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Pope’s morning homily: Recognize your own sins and stop judging others


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Drop the innocent look and the habit of judging others, Pope Francis said. Recognizing one’s own faults and failings is the first requirement of being a good Christian.

In fact, paradoxically, one finds peace and relief in judging one’s own sins, being merciful toward others and saying, “Who am I to judge?” he said March 2 during his homily at a morning Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives.

Pope Francis (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Francis (CNS/Reuters)

The pope’s homily was based on the day’s reading from the Book of Daniel, which laments, “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil,” and expresses the shame of having rebelled against God who is so full of compassion and mercy. It also focused on the Gospel reading according to St. Luke, in which Jesus tells his disciples to stop judging and condemning, but to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Pope Francis said it is so easy to shift the blame.

“We are all experts, we have Ph.D.s in justifying ourselves: ‘But it wasn’t me, no, it’s not my fault. Well, OK, but it wasn’t that bad, you know. That’s not how it went.’ We all have an alibi to explain away our failings, our sins,” he said.

“So often we are able to make that face that says, ‘Who, me?’ that face that says, ‘Well, I didn’t do it, maybe it was someone else,’ playing innocent,” he said. “But one doesn’t progress in Christian life this way.”

While it is easier to blame others, “when we begin to look at the things we are capable of,” the evil that one is tempted to commit, he said at first “we feel bad, we feel disgust,” but then “something a bit strange happens,” the self-critical approach then “gives us peace and well-being.”

By directly, honestly and quietly confronting the evil within, such as feeling envy and knowing how it can lead to putting people down and “killing them morally,” he said, one discovers “the wisdom of accusing oneself.”

“If we do not learn this first step in life, we will never, ever make progress on the path of Christian life, spiritual life,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Another Christian virtue is being able to feel ashamed before God, he said. Christians should engage in a kind of dialogue with the Lord, not being afraid to feel that shame expressed in the Book of Daniel.

When people can see their own faults, he said, it is easier to ask God for mercy and to be merciful toward others.

“When someone learns to accuse oneself, one is merciful toward others: ‘Yes, but who am I to judge if I am capable of doing worse things?’”

The phrase, “Who am I to judge,” he said, comes from listening to Jesus telling his disciples to “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

The day before, after praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis urged people to listen to Jesus and follow him because only he brings true happiness.

“Jesus’ path always brings us happiness, don’t forget it,” he said March 1.

While following Jesus will always mean carrying some kind of cross and enduring some hardship, the pope said, “in the end he always brings us happiness. Jesus does not deceive, he promised happiness and he will give it if we follow his ways.”

By following Jesus, one’s life can become “a gift of love toward others, in docile obedience to God’s will, with an approach of detachment from worldly things and of inner freedom,” he said.


‘Focus’ is a slick glamorization of wrongdoing


Catholic News Service

More than most heist movies, the flimsy crime drama “Focus” glamorizes wrongdoing. Add to that the lax sexual morals and gritty vocabulary of its characters, and the resulting package can be considered suitable for very few.

Margot Robbie and Will Smith star in a scene from the movie "Focus." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Margot Robbie and Will Smith star in a scene from the movie “Focus.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Directors and co-writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s slick little jaunt through the underworld gets rolling when small-time swindler Jess (Margot Robbie) tries to extort money from a stranger she picks up in a bar. But her ill-chosen victim, Nicky (Will Smith), turns out to be an inveterate and accomplished con man who merely laughs off Jess’ amateurish scheme.

Recognizing Nicky’s superior gifts, Jess begs him to bring her into his gang and, after some hesitation, he agrees. But romance and robbery make for a volatile mix, leading to a variety of personal and professional conflicts.

Jess and Nicky eventually become entangled with sleazy car racing big shot Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro), who’s just as corrupt as they are. But their earlier targets are ordinary tourists out for a good time at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Though some of these are unfaithful husbands whose ethical lapses make them vulnerable, all of those on whom Jess and Nicky prey are implicitly portrayed, in the frequently trite script, as suckers who deserve what they get.

This fundamentally flawed outlook is accompanied by the occasional interlude of raunchy humor, taken-for-granted premarital physicality and a carpet-bombing campaign of expletives. As a result, not only the young and impressionable but even many grown moviegoers would be well advised to fix their focus elsewhere.

The film contains distorted values requiring mature discernment, brief scenes of semi-graphic sexual activity, adulterous situations, several uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


Vatican condemns leak of documents on economic reform


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As Pope Francis and Vatican officials try to completely revamp the Vatican’s economic policies and the procedures at what is commonly called the Vatican bank, differences of opinion are normal, but leaking documents about those discussions is illegal, said the Vatican spokesman.

“The fact that complex economic or legal issues are the subject of discussion and diverse points of view should be considered normal,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, in a note published late Feb. 27.

The spokesman’s comments came after the Italian magazine L’Espresso published three articles allegedly illustrating how “power struggles between the most important prelates are placing the reforms of Pope Francis at risk.”

The articles particularly target Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the Secretariat for the Economy. The leaked minutes of a meeting of cardinals, the magazine said, show top Vatican officials are concerned about a lack of checks and balances as the cardinal gains more power over Vatican spending, hiring, income and revenues.

“Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal,” Father Lombardi said.

One of the articles focused specifically on what it described as lavish spending by Cardinal Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy during its first year of existence even though the office was formed to monitor and rein in spending.

L’Espresso said it had seen receipts and they included a 2,508 euro ($2,813) bill from Gammarelli, a Rome clerical tailor shop, and surmised that it was for a “cappa magna” or great cape with a long train sometimes worn in processions.

In a statement released Feb. 28, the Secretariat for the Economy said the article’s report of a conversation between Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell about his office’s spending, a conversation the magazine presented in direct quotes, is “complete fiction.”

The money spent by the secretariat in its first year was “in fact, below the budget set when the office was established” in February 2014, it said. An audited financial statement will be presented to the Council for the Economy, which oversees the secretariat’s work.

“Finally and for the record,” the statement said, “Cardinal Pell does not have a cappa magna.”


Our Lenten Journey, March 2, 2015

March 2nd, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags:


Our Lenten Journey | March 2, 2015


Monday — start of the work week for many of us, a chance for new beginnings and fresh starts.

Take this prayer from St. Teresa with you on our journey this week:


“May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.”

― St. Teresa of Ávila







Our Lenten Journey, March 1, 2015

March 1st, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:


Our Lenten Journey | March 1, 2015

Here is the full quote from St. John Neumann:

“Everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random, we are not here, that we may go to bed at night, and get up in the morning, toil for our bread, eat and drink, laugh and joke, sin when we have a mind, and reform when we are tired of sinning, rear a family and die.

God sees every one of us; He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also.”

— St. John Neumann, from the sermon: “God’s Will the End of Life”


Take time today to think about God’s purpose for our lives. “He creates every soul, . . . for a purpose.” Do we know what it is or are we still seeking it?







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Our Lenten Journey, February 28, 2015

February 28th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:


Our Lenten Journey | February 28, 2015

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” ― St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena was a Religious leader, philosopher, theologian,and community activist andshe left a legacy through her writing that still inspires today.  (If you don’t know much about her, take time to research her full, fascinating life.)

Today’s readings speak to us about obedience to God’s commands.  What better example of the success we can all have to “set the world on fire” than that of the obedience of St. Catherine to God’s calling?







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Pope Francis offers advice on preparing for confession during Lent


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession, “because we are all sinners,” the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to “confess well.”

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled “Safeguard your heart,” the booklet is meant to help the faithful become “courageous” and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis’ explanation of “lectio divina,” a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear “what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit.”

The booklet’s title is based on a line from one of the pope’s morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, “just as you protect your home, with a lock.”

“How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?” he asked. “Who opened the door? How did those things get in?”

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one’s heart is with the daily practice of an “examination of conscience,” in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one’s neighbor and oneself.”

The questions include:

• Do I only turn to God when I’m in need?

• Do I attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?

• Do I begin and end the day with prayer?

• Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?

• Do I rebel against God’s plan?

• Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?

• Am I honest and fair with everyone

• In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?

• Do I honor and respect my parents?

• Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?

• Do I respect the environment?

• Am I part worldly and part believer?

• Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?

• Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?

• How do I use my time? Am I lazy?

• Do I want to be served?

• Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?

• Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways “we think and act contrary to the Gospel.”

“Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind,” he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God’s willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.


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Franciscan who was national pro-life advocate dies at 55


ST. PAUL, Minn. — Brother Paul O’Donnell, a Franciscan Brother of Peace and a nationally regarded pro-life advocate and speaker, died Feb. 20 at his community’s residence in St. Paul. He was 55.

Brother Paul died in his sleep, and his death was unexpected, said fellow Brother John Mary Kaspari. A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 27 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

An early member of the St. Paul religious community, Brother Paul will be remembered for “his great love, devotion and humility; his love for each of the brothers and their way of life; and his love and selfless outreach to the most vulnerable, especially in the right-to-life movement, the unborn, aged and disabled,” Brother John Mary said.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Brother Paul professed his vows Oct. 4, 1987, five years after the community was founded. Before entering religious life, he was a seminarian in St. Paul at St. John Vianney College Seminary from 1978 to 1982, and St. Paul Seminary from 1982 to 1984.

His community’s guardian overall for more than 20 years, Brother Paul was a leader in its pro-life outreach, which included fighting for the lives of people needing specialized medical care, such as Terri Schiavo, who died in 2005 after a court ordered her feeding tube removed.

The brothers also offer hospitality to international survivors of torture at their residence, Queen of Peace friary, next to St. Columba Church in St. Paul; run a food shelf and minister to people with disabilities.

Prior to joining the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, Brother Paul and the community’s founder, Brother Michael Gaworski, founded in 1981 Pro-Life Action Ministries, a pro-life apostolate. Brother Paul served as its president.

“Brother Paul was a very profound, strong, outspoken pro-life leader, not just here in the Twin Cities but nationally,” said Brian Gibson, executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries since 1986, when he replaced Brother Paul in that post. “His concern and care for the vulnerable, the innocent, the defenseless was amazing. He spoke on their behalf consistently and constantly throughout the 34 years I’ve known him.”

Brother Paul also was a founding board member of Human Life Alliance in Minneapolis and chairman of the board of the Pennsylvania-based Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network.



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Priest killed in Congo, bishop warns of ‘dangerous’ situation


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A diocesan priest in Congo was killed Feb. 25 in an apparent attempted robbery.

The victim, Father Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera, served at a parish in Mweso, situated in North Kivu province. The pastor of the same parish had escaped an attempted homicide last November, according to Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma told Fides the incident seems to have been an act of “gangsterism.”

“The priest was closing the church door when he saw one or more bandits who were hiding somewhere,” he said. “The criminals shot without hesitation, hitting him in the abdomen and in the head. Father Kakule died instantly.”

Three suspects were arrested and interrogated by police, said the bishop. The priest’s funeral was scheduled for Feb. 28 in Goma.

The bishop said the situation in his diocese “is very dangerous” with “numerous gangs that terrorize the population” and “too many weapons in circulation.”

Priests and religious, including women religious, have been among the victims of violence and extortion in North Kivu.

“They are threatened with death if they do not pay ransom,” said the bishop.

The whereabouts of three Assumptionist priests, who were kidnapped from another parish in North Kivu in 2012, remain unknown.


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Father Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame icon, national leader, dies — updated


NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Holy Cross Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame through a period of dramatic growth during his 35 years as president and held sway with political and civil rights leaders, died Feb. 26 at the age of 97.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

As the longest serving president of Notre Dame, from 1952 to 1987, Father Hesburgh built the university from a small college primarily known for its prowess on the football field into one of the nation’s premier higher education institutions.

In announcing the highly regarded priest’s death, the university did not cite a specific cause.


A funeral Mass for Father Hesburgh was to be celebrated the afternoon of March 4 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus, with the Mass also streamed on the university’s homepage: www.nd.edu. Classes beginning after noon March 4 have been canceled.

Following the funeral a procession was planned from the basilica to the Holy Cross Community Cemetery for his burial. The university also planned to hold a tribute ceremony that evening in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.


“We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s current president, said in a statement. “With his leadership, charism and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“In his historic service to the nation, the church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor,” he said.

Father Hesburgh was born May 25, 1917, in Syracuse, New York, to Anne Murphy Hesburgh and Theodore B. Hesburgh, an executive of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.

He was educated at Notre Dame and Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1943 in Sacred Heart Church, today the basilica, on the Notre Dame campus. He received a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in 1945.

After doctoral studies he joined the university faculty, teaching in the religion department, and served as chaplain to World War II veterans on campus. In 1949 he was appointed executive vice president of Notre Dame. He became the university’s 15th president in 1952.

Under his presidency, the university budget grew from $9.7 million to $176.6 million while the endowment expanded from $9 million to $350 million. Enrollment increased from 4,979 students to 9,600 and the faculty expanded from 389 to 950.

In 1967, he oversaw the transference of governance of the school from the Congregation of the Holy Cross to a two-tiered, mixed board of lay and religious trustees and fellows. The school also admitted women to undergraduate programs beginning in 1972.

Father Hesburgh also played an influential role in national and international affairs both during and after his presidency. He held 16 presidential appointments over the years, tackling major social issues including civil rights, immigration reform, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders and development in the world’s poorest nations.

He was a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights when it was created in 1957 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He chaired the body from 1969 until 1972 when President Richard Nixon dismissed him over his criticism of the administration’s civil rights record.

The Holy Cross priest also served on President Gerald R. Ford’s Clemency Board, which was responsible for deciding the fate of Vietnam offenders.

His work on the two commissions led to the creation of the Center for Civil & Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School.

During a tribute on Capitol Hill in 2013, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle honored Father Hesburgh days before his 96th birthday. Vice President Joe Biden said during the gathering that he ran for public office at the age of 29 in 1972 because of Father Hesburgh’s passion for civil rights. “You’re one of the reasons I’ve been so proud to be a Catholic,” Biden told Father Hesburgh.

Other elected officials at the event praised Father Hesburgh as an inspiration for all people in public office.

Father Hesburgh served on the Overseas Development Council, a private organization supporting interests in developing nations, beginning in 1971 and chaired it until 1982. He led efforts to overcome mass starvation in Cambodia in 1979 and 1980. From 1979 to 1981, he chaired the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, which issued recommendations which became the basis of congressional reform legislation several years later.

During the Cold War in the early 1980s, Father Hesburgh joined a private initiative which sought to unite internationally known scientists and world religious leaders in condemning nuclear weapons. He organized a 1982 meeting at the Vatican of 58 scientists from around the world who called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Father Hesburgh served four popes, including three as the Vatican’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna from 1956 to 1970. Blessed Paul VI asked him to build the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, which the university continues to operate. Father Hesburgh also served as head of the Vatican delegation attending the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ human rights declaration in Teheran, Iran, in 1968. He also served as a member of the Holy See’s U.N. contingent in 1974.

In 1983, St. John Paul II appointed the Holy Cross priest to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He also served as a trustee and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He became ambassador to the 1979 U.N. Conference on Science and Technology for Development, the first time a priest served in a formal diplomatic role for the U.S. government.

In addition, Father Hesburgh served on several commissions and study groups in the field of education. He served as chairman of the International Federation of Catholic Universities from 1963 to 1970, leading a movement to redefine the nature and mission of contemporary Catholic education.

He holds 150 honorary degrees and was the first priest elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, serving for two years, from 1994 to 1995, as president of the board. He also co-chaired the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in its efforts to reform college sports, from 1990 to 2003.

Father Hesburgh wrote an autobiography, “God, Country and Notre Dame,” published in 1990 and three other books, including “The Human Imperative: A Challenge for the Year 2000,” “The Hesburgh Papers: Higher Values in Higher Education” and “Travels with Ted and Ned.”

He is survived by a brother, James. Three sisters preceded him in death.

The university said it was planning a tribute ceremony in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in the near future.


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