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Women tell the stories of two healings through intercession of two popes


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — People said Floribeth Mora Diaz was crazy to think Blessed John Paul II interceded with God to heal her brain aneurysm, but if so, “then it is a blessed craziness, because I’m healthy,” she told reporters at the Vatican.

The 50-year-old Costa Rican woman spoke at a news conference April 24, just three days before she would participate in the Mass for the canonization of Blessed John Paul; Pope Francis accepted her healing as the miracle needed for the late pope’s canonization.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, and Floribeth Mora Diaz, attend a press conference at the Vatican April 24 in advance of the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II. Mora Diaz’s cure from an aneurysm in 2011 was the second miracle in the sainthood cause of Blessed John Paul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the same news conference, Daughter of Charity Sister Adele Labianca gave her eyewitness account of the healing of Sister Caterina Capitani, the nun whose healing in 1966 was accepted as the miracle needed for the beatification of Blessed John XXIII. Pope Francis waived the requirement of another miracle for his canonization.

Even though both women have told their stories hundreds of times, they were emotional before an international gathering of reporters at the Vatican. Sister Labianca said she had to read her testimony from a prepared text because she was certain she would forget something. Mora Diaz simply let her voice tremble.

The Costa Rican woman, who traveled to the Vatican with her husband and four children, told about having a severe headache in April 2011, going to the doctor and being told she had a brain aneurysm. The doctors in Costa Rica said surgery might be able to help, but she would have to go to Mexico or Cuba for the operation, and she did not have the money.

The local doctors could do nothing more for her, so they sent her home, “telling me I had only a month to live.” She began crying as she talked about her husband trying to prepare their children for their mother’s death and urging them to pray.

Mora Diaz said she had long had a devotion to Pope John Paul and watched his beatification May 1, 2011, “and then I fell asleep.” A few hours later, she heard the late pope’s voice, “Rise! … Do not be afraid.” She said, “I had a peace, a peace that assured me I was healed.”

Still, she said, she and her husband did not have the money to pay for more tests to verify the healing, but eventually her doctor did an MRI. “He was shocked,” she said. “My husband wondered why he wasn’t saying anything and I said, ‘because I’ve been healed through the intercession of John Paul II.’”

The doctor’s reaction was important, she said, “because I wasn’t the only one saying I was healed, but there were doctors, who were very serious, saying so.”

Sister Labianca, who spoke about the miracle accepted for Pope John’s beatification, worked in an Italian pediatric hospital with Sister Capitani in 1963 when, for the first time, she had a gastric hemorrhage in the middle of the night. “She panicked and woke me up.”

After months of treatment, doctors removed most of her stomach, which was covered with tumors, and her entire spleen and pancreas. At first she improved, but then she developed an external fistula, which leaked, Sister Labianca said. She was on the point of death May 22, 1966, when the assistant provincial of the Daughters of Charity brought her a relic, reportedly a piece of Pope John’s bed sheet.

“She put it on her wound in the hope that the Lord would come with his mercy and his love,” Sister Labianca said. “Suddenly, Sister Caterina woke from her stupor and no longer felt any pain,” instead she felt a hand on her wound and heard a voice calling, “Sister Caterina!”

“Frightened to hear a man’s voice” in her room, she turned and saw Pope John standing by her bed. He told her she was fine, and she went to tell the other sisters that she was healed and hungry, Sister Labianca said.

With the acceptance of her healing as a miracle, Pope John Paul beatified Pope John in 2001, and Sister Capitani was there. She died in 2010, more than 43 years after she was healed.


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Vatican letter: Is being pope a shortcut to sainthood?


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — “They call me Holy Father and that is what I must be,” the future St. John XXIII wrote in his diary.

A nun who worked in the papal apartments with the future St. John Paul II saw him tired one day and said, “I’m worried about Your Holiness.” And he responded, “I, too, am worried about my holiness.”

Most Catholics would agree the church needs holy and saintly popes, but as the April 27 Mass for the canonization of Blesseds John and John Paul approached, some questioned the need to canonize them.

The debate is not new. Shortly after Blessed John Paul died in 2005 and Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year-waiting period before his sainthood process could open, a respected Italian journalist wrote that canonizing popes was a way for “the Roman hierarchy to canonize itself.”

But one of the most authoritative and productive experts in the church’s saint-proclaiming process, Jesuit Father Paolo Molinari, said in 2008 that “recent popes have not been proposed for sainthood just because they were popes, but because people recognized in them an excellent way of living as Christians.”

Another criticism revolves around the quick pace of the sainthood process for popes, especially for Blessed John Paul. Questions have been raised about how it is possible in such a short time to thoroughly investigate a candidate’s life and writings, not to mention the enduring devotion of the faithful.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator or promoter of Blessed John Paul’s sainthood cause, was asked by media April 22 about reports that the pope had ignored evidence that Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ, had been sexually abusing minor seminarians and leading a double life.

The postulator said the Vatican, as part of the canonization process, insisted those reports be investigated. He said investigators determined “there exists no sign of the personal involvement of John Paul II.”

In Blessed John Paul’s sainthood cause, he added, the dispensation of the five-year waiting period “was the only exception” made from the normal procedure called for in church law.

Blessed John Paul, who beatified and canonized a record number of Catholics, often explained that the church solemnly recognized certain holy men and women so the Catholic faithful would have models to imitate. On a practical level, he urged the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to devote more time and energy to identifying, studying and speeding up the sainthood processes for laypeople, especially married couples, because modern Catholics needed those models.

The saints may be models, but they are not angels, and the priests formally promoting the causes of the two popes acknowledged that fact.

“John XXIII was aware of his defects … and his own limits,” including his “good appetite” and struggle losing weight, said Franciscan Father Giovangiuseppe Califano. He said Blessed John had a self-deprecating sense of humor, which made him “more endearing.”

“John Paul II had defects like every man,” Msgr. Oder said. “True holiness lies in a person, responding to God’s grace, correcting his defects,” which in the case of Blessed John Paul included sometimes being mercurial or brusque. “He reacted,” sometimes too quickly, the monsignor said. As archbishop of Krakow he once got so angry at one of his priests that he demanded the man’s driver’s license and forced him to walk back to his parish. “He later asked forgiveness.”

At a Vatican briefing for the media, Msgr. Oder said, “It’s true there are currents opposed to the canonization of popes,” but he argued that all canonizations are good for the church because they demonstrate that individuals really can fulfill the call to holiness and are “a tangible sign of the church’s spiritual fruitfulness.”

“It would be absurd to have a pope who evangelizes and doesn’t arrive at holiness himself,” Msgr. Oder said.

In addition, St. John Paul will remain “a point of reference for his successors, but not only for them,” he said. Karol Wojtyla, the future pope and saint, pursued holiness as a student, an actor, a quarry worker, a poet, priest and bishop, and many people can find inspiration in his life.

Father Califano, postulator of the cause of Blessed John, said it is obvious the vast majority of Catholics never will be called to imitate his holiness in being pope, but they can imitate his “desire to belong to the Lord.”

The Franciscan works mostly on the causes of other Franciscans, but occasionally promotes other causes as well, including the recently beatified 19th-century Queen Maria Christina of Savoy.

“Recently I’ve had the joy of proposing for the veneration of the church both a queen and a pope. Obviously, they led totally different lives, but in fulfilling the call of every baptized Christian, the call to holiness, they are similar,” he said.

Popes are not canonized because they are popes, but because they lived exemplary Christian lives, Father Califano said. “Pope John was holy even as a child and as a young adult, in his desire to know himself and follow God’s will.”

“Obviously, his papacy was the apex of his holiness, because then he had enormous weight on his shoulders, a great responsibility, and still knew how to pursue God’s will,” the postulator said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said thinking of new saints only as models to imitate narrows their importance and misses one of the riches of Catholic teaching.

“Canonized saints are also intercessors,” he said. “They are recognized by the people of God as friends, intercessors and guides to an encounter with God. And, obviously, that is what these popes are.”


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Magazine says California birth considered as miracle for Pope Paul VI

April 24th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Pope Paul VI, who led the church between the pontificates of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II, may be beatified in October, an Italian Catholic magazine reported.

Credere, a magazine run by the Pauline Fathers, reported April 24 that the alleged miracle needed for Pope Paul’s beatification would be considered by the cardinal members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes May 5. The cardinals’ recommendation would be given to Pope Francis, who could order the publication of a decree recognizing the healing as a miracle.

Pope Paul VI offers a blessing at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport before boarding a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, in 1967. Pope Paul, who led the church from 1963 until his death in 1978, may be beatified in October, an Italian Catholic magazine reported. (CNS file photo)

The Italian magazine said the beatification Mass likely would be celebrated in October, probably Oct. 19, the final day of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

The miracle being considered involves the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s, although to protect the family’s privacy, the child’s name and city have not been released. Credere said the mother’s pregnancy was at risk, and with it the life and health of the baby. Doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but instead she sought prayers from an Italian nun who was a family friend. Praying, the nun placed on the woman’s belly a holy card with Pope Paul’s photograph and a piece of his vestment.

The baby was born healthy. For Pope Paul’s sainthood cause, physicians continued monitoring the child’s health up to the age of 12 and everything was normal, Credere reported.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, Pope Paul is probably best remembered for seeing the Second Vatican Council through to its end and helping implement its far-reaching reforms. He was elected in 1963 after the death of Blessed John and died Aug. 6, 1978.


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The risen Jesus, not money or power, is the source of life, pope says

April 23rd, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags:


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Too often people are fixated on material things, money, power or status — none of which can give life and joy, Pope Francis said.

Christians need to examine their lives with the question the angel asked the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of the buried Jesus: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the pope said.

At his weekly general audience April 23, Pope Francis had the tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square repeat the angel’s Easter question three times. Read more »

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Easter should last all week, including in your Bible reading, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Trusting that people took his Lenten advice and either downloaded a Bible app or bought a pocket-sized edition of the Gospels, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to re-read the accounts of the Resurrection during Easter week.

Pope Francis walks past flowers as he leaves after celebrating Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Remember this week to pick up the Gospels, find the chapters about the Resurrection and read them, a passage from those chapters each day. This would do us good,” the pope said April 21, Easter Monday. At midday on the Italian holiday, the pope led the recitation of the “Regina Coeli,” the Marian prayer used from Easter to Pentecost.

With thousands of visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis stood in the window of the papal apartment he chose not to live in and urged those in the square to let their Easter joy be evident in the way they think and interact with others.

“Let us allow the joyful awe of Easter Sunday radiate in our thoughts, gazes, attitudes, gestures and words,” he said before leading the prayer.

Telling the crowd that they could wish each other Happy Easter all week long, “as if it were just one day, the great day the Lord has made,” he said Christians can learn Easter joy from Mary and the other women who mourned Jesus’ death and were transformed with joy at his rising from the dead.

“Think of the joy of Mary, the mother of Jesus,” he said. “Just as her pain was intimate, so much that her soul was pierced, so, too, her joy was intimate and profound and the disciples could draw from it” like drawing water from a spring.

From Good Friday to Easter morning, Pope Francis said, “she never lost hope. We have contemplated the suffering mother, but at the same time, the mother full of hope. That is why she is the mother of all disciples, the mother of the church and the mother of hope.”

Easter joy is not something fake, he said. “It comes from inside, from a heart immersed in the source of joy.”

Recognizing that with the resurrection, Jesus conquered death and promises eternal life to those who believe, the pope said, Christians are able to shine “a ray of the light of the Risen One on different human situations: on happy occasions, making them more beautiful and preserving them from selfishness; and on sad situations, bringing serenity and hope.”


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‘The devil exists’ and doesn’t want you to follow Jesus, pope warns

April 11th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A lot of people, even Catholics, think that talking about the devil is completely old-fashioned, but anyone who wants to follow Jesus needs to know that Satan exists and will keep putting up obstacles to faith, Pope Francis said.

“The prince of this world, the devil, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ,” the pope said April 11 during his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

Dante and Virgil confront demons in a Gustave Dore print of a scene from Dante’s “Inferno.” (Thinkstock)

“Maybe some of you might say: ‘But, Father, you’re so old-fashioned speaking of the devil in the 21st century.’” the pope said. “But, look, the devil exists. The devil exists even in the 21st century. And we shouldn’t be naive, should we?”

The devil tempted Jesus and he will tempt those who try to follow Jesus, the pope said. “We, too, are objects of the demon’s attacks because the evil spirit doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want Christian witness, he doesn’t want us to be disciples of Jesus.”

Pope Francis said the devil’s form of tempting people has three phases, “and we must know what they are in order to avoid falling into his trap.”

“Temptation begins small, but it grows,” the pope said. Then it “infects another, it is transmitted to another” and, finally, it includes self-justification so the person who gives in to temptation and sin doesn’t feel so bad about it.

When Jesus preached in the synagogue, the pope said, “immediately his enemies belittle him, saying, ‘But this is the son of Joseph, the carpenter, the son of Mary. He never went to university. What authority does he have? He never studied.’”

The temptation of belittling Jesus began to spread and more and more people expressed opposition to Jesus, the pope said. Then, to justify their attitudes, the priest says, “Don’t you know that it’s better that one man die to save the people?”

Pope Francis told those at the morning Mass that the sin of gossip follows the same pattern. One is jealous of another and feels a need to share it, and then that person shares the gossip with another and it goes on. “And we’re all tempted to gossip. Well, maybe one of you is a saint and isn’t tempted, but I have been tempted to gossip. It’s a daily temptation.”

The only way to overcome temptation is to follow Jesus more closely because he defeated the devil, Pope Francis said.


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Pope Francis apologizes for clerical sex abuse, promises tough sanctions


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — “I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests —large in number, but not in proportion to the total — have committed and to ask forgiveness for the damage they’ve done with the sexual abuse of children,” Pope Francis said.

“The church is aware of this damage” and is committed to strengthening child protection programs and punishing offenders, he told members of the International Catholic Child Bureau during a meeting April 11 at the Vatican.

Pope Francis leads a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 28. CNS/Paul Haring

The remarks appeared to be the pope’s first apology for the sex abuse scandal, following earlier statements affirming the Vatican’s work investigating and punishing perpetrators, and encouraging bishops to support abuse victims. The pope also has said the church deserves to be forced to make monetary settlements to victims.

In December, Pope Francis established a Vatican commission to promote improved child protections policies throughout the church.

Meeting with leaders of the International Catholic Child Bureau, an organization based in France and dedicated to defending children’s rights, Pope Francis said it was hard to believe “men of the church” would commit such horrors.

“We don’t want to take a step backward in dealing with this problem and with the sanctions that must be imposed,” the pope said. “On the contrary, I believe we must be very strong. You don’t play with children’s lives!”

Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of defending children’s right “to grow in a family with a mother and father able to create a healthy environment for their growth and affective maturity,” which includes “maturing in relationship to the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother.”

Parents have a right to determine the appropriate “moral and religious education” of their children, he said, and should not be subject to school curriculums that are thinly veiled courses of indoctrination into whatever ideology is strongest at the moment.

The pope said he wonders sometimes whether parents are “sending a child to school or to a re-education camp” like those run by dictatorial governments.

Obviously, he said, children need help in responding to the problems and challenges contemporary culture and the media raise. Young people can’t be kept in “glass jars,” but must be given the values that will help them evaluate what cultural trends respect their dignity and freedom and the dignity and freedom of others.


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Pope decides Vatican bank will stay in business


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, accepting the recommendations of his international Council of Cardinals and other advisory groups, has decided the Vatican bank will continue to exist and has approved a plan to increase its transparency and accountability.

The Vatican press office issued a statement April 7 saying the pope “has approved a proposal on the future” of the Institute for the Words of Religion (IOR), the formal title of the bank. The Vatican, however, did not release details of the proposal.

In June 2013, Pope Francis established a commission to review the activities of the Vatican bank, asking the five commission members to study whether the bank was in harmony with the mission of the universal church.

During a news conference in July on his flight back from Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis said some people had suggested the institute should be transformed into a “charitable fund, others say it should be closed. I don’t know. I have confidence in the work of the people at IOR, who are working a lot, and in the commission” studying the bank.

“Whatever it ends up being, whether a bank or a charitable fund, transparency and honesty are essential,” he said.

The pope spoke only a few weeks after the bank’s director and deputy director both resigned, following the previous month’s arrest of an account holder, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, on charges of fraud, corruption and slander. In 2010, Italian treasury police seized 23 million euros that the Vatican bank had deposited in a Rome bank account, but later released the funds when new financial laws, promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI, went into effect.

While not providing details on proposed changes for the bank, the Vatican’s April 7 statement seemed intended to reassure the bank’s employees and clients that the institute would have a future.

“The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide,” the statement said. “The valuable services that can be offered by the institute assist the Holy Father in his mission as universal pastor and also aid those institutions and individuals who collaborate with him in his ministry.”

The Vatican statement said Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy, has asked the bank’s president and management to finalize plans and procedures “to ensure that the IOR can fulfill its mission as part of the new financial structures of the Holy See-Vatican City State.”

The plan, it said, will be given to Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, which is scheduled to meet in late April and again in July, and to the Council for the Economy, an international group of cardinals and lay experts appointed to set economic and financial policies for the Vatican and all its offices.

The Vatican statement also confirmed the continuing role of the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority to ensure the Vatican bank cannot be used for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

The “strict regulatory supervision and improvements in compliance, transparency and operations initiated in 2012 and substantially accelerated in 2013 are critical” for the bank’s future, the Vatican statement said.

At the end of 2012, the IOR had approximately 18,900 customers, about half of whom were religious orders. Vatican offices and nunciatures (Vatican embassies around the world) accounted for about 15 percent of the clientele, while about 13 percent of the accounts belonged to cardinals, bishops and priests, and 9 percent belonged to dioceses. Most of the remaining accounts were held by Vatican employees and religious education institutes, according to a report released by the bank in October.


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Pope honors slain Jesuit, pleads for peace in Syria — updated

April 7th, 2014 Posted in International News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said the assassination of “my confrere,” a 75-year-old Dutch Jesuit in Syria,
“filled me with deep sadness and made me think again of all the people who suffer and are dying in that martyred country.”

Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt “arrived in Syria about 50 years ago” and “always did his best for everyone with graciousness and love, and so was loved and held in esteem by Christians and Muslims,” the pope said April 9 at the end of his weekly general audience.

Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt chats with civilians, urging them to be patient, in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, Jan. 29. The priest was assassinated there on April 7.. (CNS photo/Thaer Al Khalidiya, Reuters)

Father Van der Lugt had refused to leave war-torn Syria, instead staying in Homs to help the poor and homeless. He was beaten by unidentified armed men and killed April 7 with two bullets to the head, according to the Jesuits’ Middle East province.

“From my heart, I ask you all to join my prayer for peace in Syria and in the region,” Pope Francis said, “and I launch a heartfelt appeal to Syrian leaders and to the international community: Silence the weapons! Put an end to the violence. No more war. No more destruction.”

Father Van der Lugt, a psychotherapist, had worked in Syria since 1966 and had been offering shelter in his monastery to Muslims and Christians left homeless by the war, which began in March 2011.

In a statement, Father Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Jesuits, and the staff of the Jesuits’ headquarters expressed their sorrow “for the brutal assassination of a man who dedicated his life to the poorest and neediest, especially in Homs, and who did not want to abandon them even at times of great danger.”

“He always spoke of peace and reconciliation,” the statement said, “and he opened his doors to all those asking help without distinction of race or religion. ‘I don’t see Muslims or Christians,’ he used to say, ‘but only human beings. I am the only priest and the only foreigner in this place, but I don’t feel like a foreigner.’”

The Jesuits prayed that “his sacrifice would bring the fruit of peace and that it would be a further stimulus for silencing the weapons and setting aside hatred.”

Father Van der Lugt became known around the world after appealing for aid for the people of the besieged city of Homs in a video posted on YouTube in late January.

The United Nations supervised an evacuation of about 1,400 people from Homs in early February; arriving in Jordan, the refugees confirmed Father Van der Lugt’s accounts of people, especially young children, starving to death.

Speaking to Catholic News Service by telephone Feb. 6, the Jesuit had said: “There has been no food. People are hungry and waiting for help. No injured people have been allowed to leave. Families have been hoping to get out of the siege and out of the fighting between the two sides.”

“The wounded have not received proper treatment, so healing has been difficult. Newborns die very quickly because of a lack of milk,” he said. “There have been cases of death due to hunger and starvation.”

In Syria, Jesuit Refugee Service announced it would close for three days after Father Van der Lugt’s death.

“Father Frans was a beacon for all of us; he did not only preach about love and reconciliation but he lived it out every day,in humility and with compassion for all, until the very end,” said Father Peter Balleis, JRS International director.


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Sainted by pope’s decree: Three new saints for the Americas

April 3rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Without a canonization ceremony, Pope Francis declared three new saints for the Americas, pioneers of the Catholic Church in Brazil and in Canada.

Pope Francis signed decrees April 3 recognizing: St. Jose de Anchieta, a Spanish-born Jesuit who traveled to Brazil in 1553 and became known as the Apostle of Brazil; St. Marie de l’Incarnation, a French Ursuline who traveled to Quebec in 1639 and is known as the Mother of the Canadian Church; and St. Francois de Laval, who arrived in Quebec 20 years after St. Marie de l’Incarnation and became the first bishop of Quebec.

St. Jose Anchieta, known as the Apostle of Brazil. CNS

In declaring the three saints, the pope used a procedure known as “equivalent canonizations,” which required a thorough study of the candidates’ life and writings, fame of holiness and reports of favors granted through their intercession. Unlike a regular sainthood process, though, it did not require the verification of a miracle through their intercession, nor further studies by historians and theologians working for the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

The three were beatified together by Pope John Paul II in 1980.

The Brazilian bishops, who thought the decrees would be signed April 2 and planned local celebrations for that evening, have said they will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving with Pope Francis April 24 in Rome’s Church of St. Ignatius. The bishops of Quebec have said they will celebrate a thanksgiving Mass May 18 in Quebec and hope to have a larger celebration with the pope in Rome in October.

Despite the one-day delay in the announcement, parishioners kept filing into Our Lady of Assumption Church in Anchieta, Brazil, April 2 to celebrate the new Brazilian saint. Many joined the celebration and morning Mass in the square outside the church, watching on large TV screens.

At 2 p.m., all of the Catholic churches in Sao Paulo rang their bells to celebrate St. Anchieta. Sao Paulo’s Cardinal Odilo Scherer celebrated Mass at the city’s cathedral and said St. Anchieta “should be considered the first anthropologist of Brazil due to his enormous interest in the indigenous population and their culture.”

Cardinal Orani Tempesta, celebrating Mass in Rio de Janeiro, said it was “impossible to write about the history of Brazil without mentioning the presence of Jose de Anchieta.”

Across Canada, the news of the decrees was welcomed with joy and thanksgiving, most especially in the Archdiocese of Quebec, where St. Marie de l’Incarnation and St. Francois de Laval are buried.

In Quebec, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix said the canonizations “give us models of sanctity to encourage us.” Pope Francis has given the Canadian church two “great examples of the new evangelization.”

St. Francois de Laval was born in 1623, studied in a Jesuit school, then joined a group of youths who formed what would become the Seminary of Foreign Missions. Ordained to the priesthood in 1647, he eventually was appointed apostolic vicar of New France, as Quebec was called, and ordained a bishop in 1658. He landed in Quebec — a town of just 500 people — the following June and began his missionary work among colonists and the native peoples. He died in Quebec in 1708.

St. Francois de Laval CNS

St. Marie de l’Incarnation was born in 1599 and although drawn to the religious life, she followed her parents’ wishes and was married at the age of 17. Six months after her son was born, her husband died. When the child turned 12, she entered the Ursuline order and, in 1639, set sail for Quebec with several other Ursulines. She died in Quebec in 1672.

St. Jose de Anchieta, was born in the Canary Islands in 1534 and joined the Jesuits at the age of 17. He was sent to Brazil, mainly for his health, but immediately dedicated himself to missionary work, learning the local languages and writing a grammar and dictionary used by Portuguese settlers and missionaries. He was ordained to the priesthood only after he had been in Brazil several years. He is credited with being one of the founders of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. He died in 1597 in Reritigba, the city now known as Anchieta.

Pope Francis has used the “equivalent canonization” twice before; in October he signed the decree recognizing Italian St. Angela of Foligno, and in December, he signed a decree recognizing St. Peter Faber, one of the founding members of the Jesuits.

The public Mass scheduled April 27 for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II will be only the second canonization Mass Pope Francis has presided over. At a Mass in May last year, he proclaimed the sainthood of Antonio Primaldo and some 800 other Italians killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century, Mexican Sister Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, and Colombian Sister Laura Montoya.

In addition to the three “equivalent canonizations” April 3, Pope Francis signed decrees recognizing the miracles needed for the future canonizations of Blesseds Giovanni Antonio Farina, the Italian founder of the Teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy; Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the Indian founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, a Syro-Malabar Catholic order; Nicholas of Longobardi, an Italian Oblate priest; and Euphrasia Eluvathingal, an Indian Carmelite sister and member of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

He also recognized the miracle needed for the beatification of Brother Luigi Bordino, an Italian member of the Brothers of St. Joseph Cottolegno, who died in 1977.

St. Marie de l’Incarnation CNS

Pope Francis also declared eight men and women “venerable,” recognizing they lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way. The eight included three Italians, three Spaniards, a Brazilian and Assumptionist Father Marie-Clement Staub, who was born in France and sent to the United States in 1909. At Assumptionist College in Worcester, Mass., in 1914 he founded the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc in 1914. He died in Quebec in 1936.



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