VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR JOHN KOZAR AND CNEWA – MARRIAGE, A REALITY FOR ALL, NOT AN “IDEAL FOR THE FEW” – COMMUNICATION AND MERCY: A FRUITFUL ENCOUNTER

I got a big kick today out of the fact that Pope Francis, in his Message for the 50th World Day of Social Communications, as his very first quote about communications and mercy, cited Shakespeare’s words from The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

This brought a smile to my face because the opening quote in my book, A Holy Year in Rome, is the entire quote from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice!

This was the very first quote that came to mind on March 13 of last year when I heard Pope Francis announce he was calling for a Jubilee of Mercy!

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR JOHN KOZAR AND CNEWA

Please join me for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association for almost five years now. He came to that post after serving as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He was in Rome for a series of meetings and found time to be my guest on Vatican Insider. We learn what CNEWA is and does, where it works and we talk about current and future projects.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

MARRIAGE, A REALITY FOR ALL, NOT AN “IDEAL FOR THE FEW”

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday said the Church’s teaching on marriage is not an “ideal for the few” but “a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptized.”

The Holy Father was speaking the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, the Vatican court which mainly deals with marriage annulment cases.

ROMAN ROTA Jan 22

In his address inaugurating the judicial year, Pope Francis said the court’s role as Tribunal of the Family, and its role as Tribunal of the Truth of the Sacred Bond are complementary.

“The Church… can show the unfailing merciful love of God to families – especially those wounded by sin and the trials of life – and, at the same time, proclaim the essential truth of marriage according to God’s design,” Pope Francis said.

“When the Church, through your service, sets about to declare the truth about marriage in a concrete case, for the good of the faithful, at the same time you must always remember that those who, by choice or unhappy circumstances of life, are living in an objective state of error, continue to be the object of the merciful love of Christ and thus the Church herself,” he continued.

The Holy Father pointed out the recent two-year Synod process on the family said to the world that “there can be no confusion” between the family as willed by God, and every other type of union.

Reaffirming the doctrine of the Church, the Holy Father said the “quality of faith” is not an essential condition of marital consent, and pointed out the faith infused at baptism continues to have influence on the soul even “when it has not been developed and even seems to be psychologically absent.”

He added it is not uncommon for couples to discover “the fullness of God’s plan” for marriage after their wedding, when they have begun to experience family life.

“Therefore,” concluded Francis, “the Church, with a renewed sense of responsibility, continues to propose marriage in its essentials – offspring, good of the couple, unity, indissolubility, sacramentality – not as ideal only for a few – notwithstanding modern models centered on the ephemeral and the transient – but as a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptized faithful.”

COMMUNICATION AND MERCY: A FRUITFUL ENCOUNTER

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Day of Social Communications was released at a press conference in the Vatican on Friday. The message, entitled  ‘Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter’ is focused on the responsibility of all communicators to promote caring and healthy relationships in our fragmented and polarized world.

Quoting from Shakespeare, the Gospels and the Old Testament, the Pope reminds us that, as Christians, our “every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all”. If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity and divine love, he says, then our communication will be touched by God’s power too.

As sons and daughters of God, the message stresses, we are called to communicate with everyone, without exception.  Communication, the Pope insists, has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, to heal wounded memories and thus to enrich society. In both the material and the digital world, he says, our words and actions should help us all “escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred”.

Pope Francis invites all people of good will to rediscover the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships and to restore peace and harmony to families and communities.  Even when ancient wounds and lingering resentments stand in the way of communication and reconciliation, he says, mercy is able to create a new kind of speech and dialogue.

Our political and diplomatic language in particular, the Pope says, would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope He appeals to political and institutional leaders, as well as the media and opinion makers to remain especially attentive to the way they speak of those who think or act differently.  Even when condemning sins such as violence, corruption and exploitation, the Pope says, we must speak with meekness and mercy that can touch hearts, rather than with harsh, moralistic words that can further alienate those we wish to convert.

True communication, the Pope says, means listening, valuing, respecting and being able to share questions and doubts. Online or in social networks, he stresses, we must remember that it’s not technology which guarantees authentic communication, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal.

The Pope concludes by encouraging everyone “to see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome”.

For complete Message, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-communication-and-mercy-a-fruitful-e

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UPDATED REPORT ON PAPAL HEALTH RUMOR – PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT: FIDELITY IN MARRIAGE – DAY 14 SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING – HERE’S HOW THE SYNOD WORKS….

UPDATED REPORT ON PAPAL HEALTH RUMOR

VATICAN DENIES POPE FRANCIS HAS TUMOR

Statement from the Director of the Holy See Press Office (news.va: ANSA)

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

With regard to the unfounded news on the health of the Holy Father, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., has issued the following statement:

The circulation of entirely unfounded news regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention. Furthermore, as is clearly evident, the Pope is carrying out his very intense activity in an totally normal way.

AT SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING ON WEDNESDAY, Fr. Lombardi said, referring to the original article, that no Japanese doctor specializing in brain tumors ever came to the Vatican last January to see the Pope,  no helicopter ever brought a person to the Vatican. He also mentioned that, next to the article about the papal health, was an interview by the same writer with a woman doctor about tumors. She personally called Fr. Lombardi from New York, saying she saw the report of a papal tumor, knew absolutely nothing, only that a journalist had called her and asked, in a very generic way, about tumors.

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT: FIDELITY IN MARRIAGE

Some of the Synod Fathers, accompanied by faithful fom their dioceses. were at today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square where tens of thousands of pilgrims braved chilly October temperatures to hear the Holy Father talk about fidelity in marriage.

AG - OCtober 21

Francis began by noting, “In our catechesis on the family, we spoke last week about the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. Today we consider the promise of love and fidelity made between husbands and wives, which is the basis of all family life. This promise is called into question nowadays, and seen as somehow opposed to personal freedom. Yet the truth is that our freedom is shaped and sustained by our fidelity to the choices and commitments we make throughout life. Fidelity grows through our daily efforts to keep our word; indeed, fidelity to our promises is a supreme expression of our dignity as human beings.

“A family that closes up on itself is a contradiction, a mortification of the promise that brought it to life,” said the Pope. “Never forget that the identity of the family is always a promise that extends and expands to all the family, and also to all humanity. … Love, like friendship, owes its strength and beauty to the fact that it generates a bond without curbing freedom. Love is free, the promise of the family is free, and this is its beauty. Without freedom there is no friendship, without freedom there is no love, without freedom there is no marriage. So, freedom and fidelity are not opposed to each other; on the contrary, they support each other, in terms of both interpersonal and social relationships.

In a very beautiful and moving passage, Francis said: “Being faithful to promises is a true work of art by humanity. No relationship of love – no friendship, no form of caring for another person, no joy of the common good – reaches the height of our desire and our hope, if it does not arrive at the point of inhabiting this miracle of the soul. And I use the word ‘miracle’, because the strength and persuasiveness of fidelity, in spite of everything, can only enchant and surprise us.”

“There is no greater ‘school’ to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family,” continued the Holy Father, because they are, “in God’s plan, a blessing for our world. Saint Paul tells us that the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the Church. In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the Church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfils his every promise.”

DAY 14 SYNOD PRESS BRIEFING

Papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi started today’s briefing on the synod by adding to his earlier denial of what he called “the circulation of entirely unfounded news” that Pope Francis has a benign brain tumor. He had said that the report “regarding the health of the Holy Father by an Italian newspaper is gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention.”

At the briefing, referring to the original article, he stated that no Japanese doctor specializing in brain tumors ever came to the Vatican to see the Pope last January, nor had a helicopter ever brought a person to the Vatican. Father Lombardi also mentioned that, next to the article about the papal health, was an interview by the same writer with a woman doctor about tumors. She personally called Fr. Lombardi from New York to say she had seen the report of a papal tumor, knew absolutely nothing, only that a journalist had called her and asked, in a very generic way, about tumors.

Cardinals Daniel Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo, Uruguay and Reinhard Marx of Munich, Germany and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland addressed the media. Each began with an opening statement.

Cardinal Marx, who is also one of C-9 Council of Cardinals that advises the Holy Father, began to speak in his native German and then switched to English, a language understood by the greater majority of the journalists present.

He said he thinks “the synod is nearing the end but that it will not be the end because there will be a ‘relatio’ (report) and propositions. In our German-speaking group we had propositions and reflections about marriage and the family. The Holy Father will make something of the texts (of the language groups) so the synod is not at an end.”

Cardinal Marx said from the (2014) consistory to the 2014 synod to this synod, he sees that, “most of the people agree with the central part of the document (the Instrumentum laboris or working document), that is, one man, one women, together, forever. That is the great majority of the people I know in the church and also in society in general, and they will agree with the message of the Church. The Church says be faithful to your dreams – and people want to hear this – but they ask: what will you say to us when we fail?  That is the center of the discussions. Our answer: we stay with you even when you fail. This is a challenge in pastoral work.”

“In our relatio, continued the archbishop of Munich, “we stressed the point because marriage and the family is such a center for the world, for society. The family is the center and thanks to the Catholic Church for making this possible. Our discussions are for the world – this is our message to the world.” Cardinal Marx noted, “we have to do a lot to strengthen and support families, to accompany them and help them, to help families to realize their dream when they say ‘Yes’ to each other. One man, one woman, forever, and children. Thus, this most intimate private action is also most important for the public interest.”

Another point was “the discussion on gender and we tried to make a difference.” There is this new social construction of gender, and we are against these ‘new’ genders. That people can ‘choose’ gender is not acceptable to the Church.”

On the issue of the divorced and civilly remarried who wish communion, the German said, “everyone is looking at this issue. We are looking at what I just said about these people: what will you say to us when we fail?”

He pointed out that “every proposition, every text of German language group is unanimous – no vote against it. We feel there must be a way for us to be with these people who are aiming for full reconciliation with the church.”

“I hope this synod will not be a synod of closed doors but of open doors for people – open to young people who want to marry. We truly hope your dream will come true.”

(FYI: In actual practice, a number of bishops in Germany and Switzerland are already giving communion to divorced and remarried, an issue of great concern and consternation for many Church fathers and Catholics elsewhere.)

Cardinal Sturla from Uruguay said he has only been a bishop for three and a half years and cardinal for half that time and this is his first synod. He said he is learning a lot from his brothers, learning how to listen, to see the universal church. He sees the universality of the Church in the Italian language group of which he is part as there are Italian-speaking prelates and guests from the Eastern Churches and from around the world. He is impressed with the intensity of work, the conscientious care with which Synod Fathers prepared their text.

The Salesian cardinal said there was great attention in language groups, as well as diversity of opinions, freedom to talk, fraternity and unity. “We touched on all the topics Card Marx mentioned,” and spoke of the ideology of gender, He stressed the strong secularization process in Latin America where, in many instances, even same sex unions are approved. He said his group was struck by the unity given by the figure of the Pope. He said “we work but the last word will be the Pope’s.” He also underscored how, “for us of Spanish language, the word ‘accompany’ is very important, fundamental, in fact.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland said this was his first synod and it has been a “marvelous, special experience.”

“Last night in our small language group of which I am moderator,” he began, “I thought: what will come out of this synod? Were we all to go home last night, before any document was issued, then I feel the synod has been worthwhile. The synod is about finding synergy, as Pope Francis said Saturday (in his talk about the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops). The convergence was around Pope Francis.”

Abp. Martin noted that, “this synod is entitled ‘vocation and mission of the family.’ Vocation often suggests priesthood and consecrated life. But they are in decline. What do we do? We pray for vocations and we support those who believe they have a vocation. So why not do the same for the family, think in the same way? The tsunami of secularism has led to this decline in the sense of vocation, so how do we support that?

The archbishop of Armagh suggested three answers. 1. We must surely pray for the family, for marriage; 2. We need to have a clear, positive definition of marriage, of vocation to marriage and family, and 3. We need to support and nourish those in the vocation of marriage. In coming weeks, months and years, we have to ask: What are we doing to support the vocation and mission of the family?

HERE’S HOW THE SYNOD WORKS….

On The Road Together – The soil of real experience

“We’ve come far but there’s still a long way to go in a short time” – by Abp. Mark Coleridge, Brisbane, Australia

Yesterday (Tuesday) we finished work in the small groups. Our group was a very mixed bag, as were all the groups more or less. But English being spoken so widely we had a real jumble of nationalities (18), and voices spoke from vastly different backgrounds, at times it seemed from different planets. It wasn’t always easy to weave a tapestry from this but – thanks in large part to the tact and patience, the tactics and hard work of the Moderator, Archbishop Eamon Martin – we came close enough to it.

It was a challenge to put the final group report together, because Part III on which we were reporting contains most of the hot-button issues, on which there wasn’t always agreement in the group. The final report didn’t gloss over this totally; nor did it give much sense of the disagreement among us. At times our focus, I thought, was more doctrinal than pastoral and that, as a result, we tended to talk in some kind of noosphere which bore little relation to the reality of people’s lives – or at least the lives of the people I serve back home. The word “pastoral” means in the first place that we’re in touch with the reality of people’s lives, not caught in some doctrinal or ideological bubble where things may be beautiful in their own neat way but where you don’t deal with the mess of reality. The group was at its best perhaps when we were sharing our experiences of marriage and the family in our home situations. That’s when you felt we were touching down in the soil of real experience.

At times we wandered away from the focus of the family, talking about issues in global terms rather than within the context of the family. As a result, there was sometimes a feeling that we had to say everything about everything, which is not what a Synod is about – especially when we’re looking at the family which is not a single theme but a whole host of themes. You have to be very focused if it’s not to become unmanageable; and our focus had to be essentially pastoral and strictly within the context of the family.

Read the rest of Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s very informative blog here (you really have to wonder where he finds he time to write this, given what he said about his schedule!): http://brisbanecatholic.org.au/articles/soil-real-experience/

 

POPE GIVES FINAL CATECHESIS ON MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY, ASKS FOR PRAYERS FOR APOSTOLIC TRIP – PAPAL ADVISORS LOOK AT CREATING NEW CONGREGATIONS – POPE FRANCIS AND MOSES IN THE U.S. CONGRESS

POPE GIVES FINAL CATECHESIS ON MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY, ASKS FOR PRAYERS FOR APOSTOLIC TRIP

We are just days away from Pope Francis’ departure for Cuba and the United States on what will be his 10th foreign trip and his longest apostolic trip to date. Remarkably, at the age of 78, this marks his first ever visit to both countries. He was in Cuba only once before but, as he said in a recent interview, it was only a stopover in the Havana airport.

The Holy Father Wednesday at the general audience spoke about his impending trip, saying, “it is a mission to which I am going with great hope. The principle reason for the voyage is the Eighth World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia. I will also be going to the central headquarters of the United Nations on the 70th anniversary of its institution. I greet the Cuban and the American people who, guided by their Pastors, have prepared themselves spiritually for the visit.” He invoked the “light and strength of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Patroness of Cuba under the title of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, and the Patroness of America under the title of the Immaculate Conception.” (photo news.va)

AG  SEPT 16

The Holy Father opened the general audience by noting that, “today we conclude our series of catecheses on marriage and the family.” He began the lengthy series on the family on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, shortly after the October extraordinary synod on the family and ends it now, just weeks before the 2015 ordinary synod on the family.

Pope Francis mentioned two significant international events during today’s catechesis: the World Meeting of Families next week in Philadelphia, and the Synod of Bishops here in Rome. “Both have a global reach, which corresponds both to the universal dimension of Christianity and to the universal scope of the fundamental and indispensable human community of the family.”

“In these past months,” he said, “guided by God’s Word, we have reflected on the perennial value of the covenant between man and woman for the future of the entire human family. In the Creator’s plan, marriage and the family have an essential role in shaping an ever more humane political, economic and social life. This role is all the more critical today, in a society increasingly subject to technology and to forms of economic colonization which subordinate ethics to profits. From the beginning, God entrusted His creation to man and woman.”

“A new alliance of man and woman would seem not only necessary,” said the Pope, “but also strategic for the emancipation of peoples from their colonisation by money. This alliance must once again guide politics, the economy and civil coexistence. It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the sentiment of life, and the bonds of memory and hope.”

“Of this alliance, the matrimonial-familiar community of man and woman is its generative grammar, its ‘golden bond’, so to speak. Faith draws upon knowledge of God’s creation: He entrusted to the family not only the care of intimacy for its own sake, but also the project of making the entire world domestic. It is precisely the family that is at the origin and the base of this worldwide culture that saves us: it saves us from many attacks, many forms of destruction, and many forms of colonisation, for instance by money and ideologies, that so threaten the world. The family is a base from which we defend ourselves.”

Pope Francis concluded: “The promise God makes to man and woman, at the origin of history, includes all human beings, up to the end of history. If we have enough faith, the families of the peoples of the world will recognize themselves in this blessing. In any case, may whoever allows him- or herself to be moved by this vision, regardless of the people, nation, or religion to which he or she belongs, walk with us and become our brother or sister, without proselytism. Let us walk together under this blessing and with God’s aim to make us all brothers and sisters in life in a world that goes ahead and that is born precisely of the family, the union of man and woman.”

PAPAL ADVISORS LOOK AT CREATING NEW CONGREGATIONS

(Vatican Radio) During a press briefing this morning, Fr. Federico, Lombardi, SJ, director of the Holy See Press Office presented the following summary of the 11th Meeting of the Council of Cardinals – the so-called C9 – with the Holy Father.  The meeting took place from Monday to Wednesday of this week. The proposal for a new Congregation, provisionally entitled “Laity, Family and Life,” was again taken into consideration. In this regard Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, designated by the Holy Father in recent months to prepare a study on the feasibility of the project, was heard. At the end of their reflections the Council presented to the Pope a proposal orientated towards the implementation of the project.

Consideration of the proposal for a second new Congregation dedicated to “Charity, Justice and Peace” was resumed and further reflections were made without yet reaching, however, a conclusive proposal by the Council.

The cardinals went on to reflect on the procedures for the appointment of new bishops, specifically on the qualities and requisites for candidates in view of the needs of today’s world, and on the related issue of information gathering. Naturally the theme will need to be explored further and developed in collaboration with the competent dicasteries concerned.

Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the new Secretariat for Communication reported to the Council on the first steps taken so far and in particular on the appointment of a group to draw up the statutes for the new dicastery. The working group has been constituted and has already commenced activity. It is made up of representatives of the institutes variously involved. The statutes, while taking into account the progressive phase of consolidating the different entities that will form the Secretariat, defines the structure of the dicastery as “definitive,” Particular attention will be given to evaluating legal and administrative aspects of the communication activities of the Holy See. The regulations will subsequently be drafted and issued.

The cardinal advisors expressed their unanimous appreciation and stressed that, despite the progressive nature of the work, precise guidance must be given to the institutions involved so that, as the Motu Proprio requires, the reform can make decisive progress towards integration and unitary management.

The theme proposed during the last session of the C9 regarding issues linked to the abuse of minors was again taken into consideration. The matter of how to implement proposals was explored in further depth, especially with regard to the possibility of accelerating the resolution of the many cases still pending.

A draft Preamble of the new Constitution was also re-evaluated. Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga was absent for health reasons. The next session of the Council is scheduled to be held from December 10 to 12.

POPE FRANCIS AND MOSES IN THE U.S. CONGRESS

Father Federico Lombardi, at a briefing yesterday for the media on Pope Francis’ trip to Cuba and the United States, at one point made a comment about an email he received from a journalist who wrote that when Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber next week, he will be facing a portrait of Moses.

I found that rather curious so explored the matter further and found an extemely interesting website about the Architect of the Capitol (http://www.aoc.gov/facts/capitol-hill#question-531) and the 23 relief portrait plaques found in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. Here is what I learned:

The 23 marble relief portraits over the gallery doors of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol depict historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law. They were installed when the chamber was remodeled in 1949-1950.

Created in bas relief of white Vermont marble by seven different sculptors, the plaques each measure 28 inches in diameter. The 11 profiles in the eastern half of the chamber face left and the 11 in the western half face right, so that all look towards the full-face relief of Moses in the center of the north wall.

MOSES - US congress

The subjects of the reliefs were chosen by scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C., in consultation with authoritative staff members of the Library of Congress. The selection was approved by a special committee of five Members of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol.

The plaster models for these reliefs are on display on the walls in the Rayburn House Office Building subway terminal.

The 23 Relief Portraits: You will note that 22 are in profile, 11 looking east and 11 looking west, while Moses looks on, full face. The historical lawgivers depicted in these portraits are George Mason, Robert Joseph Pothier, Jean Baptiste Colbert, Edward I, Alfonso X, Gregory IX, Saint Louis, Justinian I, Tribonian, Lycurgus Hammurabi, Moses, Solon, Papinian, Gaius, Maimonides, Suleiman, Innocent III, Simon de Montfort, Hugo Grotius, Sir William Blackstone, Napoleon I, and Thomas Jefferson. (not all 23 are in this photo I took from the website of the Architect of the Capitol. How many of the names do you know? I could not identify some of these lawmakers):

LAWMAKER RELIEFS

 

 

 

MARRIAGE, “MAKING A SINGLE LIFE OUT OF TWO, IS A MIRACLE” – CARDINAL SAYS IRISH VOTE IS “A DEFEAT FOR HUMANITY”

MARRIAGE, “MAKING A SINGLE LIFE OUT OF TWO, IS A MIRACLE”

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on the family and marriage and focused on the period known as engagement.  (photo: news.va)

POPE-FIANCES

Engagement, he said, has to do with trust and reliability. It is beautiful that two people who are engaged to be married undertake a path together during which they learn from each other, sharing and participating in this profound commitment. “It is love itself that demands deep reflection and an approach that is fully aware of what it means to enter into marriage.”

Francis stressed that “the alliance of love between a man and a woman is an alliance for life. It cannot be improvised, it is not something you do from one day to the next.” He also said, “there is no quick-fix marriage, one has to work on love, one has to walk, the alliance of love between man and woman is learned, refined.”

In an off-the-cuff remark, the Pope said, “Allow me to say that making a single life out of two lives is a home-made alliance, and also perhaps a miracle, a miracle of freedom and of the heart entrusted to faith.”

He also urged Italians to read and perhaps re-read the Italian classic romantic novel “I Promessi Sposi” (The Bethrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni. “You Italians in your literature have a masterpiece on engagement, and youngsters should be familiar with it. Read it, it’s a masterpiece that tells the story of fiancés who have undergone difficulties and walked a road to marriage. Don’t overlook this masterpiece on engagement in Italian literature, go on and read it and you will see the beauty.”

Speaking on the idea of nuturing love – “it is very hard work,” he said to great applause –  Francis noted that “whoever wants everything immediately will give up everything immediately at the first difficulty or opportunity.”

The Holy Father also mentioned how today’s society and culture are increasingly indifferent to marriage and do not help young people in this delicate moment of their lives. He then encouraged engaged couples to follow courses of marriage preparation which he described as a precious aid as they help them reflect together on their love, their future and on the importance of faith and prayer in the life they are about to share. “You might wonder if this is important or will help you, or wonder if you have time to attend these sessions, but they will help and you’ll discover new things,” he said.

“Engagement is a time when couples come to know one another better in planning for the beautiful yet demanding enterprise of marriage. Love itself demands this preparation, which makes possible a free, generous and sober decision to enter into a life-long covenant of love. For this reason the Church stresses the importance of the period of engagement by offering courses of marriage preparation.”

CARDINAL SAYS IRISH VOTE IS “A DEFEAT FOR HUMANITY”

Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said Tuesday that last weekend’s referendum in which Irish people voted to legalize gay marriage was “not just a defeat of Christian principles but a defeat for humanity.”   He was speaking at an award ceremony Tuesday evening for the Social Doctrine of the Church sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Foundation.

He said: “The result left me deeply saddened. Certainly, as the archbishop of Dublin said, the Church must take into account this reality (same sex marriage), but must also take into account that, in my opinion, she must strengthen her commitment and make an effort to evangelize our culture as well.  I believe this (vote) was not just a defeat of Christian principles but also a defeat for humanity.” The secretary of State added that, “The family remains at the center and we have to do everything to defend it and promote it. Striking it would be like taking the foundations away from the building of the future.”

The family, founded on the union of two people of different sexes, must always be cared for. In any case, the Church believes the result of the Irish referendum must be taken into account. (Translated from Vatican Radio – Italian section)

POPE FRANCIS TO RECEIVE CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO ON SUNDAY – CONGREGATION CONFIRMS JUNIPERO SERRA CANONIZATION – THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE, “DESIGNED BY GOD” – THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, CHINESE PILGRIMS, 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF END OF WWII

One of my favorite Vatican events is the annual swearing-in ceremony of the new Swiss Guards. I will miss it this year as I have a parish council meeting and some of the timing of the two events overlaps. In any case, I might be able to bring you a few photos tomorrow from a German friend who is a photographer and will be at the ceremony. Here are a few I took at a ceremony:

Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 055 Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 043 Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 034 Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 024 Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 011 Swiss Guards - May 6 2008 070

The Pontifical Swiss Guard was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 as a stable corps, directly dependant on the Holy See, whose main duties were to guard the person of the Roman Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces. The traditional swearing-in date of May 6 commemorates that day in 1527 when 147 members of the 189-member Swiss Guards lost their lives during the Sack of Rome when they fell in battle, protecting Pope Clement VII and the Church from the onslaught of the troops of Emperor Charles V.

POPE FRANCIS TO RECEIVE CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO ON SUNDAY

(I posted this news on Facebook yesterday as it was announced) – Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office, issued the following statement to journalists Tuesday afternoon: “I confirm that on Sunday morning May 10, 2015, the Holy Father will receive in a strictly private manner the President of the Republic of Cuba, Mr. Raúl Castro Rux.  The meeting will take place in the study of the Paul VI Audience Hall.

As we already know, President Raúl Castro has publicly thanked the Pope for his role in fostering the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States of America. The Pope will visit the Caribbean island in September en route to the United States.”

CONGREGATION CONFIRMS JUNIPERO SERRA CANONIZATION

Better late than never, as the saying goes. It is now – more or less – official:

Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and, among the decrees he approved, was“the affirmative sentence of the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops who are members of the congregation regarding the upcoming canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra.”

Of course, this had already been announced on January 15 by Pope Francis as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, the final leg of his apostolic trip in Asia. He said at the time, “In September, God willing, I will canonize Junipero Serra in the United States. He was the evangelizer of the West in the United States.”

The September canonization will be what is known as an equivalent canonization. The process was established in the 18th century by Pope Benedict XIV. In an equivalent canonization, the Pope waives the usual judicial process and declares that a blessed’s liturgical cult is extended to the universal Church.

THE BEAUTY OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE, “DESIGNED BY GOD”

During his weekly general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his catechetical reflections on the family, speaking of the nature and purpose of marriage in the order of creation and in the Divine plan of salvation. He focused specifically on Christian marriage as a Sacrament: an efficacious sign of God’s love for each and every person, for all humanity and for the whole world, a means of grace, and a genuine way of living our common baptismal call to holiness.

He was addressing 60,000 faithful and pilgrims who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square for this weekly papal event.

POPE - Marraiage AG

“Christian marriage,” said Francis, “is that sacrament which builds up the community of the Church and of society. Marriage has been inscribed in creation’s design by God, and, by his grace, countless Christian men and women have lived married life fully.”

The Holy Father went on to describe marriage as an act of faith in God’s plan for humanity and an act of selfless love. Drawing on the writings of St. Paul the Apostle, the Pope focused especially on the duties of husbands to their wives, saying that married love is an image of the love between Christ and his Church, and that a husband is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, by giving himself completely for her.

Francis said that marriage was “not just a ceremony that takes place in the Church, with flowers, a dress and photographs. Christian marriage is a Sacrament that happens in the Church, but it also makes the Church. It starts a new family life.”

Referring to a letter of St. Paul, he reiterated that a husband has the responsibility to love his wife, just as Christ loves the Church.

He had this to say to all husbands in off-the-cuff remarks: “I hope all you husbands here understand this. You must love your wives just like Christ loves His Church. This is serious business,” he said to applause, “this is no joke.”

“When a man and a woman marry in the Lord, they participate in the missionary life of the Church, by living not only for themselves or their own family, but for all people,” explained Pope Francis. Therefore, the life of the Church is enriched through every marriage which shows forth this beauty, and is impoverished when marriage is disfigured in any way.”

The Pope explained that “every couple that faithfully and courageously lives the grace of this sacrament assists the Church in offering the gifts of faith, hope and love to all people, and helps others to experience these gifts in their married lives and their families.” Francis prayed that married couples everywhere “live this mystery ever more fully, trusting in God’s tenderness and the Church’s maternal care.”

THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS, CHINESE PILGRIMS, 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF END OF WWII

At today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis met with members of the Harlem Globetrotters, the famous basketball team from the United States, who gave the Pope a jersey with the name “Pope Francis” and the number 90. Before they met, some of the players entertained the faithful by spinning their signature red-white-and-blue basketballs. (photo: news.va)

POPE- HARLEM; GLOBETROTTERS

The Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team founded in the 1920’s, featuring African-American players at a time when most sports were segregated.  In later years, they were known for adding comedy and stunts to their routines. They are currently in Italy as part of their 2015 international tour.

Before the start of the audience catechesis, as Pope Francis circled St. Peter’s Square in his trademark jeep, he spotted a group of pilgrims from the Chinese diocese of Wenzhou. He stopped the popemobile and greeted the group as they carried a placard from their  diocese. Wenzhou is a city on the east coast of the Chinese mainland, which counts more than 9 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. (Wenzhou is in the Annuario Pontificio, the Pontifical Yearbook, as Yongjia: it gives a street address as contact but, unlike other dioceses of the world, there are no name of a bishop, no numbers for total Catholics, priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, etc.)

POPE - CHINESE  AG

Later, after finishing the catechesis summary in different languages and multi-lingual greetings to pilgrims, the Holy Father noted that, “n the next few days various capital cities will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. On this occasion I entrust to the Lord, by the intercession of Mary Queen of Peace, my hope that society may learn from the mistakes of the past and that, faced with the current conflicts that are tearing asunder various regions of the world, all civil leaders may persevere in their search for the common good and in the promotion of a culture of peace.”

GOD’S MASTERPIECE, MAN AND WOMAN: THE MASTERPIECE OF SOCIETY, THE FAMILY

The technical problems related to security issues that arose when I was in Chicago have been overcome and I can finally post a blog. I was busy writing and tried to post while away but to no avail. I did, however, post my column on Facebook. In the future, if you do not see this column and I am not on vacation, always check here: facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420

Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a quiet nun with a keen wit who led a very public life as a journalist and a longtime spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, died on Tuesday (April 28) after a tough battle with cancer. She was 67 and passed away in a hospice in Albany next to the regional convent of the religious order she entered as a 17-year-old novice in 1964. Walsh had moved to her native Albany from Washington last September after it was discovered that the cancer that had been in remission since 2010 had returned.

No journalist who covered the Vatican, the Catholic Church and the Holy Father in recent decades failed to cross paths with Sister Mary Ann at some point – in Rome, on a papal trip, in the U.S. and at the USCCB.  Our paths crossed relatively few times, here in Rome for big events such as conclaves and often in the US, including during the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver and the 2008 visit to the U.S. by Pope Benedict.  Sister Mary Ann was warm, welcoming and always happy to help, and often that help came in the form of letting journalists know when they got the facts wrong on a Vatican story!

Click here for full RNS story: http://www.religionnews.com/2015/04/28/sister-mary-ann-walsh-catholic-journalist-longtime-bishops-spokeswoman-dies-67/

Rest in peace, Mary Ann!

GOD’S MASTERPIECE, MAN AND WOMAN: THE MASTERPIECE OF SOCIETY, THE FAMILY

I truly enjoyed Pope Francis’ catechesis on marriage and the family today and his many relevant comments about separations increasing, the number of children decreasing, the decreading number of marriages and the disparity in earning power between men and women.

Continuing his long series of general audience catecheses on the family, the Pope last week focused on God’s original plan for man and woman as a couple and this week spoke about marriage. He began by recalling that Jesus’ first miracle took place during the wedding at Cana when He transformed water into wine, thus ensuring that the celebrations could take place.

POPE FRANCIS - Audience on Marriage

“This fact reminds us of Genesis, when God completed His creation with his masterpiece: man and woman,” he said. “And Jesus began His miracles with this masterpiece, in marriage. … Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: the man and the woman who love each other. … Since that time, many things have changed but that ‘sign’ of Christ contains a message that remains valid.”

Francis continued: “Nowadays it does not seem easy to describe marriage as a celebration that is renewed over time, in the different seasons in the entire life of spouses. It is a fact that fewer people marry. Instead, in many countries the number of separations is increasing, while the number of children is in decline. The difficulty of staying together – both as a couple and as a family – leads to bonds being broken with increasing frequency and rapidity. … In effect, many young people give up the plan of a permanent bond and a lasting family.” He then highlighted what he called “a kind of culture of the provisional: everything is temporary, and it seems that nothing is permanent.”

The Pope said we must ask ourselves why young people do not choose to get married, and seem to have little confidence in marriage and in the family. And he answered by saying, “the difficulties are not only of an economic nature, although these are very important.”

Then, extemporaneously, he said: “Many people believe that the changes of recent decades were caused by the emancipation of women. But this argument is not valid either. It is false, a kind of chauvinism that seeks to subjugate women. We risk behaving like Adam when God asked him, ‘Why did you eat the fruit of the tree?’ and Adam answered, ‘because the woman told me to’.” “Ah,” said Francis, “so it’s the woman’s fault! Poor woman!  We have to defend women!”

“In reality,” continued the Holy Father, “almost all men and women would prefer emotional security in the form of a solid marriage and a happy family … but, for fear of failure, many do not even want to think about it. … Perhaps it is precisely that fear of failure that is the greatest obstacle to receiving the word of Christ, Who promises His grace to the matrimonial union and to the family.” However, “marriage consecrated by God preserves that bond between man and woman that God has blessed ever since the creation of the world; and it is a source of peace and good for all married and family life.” He noted that, in the early times of Christianity, this great dignity of the marriage bond between man and woman overcame a then-popular abuse, the right of husbands to repudiate their wives, even for the most specious and humiliating reasons.”

Pope Francis stressed that, “the Christian seed of radical equality between spouses must bear new fruit today. … As Christians we must become more demanding in this respect. For example, in decisively supporting equal pay for equal work: Inequality is a scandal. Why is it taken for granted that women should earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. At the same time, the maternity of women and the paternity of men should be recognized as a richness that remains valid, especially for the benefit of children. Equally, the virtue of hospitality in Christian families today retains a crucial importance, especially in situations of poverty, degradation and domestic violence.”

“Do not be afraid of inviting Jesus to the wedding celebrations! And also His Mother Mary!” exclaimed Pope Francis. “When Christians marry ‘in the Lord’, they are transformed into an effective sign of God’s love. Christians do not marry only for themselves: they marry in the Lord in favor of all the community, of society as a whole.”

A PAPAL RAFFLE FOR THE POOR – REPORTS CONTINUE AT COLLOQUIUM ON COMPLEMENTARITY IN MARRIAGE – PATRIARCH EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO VICTIMS OF JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK – VATICAN TO SPONSOR CONFERENCE ON AUTISM

At a time when I am house bound, Mr. Murphy Law has paid a visit. You’ve heard of Murphy’s law – if something can go wrong, it will! My wash machine finally died and the fridge is on its way! I won’t even mention the smaller “bad  breaks.”

Normally, to purchase a new big ticket item, I would visit several stores that carry such items, price check, ask questions, do some research online and then make a purchase. I did go online, checking on reliable name brands, comnparing prices etc. It is amazing what machines offer today. The washers I saw seemed to do everything but dry and iron the wash load! I just need a few of the basics.

I had received an email a while back from the Vatican announcing that it had added the big ticket items such as refrigerators, washers, etc. to its stock. I called my neighbor Francesco last night (he works at the press office) whom I have known for years, along with his wife, and he said he’d look at some of the items today and call me from the store. He did just that, I listened to his advice and chose a great name brand washer and gave him the money as he came by on his way back to work and voilà, in about an hour, the washer will be delivered and installed!

I cannot remember a moment in my years in Italy whan anything so major has been achieved with such little fuss. Of course I did nothing except study items online – Francesco did the leg work. But it all means so much to me given that I have not been able to go out. I am sure that each of you, my readers, has also been blessed with good neighbors- there are so many ways of being Samaritans!

Now, in the near future, I must get a new fridge (that might be something I’d have to see in person)!

Before a look at a few news items, I want to share the account by ANSA (an Italian news agency) on Pope Francis’ homily at Mass this morning:

Vatican City, November 18 – Anyone can be touched by God and converted – even today’s corrupt and careless leaders, Pope Francis said Tuesday. During Mass at the Vatican’s St. Martha’s guesthouse, where he lives, the Pope described different calls to conversion in the Bible, including the story of Zacchaeus, a corrupt and despised tax collector who served the rich and dominant forces of the day.

“He was just like many leaders we know: corrupt,” Francis said. “Those who, instead of serving the people, exploit the people to serve themselves. There are some like this, in the world,” he added. “That changed after Zacchaeus became intensely curious about Jesus and wanted so much to see him that Zacchaeus made a fool of himself by climbing a tree in an effort to see Christ as He passed by,” said the Pope.

“The Holy Spirit is clever, eh! He sowed the seed of curiosity, and so in order to see him…(Zacchaeus) had to climb a tree to watch a procession. “Just think of it. How ridiculous!” said Francis. And from that moment, Zacchaeus converted to Christianity and was changed, the pope concluded. (http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/)

A PAPAL RAFFLE FOR THE POOR

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is raffling off dozens of gifts he’s been given during his short papacy, including a new Fiat 4×4, some bikes and a fancy coffee maker, with the proceeds going to charity.

The Vatican City State administration this week put up posters around the Vatican advertising the 10 euro ($13) per ticket raffle. Tickets are on sale at the Vatican post office, pharmacy and other venues open to the public. Winners will be announced Jan. 8.

Francis, known for his simplicity, has overhauled the Vatican’s finances to make them more efficient and to devote more money to charity. The raffle is part of that effort, making sure gifts for which Francis has no use don’t just gather dust in storage but are used to help the needy.

REPORTS CONTINUE AT COLLOQUIUM ON COMPLEMENTARITY IN MARRIAGE

The three-day colloquium in Vatican City, organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Inter-religious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity, on the subject of the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage continues.  This global, inter-religious meeting featuring representatives from 14 religious traditions and 23 countries, was opened yesterday by Pope Francis.  Participants have been exchanging and sharing experiences from cultural, religious and societal points of view.OComplentarity conference

Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth, Jonathan Sachs spoke Monday and said later in a radio interview that the result of the decline in stable, two parent families causes a rise among young people in eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, suicide attempts and other stress-related symptoms. Three million children are living in an affluent society in this new form of poverty of the single parent family and it’s women who are bearing the brunt because they are the heads of 92% of those families.

He said that one million children will grow up never knowing or meeting their fathers, Rabbi Sachs says, and this is leading to an unprecedented divide between these disadvantaged kids and those growing up in stable, two parent families who will be advantaged in every way. This is a scandal, he says, and it needs someone to stand up for those children who are the victims of this widespread desertion of marriage.

Another speaker Monday was Sister Prudence Allen, a member of the chaplaincy team at Lancaster University in England and a newly appointed member of the International Theological Commission. She addressed the principles of complementarity and the rise of sex and gender ideologies that challenge the traditional vision of marriage and the family.

Summarizing her remarks with Vatican Radio she said that gender ideology was founded by John Money who thought the person was a collection of unconnected parts that from birth to the age of about two could be put together, almost like a Lego set, into different kinds of combinations. But Sister Prudence says this destroyed what we would call the centre of integration where we become an organised, integrated man or woman…..it is important to distinguish between the development of these ideologies, she says, and the reality of sex and gender identity.

Today, speakers included Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor of the Bruderhof, an international communal movement dedicated to a life of simplicity, service, sharing, and nonviolence. In thirty years as a family counselor, Arnold has advised thousands of couples and individuals, including the terminally ill, veterans, prison inmates, and teenagers. He topic was titled, ‘We Need to Become More Courageous Like the Early Church’ and he focussed on “Living Witness for Marriage: What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Helen Alvaré, communications liaison for the conference told Catholic News Agency that the colloquium hopes to offer “a greater understanding” of the relationship between man and woman within marriage. It also aims to provide support for those “who hope for marriage, but sometimes despair, and for people who are struggling with it if they have it.”

All videos shown and speeches delivered at the colloquium can be found here: http://humanum.it/en/videos/

PATRIARCH EXTENDS CONDOLENCES TO VICTIMS OF JERUSALEM SYNAGOGUE ATTACK

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal told Fides news agency in a statement, “I extend my condolences to the relatives of the victims of the assault against the Synagogue of Jerusalem and all the violence that bloody the Holy Land. In our churches, convents and monasteries, we will pray more than ever that the Lord helps us and helps political leaders to take the right steps so that there is peace and security for all, all, all.”

Worshippers in the Jerusalem synagogue included the four rabbis who were killed, three of whom were Americans, according to news reports. Many others were injured.

Patriarch Twal, having just returned from abroad, told of a Jerusalem marked by a strengthening of security measures and roadblocks. He said, “this is a sign that the situation is anything but normal, and control measures cannot solve the seriousness of the problems. It is necessary to go to the roots, remove the causes of despair that breeds violence, stop the endless spiral of revenge. Otherwise we will always live in fear, without freedom or dignity. These are the thoughts that we have in our hearts, as we approach Christmas.”

 VATICAN TO SPONSOR CONFERENCE ON AUTISM

(VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, on the theme “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope.”The three-day conference starts November 20.

Presenters included Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery; and Stefano Vicari, head of the Department of Child Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital, Rome.

Archbishop Zimowski explained that the term “autism” was first used by the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe the introversion of schizophrenic patients. Subsequently, in 1943, his colleague Leo Kanner described the disorder for the first time, affirming that autistic children were born with a congenital incapacity to establish normal contact with other people. It is currently defined as a “neuro-behavioural disturbance (also known as Kanner’s Syndrome) of a pervasive type”, of multifactorial origin. In general, autism spectrum disorders manifest themselves before the age of three, and are life-long. The most recent statistics confirm that around 1% of children worldwide are affected.

“The many difficulties, including those of an ethical, moral and spiritual nature, faced by those with autism spectrum disorders and their carers have led us to choose such an important, difficult and delicate theme for this conference”, the prelate explained. “It will be a special occasion for observing the advances that have been made in research and treatment, as well as legal and political-administrative aspects; three valuable days for listening and exchanging experiences, and learning from the world’s most qualified specialists.”

The Conference will be attended by more than 650 people from 57 different countries, and will include an encounter with the Holy Father during the Wednesday general audience, as well as an exhibition of paintings by the Taiwanese autistic artist Leland Lee, a moment of prayer and testimonies from people affected by autism spectrum disorders, their families, and associations. Various famous Italian singers will offer a musical contribution.