Browsing News Entries

African youth bring zeal to pre-synod gathering

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2018 / 11:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Several young people from across Africa have voiced their excitement at being able to participate in the Vatican's pre-synod meeting, which they say will give them a chance to be heard and will provide the courage to confront the challenges they face at home.

For Nigerian youth Vincent Paul Nneji, being able to participate in the pre-synod meeting in Rome makes him “feel more part of the Church.”

“I feel that my voice is very loud now, because we get to meet one on one with the Pope and we get to tell him how we feel about the faith that we've always believed in since we're born, so I feel very good and very, very energetic to go back and give more to society.”

The March 19-24 pre-synod meeting is in preparation for the October Synod of Bishops on “Young people, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

Nneji is one of some 300 young people from around the world participating in the event, 31 of whom come from Africa.

CNA was able to speak with youth from Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe about their expectations for the meeting, the challenges they face at home, and what problems they want the Church to be aware of when it comes to young people.

There was a nearly unanimous recognition that young people in Africa tend to take on a lot of responsibility at an early age, and lack older role models who are able to help steer them in the right direction amid political and societal instability.

According to Nneji, “at a young age we tend to be adults [in Nigeria]. We don't have a choice but to be adults because we have so many challenges and less people to help us.”

“So here we want to talk about the challenges and how [the Church] can help us, feel our pain and feel empathetic with us, and try to connect with us even when we're far away,” he said, explaining that the biggest challenges youth face in the country are social injustice and unemployment.

In Nigeria, “an average youth has to feed, has to be financially secured to a large extent, has to feel a sense of security in order to profess his or her faith,” he said, “so that is a major challenge, because we have issues of bad governance and bad leadership, and we are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

“We're supposed to be the ones to take up the mantle of leadership in society and even in the Church,” he said, noting that there is often also a lack of role models in the Church itself.

Nneji said he wants to bring these challenges to the attention of the Pope and the synod committee so they can find ways to “help us to do better, even amid all the challenges; to do better and still be a youth.”

Tendai Karombo, a 26-year-old youth from Zimbabwe, said she wants the Church in her country to have greater appreciation for young people, many of whom become caregivers for their elderly parents as early as 12-15 years old.

“When we come to Church we do not get that respect … We are then sidelined to minor things, we cannot do a lot, we are viewed as weak, [so] we cannot do so many things,” she said.

“I [would] hope and appreciate if the Church can also see that strength in us, make us responsible, and we can save so many souls,” she said.

For Karombo, it's not so much about the individual countries as it is about learning what challenges youth face on a global level and confronting them together.

“I believe we can discuss and come up with a way that is universal to help everyone out,” she said.

“If I were living in Europe with all those challenges, how would I react to them? Maybe that way, in understanding each other, we will have a way forward in addressing the challenges,” she said.

Tinyiko Joan Ndaba, a woman from South Africa who works to raise awareness about human trafficking, told CNA a major problem she wants to address is human trafficking, and she feels a responsibility to share the knowledge she had gained about the phenomenon with her peers.

Ndaba said she learned about trafficking through workshops with the Combating Trafficking in Persons branch of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Talitha Kum anti-trafficking organization.

After starting a group with Talitha Kum to help raise awareness in parishes, Ndaba said “we noticed that people do not know about this,” so they made their campaign public, “because if people in our churches don't know, it means the public doesn't know about this.”

Trafficking, she said, is “so sad, it is inhumane,” and it “takes away from the communities; I imagine myself in that situation, and thinking how much I would have lost if I was a victim of slavery, so it’s better to prevent it before it happens to anyone else.”

Ndaba said she knows of at least one instance when a young woman in the process of being trafficked was able to realize what was happening and get out of the situation thanks to a workshop they led at her school.

“One group cannot do anything, but we need to community to carry this out, because this is a social issue,” she said, voicing her hope that young people at the pre-synodal meeting “can really contribute toward the growth of our different communities that we come from.”

Nneji also voiced hope that the youth in attendance would be able to address their challenges and find a clear way forward.

“We want to be part of decision-making, [and] the Church has given us an opportunity in the pre-synod, so this conference … is a wonderful opportunity to see ourselves and know where we are; know our strengths and our weaknesses, manage them together and see how we can help the Church and society.”

Texas bishops call for prayers to heal community after bombings

Austin, Texas, Mar 21, 2018 / 10:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of central Texas have encouraged prayers for healing in a community reeling from a string of bombings over the last month.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio and Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin issued a joint statement on Tuesday urging prayers for the victims of the serial bombings as well as prayers for law enforcement officials.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families and friends of all those affected by the package explosions which have taken place this month in Austin and San Antonio,” said the bishops.

In recent weeks, two people were killed and half a dozen were injured in a series of explosions throughout Austin and in a FedEx distribution facility near San Antonio.

Suspected bomber Mark Anthony Conditt was confronted by police early on Wednesday morning, and drove off in a car before he detonated one of his own bombs, killing himself in the process, according to officials. His motive for the bombings remains unknown and police are continuing to investigate.

Police have warned that there may be additional bombs and have urged the public to remain watchful and alert.

In their message Tuesday, the bishops urged the community to remain strong, and to not be divided by fear. They voiced hope that prayer could serve as a uniting force in the face of terror.

“The randomness of these attacks and their increasing frequency are perhaps meant by their perpetrator to spread fear and cause division in our communities,” they said.

“However, as we have seen time and time again, tragedies such as these strengthen our bonds and bring our communities together in prayer and recognition of the sanctity and preciousness of life.”


Top Vatican communications officer resigns after 'Lettergate' fiasco

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2018 / 05:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano as prefect of the Secretariat for Communications in wake of what has been dubbed by many as the 'Lettergate' scandal, which has dominated Catholic media the past week.

The announcement was made in a March 21 statement from Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, who said said Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz, secretary of the Vatican communications office, will take charge until a new prefect is named.

In his letter submitting his resignation, which was dated March 19 and published March 21 alongside Francis' response, Vigano said that in recent days, “many controversies have arisen regarding my work which, beyond intentions, destabilizes the complex and great task of reform which you entrusted to me.”

He thanked the Pope for his accompaniment and generosity, and said that for the sake of avoiding the “delay” of the reform and for “love of the Church,” he tenured his resignation.  

In his letter of response, dated March 21, Francis said that after speaking with Vigano and after a “long and attentive reflection,” he accepted the prefect's resignation.

He thanked Vigano for his service, and offered his blessing, asking that he stay on in the secretariat in a different, more advisory capacity.

The fiasco began last week after the Monday, March 12, launch of the 11-book series “The Theology of Pope Francis,” published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house overseen by the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications.

A letter from Benedict XVI praising Francis' theological and philosophical formation was read aloud at the event, however, the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications later admitted to tampering with an image of the letter that was sent to media, blurring out lines in which Benedict said that he had not read the full series, and so could not give an in-depth analysis.

Days later another twist was added to the scandal when it was revealed that further paragraphs had been left out in which Benedict questioned the inclusion in the series of a theologian known for his “anti-papal initiatives.”

After receiving pressure from the media, the Secretariat for Communications published the full letter March 17, which they said was confidential and never intended to be published in its entirety.

Msgr. Vigano was tapped to head the secretariat for communications in 2015 with a mandate to reform and streamline the Vatican's various communications entities. The recent scandal surrounding the letter has been likened by reporters to the first “Vatileaks” scandal in 2012, when Benedict XVI's personal butler leaked some of his private letters to the press.

Holy Communion unites us to Christ, Francis says

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2018 / 04:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At Wednesday's general audience, Pope Francis said our participation in the Holy Eucharist at Mass is not a merely spiritual communion, but a sacramental one, uniting us to Christ and his Church.

“The celebration of the Mass… is ordered to sacramental Communion. It is not a spiritual communion. No, [it is] a sacramental communion,” he said March 21.

“While it unites us to Christ, tearing us from our selfishness, Communion opens and unites us to all those who are one in Him. Here is the wonder of Communion: we become what we receive!”

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Mass by outlining and explaining the second part of the Communion Rite in light of the passage from the Gospel of John where Jesus says: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

When we receive Holy Communion, we must let ourselves be changed, he said, because as St. Augustine said, “every time we approach the Eucharist, we are transformed into Jesus.”

“As bread and wine are converted into the Body and Blood of the Lord, so those who receive them with faith are transformed into a living Eucharist,” Francis continued, explaining the parts of the Mass.

After the Sign of Peace, the priest holds up the consecrated host and says: “Blessed are the guests at the Lord's Supper: here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

These words are inspired by a passage from the Book of Revelation: “Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb,” he said.

“This invitation calls us to experience the intimate union with Christ, source of joy and holiness. It is an invitation that rejoices and at the same time leads to an examination of conscience illuminated by faith.”

“If on the one hand, in fact, we see the distance that separates us from the holiness of Christ, on the other we believe that his Blood is ‘shed for the remission of sins.’”

As an aside, Francis reminded Christians that they have already been pardoned through the grace bestowed at their baptism and are forgiven again every time they approach the Sacrament of Penance, because “Jesus forgives us always,” he said.

Repeating a favorite phrase, he emphasized that “Jesus does not tire of forgiving us, it is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.”

The Pope also quoted St. Ambrose, who, thinking of the salvific power of the blood of Christ, said: “I who always sin, must always have the remedy.”

With the same faith, Francis said, we also turn our gaze to the Lamb of God, praying to him with the words: “O Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

This is the point in the Mass where we go up to receive the Eucharist, which is “a meeting with Jesus,” he said.  

He also explained that though the entirety of Christ is present under each of the two species of the Eucharist, both Body and Blood, the Church believes that the “Eucharistic banquet is expressed with greater fullness if Holy Communion is made under the two species.”

He also noted Church teaching that the faithful may receive communion either “standing up with devotion, or kneeling,” as determined by the local bishops’ conference, and that the faithful receive “the sacrament in the mouth or, where it is allowed, on the hand, as preferred.”

After receiving the Eucharist, to help acknowledge the gift, the Pope recommended spending time in silent prayer, or the singing of a psalm or hymn of praise.

The Eucharistic Liturgy concludes with the prayer after communion, where the priest “turns to God to thank him for making us his guests and to ask that what has been received transforms our life.”

He noted the significance of the final prayer for the Mass of the day, Wednesday of the fifth week of Lent: “We ask the Lord that ‘participation in his sacrament should be for us the medicine of salvation, heal us from evil and confirm us in his friendship.’”

Pope Francis will travel to Dublin Aug. 25-26 for family gathering

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2018 / 04:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his Wednesday general audience Pope Francis was presented with the official icon for the World Meeting of Families, announcing afterward that he will travel to Dublin from Aug. 25-26.

In his greeting to English-speaking pilgrims, Pope Francis made special mention of a group of Irish pilgrims in attendance for the presentation of the official World Meeting of Families icon, telling them, “I intend to travel to Dublin from August 25-26.”

He then thanked authorities and all those working to prepare for the trip. The official program for the papal visit has yet to be released; however, Francis did not mention any other cities in his announcement and is expected to stay in Dublin for a short visit primarily focused on events related to the family gathering.

The theme for this year's World Meeting of Families (WMOF), which will take place Aug. 21-26, is “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World.” The topic was chosen by Pope Francis and is based on his 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris Laetitia.

During the March 21 general audience, two families of Irish heritage – the Tobin family and the Bushell family – presented the Pope with the WMOF icon, titled the “Icon of the Holy Family.”

The Tobin family is from Co Derry and consists of mom and dad Brenda and Bryan, as well as their grandmother Maureen and their two children, 20-year-old daughter Emma, and 13-year-old daughter Cathel.

The Bushell family, who currently live in Rome, is originally from Ireland and is comprised of mom and dad Mary and Michael, and their two young daughters, Olivia, 7, and Molly, 5.

According to a news release on the event, the icon is intended to serve as an invitation to prayer. It is shaped like a cabinet with two doors that open to reveal the image inside, and is made of traditional seasoned wood.

Specialist icon company the Joinery Group crafted the wooden cabinet, which was then covered in several layers of a gesso primer before being painted with the ancient 'tempera' technique, in which the colored pigments are bound together with egg yolk and water.

Commissioned especially for the 2018 WMOF, the icon was written by Romanian iconographer Mihai Cucu and depicts three scenes: the Holy Family eating together at a table, the Gospel episode of the wedding feast at Cana and Jesus raising Jarius' daughter from the dead, which is recounted in the Gospel of Mark.

The icon was anointed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin at an Aug. 21, 2017, Mass marking the one-year countdown to the WMOF.

The WMOF began as the result of a request by St. John Paul II in 1994 for an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration for families. The first took place in Rome in 1994. It is held every three years.

It was most recently hosted in Philadelphia by Archbishop Charles Chaput. The 2015 event had approximately 20,000 attendees from 100 different countries, including Pope Francis.

As far as this year's celebrations, a “national opening” will take place in each of the 26 dioceses in Ireland Aug. 21, which will be followed by an Aug. 22-24 “pastoral congress” in Dublin that will include workshops, talks and discussion dedicated to the official theme. There will also be activities geared toward young people and children.

On Saturday Aug. 25, a “festival of families” will take place, consisting of a concert and personal testimonies given by families representing each of the five continents. The event will close with an Aug. 26 Mass, which all participants are invited to attend.

In feeding the hungry of Chile, beloved friar's legacy lives on

Santiago, Chile, Mar 21, 2018 / 03:12 am (ACI Prensa).- Although he died in 1853, the legacy of Friar Andrés Garcia Acosta is as alive as ever in Santiago, Chile, through a soup kitchen bearing his name that feeds 150 people per day.

This outreach is part of the “Spoon Trail,” a Franciscan ministry where those in need can stop at different locations to receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Following the friar's example, dozens of volunteers at “Friar Andresito's Soup Kitchen” help feed the poor and homeless, including those facing addictions and prostitution.

For volunteers, the work is more than just an act of charity.

“This has meant everything to me,” volunteer Magdalena Urquhart told the postulator of the friar’s cause.

She said working with the poor has changed the way she viewed them. “Although in the beginning one has a certain amount of fear because there are a lot of alcoholics, a lot of drug addictions, they're people who need a lot of love, for someone to listen to them.”

Rogelio Caroca, who has volunteered for seven years, considers Friar Andresito to be his friend and admires him because of his witness as “a simple man who generously practiced charity across the board.”

Andrés Garcia Acosta, known as Friar Andresito, was born in the Canary Islands on Jan. 10, 1800. He became acquainted with the Franciscan Order during his childhood and youth.

In 1832, he embarked for the Americas, in one of the great waves of migration from the island caused by famines, lack of employment, and droughts.

He arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in 1834, he entered the Franciscan Order. In 1838 the government expelled the Franciscans from the country, and he traveled to Chile when he learned that the Franciscans of the Strict Observance had been reestablished there.

Friar Andresito was assigned to the Franciscan Church of the Strict Observance from 1839 to 1853. He served as almoner and helped out in the kitchen. As almoner he got to know the physical and spiritual needs of both the wealthy and the poor.

Friar Andresito was beloved and renowned by the people of his time. Besides being almoner, he visited jails and hospitals, attended to the sick and gave spiritual advice. He was known for his humility, dedication and joy.

On Sundays, he would distribute fruit and bread to the poor, an activity that today inspires “Friar Andresito's Soup Kitchen.”

On Jan. 9, 1853, Friar Andresito came down with pneumonia. He died Jan. 14 and hundreds of people came to pay their respects.

On July 10, 1855, the friar’s remains were exhumed, and his body was found incorrupt.

In 1927, the “Friar Andrés Brotherhood” was founded and spread throughout Chile. In 1977, the “Friends of Friar Andresito” society was established, with devotees in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and the United States.

Pope Francis recognized Friar Andresito's heroic virtues June 8, 2016 and he was declared venerable.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

In Scotland, pro-lifers say at-home abortion pill could pressure women

Glasgow, Scotland, Mar 21, 2018 / 12:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Scottish authorities’ move to allow at-home administration of abortion drugs violates the law and will allow more pressure on women to have abortions, critics said.

“Many vulnerable women who may be desperate about the situation they are in will be pushed towards what is seen as the easy option of being handed some drugs and sent home to stop being a problem for society,” said John Deighan, CEO of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament in 2016 secured the legal right to govern abortion issues.

In October, Scotland’s chief medical officer told Scottish health boards that the drug Misoprostal could be taken outside a clinical setting. The drug is the second of a two-drug combination used in early abortions.

Women who have suffered an early miscarriage can take the drug at home to induce labor, while women seeking abortions have been required to take both drug doses in a hospital or clinic.

Pro-abortion rights groups backed the change, including Abortion Rights, the Family Planning Association and the Scottish Humanist Society.

Jillian Merchant, vice-chair of the group Abortion Rights, said that the change would make Scottish practice reflect current practice in the U.S., France and Sweden.

“Patients are not required to take pills in front of the prescribing clinician for any other condition. Abortion should be treated no differently,” said Merchant, according to The Herald.

However, Deighan argued that “the abortion pill has been greatly pushed by the government as if it were some sanitized and easy way of ending a pregnancy. It is far from that.”

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland will argue in court that the relevant legislation, the 1967 Abortion Act, did not intend to allow abortions at home. The legislation requires the presence of doctors, nurses or medical staff.

“The move to trivialize abortion is one that harms women and creates an environment where some women are even urged to have an abortion because it does not suit others,” Deighan continued, saying the government plan amounts to approving “backstreet abortions.”

In November, when plans to permit at-home abortion pill administration were first announced, the Scottish bishops objected that “making abortion easier ignores the disturbing reality that an innocent human life is ended,” the U.K. newspaper The Catholic Herald reports.

Daily Reading for Friday, March 23rd, 2018 HD

Reading 1, Jeremiah 20:10-13 10 I heard so many disparaging me, 'Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!' All those who were on good ...

Data taken from Facebook is being used to control you HD

Data taken from Facebook is being used to control you By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK) 3/21/2018 CALIFORNIA NETWORK ...

What Mary Eberstadt told Notre Dame about 'Humanae Vitae'

South Bend, Ind., Mar 20, 2018 / 04:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Author Mary Eberstadt told students at the University of Notre Dame Tuesday that a 50-year-old document on contraception is critical to understanding the state of contemporary culture.

Eberstadt, a senior researcher at the Faith and Reason Institute, spoke at Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, explaining that the prophetic message of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae has become a reality.

“Contraceptive technology, as Paul VI foresaw, opens a Pandora’s box of mischief in which the stronger have the advantage,” Eberstadt told Notre Dame students March 20.

“For some while now, it’s been apparent that the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s bids fair to become one of the most formative disruptions in human history,” Eberstadt argued. “It’s having massive repercussions across the world – microcosmic, macrocosmic, moral, religious, political, and otherwise.”

Eberstadt mentioned an article she wrote a decade ago, published in the journal First Things, at the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. “It’s the same conclusion that was visible ten years ago, and that will remain visible ten, or one hundred, or two hundred years from now,” said Eberstadt. “It’s simply this: The most globally reviled and widely misunderstood document of the last half century is also the most prophetic and explanatory of our time.”

Fifty years ago, Eberstadt said, supporters of contraception argued that abortions and births to unmarried parents would diminish as a result of reliable birth control. Rather, she said, they have increased.

“Far from preventing abortion and unplanned pregnancies, contraception’s effects after the invention of the pill ran quite the other way: Rates of contraception usage, abortion, and out-of-wedlock births all exploded simultaneously.”

Eberstadt argued that abortion rates have increased as a result of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and contraception in particular. She offered a series of proofs to support her claim.

First, she said abortions have increased because the responsibility of pregnancy has been increasingly placed on woman alone. While women may appear freer, she said, contraception has diminished men’s sense of responsibility for pregnancy, and therefore eroded their sense of responsibility toward pregnant women.

“By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father,” she said, citing analysis by George Akerlof, Janet Yellen, and Michael Katz.

She next argued that contraception promotes abortion-on-demand because it encourages career plans that depend on delaying children until later in life. If an unexpected pregnancy interrupts such plans, she said, abortion is more likely to be considered.

Eberstadt also argued that the legalization of contraception and abortion are tied to another. She said movements towards the legalization of abortion always begin as birth control devices become more popular and available.

“Legal reasoning justifying freedom to contracept has been used to justify freedom to abort. You can’t have one without the other.”

Eberstadt mentioned that support for contraception is not universal.
She said many African nations have “resisted the attempts of reformers to bring them into line with the secular Western sexual program.”

She quoted an open letter written by Nigerian-born author Obainuju Ekaocha in response to a contraceptive initiative by billionaire Melinda Gates: “I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of innocent chatter of children…. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.”

In contrast to Africa’s resistance to contraception, Eberstadt noted the demographic decline of Japan, where, she said, loneliness is pervasive, especially among the elderly, who often die alone.

As the destructive results of the sexual revolution become more obvious, Eberstadt said that many Protestant Christians have reconsidered prior positions on contraception.

“More and more people outside the Church are concluding from that same wreckage that Catholic moral teaching has called many things right, not only as of Humanae Vitae, but for the preceding millennia of consistent teaching.”

In conclusion, Eberstadt said that while people in the world will continue to oppose to the Church’s stance on contraception, the truth of Humanae Vitae will not stop pointing towards the destruction of the sexual revolution.

“To discern the record of the last half-century is to see that the Catholic Church was right to stand as a sign of contradiction to the devastation the sexual revolution would wreak; that accommodating top the revolution has been an epic fail for the churches that have tried it; and that the truths of Humanae Vitae and related documents burn all the more brightly against the shadowy toll of the destruction out there.”

“Be proud in the right way of your Church for getting one of the most important calls in history right,” Eberstadt encouraged. “And never let anyone put a kick-me sign on you for being an unapologetic Catholic.”