Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Blessed Thanksgiving!

       “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”
 – Saint Ambrose of Milan 

The Eucharist in Greek "Thanksgiving"! 

Blessed Thanksgiving from Cardinal Timothy Dolan 

Thanksgiving Message from Bishop James Conley: 

Beauty is a gift that points us to eternity. Beauty draws us out of time—out of ourselves—to consider the timelessness of God’s love. The beauty of this world is an invitation to something far greater—an invitation to share the eternal beauty of the Blessed Trinity.
I thought about this a few weekends ago on the road to Lincoln. I was driving home on a Sunday from celebrating Confirmation Masses in Grant, North Platte, and Wellfleet. I was struck by a rich, blazing sunset, which painted the sky with warm reds and oranges, setting the place for a rising harvest moon.
The sunset that day reminded me of a poem, Pied Beauty, by the Jesuit Gerald Manley Hopkins, a favorite poet, we learned recently, of Pope Francis. Hopkins wrote:

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Hopkins knew that to encounter beauty is to encounter a blessing from God. I was grateful to God to encounter the beauty of that sunset. But I was even more grateful to serve a God who wants to bless us.
This Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for the beauty we encounter. We should be thankful for the families we’re given, for our material blessings, and for friendships we have. But we should be thankful, most of all, for what those things signify.
God blesses us so that we know he’s made us for eternity. God blesses us so that we know his love is abundant, inexhaustible, and unimaginable. He blesses us so that we’ll trust in his mercy—the eternal blessing.
God speaks to us in signs and wonders and relationships. He speaks to us through beauty, to be sure, and through family, and through encounters with truth, and goodness. He speaks to us in the daily blessings of our lives. But all earthly blessings—even our families—are pale reminders of the incredible, eternal love of God.
God’s truest expression of our eternal destiny is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his son.
This Thanksgiving, we should be thankful that the Word of God came into this world to redeem us, to make us holy, and to make us fit for eternal life.
When we gather this Thanksgiving with family and friends, to count our blessings and to express gratitude for earthly things, we should point to their meaning in eternity. When we recall our blessings, we should recall the one who blesses us. When we give thanks for beauty, we should praise the author of all beauty.
Let us praise God, for sunsets, and family, and feasting. But let us praise him, especially, for the blessing of our eternal lives to come.

Thanksgiving proclamation made by George Washington on Oct. 3, 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and
Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pope Issues First Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium

2013-11-26 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, Evangelii Gaudium, translated into English as The Joy of the Gospel. The 224-page document outlines the Pope’s vision for a missionary Church, whose “doors should always be open”. The Pope speaks on numerous themes, including evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church.

Philippa Hitchen reports:

The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterizes every public appearance he has made so far. The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges usto do exactly the same. To “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, as he puts it, through a thorough renewal of the Church’s structures and vision. Including what he calls “a conversion of the papacy” to make it better able to serve the mission of evangelization in the modern world. The Church, he says, should not be afraid to re-examine “customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel” even if they may have deep historical roots.
In strikingly direct and personal language, the Pope appeals to all Christians to bring about a “revolution of tenderness” by opening their hearts each day to God’s unfailing love and forgiveness. The great danger in today’s consumer society, he says, is “the desolation and anguish” that comes from a “covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.” Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests , he warns, “there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor.”As we open our hearts, the Pope goes on, so the doors of our churches must always be open and the sacraments available to all. The Eucharist, he says pointedly, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” And he repeats his ideal of a Church that is “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets” rather than a Church that is caught up in a slavish preoccupation with liturgy and doctrine, procedure and prestige. “God save us,” he exclaims, “from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” Urging a greater role for the laity, the Pope warns of “excessive clericalism” and calls for “a more incisive female presence in the Church”, especially “where important decisions are made.”

Looking beyond the Church, Pope Francis denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root”, based on a tyranny of the marketplace, in which financial speculation, widespread corruption and tax evasion reign supreme. He also denounces attacks on religious freedom and new persecutions directed against Christians. Noting that secularization has eroded ethical values, producing a sense of disorientation and superficiality, the Pope highlights the importance of marriage and stable family relationships. Returning to his vision of a Church that is poor and for the poor, the Pope urges us to pay particular attention to those on the margins of society, including the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly, migrants, victims of trafficking and unborn children. While it is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life, he says, it’s also true that “we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish.”
Finally the new papal document also focuses on the themes of promoting peace, justice and fraternity, through patient and respectful dialogue with all people of all faiths and none. Better relations with other Christians, with Jews and with Muslims are all seen as indispensable ways of promoting peace and combatting fundamentalism. While urging Christians to “avoid hateful generalisations” about Islam, the Pope also calls “humbly” on Islamic countries to guarantee full religious freedom to Christians”

The full text of the new Apostolic Exhortation can be found on the Vatican website, while the main points are outlined in the synopsis below:

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.” Thus begins the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, by which Pope Francis develops the theme of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world, drawn from, among other sources, the contribution of the work of the Synod held in the Vatican, from 7 to 28 October 2012, on the theme “The new evangelization for the transmission of the faith”. “I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (1). It is a heartfelt appeal to all baptized persons to bring Christ’s love to others, “permanently in a state of mission” (25), conquering “the great danger in today’s world”, that of an individualist “desolation and anguish” (2).

The Pope invites the reader to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, finding “new avenues” and “new paths of creativity”, without enclosing Jesus in “dull categories” (11). There is a need for a “pastoral and missionary conversion, which cannot leave things as they presently are” (25) and a “renewal” of ecclesiastical structures to enable them to become “more mission-oriented” (27). The Pontiff also considers “a conversion of the papacy” to help make this ministry “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization”. The hope that the Episcopal Conferences might contribute to “the concrete realization of the collegial spirit”, he states, “has not been fully realized” (32). A “sound decentralization” is necessary (16). In this renewal, the Church should not be afraid to re-examine “certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some of which have deep historical roots” (43).

A sign of God’s openness is “that our church doors should always be open” so that those who seek God “will not find a closed door”; “nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason”. The Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness” (47). He repeats that he prefers “a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church … concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us … it is the fact that many of our brothers and sisters are living without … the friendship of Jesus Christ” (49).

The Pope indicates the “temptations which affect pastoral workers” (77): “individualism, a crisis of identity and a cooling of fervour” (78). The greatest threat of all is “the grey pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, which in reality faith is wearing down” (83). He warns against “defeatism” (84), urging Christians to be signs of hope (86), bringing about a “revolution of tenderness” (88). It is necessary to seek refuge from the “spirituality of well-being … detached from responsibility for our brothers and sisters” (90) and to vanquish the “spiritual worldliness” that consists of “seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and well-being” (93). The Pope speaks of the many who “feel superior to others” because “they remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past” whereby “instead of evangelizing, one analyses and classifies others” (94). And those who have “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact” on the needs of the people (95). This is “a tremendous corruption disguised as a good 

… God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!” (97).
He appeals to ecclesial communities not to fall prey to envy and jealousy: “How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities!” (98). “Whom are we going to evangelize if this is the way we act?” (100). He highlights the need to promote the growth of the responsibility of the laity, often kept “away from decision-making” by “an excessive clericalism” (102). He adds that there is a need for “still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church”, in particular “in the various settings where important decisions are made” (103). “Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected … cannot be lightly evaded” (104). The young should “exercise greater leadership” (106). With regard to the scarcity of vocations in many places, he emphasizes that “seminaries cannot accept candidates on the basis of any motivation whatsoever” (107).

With regard to the theme of inculturation, he remarks that “Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression” and that the face of the Church is “varied” (116). “We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history” (118). The Pope reiterates that “underlying popular piety … is an active evangelizing power” (126) and encourages the research of theologians, reminding them however that “the Church and theology exist to evangelize” and urges them not to be “content with a desk-bound theology” (133).

He focuses “somewhat meticulously, on the homily”, since “many concerns have been expressed about this important ministry and we cannot simply ignore them” (135). The homily “should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture” (138); it should be a “heart-to-heart communication” and avoid “purely moralistic or doctrinaire” preaching (142). He highlights the importance of preparation: “a preacher who does not prepare is not ‘spiritual’; he is dishonest and irresponsible” (145). Preaching should always be positive in order always to “offer hope” and “does not leave us trapped in negativity” (159). The approach to the proclamation of the Gospel should have positive characteristics: “approachability, readiness for dialogue, patience, a warmth and welcome, which is non-judgmental” (165).

In relation to the challenges of the contemporary world, the Pope denounces the current economic system as “unjust at its root” (59). “Such an economy kills” because the law of “the survival of the fittest” prevails. The current culture of the “disposable” has created “something new”: “the excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’” (53). “A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual”, of an “autonomy of the market” in which “financial speculation” and “widespread corruption” and “self-serving tax-evasion reign” (56). He also denounces “attacks on religious freedom” and the “new persecutions directed against Christians. … In many places the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism” (61). The family, the Pope continues, “is experiencing a profound cultural crisis”. Reiterating the indispensable contribution of marriage to society” (66), he underlines that “the individualism of our postmodern and globalized era favours a lifestyle which … distorts family bonds” (67).

He re-emphasizes “the profound connection between evangelization and human advancement” (178) and the right of pastors “to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives” (182). “No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society”. He quotes John Paul II, who said that the Church “cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice” (183). “For the Church, the option for the poor is primarily a theological category” rather than a sociological one. “This is why I want a Church that is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us” (198). “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved … no solution will be found for this world’s problems” (202). “Politics, although often denigrated”, he affirms, “remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity”. I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by … the lives of the poor!” (205). He adds an admonition: “Any Church community”, if it believes it can forget about the poor, runs the risk of “breaking down”.

The Pope urges care for the weakest members of society: “the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned” and migrants, for whom the Pope exhorts “a generous openness” (210). He speaks about the victims of trafficking and new forms of slavery: “This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity” (211). “Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence” (212). “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity” (213). “The Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question … it is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life” (214). The Pope makes an appeal for respect for all creation: we “are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live” (216).

With regard to the theme of peace, the Pope affirms that “a prophetic voice must be raised” against attempts at false reconciliation to “silence or appease” the poor, while others “refuse to renounce their privileges” (218). For the construction of a society “in peace, justice and fraternity” he indicates four principles (221): “Time is greater than space” (222) means working “slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results” (223). “Unity prevails over conflict” (226) means “a diversified and life-giving unity” (228). “Realities are more important than ideas” (231) means avoiding “reducing politics or faith to rhetoric” (232). “The whole is greater than the part” means bringing together “globalization and localization” (234).

“Evangelization also involves the path of dialogue,” the Pope continues, which opens the Church to collaboration with all political, social, religious and cultural spheres (238). Ecumenism is “an indispensable path to evangelization”. Mutual enrichment is important: “we can learn so much from one another!” For example “in the dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of Episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality” (246); “dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples” (248); “interreligious dialogue”, which must be conducted “clear and joyful in one’s own identity”, is “a necessary condition for peace in the world” and does not obscure evangelization (250-251); in our times, “our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance” (252). The Pope “humbly” entreats those countries of Islamic tradition to guarantee religious freedom to Christians, also “in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries!” “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism” he urges us to “avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence” (253). And against the attempt to private religions in some contexts, he affirms that “the respect due to the agnostic or non-believing minority should not be arbitrarily imposed in a way that silences the convictions of the believing majority or ignores the wealth of religious traditions” (255). He then repeats the importance of dialogue and alliance between believers and non-believers (257).

The final chapter is dedicated to “spirit-filled evangelizers”, who are those who are “fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit” and who have “the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition” (259). These are “evangelizers who pray and work” (262), in the knowledge that “mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people” (268): “Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others” (270). He explains: “In our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns” (271). “Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary” (272); “if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life” (274). The Pope urges us not to be discouraged before failure or scarce results, since “fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable”; we must know “only that our commitment is necessary” (279). The exhortation concludes with a prayer to Mary, “Mother of Evangelization”. “There is a Marian ‘style’ to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness” (288).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homily at Year of Faith closing Mass

Pope Francis: Homily at Year of Faith closing Mass

2013-11-24 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass on Sunday to mark the Solemnity of Christ the King and close the Year of Faith proclaimed by his predecessor, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. Below, please find the official English translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks.

Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI, to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude. By this providential initiative, he gave us an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us, lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness for which our hearts long.
I offer a cordial greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary faithfulness, often at a high price. With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord.
The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ as the centre of creation, the centre of his people and the centre of history. 1. The apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all things, he is the beginning. God has given him the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be reconciled (cf. Col 1:12-20).
This image enables to see that Jesus is the centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. When this centre is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves.2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.
Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny. 3. Finally, Christ is the centre of the history of the human race and of every man and woman. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.
While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom!
Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise. Amen!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bishop Paprocki's Homily on Marriage during Solemn Exorcism

"This is a key point which the secularists are missing: they think that stressing God’s mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God’s mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness."


Paprocki3In a much-publicized event on Wednesday that coincided with Governor Pat Quinn signing gay marriage into law in Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield led the faithful in“Prayers of Supplication and Exorcism in Reparation for the Sin of Same-Sex Marriage.”
In his homily at the service, Bishop Paprocki demonstrated once again why he is emerging as one of the most articulate, steadfast, and intrepid defenders of marriage in the Catholic Church in America.
Bishop Paprocki’s entire homilyis worth reading.  Here I’ve excerpted some of the highlights.
A few of the quotes are longer than others, but worth it.  Some contain quotes by Pope Francis, the Catechism, or Scripture.  Some of the quotes are poignant and direct.  Some are explanatory and edifying.  Some show Bishop Paprocki’s courage.  Others show his humility.  Others, his compassion.
They all show charity, and they all show a shepherd who loves Christ, the Church, and the souls he is charged with with apostolic zeal.
1.   I wish to preface my reflections by saying that I am conducting this prayer service and am speaking to you now with great reluctance. I did not seek to enter any controversy and I don’t relish being part of one. But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers.
2.   Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the Governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality.
3.   It is not hateful to say that an immoral action is sinful. On the contrary, the most compassionate thing we can do is help people to turn away from sin. To ignore another person’s wrongful actions is a sign of apathy or indifference, while fraternal correction is motivated by love for that person’s well-being, as can be seen by the fact that our Lord Jesus himself urged such correction. Indeed, the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).
4.   The Good News is that God’s mercy and forgiveness extend to those who repent. Mercy does not mean approving of something that is sinful, but does absolve the wrongdoer after a change of heart takes place in the sinner through the gift of God’s grace.
5.   I do not stand here before you as a self-righteous saint who has achieved spiritual perfection, but as a sinner who has received Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior.
6.   This is a key point which the secularists are missing: they think that stressing God’s mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God’s mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness.
7.   The fact is that a “minor exorcism” takes place in every Baptism and Confirmation ceremony when we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. This prayer service will be along those lines. I’m not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a “Major Exorcism,” but all of us are certainly subject to the devil’s evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil.
8.   Our prayer service today and my words are not meant to demonize anyone, but are intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the Church. These demonic influences are not readily apparent to the undiscerning eye, which is why they are so deceptive.
9.   The deception of the Devil in same-sex marriage may be understood by recalling the words of Pope Francis when he faced a similar situation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010. Regarding the proposed redefinition of civil marriage in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote on June 22, 2010, “The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex. The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. . . . Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a ‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”   The Pope’s reference to the “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John (8:44), where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and the father of lies.” So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex “marriage” comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.
10.   The work of discouragement by the Devil in same-sex marriage is apparent in the message being conveyed to defenders of traditional marriage that the universal redefinition of marriage is unstoppable, so we might as well just stop trying. But the legalization of abortion on demand forty years ago did not silence those who believe that abortion is contrary to God’s law. On the contrary, Roe v. Wade only heightened the need for more concerted efforts to protect all human life from conception to natural death. So, too, the legal redefinition of civil marriage does not put an end to the need for discourse and action to defend natural marriage in accord with God’s plan, but only serves to heighten the need for greater efforts in this regard.
11.   Politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.
12.   We must also affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” The Church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion, offering assistance through support groups such as the Courage Apostolate to live in accord with the virtue of chastity. Indeed, all people all called to chastity, which for a man and woman united in matrimony means for the husband and wife to be faithful to each other.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Making Jesus Known — and Roses Bloom in Winter

Written by Archbishop José H. Gomez Friday, 22 November 2013 
As I write, I’m on my way home from a meeting of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The gathering in Mexico City brought together bishops and lay leaders from Rome and across the Americas to consider the topic, “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent.”

It was a beautiful way to conclude the Year of Faith. Because the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe was the true spiritual foundation of America.

And in our day, she continues to call us to bring men and women to faith in Jesus.

As I wrote in my pastoral letter ( to mark the beginning of this Year of Faith: “Our Lady of Guadalupe was sent by God to be the bright star at the dawn of the first evangelization of the New World. … [and] the bright star of the new evangelization.”

Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Juan Diego outside Mexico City in the first generation after Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. And the beautiful Castillian roses that miraculously bloomed in winter and formed Our Lady’s image on his tilma, were a sign of the faith that would soon flower throughout the Americas.

I believe that in our time God is calling the Church in the Americas to once more be the center of a new mission. I believe God is calling us to lead the new evangelization of our continent and our world. To make a new world of faith.

That’s why it is providential that in this Year of Faith, God gave us our first Pope from the Americas, from the New World.

Pope Francis delivered a strong video message to our gathering in Mexico City. The Church is “in a permanent state of mission,” he told us. Everyone and everything we do in the Church must have a “missionary character.”

It’s so important for all of us to reclaim this basic understanding of our Christian identity! Our Baptism makes us disciples. And being a disciple means being a missionary, an evangelizer.

Evangelization is all about the encounter with the Lord. And we are the ones who are called to bring others to that encounter.

“The aim of all pastoral activity is always guided by the missionary impulse to reach everyone, without excluding anyone, and keeping in consideration the special circumstances of each person,” Pope Francis said.

The Pope again reminded us that evangelization means going to people — wherever they are at.

We are called to walk with our neighbors, talking to them about what they hope for and what they are afraid of. Seeking always to inspire them to that encounter with Jesus Christ and his love.

The Pope reminded us once more that evangelization means sharing good news. The good news of God’s love and mercy for sinners.

“He abandons no one, and always shows his tenderness and his boundless mercy — and therefore this is what we must bring to all people,” he said.

My hope for this Year of Faith has been that we would all recover our missionary vocation.

Our faith is not for us alone. Our faith is given to us to be shared. We can’t say this enough! We need to carry his Gospel into every area of our lives.

The mission begun by Our Lady of Guadalupe — the evangelization of the Americas — continues in us.

And it is providential that this Sunday, when we mark the end of the Year of Faith, will mark the 300th birthday of the great apostle to California, Blessed Junípero Serra, who was born November 24, 1713.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to see the exhibit, “Junípero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions,” at the Huntington Library, I urge you to do it. This exhibit will inspire your heart with a new desire to grow in faith and to serve the Church’s mission of bringing the Gospel to everyone.

So as we gather with our families this week for Thanksgiving, let’s thank God for the gift of faith and God’s love in our lives. And let’s pray for the courage of Padre Serra and the grace to be new evangelizers of the Americas.

“Make known the name of Jesus,” Pope Francis said at the end of his talk to us in Mexico. Then he added a reference to the miracle of roses at Guadalupe. If we proclaim Christ, he said, we will see great things in our lives and in our world.

“If you do this,” he said, “do not be surprised that the roses of Castille grow in winter. Because, you know, both Jesus and we have the same Mother!”

So let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe — who is his Mother and our Mother — to make new love for Jesus to grow in our hearts. And may she guide to fulfill her mission — of evangelizing the American continent.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pope Francis recommends Divine Mercy Devotion

Pope Francis Prescribes Divine Mercy "Medicine"
Distributes Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary to Pilgrims at Sunday Angelus

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, November 18, 2013 ( - During his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis echoed Christ’s words of hope in the face of disorder and disasters that face the world today.

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, which spoke of one of Jesus’ sermons on the end times, the Holy Father stated two major aspects of Christ’s words that pertain to real issues.

“First, do not let yourself be deceived by false messiahs and not let yourself be paralyzed by fear. Second, live the period of waiting as time of witness and perseverance. And we are in this of waiting, of waiting for the Lord’s coming,” the Pope said. Jesus’ sermon, he continued, is relevant even in today’s modern world.

“Today too, in fact, there are false “saviors,” who try to take Jesus’ place: leaders of this world, gurus, even sorcerers, people who want to attract the minds and hearts, especially of
young people, to themselves. Jesus warns us: “Do not follow them!” “Do not follow them!”” he stressed.

The Holy Father went on to say that through His words, Jesus encourages us in the face of trials such as wars, revolutions, natural disasters and epidemics, while confirming that “Jesus frees us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions.”

Regarding the second aspect of Jesus’ sermon, Pope Francis said that while foretelling the trials and persecutions his disciples must endure, Jesus assures God’s presence in those moments.

“The adversity that we face because of our faith and our adherence to the Gospel are occasions for witness; they need not distance us from the Lord but move us to abandon ourselves all the more to him, to the power of his Spirit and his grace,” the Pope said.

The Holy Father called all to reflect on those fellow Christians who suffer persecution for their faith, saying that there are perhaps many more persecuted now than in the first centuries.

“We too are united to them by our prayer and our affection. We also admire their courage and their testimony. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer because of being faithful to Jesus Christ. We salute them from our hearts and with affection,” he told the pilgrims gathered.

Prior to the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to trust the Lord who “brings everything to fulfillment throughout history.” God’s plan of goodness and mercy will prevail over the chaos that exists in today’s world.

“This message of Jesus makes us reflect on our present moment and gives us the strength to face it with courage and hope, in the company of Our Lady, who always walks with us,” he said.

Divine "Medicine"

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted various pilgrims from around the world. He went on to “prescribe a medicine” to the faithful.

“But someone might think: “The Pope is a pharmacist now?” It is a special medicine that will make the fruits of the Year of Faith concrete. This year is drawing to its close. It is a medicine of 59 pills for the heart.”

This “medicine” came in the form of the Misericordina, a small box containing a rosary along with the chaplet of Divine Mercy. The Holy Father told the faithful that it was “a spiritual help for our soul and to spread love, forgiveness and fraternity everywhere.” Boxes were distributed to the faithful.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Honoring the legacy of John Carroll and the Church of Baltimore

By Bishop James D. Conley

November 15, 2013
At the moment of our nation’s birth, before our Constitution was written or ratified, Pope Pius VI established a new Catholic diocese—to lead and organize the Church in the United States, which had previously been governed by the Bishop of London.
The American diocese was established as the Diocese of Baltimore, and its territory spanned the United States. In one way or another, every diocese of the United States is a daughter of the Diocese of Baltimore.
The first bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll, was a great American, and a great bishop. Bishop Carroll was an
advocate for education, for patriotism, and for fraternity and communion among America’s Catholic leadership. In 1791, he called together the priests of the United States for a synod—a meeting to establish common practices of prayer and Catholic life in America.
The Synod of Baltimore is an important part of our Church’s history. We have long been governed by leaders seeking consensus and solidarity with one another, as they lead the flocks entrusted to their care.
In the 1800s, the Councils of Baltimore continued the great tradition of Bishop Carroll. The Councils were assemblies of America’s bishops, gathered together to discuss the mission of the Church in America, to come to agreements about governance and worship, and to find new ways to teach the faith. Generations of American Catholics learned the faith through the Baltimore Catechism, which was developed at the request of America’s bishops after the Third Council of Baltimore, and was written and promulgated in the city of Baltimore.
To honor the legacy of John Carroll and the Church of Baltimore, the bishops of the United States, united as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, gather annually in Baltimore to pray together, and to plan for the leadership of our Church.
I’m writing this week from the Baltimore meeting of the USCCB. It is a grace, and a joy, to spend time in prayer and fellowship with my brother bishops. And I’m proud to be a part of the important work our conference is doing.
The USCCB, which continues the history of the Councils of Baltimore, is a body dedicated to fraternal leadership of the Church in the United States. The Conference was established in 1966, at the request of Pope Paul VI. The Conference is charged with establishing some norms for worship and prayer in our country, for providing common standards of governance, for offering catechesis, and for working, on behalf of all Catholics, to promote justice, peace, and truth, in America’s public life.
Most importantly, the USCCB is a forum for America’s bishops to join one another in fraternity and solidarity, working together for the salvation of souls. At its best, the USCCB continues the legacy of the synod called for by John Carroll, and of the great Councils of Baltimore.
This week, the USCCB elected a new slate of leaders. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the Archbishop of Louisville, was elected the new President. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo was elected Vice-President. These good men are charged with leading the bishops in their efforts to advance the Gospel.
We discussed our common commitment to defending religious liberty, the dignity of human life, marriage, and to fighting the evil scourge of pornography. Most importantly, we discussed our commitment to the new evangelization, to discipleship, and to holiness.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Kurtz said that the mission of the bishops is to "turn outwards, looking at those in need" in order to, through Christ, "win hearts and heal wounds." Our commitment to win hearts for Christ began in Baltimore, with Bishop Carroll. I’m proud that this week, in Baltimore, we could continue that legacy.

Pope Francis at Angelus

Don't be tricked by False 'Saviours' who try to substitute Jesus: 
Pray for the many persecuted Christians.

2013-11-17 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) At his Angelus address Pope Francis warned the faithful not to be taken in by false saviours or leaders in our world who seek to influence the minds of people, especially the young. He also urged solidarity with the many Christians undergoing persecution throughout the world, praising their courage and testimony.
Listen to Susy Hodges' report:
The Pope’s Angelus reflections were taken from this Sunday’s gospel reading where Jesus warns his disciples of the future trials and tribulations they will face along with the false prophets they will encounter en route. The Pope said the two main messages contained here are: “Firstly, do not be taken in by false messiahs and don’t be paralysed by fear . Secondly, live this time of waiting as a time of witness and perseverance.”
He told the faithful that this message from Jesus is just as valid in our present time and encourages us to show "discernment. " “Nowadays,” he continued, “there are many false saviours who try to substitute Jesus, leaders in this world, fake saints and personalities who wish to influence the hearts and minds of people, especially the young.” But Jesus warns us, said the Pope: “Don’t follow them.” At the same time, Jesus also helps us not to be afraid when faced with "wars, revolutions and natural disasters."
Quoting from Christ’s warning to his disciples about “the painful trials and persecutions” facing Christians , the Pope said these trials are an opportunity for witness and stressed they should not cause us to move away from the Lord. Let us spare a thought, he continued, for "our many Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution because of their faith. There are so many of them. Maybe, many more than in the early centuries.” “We admire their courage and testimony.”
In his address after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis noted that Sunday was the World Day in memory of the Victims of Road Accidents and urged drivers to be prudent and respect the rules, saying this helps to protect both the driver and other road users. He concluded by holding up a small box containing 59 threaded beads of the rosary and urging those in the crowd to collect a box from the volunteers distributing it as they left St. Peter’s Square. The Pope described it as “a spiritual medicine,” saying it helps “our souls” and helps “to spread love, forgiveness and fraternity.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thinking About the Pope at the U.S. Bishops’ Meeting

Written by Archbishop José H. Gomez , 15 November 2013 

I’m writing from Baltimore, where this week my brother bishops and I are gathered for the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Our agenda has been busy. But in the background of our meeting has been the figure of Pope Francis. This is our first full meeting since his election. And there is a lot of conversation and excitement about our Holy Father’s ministry and initiatives. 

“Pope Francis has made a great impression by drawing and captivating the hearts of men and women throughout the world, inviting them to meet Christ personally in their lives,” said the Pope’s delegate to the United States, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Viganò. 

In his talk to the bishops, Archbishop Viganò connected Pope Francis’ vision with the theme of evangelization that has concerned all the Popes since the Second Vatican Council.

More and more, I’m seeing how Pope Francis’ pastoral vision continues the themes of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. As his predecessors did, Pope Francis understands that the Church’s must proclaim Christ to a modern society that is facing a profound moral and spiritual crisis. 

It’s not only that many of our neighbors don’t share the Church’s beliefs on fundamental issues such as abortion, sexuality and marriage. This is true and troubling. But those issues are signs of deeper troubles. They are signs that our society has turned away from God to embrace what Pope Francis calls the “idols” of a materialist view of the world.

The Pope wants us to see that these grave issues we face in society are rooted in this deeper materialist worldview — which sees everything only according to what science can prove and what technology can do. Human life is diminished to only material concerns. Life has no higher purpose or direction except to seek to feel better or “more comfortable.” 

In the face of these idols, the Church’s preaching and witness must go deeper. We need to speak to our neighbors’ deeper needs, finding new ways to speak to their hearts and mind. 

Our neighbors are hungry to know that there is more than just this material world. They are hungry to know God’s love and mercy — and his care for the world and for every person. 

This is what the Pope is talking about with his now famous description of the Church as a “field hospital after battle.”

Pope Francis has said: “It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.”

The deepest wound in modern life is the wound caused by the loss of God. From this wound come all the other wounds we experience — including the grave moral issues and spiritual confusion we see everywhere. 

So the challenge for the Church is to heal these wounds. And as we know, only Jesus can truly heal. So our priority in the Church, in everything we do, must be Jesus Christ. We need to tell our neighbors the good news that Jesus has saved them. We need to show them, by the joyful witness of our own lives, what that salvation means — the beauty of living as children of God in his family, the Church. 

Once people know Jesus, once they know his love and tender care for them, they can appreciate the Church’s beautiful teachings about morality and the meaning of life.

This is our Pope’s vision for the new evangelization of culture. And it reminds me of what our emeritus Pope Benedict XVI used to say: 

“Christianity, Catholicism, is not a collection of prohibitions: It is a positive option. … We have heard so much about what is not allowed that now it is time to say: we have a positive idea to offer, that man and woman are made for each other. … As far as abortion is concerned, “You shall not kill!” … We have to presume this is obvious and always stress that the human person begins in the mother’s womb and remains a human person until his or her last breath. … But all this is clearer if you say it first in a positive way.”

We are in an exciting new moment in the Church. So let’s pray this week for the Pope and the bishops of our country. 

And let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to teach us how to accompany our brothers and sisters with mercy. Because, as Pope Francis has said: “Without mercy, we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of ‘wounded’ persons in need of understanding, forgiveness, love.” 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pope on Sacrament of Confession

Pope: Confession is like second Baptism for forgiveness of sins

2013-11-13 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on the faithful Wednesday to humbly ask forgiveness every time they sin. As part of his catechesis during this Wednesday's General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said, like Baptism, which washes away original sin and personal sin, the Sacrament of Confession can “open the door to a new life” as the merciful God “enters our lives.” The Pope invited Catholics to renew the grace of Baptism by going to Confession often and with a contrite heart: “The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”

Below, please find Pope Francis' remarks to English speaking pilgrims, read out in English by an assistant:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today I would like to continue our catechesis on the Creed by turning to the Sacrament of Baptism. Each Sunday when making our Profession of Faith, we pray: I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Let us look at each of these words. I confess – This solemn declaration highlights the importance of Baptism and affirms our identity as children of God. In the Sacrament, our faith is also linked to the remission of sins. When we confess our sins, we renew and strengthen our Baptismal identity. Baptism, then, is the point of departure for a lifelong journey of conversion sustained by the Sacrament of Penance. One Baptism – The word Baptism literally means immersion. Through the Sacrament, we are immersed spiritually in the death of Jesus Christ and we rise with him as a new creation. Regenerated by water and the Holy Spirit, we are illuminated by grace which dispels the darkness of sin. For the forgiveness of sins – Baptism forgives original sin and personal sin. The door to a new life is opened and the mercy of God enters our lives. But human weakness remains. The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility, because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christians Martyred in North Korea

"Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you." -Matthew 5:11-12

To stand in greater solidarity with our brother and sisters in North Korea, let us read and pray upon the Books of the Maccabees in the Old Testament of the Bible , in which so many are martyred with such courage for their faith.   

80 Executed Publicly in North Korea, Several For Possessing BiblesAuthorities Carry Out Death Sentences in Several Cities Around the Country

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, November 12, 2013 ( - A South Korean news agency has reported that an estimated 80 people were executed in seven cities in North Korea, some of whom were executed for possessing Bibles.

According to the Korea Joongang Daily, the first large scale execution under Kim Jong-un’s regime took place on Sunday, November 3rd. Roughly 10 people were executed in each city, which included the cities of Wonsan, Chongjin, Sariwon, and Pyongsong.

Authorities in Wonsan allegedly gathered 10,000 people, including children, in a nearby stadium and forced them to watch the executions.

“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterwards,” a source told the Korean news agency. Those killed in Wonsan were reportedly executed for possessing Bibles and videos from neighboring South Korea.

The United Nations established in March a “Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” to investigate the numerous human rights violations that have been committed in the North.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Rosella Ideo, an expert in Asian diplomatic and political history, stated that reports like the recent executions, have often been stated by North Korean refugees who fled to the South. Ideo also told Vatican Radio that the UN Commission is greatly concerned after listening to testimony from North Korean refugees regarding prison camps.

The UN Commission, she said, “has asked North Korea to go and verify in person the existence of these gulags, which have been spoken of for many years and have been spotted by satellites but they have not received any permission to go and reveal these violations. “

“It is evident that these camps exists, because now there is a number of corroborating witnesses that is impossible to deny, but they would need North Korea to open its doors. I’m afraid that when the doors to these gulags are open, whose existence is already proven, it will also open Pandora’s box.”

"Father forgive them, they know not what they do"
-Luke 23:26

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz Elected President of USCCB

Louisville Prelate Elected to Lead US Bishops 
Texas' 1st Cardinal Chosen as Vice President 

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 12, 2013 ( - Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, was today elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the bishops' annual fall General Assembly, underway in Baltimore. Archbishop Kurtz has served as vice president of USCCB since 2010. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston was elected USCCB vice president.

Archbishop Kurtz and Cardinal DiNardo are elected to three-year terms and succeed Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Kurtz, respectively. The new president and vice president's terms begin at the conclusion of the General Assembly, November 14.

Archbishop Kurtz was elected president on the first ballot with 125 votes. Cardinal DiNardo was elected vice president on the third ballot by 147-87 in a runoff vote against Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

The president and vice president are elected by a simple majority from a slate of 10 nominees. If no president or vice president is chosen after the second round of voting, a third ballot is taken between only the top two vote getters on the second ballot.

Archbishop Kurtz was born Aug. 18, 1946, and ordained a priest of Allentown, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1972. He served as bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, from 1999-2007 before being appointed to Louisville. Cardinal DiNardo was born May 23, 1949, and ordained a priest of Pittsburgh on June 16, 1977. He served as bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, from 1998-2004 before being appointed coadjutor bishop, then archbishop, of Galveston-Houston. Pope Benedict XVI named him a cardinal in 2007, making him the first cardinal from Texas.

The bishops also elected Archbishop George Lucus of Omaha as chairman of the Committee of Catholic Education in a 141-93 vote over George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Ohio. Archbishop Lucas, who has served as interim chair of the committee since the May 2013 death of Bishop Joseph McFadden, will begin his term at the conclusion of this week's bishops' meeting.

The bishops chose chairmen-elect of five other USCCB committees. The chairmen-elect will begin their three-year terms in one year, at the conclusion of the bishops' fall 2014 General Assembly. These were:

Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of Newark, New Jersey, to the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance in a 167-70 vote over Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, to the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in a 130-105 vote over Bishop Arthur Kennedy, auxiliary bishop of Boston.

Archbishop-designate Leonard Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, to the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis in a 135-98 vote over Bishop John Barres of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, to the Committee on International Justice and Peace in a 126-110 vote over Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Illinois.

Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, Alaska, to the Committee on Child and Youth Protection in a 118-114 vote over Bishop Robert Cunningham of Syracuse, New York.

On November 11, the following bishops were elected to the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS): Bishop William P. Callahan, OFM Conv., of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, and Bishop Cirilo B. Flores of San Diego.

Also on November 11, the following bishops were elected to the board of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC): Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey, California, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami.

In November 2012, Cardinal DiNardo was elected to chair the Committee on Divine Worship for a term beginning this week. Since his election as USCCB vice president prevents him from assuming leadership of the committee, the bishops elected Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, to chair the committee in place of Cardinal DiNardo, beginning November 14. Bishop Serratelli was chosen in a 114-112 vote over Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. Bishop Serratelli previously chaired the committee from 2007-2010.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pope Francis on Typhoon

Pope Francis: heartfelt solidarity with those affected by Philippines typhoon

2013-11-10 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to the President of the Philippines, expressing his solidarity with those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon, one of the worst on record, is feared to have killed as many as 10.000 people on Leyte island, which bore the brunt of the storm.
Please find below the full text of the telegram, signed by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.
“Deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the super typhoon, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this storm and its aftermath. He is especially mindful of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and of those who have lost their homes. In praying for all the people of the Philippines, the Holy Father likewise offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this storm. He invokes divine blessings of strength and consolation for the Nation.”
Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of the typhoon after the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square. He firstly called for silent prayer, and then led the faithful in a recitation of the Hail Mary. Furthermore, he urged those present to help their brothers and sisters in the Philippines concretely, as well as through prayer.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Vatican congregation bars participation in events assuming truth of Medjugorje


NOVEMBER 06, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNA/EWTN News)—At the direction of the Vatican’s head for doctrine, the apostolic nuncio to the United States has written a letter stating that Catholics “are not permitted” to participate in meetings which take for granted that the supposed Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are credible.

“The Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the ‘apparitions’ in question, all should accept the declaration … which asserts: ‘On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations,’” Archbishop Carlo Vigano wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the U.S. bishops, sent to the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.”

The Catholic News Agency confirmed that the letter was sent to every diocese in the United States.

Archbishop Vigano wrote the letter “at the request” of Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Oct. 21 letter was evidently following up on one sent Feb. 27.

The nuncio wrote that Archbishop Mueller “wishes to inform” the U.S. bishops that Ivan Dragicevic, one of the “so-called visionaries” of Medjugorje, is scheduled to give presentations at parishes across the country, and is anticipated to have more apparitions during these talks.

The visions of Medjugorje refer to a series of alleged Marian apparitions that begin in 1981 in what is now Bosnia.

In 1991, the bishops of the former Yugoslavia had determined that it is not possible to say there were Marian apparitions at the site. In 2010, the Vatican established a commission to further investigate “doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the phenomenon of Medjugorje.”

Because that commission is still in the process of its investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has established that the judgment of the Yugoslavian bishops be accepted.

“To avoid scandal and confusion,” wrote Archbishop Vigano, “Archbishop Mueller asks that the bishops be informed of this matter as soon as possible.”

Monday, November 4, 2013

Archbishop Gomez on EWTN


11/07 at 5:00 AM ET

Host Michael Hernon and theology professors Dr. Regis Martin and Dr. Scott Hahn welcome Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles to discuss the gifts Hispanic Catholics bring to the new evangelization and the challenges they face.