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St. Francis of Assisi HD

Saint Francis is one of the world�¢����s most popular and beloved saints. He is the patron of animals, merchants and ecology. Francis was born in ...

St. Cecilia HD

St. Cecilia - Feast Day - November 22 St. Cecilia was born in the second century and was martyred in the third. She was not canonized, but was ...

Pope Francis: Synodality brought pagans to 'reject idolatry'

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2019 / 04:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that the first Christian evangelization of the pagans opened up “a very lively controversy” as the early Church discerned how to absorb new members from outside the people of Israel.

In the Acts of the Apostles, “a very delicate theological, spiritual and discipline issue is addressed,” Pope Francis said Oct. 23. “That is, the relationship between faith in Christ and the observance of the Law of Moses.”

“They proposed not to impose circumcision on the pagans, but only to ask them to reject idolatry and all its expressions,” Pope Francis said in his weekly catechesis in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope said that the assembly of Jerusalem, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 15:7-21, “offers us an important light on how to deal with differences and seek the truth in love.”

“It reminds us that the ecclesial method for conflict resolution is based on a dialogue made of attentive and patient listening and on the discernment carried out in the light of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit, in fact, that helps to overcome closures and tensions and works in hearts so that, in truth and in goodness, they may reach unity,” he said.

“This text helps us to understand synodality,” he said, adding that “the presence of the Holy Spirit is precisely synodality.”

“We ask the Lord to strengthen the desire and responsibility of communion in all Christians, especially bishops and presbyters,” the pope prayed.

Francis said that the Acts of the Apostles describes “the long journey of the Word of God,” which he said must be “announced everywhere.”

“The nature of the Church emerges from the Book of Acts, which is not a fortress, but a tent capable of widening its space and giving access to all,” he said.

Francis said that the Church is called to be “a Church with open doors,” and commented that it presents a sign contrary to the nature of the Church when he sees church buildings in Rome or in other dioceses with their doors closed.

“The Church is called to always be the open house of the Father. Thus, if someone wants to follow a movement of the Holy Spirit and approach, seeking God, he will not meet with the coldness of a closed door,” he said.

“But the novelty is for whom are the doors open? To the pagans, because the Apostles preached to the Jews, but the pagans also came to knock on the door of the Church; and this newness of the doors open to the pagans triggers a very lively controversy,” Pope Francis said.

Francis’ meditation on the theme “God has opened the door of faith to the pagans” was a part of his series of weekly reflections on the Acts of the Apostles.

The pope said that the journey of the early Christians’ proclamation of the Gospel begins after a strong persecution, which “instead of provoking a setback for evangelization, becomes an opportunity to widen the field where to spread the good seed of the Word.”

“Christians are not afraid. They must flee, but they flee with the Word, and spread the Word a little everywhere,” he said.

In his greeting to Italian pilgrims at the general audience, Pope Francis recalled the feast of St. John Paul II celebrated Oct. 22.

“Yesterday we celebrated the liturgical memory of St. John Paul II; let us imitate this master of faith and evangelical life, an example of love for Christ and for man,” Pope Francis said.

Florida bishops ask governor to stay planned execution

Tallahassee, Fla., Oct 23, 2019 / 12:26 am (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Florida have called on Governor Ron DeSantis to halt the scheduled execution of James Dailey, who is on death row for murder in a controversial case from nearly 35 years ago.

The bishops leading the seven dioceses of Florida signed a joint letter Oct. 21. While they noted their objections to any use of the death penalty in the state, they said Dailey’s case is “especially alarming” because of the evidence of innocence surrounding him.

“There is strong evidence that James Dailey’s death sentence was yet another failure of justice,” the bishops said. “Another man, Jack Pearcy, has signed a sworn affidavit that he, and he alone, was responsible for the tragic death of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio.”

Dailey, a 73-year-old veteran, is scheduled to be executed Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio, whose body was found repeatedly stabbed and drowned near St. Petersburg.

There is no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony connecting Dailey to the murder, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Rather, Dailey’s housemate and co-defendant, Jack Pearcy, accused him of taking part in the crime. Pearcy is currently serving a life sentence for the murder.

Inmates at the prison where Dailey was being held were interviewed, initially yielding no results. A few days later, however, three inmates said they had heard Dailey make incriminating statements. The inmates received reduced charges in return for the information, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. One of the inmates was known as a prolific informant, giving testimony over the years that has sent four men to death row and being convicted himself of more than 20 crimes of deception.

Pearcy has acknowledged at least four times that Dailey was innocent of the crime, Dailey’s lawyers maintain, including in a 2017 affidavit, signed by Pearcy, which said, “James Dailey was not present when Shelly Boggio was killed. I alone am responsible for Shelly Boggio’s death.”

However, in January 2018, Pearcy took the witness stand and was questioned about the affidavit. He said some of the statements in it were untrue. When pressed further about which statements, he invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer.

Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Dailey’s appeal, which argued that new evidence discrediting the jail informant testimony against Dailey should be permitted to be introduced. The court said Dailey should have raised this objection earlier. It ruled that all of his “newly discovered evidence claims were either correctly rejected as untimely or based on inadmissible evidence.”

The bishops of Florida voiced concern over the state’s high number of executions - and exonerations.

“Florida leads the nation in death row exonerations,” they noted. “Florida makes more mistakes than any other state in sentencing innocent people to death.”

Dailey would be the 100th execution in Florida since the state revived the death penalty in 1976.

“This use of the death penalty wounds our society by allowing a devaluation and coarseness of life in our community,” the bishops said.

Concerns over the scheduled execution have also been raised by three men who were sentenced to death but later exonerated due to poor evidence and prosecutorial misconduct.

The men, Juan Melendez, Herman Lindsey, and Derrick Jamison, have written a letter to Governor DeSantis asking him to reconsider Dailey’s case.

“The same types of evidence that led each of us to be exonerated are also present in James’ case,” they wrote. “The only difference allowing us to be spared from execution while James is set to be killed is whether or not a judge and jury has had the opportunity to review all the evidence.”

The bishops of Florida announced more than 30 prayer vigils throughout the state on Nov. 7, where Catholics and other community members will gather “to pray for the victim and aggressor, their families, for our society which continues to impose violence in return for violence, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.”

“As Pope Francis has stated, and as the Catechism has been updated to reflect, the death penalty is ‘inadmissible’ due to modern penal systems,” the bishops said. “At certain times in history, the teachings of the Church did not exclude recourse to the death penalty when it was the only means by which to protect society and guilt was properly determine.”

“Today, however, alternative sentences, such as life without parole, are severe punishments through which society can be kept safe,” they continued, stressing that these alternatives “do not degrade us by ending yet another life - perpetuating, rather than ending, a cycle of violence.”

Daily Reading for Friday, October 25th, 2019 HD

Reading 1, Romans 7:18-25 18 And really, I know of nothing good living in me -- in my natural self, that is -- for though the will to do what is good ...

St. John of Capistrano: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, October 23, 2019

St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and ...

St. John of Capistrano: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, October 23, 2019

St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and ...

Daily Readings for Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Reading 1: Romans 6:12-18, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 124:1-8, Gospel: Luke 12:39-48

United Arab Emirates pledges to help rebuild Catholic churches in Mosul

Mosul, Iraq, Oct 22, 2019 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- The United Arab Emirates is partnering with UNESCO to rebuild two Catholic churches in Mosul that were destroyed in 2014 by the Islamic State.

The initiative will help rebuild Al-Tahera Church and Al-Saa'a Church.

“Today’s signing is a pioneering partnership that sends a message of light, in seemingly darker times,” Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister for Culture and Knowledge Development, said Oct. 10.

“By rebuilding a fraction of the past, Iraq can shape its future as an inclusive, tolerant and open society which has always found a tangible manifestation in Mosul’s rich historical sites.”

The parties signed the partnership to ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ at UNESCO headquarters in Paris Oct. 10.

The agreement is part of the UAE’s “Year of Tolerance” initiative, which began with a $50.4 million agreement signed in April 2018 to help rebuild historical landmarks in Mosul. Students in the departments of archaeology, architecture and engineering of the University of Mosul will take part in the process of restoration of the landmark buildings, UNESCO said.

In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State made inroads into the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq – a home of Christianity since the first century – but over the course of 2016, areas in the region have been retaken from the organization's control by cooperation of various local and international actors.

In the two years of Islamic State control, over 3.3 million Iraqis were internally displaced.

The Islamic State destroyed at least 28 sites of religious significance in the city after taking control of it in June 2014.

Al-Saa'a Church is a Dominican church that was built between 1866 and 1873. Its structure was damaged and its convent looted and ransacked.

Brother Nicolas Tixier and Brother Olivier Poquillon were present at the signing to represent the Dominican fathers, who are working with UNESCO on the rehabilitation project.

Al-Tahera was a church of the Syriac Catholic Church built from 1859 to 1862. It has sustained severe damage in recent years and much of its arcade and outer walls were destroyed.

According to Gulf News, a Dubai daily, the UAE's project will create more than 1,000 jobs in Mosul.

Muslims and Christians have been teaming up to rebuild parts of the city.

In April, Syria Archbishop Youhanna Boutros Moshe of Mosul told Aid to the Church in Need that “there are very clear and concrete signs of progress” in the Mosul area, while adding that “no credit goes to the state: credit belongs to the faith-based and humanitarian organizations that rushed in to support us.”

'However, we still lack the funds to complete the reconstruction of all the homes that were very badly damaged or completely destroyed; we are waiting and hoping that governments, like those of the United Kingdom and Hungary, will step in and help us on this front,” he said.

“As for the creation of jobs, there are very few initiatives; we have made many requests to several American, British, French and even Saudi Arabian companies to launch some major projects in the region, so that our people can survive and especially our young people can find work – but we are still waiting. The Iraqi government has made many promises, but few projects have been implemented. Our confidence in the state is low,” Archbishop Moshe stated.

During the Islamic State occupation, thousands were killed and nearly 1 million residents fled the city. The Islamist group imposed a rigid version of sharia in its territory, but its rule also featured arbitrary violence, including killing and mass enslavement. A 2016 U.N. report said that 800 to 900 children in Mosul were abducted and put through Islamic State religious and military training.

Iraqi forces completed their recapture of Mosul from the Islamic State in July 2017, and the nation's ambassador to the Holy See said at the time that they are eager to rebuild the city and have people return home, but will require help to do so.

“We reiterate our need for greater cooperation and greater help for the reconstruction and stability of the freed areas, including Mosul, because there is no complete victory until the displaced are returned to their homes and guaranteed essential services,” Omer Ahmed Karim Berzinji said in July 2017.

“The most important challenge now is the effort for the reconstruction and the stability of the city through the construction of infrastructures in order for the displaced to return. We have need of international support to bring back stability and to prevent the return of the terrorists.”

Five years on from the conquering of Christian communities in Iraq by the Islamic State, Christians in the country remain at the “point of extinction,” Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has said.

The Islamic State led to the displacement of more than 125,000 Christians from historical homelands, he told CNA in August, and to date about 40,000 Christians have returned; many have emigrated.

Former finance director sues Jackson diocese

Jackson, Miss., Oct 22, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Jackson and its ordinary, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, are being sued by the diocese’s former director of finance, who says he was unjustly fired last year.

Arie “Aad” Mattheus de Lange was fired from the diocese Oct. 3, 2018, which was later changed to an administrative leave. In May, he was told that he was no longer employed by the Diocese of Jackson. He filed the lawsuit earlier this month, saying his firing was in retaliation for his complaints about how the budget is handled.

“The reasons proffered for de Lange’s termination were false, pretextual, and did not rise to the level of grave reason,” claims the lawsuit. The suit further states that it is “inexplicable” that de Lange was fired for a grave reason due to the lack of any sort of performance review during his employment.

“De Lange’s discharge was retaliatory in nature based upon his reasonable objection to the unrealistic budget proposed for Catholic Charities and the potential adverse impact it posed to the diocese,” said the suit. According to the filing, the Diocese of Jackson serves as the guarantor of Catholic Charities, and Catholic Charities does not need permission to remove money from the diocese’s checking account.

In the suit, de Lange claims he was wrongfully terminated, and that he had been defamed by the diocese, which negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. He is not asking for a certain amount in damages, but requested that the jury determine an appropriate amount.

When de Lange was initially fired in October 2018, Kopacz sent him a letter stating that he was being fired due to a “weakened financial and administrative condition of the diocese,” an “unexpected large deficit” during that fiscal year, “internal problems reflected in the prior year’s audit report and anticipated in this year’s report,” and a “lack of leadership, communication and collaboration” between his office and diocesean leadership.

de Lange disputes these claims, and instead says that Kopacz had been looking to terminate him since 2016. That year, de Lange did not support Kopacz being named as the interim executive director of the diocesesan board of directors. De Lange said that he believed Kopacz being in this position created a conflict of interest, as board members of the board of directors were employees of the bishop and therefore could not fire him.

Normally, the board is able to terminate the executive director – but this would not be possible if the interim executive director is the bishop himself.

In a statement given to the Clarion Ledger, the Diocese of Jackson said they stood by their reasons for dismissing de Lange in 2018 and that is the “general policy of the Diocese not to comment on pending litigation and personnel matters.”