POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

Video Message of His Holiness Pope Francis To the General Assembly of the USCCB 14-17 November 2016

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you.  Just a year ago, I was with you during my Pastoral Visit to the United States.  There I was impressed by the vitality and diversity of the Catholic community.  Throughout its history, the Church in your country has welcomed and integrated new waves of immigrants.  In the rich variety of their languages and cultural traditions, they have shaped the changing face of the American Church.

In this context, I would commend the coming Fifth National Hispanic Pastoral Encuentro.  The celebration of this Fifth Encuentro will begin in your Dioceses in this coming January and conclude with a national celebration in September 2018.

In continuity with its predecessors, the Encuentro seeks to acknowledge and value the specific gifts that Hispanic Catholics have offered, and continue to offer, to the Church in your country.  But it is more than that.  It is part of a greater process of renewal and missionary outreach, one to which all of your local Churches are called.

Our great challenge is to create a culture of encounter, which encourages individuals and groups to share the richness of their traditions and experiences, to break down walls and to build bridges.  The Church in America, as elsewhere, is called to “go out” from its comfort zone and to be a leaven of communion.  Communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope.

We need to become ever more fully a community of missionary disciples, filled with love of the Lord Jesus and enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel.  The Christian community is meant to be a sign and prophecy of God’s plan for the entire human family.  We are called to be bearers of good news for a society gripped by disconcerting social, cultural and spiritual shifts, and increasing polarization.

It is my hope that the Church in your country, at every level, will accompany the Encuentro with its own reflection and pastoral discernment. In a particular way, I ask you to consider how your local Churches can best respond to the growing presence, gifts and potential of the Hispanic community.  Mindful of the contribution that the Hispanic community makes to the life of the nation, I pray that the Encuentro will bear fruit for the renewal of American society and for the Church’s apostolate in the United States.

With gratitude to all engaged in the preparation of the Fifth Encuentro, I assure you of my prayers for this important initiative of your Conference.  Commending you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful of your local Churches, to the prayers of Mary Immaculate, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

For Spanish text, click here: http://www.news.va/es/news/video-mensaje-del-papa-a-la-asamblea-general-de-la

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT – U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

What a week this has been so far! The three-day weekend papal trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis’ unannounced visit Tuesday to the towns in central Italy struck by the earthquake last August 24, and three big moments on Wednesday: The first took place at 9 a.m., before the general audience, when Pope Francis received representatives of the Vodafone Foundation. The Vodafone CEO presented the Pope with an initiative called “Instant Schools for Africa,” which seeks to offer online access to important educational resources for a great number of African youth, some of whom are living in refugee camps.

The general audience followed that meeting, with the papal catechesis centered on the Holy Father’s apostolic trip to the Caucasus region. Wednesday afternoon, Francis addressed the First Global Sports and Faith Conference and, that evening, celebrated vespers in the Rome church of St. Gregory al Celio with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the 50th anniversary of Anglican-Catholic relations. The Holy Father recalled the historic meeting 50 years ago between Blessed Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, a meeting that led to a gradual rapprochement based on theological dialogue. During the liturgy the two leaders signed a common declaration and sent out on mission together 19 pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops.

The big news today was the Vatican’s announcement of the theme of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops – see that story below. Also, please find a Vatican Radio interview with outgoing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who is in Rome for the Sports and Faith Conference. That meeting, now in its second day, was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and supported by the U.N. and the International Olympic Committee.

Pope Francis also met with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Msgr. Brian Bransfield, secretary general, and Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, adjunct secretary general.

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT

The Vatican press office announced today that, “Pope Francis, after consulting, as is customary, with Bishops Conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the Union of Superior Generals, in addition to having listened to the suggestions of the Synod Fathers from the last Synod and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council, has decided that the XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2018 on the them, ‘Young people, faith and vocational discernment’.”

The press office statement described the theme “as an expression of the Church’s pastoral concern for the young, in continuity with what emerged from the recent Synods on the family and the content of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. It intends to accompany young people along their existential journey towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and achieve it joyfully, opening themselves up to an encounter with God and humanity and actively taking part in the building of the Church and society.”

U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

Pope Francis met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday before the start of the First Global Conference on Sport and Faith on the theme “Sport at the Service of Humanity.” The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the United Nations, and the International Olympic Committee.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, the Secretary General spoke to Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti.

BAN KI-MOON: I’m grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis, the Vatican, and also the International Olympic Committee for organizing this very meaningful event, where people can be inspired to promote peace and development through sports. Sports is a universal language. It transcends all the national barriers. It transcends all ethnicities and nationalities and whatever differences one may have. It can have instant power of mobilizing people’s energy, and also commitment for development.

“Togetherness, oneness, can easily be realized through sports. In that regard, the United Nations is very much committed. The UN General Assembly has designated April 6, every year, as the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, and I have appointed a special envoy to promote peace and development through sport. The United Nations and the IOC have been building a very strong partnership; now the Vatican – the Holy See – is joining. The Vatican, IOC, and the United Nations can have a very strong driving force to promote peace and development through sports.”

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Question: How important has the role of Pope Francis been in promoting peace and reconciliation, in your opinion?

BAN KI-MOON: His Holiness Pope Francis is a man of peace; a man of vision. He is a man of more voice. It has been a great privilege and honor for me to work with him. For example, when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was the Pope’s urging and appeal to world leaders: He urged world leaders to have a stronger and visionary commitment for the world – people and planet – so that they can live in peace and prosperity through partnership. And also, it was His Holiness who, through his encyclical on climate change, Common Home [Laudato si’] – he termed it: Our planet earth is our common home. We are all seven billion people, and all creatures should live together, and that has given much inspiration. Strong voice: so that the world leaders adopted climate change agreement in Paris last year. I expressed my deepest admiration and gratitude to His Holiness during my audience with him.

Question: Finally, sport is an eloquent example today of this possibility and opportunity of the Holy See and the United Nations to play a role together. Do you think even in the construction of a more human society – peace, reconciliation, human dignity –  that the Holy See and the United Nations, the Church and the United Nations, can work together?

BAN: The Holy See, the Vatican, and Christianity and other religions, they share common goals, visions, and values as the Charter of the United Nations: Peace, respect for humanity, and human rights. And also through sports we can promote sustainable development. In that regard, it is very important that the United Nations has been working very closely with the Holy See, and also a strong partnership with the IOC. The idea of having this Faith and Sports for Peace and Development all came from His Holiness, and also the United Nations and IOC. That is why this is unprecedented that the Secretary General of the United Nations, the IOC, and Holy See work together for common good.

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER RECOUNTS HER STORIES OF MOTHER TERESA – CAN THERE BE MORAL CLARITY IN VOTING CHOICES? READ ON…

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER RECOUNTS HER STORIES OF MOTHER TERESA

My guest this weekend on “Vatican Insider” is Susan Conroy who tells her story of years with St Teresa of Calcutta. Susan made her first trip to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in 1986. In 1987, at the request of Mother Teresa herself, Susan stayed in the Order’s convent in the South Bronx, New York, in contemplation of the religious life. She did not enter the Order but, in 1991, during Lent, she returned to Calcutta to work with the Sisters among the dying destitutes. She and Mother Teresa kept in touch until Mother’s death in 1997. Susan has written several books on Mother Teresa so stay tuned for that wonderful story.

Susan at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the previous day’s canonization of Mother Teresa:

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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 channel 130 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 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

CAN THERE BE MORAL CLARITY IN VOTING CHOICES? READ ON…

So many people have told me, in person and via email, that they are quite concerned about how to vote in the 2016 elections, that the choices for presidential candidates pose a real dilemma – morally, politically, personally – and they want guidelines, especially from the U.S. bishops.

Well, there are guidelines at www.usccb.org, including the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/). And the bishops also note what they call the “Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines During Election Season,” starting with “Political Responsibility Guidelines”  (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm).

If you are perplexed, take your time and read these.

I offer an additional guideline for you.

Earlier today, I posted the following on FB, noting that I got this from a FB friend and that I had also just listened, per her link, to the homily at Mass at EWTN by Father Steve! Superlative indeed! The ultimate voters guide – no names mentioned but you’ll get it immediately. Here is what my friend wrote, including the caps: THIS IS A MASTERPIECE OF A HOMILY by Father Stephen Imbarrato on how we as Christians need to VOTE and to THINK and PRAY about how we will vote. PLEASE LISTEN AND PLEASE SHARE!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq_gdIspz00

You will not have any doubts about voting when you listen to this homily.

We have learned that Donald Trump has enlisted a large group of conservative, pro-life Americans as advisors to his campaign. Read the following piece by Joan Frawley Desmond for information about Trump’s reasons and learn who these advisors are:

(National Catholic Register) WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has tapped a leading abortion-rights foe to launch a nationwide effort to mobilize pro-life voters in the final weeks before U.S. voters go to the polls.

The appointment of Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), as the leader of Trump’s national pro-life coalition marked a new front in his battle to activate the GOP base. In a recent letter to pro-life leaders, Trump also vowed to support the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end late-term abortions nationwide,” protect the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of elective abortions, and defund Planned Parenthood.

“As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, the help of leaders like you is essential to ensure that pro-life voters know where I stand, and also know where my opponent, Hillary Clinton, stands,” wrote Trump in a letter that outlined his pro-life policy goals.

“Your help is crucial to make this contrast clear in the minds of pro-life voters,” Trump continued, “especially those in battleground states.”

“The whole plan is to rally pro-life voters around the nation, especially in battleground states, and let them know where the Trump ticket is on life issues,” Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of the Susan B. Anthony List and a former GOP congresswoman from Colorado, told the Register.

Dannenfelser’s endorsement signaled that some pro-life leaders and grassroots activists had finally warmed to Trump, after a long and often acrimonious courtship.

Back in January, Dannenfelser was among a group of pro-life leaders who warned Iowa Republicans not to trust the real estate tycoon, who once described himself as “pro-choice.” Not only did she challenge the candidate’s pro-life credentials, she also raised questions about his character.

But as Trump clinched the necessary delegate votes, pledged to put a pro-life jurist on the U.S. Supreme Court, and selected pro-life Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate, some of the skepticism began to fade.

Asked to explain Dannenfelser’s about-face, Musgrave told the Register that Trump had earned her support.

“The commitments that Donald Trump has made to the pro-life community are extraordinary,” she said.

“We have never gotten these commitments from any other candidate, including the last two candidates who were pro-life.”

“While Clinton and the Democratic Party have talked about doing away with the Hyde Amendment, Trump has pledged to make the Hyde Amendment permanent,” she explained.

To read the entire article by Joan Frawley Desmond, click here:

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/trump-makes-strong-play-for-pro-life-vote-as-race-tightens

To see those names and read more about the Trump appointments, click here: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/kschiffer/donald-trump-names-33-members-to-council-of-catholic-advisers

CARDINAL DOLAN: “CATHOLICS FOR CHOICE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ANY WAY”

CARDINAL DOLAN: “CATHOLICS FOR CHOICE IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN ANY WAY”

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2016 — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement alerting the public to a deceptive ad campaign calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

Cardinal Dolan’s full statement follows: A Statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities:

An abortion advocacy organization called “Catholics for Choice” (CFC) placed deceptive full-page newspaper ads in multiple cities on September 12 calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.

CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching — and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland,. . . “Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

CFC’s extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

According to a July 2016 poll. . . conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S STORY OF MOTHER TERESA – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF CARDINAL CAPOVILLA – CA’ MAITINO, MEMORIES OF A PONTIFICATE – REFUGEE BOAT IS ALTAR FOR CORPUS CHRISTI MASS – US BISHOPS CONCERN ABOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR EXPULSION OF IMMIGRANTS

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S STORY OF MOTHER TERESA

My special guest this week on Vatican Insider is Fr.. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, the official postulator of the cause of canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. We spoke when he was in Rome for the March 15 announcement by Pope Francis of the decrees of canonization for Blessed Mother Teresa and four others. The September 4 date for her canonization was also announced that day. Listen as Fr. Brian tells riveting stories about this future saint, and how he came to be the postulator for her cause.

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PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF CARDINAL CAPOVILLA

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the Bishop of Bergamo, Italy for the death of Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla, the former private secretary of Pope John XXIII.

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Upon hearing of the Cardinal’s passing 26 May 2016 at the age of 100, Pope Francis wrote in a telegram to Bishop Francesco Beschi, in whose diocese Cardinal Capovilla lived the last years of his life:  “I think with affection of this dear brother who in his long and fruitful existence gave witness to the Gospel with joy and obediently served the Church, first in the diocese of Venice, then with attentive affection at the side of Pope John XXIII, of whose memory he was the zealous custodian and expert interpreter. In his episcopal ministry, especially in Chieti-Vasto and Loreto (Italy), he was always a pastor totally dedicated to the wellbeing of all priests and the faithful …with a solid fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”

Pope Francis concluded his telegram with a prayer, “with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Mark the Evangelist,” so that the Lord will receive his soul “nel Gaudio” and “in eternal peace, ” and offered his apostolic blessing to all those who grieve his passing.

Cardinal Capovilla was born on 14 October 1915 in Pontelungo, northern Italy.

He was ordained a priest in Venice, Italy, in 1940; he was appointed and ordained Archbishop of Chieti, in 1967.  From 1971 to 1988, he served as prelate of Loreto, Italy.

On 22 February 2014, Pope Francis elevated him cardinal and, cardinal-priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome.

CA’ MAITINO, MEMORIES OF A PONTIFICATE

Ca’ Maitino is the residence in Sotto il Monte (the town where Pope St. John XXIII was born) where Cardinal Loris Capovilla, secretary to John XXIII lived in recent years, until his death yesterday, May 26, 2016, at the age of 100.

It was here that Angelo Roncalli, priest, bishop and Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, spent his annual vacation, together with his secretary, Msgr. Capovilla. In many ways, it was a second home to both men, and was thus a place that Msgr. Capovilla felt drawn to upon retirement. Today, it houses many mementoes and belongings of the late pontiff, and offers the visitors time to pray in the lovely, intimate chapel where Angelo Roncalli celebrated daily Mass when he was in residence.

The following slideshow photos depict both the grounds and the interior of Ca’ Maitino:

REFUGEE BOAT IS ALTAR FOR CORPUS CHRISTI MASS

“Someone who lets people drown in the Mediterranean also drowns God — every day, thousands of times.”

The archbishop of Cologne, Germany, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, spoke these striking words on Thursday to condemn Europe’s increasingly tough attitude toward refugees. He spoke during a Mass in one of the German city’s main squares.

Woelki also used a seven-meter-long former refugee boat as his altar for the service to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. The boat had previously been recovered by the Maltese military during a search-and-rescue operation.REFUGEE ALTAR

The cardinal emphasized the significance of choosing the boat, saying that altars had always symbolized Jesus Christ. “To see those in need and help them is the task the Lord has given to us as Christians,” said Woelki.

“Their cry for justice, for dignity and peace are also God’s cry,” the archbishop commented, according to a translation by Austria’s Catholic Press Agency.

Click here for entire story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/05/26/the-stunning-way-a-catholic-priest-marked-the-deaths-of-refugees-in-the-mediterranean/

US BISHOPS CONCERN ABOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR EXPULSION OF IMMIGRANTS

From Washington (FIDES, a news agency of the Congregation for Evangelization) –   Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration expressed deep concern over reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will soon begin a month-long series of immigrant deportation raids. Incoming committee chairman, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, also voiced such concern.

The letter sent to Fides by the USCCB, reports that the upcoming operations will cover in particular Central American undocumented mothers and children. “These operations spark panic among our parishes,” said Bishop Elizondo. “No person, migrant or otherwise, should have to fear leaving their home to attend church or school. No person should have to fear being torn away from their family and returned to danger.”

Bishop Elizondo and Archbishop Gomez remind the administration and ICE that enforcement actions that cause families to live in constant fear run contrary to long-standing American values and challenge the God-given dignity of every person. (CE)

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES ENCYCLICAL “LAUDATO SI” – PAPAL AIDE TALKS ABOUT FRANCIS’ “VACATION” – IN BRIEF….

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES ENCYCLICAL “LAUDATO SI”

“Vatican Insider” this weekend welcomes Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty to talk about Pope Francis’ social encyclical “Laudato si.” So much has been written about this papal document – months before its publication and in the six weeks since its June 18 publication – and now we have a chance to better understand this lengthy document that Pope Francis himself has called a “social encyclical.” (photo. Acton website)

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The Acton website describes the institute this way: “The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is named after the great English historian, Lord John Acton (1834-1902). He is best known for his famous remark: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Inspired by his work on the relation between liberty and morality, the Acton Institute seeks to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing. To clarify this relationship, the Institute holds seminars and publishes various books, monographs, periodicals, and articles.”

Kishore’s impressive background includes a number of years at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as an analyst for environmental and disarmament issues and desk officer for English-speaking countries. He earned a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he was executive editor of The Michigan Review and an economic policy intern for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Kishore also worked as an international economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. and then graduated with an M.A. in political science from the University of Toronto.

Most impressive (for me!) is the fact that Kishore, during his graduate studies, was baptized and received into the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1996.

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=

PAPAL AIDE TALKS ABOUT FRANCIS’ “VACATION”

Just a note today about how Pope Francis has been spending his so-called vacation. There were no weekly general audiences in July – they resume this coming Wednesday, August 5 – but he did have an event-filled trip to Latin America. Recited the Angelus on the Sundays he was in Rome and spoke to a handful of groups, including mayors from around the world.

Msgr. Guillermo Karcher, one of his assistants who is also a master of papal liturgical ceremonies spoke about the papal time off to Vatican Radio. The radio asked about the Pope’s summer holiday. He replied: “Summer holiday? What summer holiday? Despite his age, Pope Francis, 78, continues to work and study even during periods traditionally allocated to relax and rest.”

After the intense week he spent in Latin America, said Msgr. Karcher, Francis has “set to work on some important engagements that are coming up, starting with his visit to Cuba and the US.” “He is calm and content. Every morning when I look at him he seems happy. He is always busy working as I see he is always holding something, letters, correspondence: he always likes to reply himself.”

“He is spending this time keeping in touch with friends, the people he cares about. He is making the most of his free time, devoting it to this as well as to reading documents and upcoming projects.”

Msgr. Karcher said the Pope “does miss” the freedom of being able to go for a stroll among the people. “He was really used to taking walks and being with people. I am thinking of the Argentinian summer, of the month of January, which can be likened to this hot and muggy July: he spent his days visiting the slums of Buenos Aires, sharing the experience of this difficult and hot period of sacrifices with people. But he offers it to God and sees it as a moment to give to God. As Pope he is close in heart to those who suffer as a result of the heat which makes life impossible: just think of those shacks without fans…”

(JFL: By the way, Pope Francis has said on a number of occasions that he sympathizes with those who cannot go on vacation because of illness, lack of money, having to care for a relative, or other reasons.)

IN BRIEF….

PRELATES URGE FAIR AND JUST WAGES : The chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined by the president of Catholic Charities USA, called upon members of Congress to “advance legislation and policies that would ensure fair and just wages for all workers.” Noting that, “a full-year, full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage does not make enough to raise a child free from poverty,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Sister Donna Markham said that Congress can promote the common good by “ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability.” Quoting St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter on the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, they added that, “society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings.”

PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS ON AUGUST 7: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has asked “all Christians all over the world to join us in praying for peace and stability in Iraq in the first anniversary of the conquest by ISIS of the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain on August 7.” The patriarch, who leads the Chaldean Catholic Church, published a prayer for the occasion. It begins: “Lord Jesus Christ, you taught us to pray to the Father in your name, and you assured us that whatever we asked for, we would receive. Therefore, we come to you with complete confidence, asking you to give us the strength to stand fast in this violent storm, to reach peace and security before it is too late.

FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF ARMENIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH – USCCB REPORTS INCREASE IN PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS

Pope Francis’ 18 million followers in 9 languages on Twitter saw this tweet today: Lord, give us the gift of tears, the ability to cry for our sins and so receive your forgiveness.

The Holy Father today welcomed President Andrej Kiska of the Slovak Republic. The audience took place before the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the then Czech and Slovak Federative Republic on April 19, 1990 following St. John Paul II’s visit to the country. (photo: news.va)

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FRANCIS ADDRESSES SYNOD OF ARMENIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

On April 12, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis will preside at Solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the faithful of the Armenian Rite, in commemoration of the centenary of the “Medz Yeghern” (the “Great Crime”) – the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman government in what is now Turkey.

During Mass, the Holy Father will inscribe the great Armenian Saint Gregory of Narek among the Doctors of the Universal Church.

Ahead of this commemoration, Pope Francis on Thursday met with 20 bishops of the Patriarchal Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church, who will be present for Sunday’s Mass. In prepared remarks, the Pope prayed that Divine Mercy “might help us all, in love for truth and justice, to heal every wound and to hasten concrete gestures of reconciliation and peace among the Nations that have not yet reached a consensus on the reading of such sorrowful events.”

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In his address to the bishops, the Holy Father remarked that on Sunday they will “raise a prayer of Christian intercession for the sons and daughters of your beloved people, who were made victims a hundred years ago.”

Pope Francis greeted not only the many Armenians who travelled to Rome with their bishops, but also the many Armenians of the diaspora throughout the world,, “such as the United States, Latin America, Europe, Russia, Ukraine, up to the Motherland.”

He recalled Armenians in those places that, during the Medz Yeghern were places of safety for Armenian Christians, but are now places where Christianity itself is threatened: “I think with particular sadness of those areas, such as that of Aleppo, that a hundred years ago were a safe haven for the few survivors. In such regions the stability of Christians, not only Armenians, has latterly been placed in danger.”

The Holy Father noted the long history of Christianity in Armenia, and its rich spiritual and cultural heritage going back to 301, when Armenia became the first Christian nation. Pope Francis called on the Bishops to “always cultivate a feeling of gratitude to the Lord” for the ability to keep the Faith even in the most difficult times. He reminded them that, if the Armenian people have, in a certain sense, shared in the Passion of the Lord, their suffering nonetheless contains the seeds of His Resurrection.

Concluding his remarks, Pope Francis also paid tribute to those who worked to relieve the suffering of the Armenian people during the “Great Crime,” notably Pope Benedict XV, the Pope at the time, who intervened with the Ottoman rulers to try to halt the massacres.

In closing, Pope Francis entrusted the ecumenical dialogue between the Armenian Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church to Saint Gregory of Narek, while recognizing that the shared sufferings of one hundred years ago have already produced a certain “ecumenism of blood.”

The ecumenical aspect of Sunday’s Liturgy was also highlighted by the Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia, Nerses Bedros XIX. He noted that, in addition to the Armenian Catholic Bishops and faithful, representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church – including Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin and Catholicos Aram I of Antelias – will also be present for the Liturgy, along with the president of the Republic of Armenia. (sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)

USCCB REPORTS INCREASE IN PRIESTLY ORDINATIONS

An April 7 post on the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) notes that the ordination class of 2015 shows an increase in the number of ordained, and says this “reflects positive impact of support from families, Catholic schools, and parish priests.” http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-055.cfm

The reports states that the 2015 class of men ordained to the priesthood reports that they were, on average, about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood and encouraged to consider a vocation by an average of four people. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say they were encouraged by a parish priest, as well as friends (46 percent), parishioners (45 percent), and mothers (40 percent). On average, they lived in the diocese or eparchy for which they will be ordained for 15 years before entering seminary. Religious ordinands knew the members of their religious institute an average of six years before entering.

The total number of potential ordinands for the class of 2015, 595, is up from from 477 in 2014 and 497 in 2013.

The Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) gathered the date for “The Class of 2015: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood.” CARA collects the data annually for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. Approximately 69 percent of the 595 potential ordinands reported to CARA. These 411 respondents include 317 ordinands to the diocesan priesthood, from 120 different dioceses and archdioceses, and 94 ordinands to the religious priesthood.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, found that the data gave reason for hope but also provide areas for further growth.

“It is encouraging to see the slight increase in the number of ordinations this year in the United States,” Bishop Burbidge said. “When asked about the positive influences they encountered while discerning the call, those to be ordained responded that the support from their family, parish priest, and Catholic schools ranked very high.”

Father W. Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat, cited educational debt as a growing concern. “Over 26 percent of those ordained carried educational debt at the time they entered the seminary, averaging a little over $22,500 in educational debt at entrance to the seminary. Considering the high percentage of the men ordained already having earned an undergraduate degree, it will be important to find ways to assist in debt reduction in the future.”

Among the survey’s major findings: •  The average age for the Class of 2015 is 34. The median age (midpoint of the distribution) is 31. Eight in 10 respondents are between 25 and 39. This distribution is slightly younger than in 2014, but follows the pattern in recent years of average age at ordination in the mid-thirties.

  •  Two-thirds (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white. Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, they are more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (14 percent of responding ordinands). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.
  •  One-quarter (25 percent) were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland and Vietnam. On average, respondents born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States.
  •  Most ordinands have been Catholic since infancy, although 7 percent became Catholic later in life. Eighty-four percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious.
  •  More than half completed college (60 percent) before entering the seminary. One in seven (15 percent) entered the seminary with a graduate degree. One in three (34 percent) report entering the seminary while in college. The most common fields of study for ordinands before entering the seminary are theology or philosophy (20 percent), liberal arts (19 percent), and science (13 percent).
  •  Half of responding ordinands (51 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is a rate higher than that of all Catholic adults in the United States. In addition, ordinands are somewhat more likely than other U.S. Catholic adults to have attended a Catholic high school and they are much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (45 percent, compared to 7 percent among U.S. Catholic adults
  •  Six in ten ordinands (61 percent) report some type of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Four percent of responding ordinands report prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. About one in six ordinands (16 percent) report that either parent had a military career in the U.S. Armed Forces
  •  Eight in 10 (78 percent) indicate they served as an altar server and about half (51 percent) reporting service as a lector. One in seven (14 percent) participated in a World Youth Day before entering the seminary.
  •  About seven in 10 report regularly praying the rosary (70 percent) and participating in Eucharistic adoration (70 percent) before entering the seminary.
  •  Almost half (48 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood. On average, two individuals are said to have discouraged them.