Cardinal Sarah indicates the content of the book remains unchanged. That content, as noted, includes a coauthored introduction, a chapter by Benedict XVI, and a conclusion coauthored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah.”

POPE FRANCIS MEETS U.S. BISHOPS IN ROME FOR THEIR AD LIMINA – POPE FRANCIS AND CELIBACY

An interesting note on the press office’s weekly calendar of notable events in the Vatican, Rome, Italy and throughout the world:

Rome, January 17-26: On the occasion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the first Sunday of the Word of God, which this year falls on the day on of the liturgical memory of Saints Timothy and Titus (January 26, 2020), there will be a pilgrimage of the body of Saint Timothy to the basilicas of Saint Paul and Saint Peter from the cathedral basilica of Termoli. A stone document, found on May 11, 1945 in the crypt of the cathedral, certifies that the body is that of Saint Timothy, hidden by Bishop Stefano in 1239 whose provenance was Constantinople.

Will have to get more info!

POPE FRANCIS MEETS U.S. BISHOPS IN ROME FOR THEIR AD LIMINA

The American bishops of Regions VIII and IX are in Rome, continuing the ad limina visits that U.S. prelates began last fall. The bishops from Region VIII , which includes Minnesota and North and South Dakota, were received in audience this morning by Pope Francis.

All bishops, when they are in Rome for their mandatory ad limina visit, celebrate daily Masses at each of the four papal basilicas: St. Peter’s, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. The Latin phrase ad limina apostolorum means “to the threshold of the Apostles,” and refers specifically to Saints Peter and Paul.

The week the bishops spend in Rome is dedicated to visiting offices of the Roman Curia, for which they have prepared extensive reports on their respective dioceses. Reports must be handed in to Rome six months prior to the actual ad limina visit.

Pope Francis instituted a new way of meeting with bishops while in Rome for an ad limina, deciding to meet them all as a group (by region, etc) and to have an off the cuff, “all holds barred” talk session with them instead of delivering a prepared speech. He introduces each session by telling them all topics are in the table, they are free to ask any questions they wish and he also points out where coffee, water are bathrooms are to be found!

POPE FRANCIS AND CELIBACY

Two stories out today on Pope Francis and celibacy. The first is a statement from Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni as he answers questions from several journalists:

The position of the Holy Father on celibacy is known. In the course of his conversation with journalists on his return from Panama, Pope Francis said: “A phrase from Saint Paul VI comes to mind: ‘I prefer to give my life before changing the law of celibacy'”. And he added: “Personally I think celibacy is a gift for the Church. I don’t agree to allow optional celibacy, no. Only a few possibilities would remain in the most remote locations – I think of the Pacific Islands … […] when there is a pastoral need, there, the pastor must think of the faithful “.

Regarding the way in which this topic fits into the more general work of the recent Synod on the Pan-Amazon region and its evangelization, during the final session the Holy Father said: “I was very pleased that we did not fall prisoners of these selective groups who, of the Synod, want to see only what has been decided on this or that other intra-ecclesiastical point, and deny the body of the Synod which are the diagnoses we have made in the four dimensions of pastoral, cultural, social and ecological) .The second is an editorial today in vaticannews.va

A CONTRIBUTION ON PRIESTLY CELIBACY IN FILIAL OBEDIENCE TO THE POPE

A book by the Pope emeritus and the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship** addresses a theme on which Pope Francis has expressed himself several times.
Andrea Tornielli

A book on the priesthood that bears the signatures of Pope emeritus Joseph Ratzinger and of Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, will be released in France on 15 January. The pre-publication material provided by Le Figaro shows that with their contribution, the authors are entering into the debate on celibacy and the possibility of ordaining married men as priests. Ratzinger and Sarah — who describe themselves as two Bishops “in filial obedience to Pope Francis” who “are seeking the truth” in “a spirit of love for the unity of the Church” — defend the discipline of celibacy and put forth the reasons that they feel counsel against changing it. The question of celibacy occupies 175 pages of the volume, with two texts — one from the Pope emeritus and the other from the Cardinal — together with an introduction and a conclusion signed by both.

In his text, Cardinal Sarah recalls that “there is an ontological-sacramental link between priesthood and celibacy. Any weakening of this link would put into question the Magisterium of the [Second Vatican] Council and Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I implore Pope Francis to protect us definitively from such a possibility by vetoing any weakening of the law of priestly celibacy, even if limited to one region another”. Further, Sarah goes so far as to describe the possibility of ordaining married men as “a pastoral catastrophe, an ecclesiological confusion and an obscuring of the understanding of the priesthood”.

In his brief contribution, Benedict XVI, reflecting on the subject, goes back to the Jewish roots of Christianity, affirming that from the beginning of God’s “new covenant” with humanity, which was established by Jesus, priesthood and celibacy are united. He recalls that already “in the ancient Church”, that is, in the first millennium, “married men could receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders only if they committed themselves to sexual abstinence”.

Priestly celibacy is not, and has never been, a dogma. It is an ecclesiastical discipline of the Latin Church that represents a precious gift, as all the recent Pontiffs have affirmed. The Catholic Eastern-Rite Churches allow the possibility of ordaining married men as priests. Exceptions have also been admitted in the Latin Church by Benedict XVI himself in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, dedicated to Anglican priests who seek communion with the Catholic Church, which provides for “the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See”.

It is also worth remembering that Pope Francis has also expressed himself several times on the subject. While yet a Cardinal, in the book conversation with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, he explained that he was in favor of maintaining celibacy: “with all the pros and cons entailed, in ten centuries there have been more positive experiences than there have been errors. Tradition has a weight and validity”.

In dialogue with journalists on the flight back from Panama last January, the Pope recalled that in the Eastern Catholic Churches the option of either celibacy or marriage before the diaconate is possible; but he added, regarding the Latin Church: “I am reminded of that phrase of Saint Paul VI: ‘I would rather give my life than change the law on celibacy. It came to mind and I want to say it, because it is a courageous phrase, in a more difficult moment than this, 1968 / 1970… Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift for the Church. Second, I don’t agree with allowing optional celibacy, no.” In his reply, he also spoke about the discussion among theologians about the possibility of granting exemptions for some remote regions, such as the Pacific islands. He specified, however, “there’s no decision on my part. My decision is: optional celibacy before the diaconate, no. That’s something for me, something personal, I won’t do it, this remains clear. Am I ‘closed’? Maybe. But I don’t want to appear before God with this decision”.

The Synod on the Amazon was held in October 2019, and the topic was debated there. As can be seen from the final document, there were bishops who asked for the possibility of ordaining married permanent deacons as priests. It is striking, however, that on 26 October, in his concluding speech, the Pope, after having followed all the stages of the speeches and discussion in the hall, did not mention in any way the subject of the ordination of married men, not even in passing. Instead, he recalled the four dimensions of the Synod: that of inculturation; the ecological dimension; the social dimension; and finally the pastoral dimension, which “includes them all”. In that same speech, the Pontiff spoke about creativity in new ministries, and the role of women; and referring to the scarcity of clergy in certain mission areas, he recalled that there are many priests from a certain country who have gone to the first world, for example, the United States and Europe, and “there are not enough of them to send them out to the Amazon region of that same country”.

Finally, it is significant that Pope Francis, while thanking the media, also asked a favour of them at the same time: “that in their dissemination of the Final Document, they would focus above all on the diagnosis which is the more significant part, the part in which the Synod truly expressed itself best: cultural diagnosis, social diagnosis, pastoral diagnosis and ecological diagnosis”. The Pope then invited them not to fall into the danger of focusing on “which party won and which one lost” when looking at what was decided concerning disciplinary issues.

** The book referred to is entitled “From the Depths of Our Hearts” and is co-authored by Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah who write on priesthood, celibacy, and crisis, It will be released January 15 and available in English on February 20.

A PRIEST IS “A MAN WHO STANDS IN THE PLACE OF GOD, A MAN CLOTHED WITH ALL THE POWERS OF GOD”

At 11 am yesterday Saturday, September 28, at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, celebrated Mass to mark the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination and the 40th of his ordination as a bishop. Scores of cardinals, bishops and priests concelebrated with the cardinal.

I was privileged to attend this very beautiful and meaningful Eucharist and to be present after Mass in the Paul VI Hall for the reception to which Cardinal Sarah invited his friends and colleagues. It was a joy to meet him, even if briefly, and to thank him for his life, his priesthood and his consistent defense of the faith.

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, one of the concelebrants at Mass, joined the festivities at the Paul VI Hall and I felt blessed to have a few minutes with him as well.

I had a copy in Italian of Cardinal Sarah’s homily and followed along as he gave it during Mass. I was so moved by his extraordinary words about the priesthood, about the Eucharist that I decided to translate the entire homily into English and I offer it to you today to read and savor and share. You surely know a priest or two who would benefit enormously by the cardinal’s beautiful thoughts on the priesthood, and perhaps see his own priesthood in a new, almost divine light.

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(photos by Evandro Inetti CNA-EWTN)

You might want to look at one or all of these books by Cardinal Sarah: The Day Is Now Far Spent, The Power of Silence, A Conversation on Faith, and God or Nothing (three of which are book-length interviews with Nicolas Diat)

A PRIEST IS “A MAN WHO STANDS IN THE PLACE OF GOD, A MAN CLOTHED WITH ALL THE POWERS OF GOD”

Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Ambassadors,
Dear Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are here in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Eucharist, that is, to give thanks to the Lord on the occasion of my fiftieth anniversary of priestly Ordination and the fortieth anniversary of the Episcopate. The heart of this celebration is Jesus Christ, the Heavenly High Priest … “holy, innocent, without blemish, separated from sinners and raised above the heavens” (Heb 7:26). But also the Virgin Mary, our Most Holy Mother, finds herself among us and invokes upon us the outpouring of the Spirit of Love, of Truth and Holiness.

Before having the joy and the privilege of offering you a brief meditation on the priesthood, starting from the biblical texts we have heard, let me first of all thank you, each and every one, from the bottom of my heart, as you have gathered here to surround me with your affection, your prayer and the strength of your Faith: I really need your Faith, the support of your friendship and your Christian fervor, to help me raise my gratitude to the Lord on this blessed day.

In fact, alone, I am too inadequate, too covered with miseries and sins. Alone, I am a no one who dares to present myself before God and express my immense gratitude for having called me to the priesthood and for the countless wonders that he has worked in me, in the course of my whole life. God amazes with his choices. He is wonderful and surprising in his generosity and in his love for each of us. This fiftieth is actually the anniversary of us all. Listen to what he says to each of us today: “Before forming you in the womb, I knew you, before you came out into the light, I consecrated you; I have made you a prophet of the nations”(Jer 1: 5).

Here is what the Lord has been for me: I was born in a humble and poor environment like that of Nazareth and in an animist and pagan culture, and He made me a Christian, a priest and a Bishop. Through baptism and priestly ordination he transformed me from nothing into his humble servant, into his beloved son. What I have become is truly the work of God and the fruit of the enormous sacrifices and heroic renunciations of Spiritan missionaries.

What I have become I also owe to my parents: Alexandre and Marie Claire. The priest – here is the most magnificent work, the most generous gift that God has given to humanity – is the most precious and inconceivable treasure that exists on earth: the Curé of Ars, Saint John-Mary Vianney was deeply convinced of it.

He said: “If we had faith, we would see God hidden in the priest like a light behind the glass, like wine mixed with water. How great is the priest! If he really understood (this), he would die. … God obeys him: he says two words and Our Lord descends from heaven at hearing this voice and closes himself in a small host.” The priest is “a man who stands in the place of God, a man who is clothed with all the powers of God. …Look at the power of the priest! His tongue makes God of a piece of bread!”

However, this happens only if we priests agree to be crucified with Christ, if each of us is ready to say, like Saint Paul, in the concrete web of our existence: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (cf .Gal 2.19-20). Christ, the Son of God, only through the Cross and at the end of an extraordinary descent into an abyss of humiliation, comes to confer on priests the divine power to celebrate the Eucharist and to tear men, his earthly brothers, from the slavery of sin and death, to make them partakers of his divinity.

The Eucharist takes place only if our life is marked by the Cross. According to St. Josemaría Escrivà, the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the vital motivation of the priest, the pillar on which his priestly existence is built. In his motto he wrote it this way: “in laetitia nulla dies sine cruce: in joy, no day without the Cross”. The priest lives joy in its fullness in the Holy Mass, which is the raison d’être of his existence, what gives meaning to his life.

During the Mass, on the paten and in the chalice, the priest is close to the Host, he is truly before and together with our Lord Jesus Christ: Jesus looks at him and he looks at Jesus. Are we really fully aware of what the real presence of Christ himself really means before our eyes, under the Eucharistic species? During daily Mass the priest comes face to face with Jesus Christ and at that precise moment, he is identified, he becomes identified with Christ, becoming not only an Alter Christus, another Christ, but he is really Ipse Christus, Christ Himself. He is conscious of being invested by the Person of Christ himself, configured in a specific sacramental identification with the High Priest of the eternal Covenant (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia n.29).

St. Josemaria says again: “All priests – whether we are sinners or saints – when they celebrate Holy Mass are no longer themselves. They are Christ who renews his divine Calvary Sacrifice on the Altar.” In fact, on the altar I do not preside over anything, not even this Eucharist that gathers us here today. Although unworthily, Jesus is truly in me, I am Christ: what a terrifying statement! What a fearful responsibility! It makes me tremble with terror, but it is true: I am at the altar in His name and in His stead. It is in persona Christi that I consecrate the bread and wine, after having given him my body, my voice, my poor heart, profaned so many times by my many sins and that I ask him to purify.

On the eve of every Eucharistic celebration, the Virgin Mary, who welcomes us as children in her arms, prepares us herself and urges us to consign ourselves, soul and body, to Jesus Christ so that the miracle of the Eucharist may be fulfilled. The Cross, the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary shape, structure, nourish and consolidate our Christian and priestly life. You will understand why all Christians, but especially priests, must build their inner life on these three realities: CRUX – HOSTIA and VIRGO; Cross, Eucharist and Virgin Mary. The Cross makes us born into divine life. Without the Eucharist we cannot live and the Virgin watches over our spiritual development as a mother and educates us to grow in faith. Jesus reveals to us the secret of this heavenly food, in which His very flesh that nourishes us allows us to live in his own life, in the unheard-of intimacy of friendship with him. Priests and faithful Christians are truly Jesus’ friends.

The term “friend” introduces us to today’s Gospel. Jesus addresses these wonderful words to us: “You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants … but I have called you friends, because all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”(Jn 15,14-15). Of course, we often have the feeling of being useless servants (cf. Lk 17:10), an absolute and incontestable truth, but the Lord calls us his friends, he makes us his friends, he generously offers us his friendship.

Note that the Lord defines friendship by emphasizing two essential aspects. First of all He teaches us that among friends there are no secrets, friends say it all, with the utmost confidence and transparency. Precisely because we are his friends, the Lord told us priests what He learned from his Father. He then explains to us that friends trust each other blindly: Jesus therefore has complete trust in us and for this reason offers us a perfect knowledge of Himself and his Father, reveals his face and his heart to us, shows us his tenderness and his passionate love that will reach the folly of the cross.

He trusts us completely, giving us the power to speak on his name and in his place: for this we can say: “This is my Body … This is my Blood. Take it and eat it all … Take it and drink it all …”. He entrusts in our hands his body, his Church, the unfathomable mystery of the One and Triune God, the God who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son as a ransom for many (Cf. Jn 3, 16; Mk 10:45).

If God has loved and chosen us, are we able to understand all the consequences that derive from being his friends and therefore introduced into his intimacy? Do we understand that if he has loved us and chosen us as priests, it is to go and bear much fruit? The Love, Friendship and Faith received from God must be revealed to others: we have received the faith to pass it on to others. We are priests to be humbly at the service of God and our brothers and sisters up to the oblation of our lives.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Pray for priests, pray for me, because today the priesthood is going through a deep crisis. In this Eucharist we entrust the Church and all priests to the maternal goodness of the Virgin Mary, our Mother and Mother of the Church. Once again, thank you very much for being present at this Mass of thanksgiving and God bless you. Amen.

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

More piercingly insightful words from the ever clear and insightful Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, as he cites the clear teaching of Pope emeritus Benedict on the sex abuse crisis:

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES THE “NOTES” OF POPE BENEDICT, “MARTYR FOR THE TRUTH”

– Sandro Magister

Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.

SARAH

Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason – he explained – is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”

Cardinal Sarah continued:
“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.

“I would therefore like us this evening to allow ourselves to be enlightened by this demanding and luminous thought of his. How could we summarize the thesis of Benedict XVI? Allow me to simply cite him: ‘Why has pedophilia reached such proportions? In the final analysis, the reason is the absence of God.’ This is the architectonic principle of the entire reflection of the pope emeritus. This is the conclusion of his long argumentation. This must be the starting point of every investigation of the scandal of sexual abuse committed by priests, in order to propose an effective solution.

“The crisis of pedophilia in the Church, the scandalous and distressing multiplication of abuse has one and only one ultimate cause: the absence of God. Benedict XVI summarizes it in another formula that is also clear. I quote: ‘It is only where faith no longer determines the actions of man that such crimes are possible.’

“The theological genius of Joseph Ratzinger here touches not only upon his experience as pastor of souls and as bishop, as father of his priests, but also upon his personal, spiritual, and mystical experience. He goes back to the fundamental cause, he allows us to understand what the only way can be for getting out of the frightening and humiliating scandal of pedophilia. The crisis of sexual abuse is the symptom of a deeper crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of the sense of God.”

TO READ FURTHER: http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2019/05/20/cardinal-sarah-endorses-the-“notes”-of-pope-benedict-“martyr-for-the-truth”/

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING” – ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND – CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

On International Women’s Day, Pope Francis tweeted: I thank all women who every day strive to build more humane and welcoming societies.

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING”

Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs – welcome, defend, promote and integrate.

The Pope underlined that “today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church.”

He noted that much had changed since the Commission was established in 1951. Needs have grown ever more complex, he said, “tools for responding ever more sophisticated, and your service increasingly professional.”

Inspiring action

The Pope expressed the hope that their work would “continue to inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort.”

Open and sincere dialogue

In order to set free those who today are oppressed, rejected and enslaved, the Pope stressed that it was “essential to promote open and sincere dialogue with government leaders, a dialogue, he added, that takes into account people’s actual experiences, sufferings and aspirations, in order to remind everyone once more of his or her responsibilities.”

He went on to say that, “the processes set in motion by the international community for a global agreement on refugees, and another for safe, orderly and regulated migration, represent a privileged forum for implementing such dialogue.”

The work continues

The work is not over, Pope Francis concluded, “together, he said, we must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration; and we can do this on the basis of the essential principles of the Church’s social teaching.” (vaticannews.va)

ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND

Denver, Colo., Mar 7, 2018 CNA – Last week, the women’s edition of a magazine distributed in the Vatican published an article claiming that religious sisters in the Church are poorly treated and economically exploited.

The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly women’s magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City. The Associated Press called the story an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

In the article, three religious sisters, whose names have been changed, expressed that the work of women religious is undervalued, that sisters are treated poorly by the priests and bishops they serve, and that they are not recognized or paid fairly for their work.

One nun, identified only as Sr. Marie, said that nuns often work long hours in domestic roles for little pay. She also lamented that some sisters are not invited to eat at the same table with the clergy that they serve, causing frustration and resentment.

Another sister in the article lamented that sisters with advanced degrees are sometimes tasked with menial tasks.

“I met some nuns in possession of a doctorate in theology who have been sent to cook or wash the dishes the following day, a mission free from any connection with their intellectual formation and without a real explanation,” said a religious sister identified in the article as Sr. Paule.

But several religious sisters have told CNA that the article does not reflect their experiences in religious life.

Mother M. Maximilia Um, who is the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, said that the article might indicate specific problems in particular sisters’ situations, rather than systemic institutional problems.

“None of the concerns or problems pointed out in this article can really be completely dismissed, but…I don’t think that they can be confined to relationships between men and women, and those who are ordained and those who are not,” she said. “I suppose in the end it’s a problem as old as sin.”

While Mother Maximilia’s order of sisters mostly serve in health care and education positions, they have “quite a history” of serving in the households of priests or bishops, like the sisters in the article.

However, the views of the sisters in the article do not reflect “the very real experience our sisters have had in these apostolates, where there is real care and concern shown for the sisters and for their service,” she said.

Mother Marie Julie is the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, headquartered in Connecticut, whose apostolates are primarily in health care and education. Their charism is “to serve the people of God in a spirit of heartfelt simplicity.”

“So by our charism, we’re not looking to get our name in lights, we’re not looking for adulation or praise or notice even, we just want to be in the heart of the Church, and I think that’s pretty much the feeling of most religious congregations and their members,” Mother Marie told CNA.

She added that she was “saddened” by the L’Osservatore Romano article, because, she said, it paints a “misleading and bleak picture” of religious life, and does not emphasize the gift of the vocation, both to the consecrated individual and to the Church at large.

“There are disgruntled people everywhere, and also I have to admit there is probably some truth to what was written in that article, I can’t say that those people have never had any of those experiences,” she said. “But that has not been my experience or the experience of those sisters that I know.”

Rather than a feeling of servitude, religious sisters typically feel that they are daughters of the Church, and are loved and respected as such, said Mother Judith Zuniga, O.C.D., Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, California.

“I feel and know myself to be a daughter of the Church, which in essence means that the Church is my Mother and I sincerely love her,” Mother Judith told CNA by email.

“If there is sexism and discrimination, my sisters and I have not experienced it. There seems to be more a feeling of respect, affection, and gratitude for the services we render, for who we are. This would be the more standard response we’ve received from people within and outside the Church,” she said.

When it comes to monetary compensation, Mother Maximilia noted that while the salaries or stipends of a sister doing domestic work might be less than what she might make in other apostolates, “that was never an issue for us because first of all we see this as a real service to the church,” she said. Furthermore, the households in which sisters served often provided other compensation, such as meals or lodging.

“I feel like we were always adequately compensated for service,” she said.

Mother Marie told CNA that sometimes, if a particular parish is struggling, the sisters serving there might be paid less, or paid later as the funds come in, but “those are the parishes that are struggling, that is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination,” she noted.

“We don’t expect that we would live simply on the love of God, we have to have insurance and we have responsibilities and overhead,” Mother Marie said. “But when that happens – when we’re in a ministry and we’re not paid adequately as the world would see it – that’s not servitude, that’s Gospel, and that’s a privilege,” she said.

Religious sisters in the Church typically make three vows – those of poverty, chastity and obedience. During the celebration of the final profession of those vows, a sister often lies prostrate, face down, before the altar and the cross, in a symbolic gesture that she is giving up her old life and rising with Christ as someone who totally belongs to him, Mother Marie said.

That moment is “one of the holiest moments of our lives as sisters,” Mother Marie said.

“When we laid our lives at the service of the Gospel, we also laid at the foot of the altar our expectations for what we would gain in life,” in terms of worldly success or recognition, she said. Instead, “our hope is that we would gain souls, and I know that that might sound sort of Pollyannish, but that’s what gets us up in the morning,” she added.

Regarding the complaint that sisters with advanced degrees might be working in positions of service that are considered less intellectually stimulating, Mother Maximilia said that kind of thinking reveals a bias about what makes work valuable.

“The thought that [intellectual work] is objectively more valuable is already a biased opinion,” Mother Maximilia said.

“The point of any work is to serve and love God and neighbor, and I think actually that shows itself in a very particular way in direct service to a person’s needs,” she said.

“I would argue that it often is very intellectual work to balance and manage a household, so I think first of all we have a skewered notion of what valuable work is, and I would accentuate that what makes work valuable in the end is love, and we’ve always understood that service to the clergy is primarily that,” Mother Maximilia said.

It is natural, Mother Marie noted, that a religious sister with an advanced degree would want to work in her field of expertise at least for a time, and that is often the plan for those sisters. However, sometimes extenuating circumstances necessitate that sisters serve in other apostolates.

“If God calls us to do something else either through our superiors or the signs of the times or just through events, then we respond to that…we see that as the will of God,” she said.

When a sister is serving in a position that may not have been her first choice, it is not unlike the sacrifices that mothers and fathers make for their families, she added, such as staying up all night with a sick child, or taking a lower paying position in order to have more time for their family.

“That’s done for love, and it’s love that drives what we do, and a recognition of this great gift that we have,” as consecrated people, she said.

Mother Judith added that while education is a good and necessary thing, it is not ultimately the measure by which souls will be judged at the end of their lives.

“In the final analysis, when we come to the end of our life and we come before the Lord, I think it’s safe to say that He’s not going to ask us how many degrees we had or how we used our education,” she said. “He’s going to ask us how we loved.”

Mother Judith noted that the article misses, as contemporary culture often misses, the gifts that women in their femininity bring to the world, regardless of what specific tasks they are performing.

“We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value the true gifts that women bring to our culture – motherhood, gentleness, patience, intuition, sensitivity, attention, warmth and the list goes on. These qualities are now seen in a negative light,seen as weaknesses, when in fact, it’s our strength,” she said.

“For consecrated religious, these elements of true femininity should be even more deeply rooted in us simply because of who we are. People see us and right away they associate us with God, the Church and rightly so. What a blessing and privilege it is to be a daughter of the Church.”

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

This was unexpected!

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently sent a letter endorsing the book Primal Loss, edited and self-published by Leila Miller, which reveals the often traumatic experiences of children whose parents divorced.

Miller is a well-known Catholic blogger and author. She came from an intact family herself, so she first learned about how harmful divorce can be on children after an adult friend from a broken household opened up to her about her childhood experiences.

Concerned that this was a perspective lost in the current debate in the Catholic Church about divorce and remarriage, Miller put out a request on social media for adult children of divorce to share their stories with her, which she then compiled into the book Primal Loss. She decided to self-publish the book so she could ensure the book maintained its integrity on a very hot-button topic in our society.

“Your writing on this subject is both timely and urgent,” the Cardinal wrote in a personal letter to Miller, who had sent him a copy. “How necessary it is to support and defend the beauty of the Christian family as revealed to us by God from the very first pages of Sacred Scripture!

“In front of the growing attacks against the family, studies such as your own show the damaging and enduring consequences of a world vision, which denies the value of sacrifice and giving one’s life to the end for the other. I will certainly do what I can to promote Primal Loss.” (From ChurchPop)

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING” – ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND – CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

On International Women’s Day, Pope Francis tweeted: I thank all women who every day strive to build more humane and welcoming societies.

POPE TO MIGRATION COMMISSION: “DIALOGUE ESSENTIAL TO END SUFFERING”

Pope Francis on Thursday met members of the International Catholic Migration Commission on the occasion of their Plenary Council. In prepared remarks to members of the Commission in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to them for their work carried out in the Church’s name to assist migrants and refugees in great need. The multiple projects initiated on five continents, he said represented “exemplary instances of the four verbs – welcome, defend, promote and integrate.”

The Pope underlined that “today as in the past, liberating the poor, the oppressed and the persecuted is an integral part of the mission entrusted by God to the Church.”


He noted that much had changed since the Commission was established in 1951. Needs have grown ever more complex, he said, “tools for responding ever more sophisticated, and your service increasingly professional.”

Inspiring action

The Pope expressed the hope that their work would “continue to inspire local Churches to do all they can for persons forced to leave their home countries and who, all too often, become victims of dishonesty, violence and abuse of every sort.”

Open and sincere dialogue

In order to set free those who today are oppressed, rejected and enslaved, the Pope stressed that it was “essential to promote open and sincere dialogue with government leaders, a dialogue, he added, that takes into account people’s actual experiences, sufferings and aspirations, in order to remind everyone once more of his or her responsibilities.”

He went on to say that, “the processes set in motion by the international community for a global agreement on refugees, and another for safe, orderly and regulated migration, represent a privileged forum for implementing such dialogue.”

The work continues

The work is not over, Pope Francis concluded, “together, he said, we must encourage countries to coordinate more suitable and effective responses to the challenges posed by issues of migration; and we can do this on the basis of the essential principles of the Church’s social teaching.” (vaticannews.va)

ARE RELIGIOUS SISTERS EXPLOITED BY THE CHURCH? THREE SISTERS RESPOND

Denver, Colo., Mar 7, 2018 CNA – Last week, the women’s edition of a magazine distributed in the Vatican published an article claiming that religious sisters in the Church are poorly treated and economically exploited.

The article appeared in Women Church World, a monthly women’s magazine published by L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City. The Associated Press called the story an “exposé on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters.”

In the article, three religious sisters, whose names have been changed, expressed that the work of women religious is undervalued, that sisters are treated poorly by the priests and bishops they serve, and that they are not recognized or paid fairly for their work.

One nun, identified only as Sr. Marie, said that nuns often work long hours in domestic roles for little pay. She also lamented that some sisters are not invited to eat at the same table with the clergy that they serve, causing frustration and resentment.

Another sister in the article lamented that sisters with advanced degrees are sometimes tasked with menial tasks.

“I met some nuns in possession of a doctorate in theology who have been sent to cook or wash the dishes the following day, a mission free from any connection with their intellectual formation and without a real explanation,” said a religious sister identified in the article as Sr. Paule.

But several religious sisters have told CNA that the article does not reflect their experiences in religious life.

Mother M. Maximilia Um, who is the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, Illinois, said that the article might indicate specific problems in particular sisters’ situations, rather than systemic institutional problems.

“None of the concerns or problems pointed out in this article can really be completely dismissed, but…I don’t think that they can be confined to relationships between men and women, and those who are ordained and those who are not,” she said. “I suppose in the end it’s a problem as old as sin.”

While Mother Maximilia’s order of sisters mostly serve in health care and education positions, they have “quite a history” of serving in the households of priests or bishops, like the sisters in the article.

However, the views of the sisters in the article do not reflect “the very real experience our sisters have had in these apostolates, where there is real care and concern shown for the sisters and for their service,” she said.

Mother Marie Julie is the Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, headquartered in Connecticut, whose apostolates are primarily in health care and education. Their charism is “to serve the people of God in a spirit of heartfelt simplicity.”

“So by our charism, we’re not looking to get our name in lights, we’re not looking for adulation or praise or notice even, we just want to be in the heart of the Church, and I think that’s pretty much the feeling of most religious congregations and their members,” Mother Marie told CNA.

She added that she was “saddened” by the L’Osservatore Romano article, because, she said, it paints a “misleading and bleak picture” of religious life, and does not emphasize the gift of the vocation, both to the consecrated individual and to the Church at large.

“There are disgruntled people everywhere, and also I have to admit there is probably some truth to what was written in that article, I can’t say that those people have never had any of those experiences,” she said. “But that has not been my experience or the experience of those sisters that I know.”

Rather than a feeling of servitude, religious sisters typically feel that they are daughters of the Church, and are loved and respected as such, said Mother Judith Zuniga, O.C.D., Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, California.

“I feel and know myself to be a daughter of the Church, which in essence means that the Church is my Mother and I sincerely love her,” Mother Judith told CNA by email.

“If there is sexism and discrimination, my sisters and I have not experienced it. There seems to be more a feeling of respect, affection, and gratitude for the services we render, for who we are. This would be the more standard response we’ve received from people within and outside the Church,” she said.

When it comes to monetary compensation, Mother Maximilia noted that while the salaries or stipends of a sister doing domestic work might be less than what she might make in other apostolates, “that was never an issue for us because first of all we see this as a real service to the church,” she said. Furthermore, the households in which sisters served often provided other compensation, such as meals or lodging.

“I feel like we were always adequately compensated for service,” she said.

Mother Marie told CNA that sometimes, if a particular parish is struggling, the sisters serving there might be paid less, or paid later as the funds come in, but “those are the parishes that are struggling, that is not the norm by any stretch of the imagination,” she noted.

“We don’t expect that we would live simply on the love of God, we have to have insurance and we have responsibilities and overhead,” Mother Marie said. “But when that happens – when we’re in a ministry and we’re not paid adequately as the world would see it – that’s not servitude, that’s Gospel, and that’s a privilege,” she said.

Religious sisters in the Church typically make three vows – those of poverty, chastity and obedience. During the celebration of the final profession of those vows, a sister often lies prostrate, face down, before the altar and the cross, in a symbolic gesture that she is giving up her old life and rising with Christ as someone who totally belongs to him, Mother Marie said.

That moment is “one of the holiest moments of our lives as sisters,” Mother Marie said.

“When we laid our lives at the service of the Gospel, we also laid at the foot of the altar our expectations for what we would gain in life,” in terms of worldly success or recognition, she said. Instead, “our hope is that we would gain souls, and I know that that might sound sort of Pollyannish, but that’s what gets us up in the morning,” she added.

Regarding the complaint that sisters with advanced degrees might be working in positions of service that are considered less intellectually stimulating, Mother Maximilia said that kind of thinking reveals a bias about what makes work valuable.

“The thought that [intellectual work] is objectively more valuable is already a biased opinion,” Mother Maximilia said.

“The point of any work is to serve and love God and neighbor, and I think actually that shows itself in a very particular way in direct service to a person’s needs,” she said.

“I would argue that it often is very intellectual work to balance and manage a household, so I think first of all we have a skewered notion of what valuable work is, and I would accentuate that what makes work valuable in the end is love, and we’ve always understood that service to the clergy is primarily that,” Mother Maximilia said.

It is natural, Mother Marie noted, that a religious sister with an advanced degree would want to work in her field of expertise at least for a time, and that is often the plan for those sisters. However, sometimes extenuating circumstances necessitate that sisters serve in other apostolates.

“If God calls us to do something else either through our superiors or the signs of the times or just through events, then we respond to that…we see that as the will of God,” she said.

When a sister is serving in a position that may not have been her first choice, it is not unlike the sacrifices that mothers and fathers make for their families, she added, such as staying up all night with a sick child, or taking a lower paying position in order to have more time for their family.

“That’s done for love, and it’s love that drives what we do, and a recognition of this great gift that we have,” as consecrated people, she said.

Mother Judith added that while education is a good and necessary thing, it is not ultimately the measure by which souls will be judged at the end of their lives.

“In the final analysis, when we come to the end of our life and we come before the Lord, I think it’s safe to say that He’s not going to ask us how many degrees we had or how we used our education,” she said. “He’s going to ask us how we loved.”

Mother Judith noted that the article misses, as contemporary culture often misses, the gifts that women in their femininity bring to the world, regardless of what specific tasks they are performing.

“We live in a culture that doesn’t seem to value the true gifts that women bring to our culture – motherhood, gentleness, patience, intuition, sensitivity, attention, warmth and the list goes on. These qualities are now seen in a negative light,seen as weaknesses, when in fact, it’s our strength,” she said.

“For consecrated religious, these elements of true femininity should be even more deeply rooted in us simply because of who we are. People see us and right away they associate us with God, the Church and rightly so. What a blessing and privilege it is to be a daughter of the Church.”

CARDINAL SARAH ENDORSES BOOK ON HARMS OF DIVORCE TO CHILDREN

This was unexpected!

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently sent a letter endorsing the book Primal Loss, edited and self-published by Leila Miller, which reveals the often traumatic experiences of children whose parents divorced.

Miller is a well-known Catholic blogger and author. She came from an intact family herself, so she first learned about how harmful divorce can be on children after an adult friend from a broken household opened up to her about her childhood experiences.

Concerned that this was a perspective lost in the current debate in the Catholic Church about divorce and remarriage, Miller put out a request on social media for adult children of divorce to share their stories with her, which she then compiled into the book Primal Loss. She decided to self-publish the book so she could ensure the book maintained its integrity on a very hot-button topic in our society.

“Your writing on this subject is both timely and urgent,” the Cardinal wrote in a personal letter to Miller, who had sent him a copy. “How necessary it is to support and defend the beauty of the Christian family as revealed to us by God from the very first pages of Sacred Scripture!

“In front of the growing attacks against the family, studies such as your own show the damaging and enduring consequences of a world vision, which denies the value of sacrifice and giving one’s life to the end for the other. I will certainly do what I can to promote Primal Loss.”  (From https:// churchpop.com)