Browsing News Entries

LONG-TERM RECOVERY AHEAD FOR CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES HIT HARD BY WILDFIRES

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CNS) — The Diocese of Santa Rosa “has been hit hard” and “is in an ongoing state...

CATHOLIC GROUP WILL ACCEPT SCOUTS’ DECISION TO ALLOW GIRLS TO JOIN

IRVING, Texas (CNS) — The leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which has its headquarters in the Dallas...

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS TODAY

The seven deadly sins are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.   Taken together they contain all of the...

Devotion to Padre Pio evident in thousands who turn out to venerate relics

IMAGE: CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic

By Joyce Duriga

CHICAGO (CNS) -- When the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina -- commonly known as Padre Pio -- stopped at two Chicago churches, more than 19,000 people turned out to venerate them, organizers said.

The relics, which included a lock of Padre Pio's hair, blood from his wounds, a glove used to cover his stigmatized hands and part of his religious habit, visited St. Francis Borgia Church Sept. 25 and St. Ita Church Sept. 26.

They were part of a national tour Sept. 16-Oct. 8 sponsored by the St Pio Foundation to mark the 130th anniversary of Padre Pio's birth and the 15th anniversary of his canonization. Almost a dozen U.S. dioceses and archdioceses hosted the relics.

Born in Pietrelcina in southern Italy in 1887, Padre Pio was a Capuchin priest who, in 1918, received the stigmata -- an occurrence where the five wounds Jesus' passion appear on a person's body. Those wounds stayed until his death.

People flocked to Mass and confession with Padre Pio during his lifetime. He was known to have the gifts of bilocation (ability to appear in two places at once), healing and levitation.

In 1956, he established Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of Suffering), a hospital that today is considered one of the best in Italy. Padre Pio died in 1968 and was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2002.

The tour of his relics began at St. Joseph Seminary in the Archdiocese of New York, and ended at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida. The relics also traveled to the Diocese of La Crosse and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Wisconsin; the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; the Archdiocese of St. Louis; the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan; the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; the Archdiocese of Atlanta; and the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

In Chicago, those who turned out to venerate Padre Pio's relics Sept. 25 and 26 all had a story to tell. Some saw him in person. Others knew someone who met the saint. Still others came across his story along their spiritual journey and pray to him fervently.

For Carole Klein, it was a book belonging to her parents that was passed on to her after they died. Not a practicing Catholic, Klein read about the relics' visit in the Chicago Tribune and stopped by St. Ita to see them.

"Padre Pio's just sort of been an object of conversation in our house," she said. "It (the book) was an object of fascination for me. I was young. There were pictures in it."

Her family talked often about the book while Klein's parents were alive.

"My daughter who's 30 even knows about it," she told the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The devotion to Padre Pio was evident in those who visited the relics along with her.

"I'm not surprised by it," Klein said.

Ronald Wiese, a parishioner at St. Barnabas Parish in Beverly, learned about the saint through a biography he purchased around 1999 and said Padre Pio is a "modern-day saint."

"You can see a part of him in this church in regard to his relics, whether it was a part of his person or something that he wore, something that he had," Wiese said.

St. Francis Borgia and St. Ita reported a steady stream of visitors from the time veneration started at 9 a.m. through the start of Mass each evening. They counted the number of people as they came in and priests blessed religious objects and heard confessions.

During Masses each evening, the faithful filled all available space in the churches. They were in the pews but also in the aisles, the vestibule, on the street outside and, in the case of St. Ita, sitting on the steps of the sanctuary.

Organizers expected large crowds but not quite the more than 19,000 who turned out. It shows the love people have for Padre Pio.

"He's truly a unique saint in the sense that he cuts across cultures, boundaries, ages and somehow resonates with such a wide group of people," said Conventual Franciscan Father Bob Cook, pastor of St. Ita.

However, the interest in relics doesn't surprise him.

"Relics are a reminder that the saints were human beings at one point. They're still human beings but they are in heaven. With that comes everything that is human - temptation, forgiveness," Cook said.

Padre Pio was known to be short-tempered and, like many people, probably brought that up in his own confessions, Cook said.

"He lived like we did and aspired to become a saint and did. That's the route for all of us," Cook said.

Relics are also a way to keep in touch with heaven.

"In the church we have canonized saints and uncanonized saints. My mother is an uncanonized saint. I have things of her that I hold on to, that remind me of her, that bring me into communion with her," the friar said. "The saints are our relatives in heaven and this is a tangible way to be in communion with those relatives."

- - -

Duriga is editor of the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Death penalty is 'contrary to the Gospel,' pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel," Pope Francis said.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican Oct. 11, Pope Francis said the catechism's discussion of the death penalty, already formally amended by St. John Paul II, needs to be even more explicitly against capital punishment.

Capital punishment, he said, "heavily wounds human dignity" and is an "inhuman measure."

"It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor," the pope said.

The death penalty, he said, not only extinguishes a human life, it extinguishes the possibility that the person, recognizing his or her errors, will request forgiveness and begin a new life.

The church's position on the death penalty, he said, is one example of how church teaching is not static, but grows and deepens along with a growth in faith and in response to modern questions and concerns.

In the past, when people did not see any other way for society to defend itself against serious crime and when "social maturity" was lacking, he said, people accepted the death penalty as "a logical consequence of the application of justice."

In fact, he said, the church itself believed that, and the death penalty was a possible punishment in the Papal States. It was only in 1969 that Pope Paul VI formally banned the death penalty, even though it had not been imposed since 1870.

"Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize" that use of the death penalty was "dictated by a mentality that was more legalistic than Christian," Pope Francis said. "Remaining neutral today when there is a new need to reaffirm personal dignity would make us even more guilty."

The first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by St. John Paul II in 1992, recognized "as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty." At the same time, it said, "bloodless means" that could protect human life should be used when possible.

But the language was formally changed in 1997 after St. John Paul II issued his pro-life encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae." Since then, the catechism has specified that the use of the death penalty is permissible only when the identity and responsibility of the condemned is certain and when capital punishment "is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor."

The development of church teaching, Pope Francis insisted, is not the same as contradicting or changing church teaching. "Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision would lead to thinking of 'the deposit of faith' as something static."

"The word of God," he said, "cannot be saved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to protect against insects."

The Christian faith, he said, always has insisted on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. So, the church has a continuing obligation to speak out when it realizes something that was accepted in the past actually contradicts church teaching.

"Therefore, it is necessary to reiterate that, no matter how serious the crime committed, the death penalty is inadmissible, because it attacks the inviolability and dignity of the person," Pope Francis said.

- - -

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope tops 40 million followers on Twitter, 5 million on Instagram

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters

By Matthew Fowler

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' @Pontifex Twitter accounts reached more than 40 million followers just a few months before the fifth anniversary of when Pope Benedict XVI launched the initiative.

The papal Twitter accounts, in nine different languages, have grown by over 9 million followers in the past 12 months, representing the interest and attention of "the people -- ordinary people, Christians and non-Christians, political leaders -- for the Holy Father's tweets," the Vatican Secretariat for Communication said Oct. 11.

The accounts, it said, are a way for Pope Francis to personally connect with people around the world.

"Every day, through his tweets, Pope Francis makes himself available to men and women through social media, at times offering a spiritual thought," it said, "other times sharing with his followers a reflection on events of great significance for the international community."

The secretariat's prefect, Msgr. Dario Vigano, told Vatican Radio that "the pope takes great care of his social profiles, to such an extent that he closely and carefully checks all the tweets, which are then published."

It shows the pope's concern and "care for relationships" even over the internet, even though the pope has admitted he is not savvy with new technologies, Msgr. Vigano said. The pope knows, he said, that the web is "a network not of wires but of people."

In a recent report on Twitter by Twiplomacy.com, which ranks world leaders' impact on the social media platform, the @Pontifex accounts had the second-most followers among world leaders, only 200,000 followers behind the U.S. president, @realDonaldTrump. Since the report, both the president and the pope's followers have continued to grow, with Trump's account exceeding the 40.3 million mark, maintaining a tight lead over Pope Francis.

Twiplomacy ranked the pope as coming in third among world leaders with the most interactions and being the most influential because of his average of 41,000 retweets.

The pope also communicates digitally via Instagram, the social image channel. His account, @Franciscus, was approaching 5 million followers since its creation March 19, 2015. The majority of Instagram followers are from the ages of 25-34, with the United States and Brazil being the countries where it is most followed.

- - -

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Nothing is in vain, nothing is resistant to love, pope says at audience

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are never pessimistic, resigned or weak, thinking life is an unstoppable train careening out of control, Pope Francis said.

Throughout history, every day is seen as a gift from God and "every morning is a blank page that Christians start writing on" with their good works and charity, he said Oct. 11 during his weekly general audience.

Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, the pope reflected on a reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, in which the disciples are asked to be like faithful and vigilant servants, who stand ready for their master's return -- the day Jesus will come again.

Jesus wants his followers to never let down their guard and to be on their toes, ready to welcome "with gratitude and amazement each new day God gives us," the pope said.

Even though "we have already been saved by Jesus' redemption," he said, the people of God are still awaiting his second coming in glory when he will be "all in all." Nothing in life is more certain than that -- that he will come again, the pope said.

This time of expectant waiting, however, is no time for boredom, but rather for patience, he said.

Christians must be perseverant and life-giving, like wellsprings to irrigate a desert.

For that reason, "nothing happens in vain" and no situation is "completely resistant to love. No night is so long that the joy of dawn is forgotten," he said. In fact, the darker the night, the sooner the light will come, he added.

By staying united with Christ, nothing can stop the faithful, even "the coldness of difficult moments do not paralyze us." And no matter how much the world preaches against hope and predicts "only dark clouds," Christians know everything will be saved and "Christ will drive away the temptation to think that this life is wrong."

"We do not lose ourselves in the flow of events to pessimism, as if history were a train out of control. Resignation is not a Christian virtue. Just like it is not Christian to shrug your shoulders or lower your head before a seemingly unavoidable destiny."

Having hope means never being submissive or passive, but being a builder of hope, which demands courage, taking risks and personal sacrifice, he said.

"Submissive people are not peacebuilders, but they are lazy, they want to be comfortable," he said.

At the end of the general audience, the pope reminded people that October was World Mission Month and the month of the rosary.

As celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the end of the apparitions of Mary at Fatima were to wrap up Oct. 13, the pope invited everyone to pray the rosary, asking for peace in the world.

"May prayer stir the unruliest of souls" so that all violence may be banished from their hearts, words and actions, and they become artisans of peace, he said.

The pope also launched an appeal for concrete study and action to safeguard creation and reduce the risks people face with natural disasters.

He asked that International Day for Disaster Reduction Oct. 13 encourage leaders and groups to promote a culture that aims to reduce people's exposure to natural disasters, particularly people who are already very vulnerable. 

- - -

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Bishop says Trump proposals do not reflect U.S. immigrant tradition

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Trump administration's newly released immigration policy proposals "do not provide the way forward for comprehensive immigration reform rooted in respect for human life and dignity, and for the security of our citizens," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas.

"They are not reflective of our country's immigrant past, and they attack the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children and many others who flee persecution," the bishop said in an Oct. 10 statement as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.

"Most unfortunately, the principles fail to recognize that the family is the fundamental building block of our immigration system, our society and our church," Bishop Vasquez said.

His remarks came in response to a 70-point immigration policy proposal from President Donald Trump released the evening of Oct. 8.

Bishop Vasquez also urged Congress to act quickly on a bill to legalize the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and allow the approximately 800,000 youth -- known as "Dreamers" -- who have benefited from DACA stay in the country.

"We exhort Congress to take up legislation and move forward promptly to ensure true protection for Dreamers once and for all," the bishop said.

Trump said that in any bill to legalize DACA, Congress must include funding for a U.S-Mexico border wall and more Border Patrol agents -- as laid out in his policy proposals -- or he won't sign such a measure.

On Sept. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the program, which began under then-President Barack Obama in 2012, would end under the Trump administration.

DACA provides a work permit and temporary reprieve from deportation for youth brought to the U.S. as children without legal permission, if they meet certain criteria. Sessions said the program was "unilateral executive amnesty," and said its beneficiaries had taken away jobs from "hundreds of thousands of Americans."

Trump campaigned on a promise that he'd get rid of the DACA program, but after Sessions' announcement on ending the program, Trump was working with Democrats to find a way to help the "Dreamers" stay in the country.

Late Sept. 13, the two top Democrats in Congress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader in the Senate, said they met with the president to hash out a deal, and they reportedly had agreed to "a fix."

Since the release of Trump's 70-point immigration proposal, Pelosi and Schumer have said any DACA deal with Trump was off. Trump's proposal includes 27 different suggestions on border security; 39 improvements to enforcement on immigration laws in the U.S.; and four major changes to the legal immigration system.

"Since July, Congress has introduced legislative solutions for Dreamers, including the Dream Act," Bishop Vasquez said in his statement. "The administration should focus attention on ensuring that a legislative solution for Dreamers is found as soon as possible.

"Every day that passes without that solution, these youth experience growing apprehension for their futures and their families," he continued. "Each passing day brings us all a step closer to March 2018, when DACA recipients will begin to lose legal work privileges, and far worse, face the threat of deportation and family separation."

Bishop Vasquez added: "Together with so many others of goodwill, we shall continue to offer welcome and support to these remarkable young people, and we shall not stop advocating for their permanent protection and eventual citizenship."

- - -

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

POVERTY, VIOLENCE HINDER PROGRESS FOR MANY WOMEN, GIRLS, SAYS NUNCIO

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — Conditions in many parts of the world force women and girls to bear the burden of...

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FATIMA (PART 2)

Fatima, Portugal, Oct 10, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News) – This is part two of a two-part series. Part...