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New Sydney archbishop wants to regain trust of Catholics

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SYDNEY — New Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Pope Francis named the bishop of Parramatta and former auxiliary bishop of Sydney to succeed Cardinal George Pell, now prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, new archbishop of Sydney, pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. (CNS photo/Sharyn McCowen, The Catholic Weekly via Three Two One Photography)

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, new archbishop of Sydney, pledged to regain the confidence of Australian Catholics and the broader community in the wake of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. (CNS photo/Sharyn McCowen, The Catholic Weekly via Three Two One Photography)

There can be no more excuses, no more cover-ups and the victims have to be put first,” Archbishop Fisher said.”

The Catholic Church in Australia is going through a period of scrutiny, he said.

“I hope it will emerge from this purified, humbler, more compassionate and spiritually regenerated,” he said.

“Victims of abuse and all young people must come first — no excuses, no cover-ups. The church must do better in this area, and I am committed to playing a leading role in regaining the confidence of the community and of our own members.”

At 54, Archbishop Fisher will be the youngest archbishop of Sydney in more than 40 years. A member of the Dominicans, he also will be the first member of a religious order to be archbishop of Sydney since the late 19th century.

Archbishop Fisher studied history and law at the University of Sydney before joining a city law firm. He then entered the Order of Preachers and received an honors degree in theology while studying for the priesthood in Melbourne. He was ordained Sept. 14, 1991.

He went on to study at the University of Oxford, where he completed a doctorate in bioethics, which has remained a key area of interest for him. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

In 2012, Cardinal Pell, then archbishop of Sydney, launched Archbishop Fisher’s book, “Catholic Bioethics for a New Millennium.”

It was “a particularly promising time to be involved in Catholic bioethics,” he said at the time.

“Health care continues to do so much that is so good and has the potential to do more in the future,” he said.

Archbishop Fisher was named auxiliary bishop of Sydney in 2003, a role he held for seven years, including coordinating World Youth Day 2008. He was named to Parramatta in 2010.

 

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Don’t use God as ‘armor’ for waging violence, pope says in Albania

September 22nd, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

TIRANA, Albania — In a world “where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and exploited,” Albania is an “aspiring example” to everyone that peaceful coexistence is possible, Pope Francis said during a one-day visit to the country Sept. 21.

The people of this Balkan nation withstood centuries of Ottoman rule followed by an independence that degenerated into decades of oppressive communist control. The totalitarian regime founded by Enver Hoxha claimed to liberate the people from the constraints of all religions, turning the country into the only atheist nation in the world until the regime’s downfall in 1991.

Pope Francis passes an image of Mother Teresa as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa Square in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis passes an image of Mother Teresa as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa Square in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“It promised a paradise without God, but it left instead a hell with no consolation,” Archbishop Rrok Mirdita of Tirana told the pope during a Mass attended by an estimated 300,000 people in Mother Teresa Square.

Jubilant crowds lined the main boulevard, many of them Muslims, who make up more than half the country’s population.

Large groups of Catholics, who make up about 15 percent of all inhabitants, took buses from other parts of Albania or walked from their homes in Tirana. They were a colorful presence, with some older women in traditional costume, and younger people wearing rosaries or small crosses around their necks.

Some raised banners made out of torn bedsheets, such as one bearing the pope’s name and heart symbols painted in the red of the Albanian flag. Crowds on opposite sides of the square engaged in a chanting match, alternating shouts of “Long live Pope Francis” to see who could keep it up the longest.

Security was typical for a foreign papal journey, with streets and rooftops dotted with police and the roads lined with metal barricades partitioning out the popemobile route.

All cellular service, however, was jammed by authorities for several hours as an extra precaution. In the run-up to the trip, Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See had warned that Islamic State terrorists were seeking to kill the pope. But on the day of the visit, the Vatican repeated earlier assurances that there were no “specific threats” to worry about. The pope rode around the square twice in the same open-air jeep he uses at general audiences in Rome.

Earlier in the morning, in an address to Albania’s President Bujar Nishani and other dignitaries, the pope called the country a “land of heroes” and a “land of martyrs,” whose people stood firm in the face of oppression and persecution.

Rows of large banners bearing black-and-white photographs of Catholics killed during the communist reign hung over the main boulevard, flanked by Vatican and Albanian flags. Out of all the suffering and bloodshed, the pope said, emerged a unique country where “peaceful coexistence and collaboration” exist among Muslims, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and people of no faith at all.

Pope Francis said he wanted his first trip to Europe to trip to highlight Albanians’ practice of “respect and mutual trust,” saying it was “a beautiful sign for the world.”

The pope also warned against manipulating religion, saying no one should “consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.”

Before the start of the morning Mass, a large powered paraglider circled and swooped over the main square, the fabric decorated with the national symbol of a black eagle.

The pope used the symbol in his homily, saying God raises his people “up on eagle’s wings.”

“The eagle soars up high, but it doesn’t forget its nest,” that is, its past, traditions and values, he said.

“Go up high, fly in the air,” while remembering the “great courage and constancy” of the church’s martyrs, bishops, priests, religious and laity who “paid for their fidelity with their lives,” he said.

“Don’t forget the nest, your history, the wounds, but do not seek revenge,” he said. “Go forward in hope.”

The pope said he had come to Albania to “thank you for your witness” and encourage people to share the hope in their hearts.

“Where there is youth, there is hope!” he said, noting the large numbers of young people who turned out to welcome him.

At the end of the Mass, before praying the Angelus, the pope told young people to build their future on Christ, saying “‘No’ to the idolatry of money, ‘No’ to the false freedom of individualism, ‘No’ to addiction and to violence.”

He urged them instead to say, “‘Yes’ to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, ‘Yes’ to beauty,” the good and the true, and to a life lived with enthusiasm and “faithful in little things.”

 

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Pope Francis’ Sunday in Albania expected to bring hope, healing

September 19th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , , , , ,

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Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: Head to the peripheries, bring healing to the suffering.

 

But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony. Read more »

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Scot bishops hope Catholics work for benefit of nation after independence vote

September 19th, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

The Catholic bishops of Scotland said they accept the results of referendum in which Scot voters rejected independence.

In a Sept. 19 statement, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland also commended “all those who participated in what was a passionate and sometimes partisan debate.”

Dejected supporters from the "Yes" Campaign walk through George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, early Sept. 19. Scotland's First Minister Alec Salmond conceded defeat the same day over his bid to win independence and demanded the British government rapidly meet its promise of more powers for Edinburgh. (CNS photo/Paul Hackett, Reuters)

Dejected supporters from the “Yes” Campaign walk through George Square in Glasgow, Scotland, early Sept. 19. Scotland’s First Minister Alec Salmond conceded defeat the same day over his bid to win independence and demanded the British government rapidly meet its promise of more powers for Edinburgh. (CNS photo/Paul Hackett, Reuters)

“The vast majority of Scots engaged with the referendum and it is our hope that we can all now cooperate for the benefit of our nation in the future,” it said.

The Sept. 18 vote on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom was rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.

The issue of independence had generated intense feelings among advocates on both sides, and the days leading to the vote were marred by reports of violence, vandalism and intimidation, mostly, though not exclusively, by those campaigning in favor of an end to the 300-year union.

The bishops also urged the Catholic community to “continue to engage in public debate and decision-making and, in doing so, to uphold the meaning and importance of the Christian message.

“May God bless Scotland,” the statement concluded.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, endorsed the Scottish bishops’ statement

A spokesman for the cardinal said Sept. 19: “All Catholics are encouraged to continue to engage in public debate and decision-making as confidently we seek to make the face of Christ known and together work for the common good.”

Scottish officials reported that 2,001,926 people voted to remain with the U.K., while 1,617,989 cast ballots in favor of independence. Voter turnout was reported at nearly 85 percent.

Conceding defeat Sept. 19, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who also is leader of the governing Scottish National Party, told supporters not to “dwell on the distance we have fallen short” but on “the distance we have traveled and have confidence the movement is abroad in Scotland that will take this nation forward.”

The “no” campaign had been expected to win the referendum from the outset, but from early September, the outcome looked increasingly uncertain as opinion polls repeatedly showed a rise in support for independence.

Queen Elizabeth II, faced with the possible breakup of her kingdom, entered the debate to urge the Scottish electorate to think very carefully about what the consequences of their vote might be.

The real possibility of the success of pro-independence campaigners prompted the leaders of the major parties in the British Parliament to travel north to directly appeal to the Scottish people not to leave the union.

In the final week, they promised to devolve further powers over tax, spending and welfare to Scotland if independence was rejected in the referendum.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Sept. 19 he was delighted by the result, adding that his commitments on additional powers would be “honored in full.”

 

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Philadelphia meeting, synods will be part of global debate on families

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015 will serve as a forum for debating issues on the agenda for the world Synod of Bishops at the Vatican the following month, said the two archbishops responsible for planning the Philadelphia event.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia speaks during a press conference at the Vatican Sept.16. Archbishop Chaput announced officially that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27, 2015. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia speaks during a press conference at the Vatican Sept.16. Archbishop Chaput announced officially that the next World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia Sept. 22-27, 2015. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

At a Sept. 16 briefing, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, described the world meeting as one of several related events to follow the October 2014 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, which will prepare an agenda for the worldwide synod one year later.

Such events, including a January 2015 meeting in Rome with family and pro-life groups, will enable a debate on the synod’s agenda “at the international, global level,” Archbishop Paglia said. “It is important that this text not remain an abstract text reserved to some specialists.”

“In this way, the debate at the ordinary synod will be enriched,” the archbishop said.

Pope Francis has said both synods will consider, among other topics, the eligibility of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, whose predicament he has said exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today.

“We’re bringing up all the issues that would have appeared in the preparation documents for the synod as part of our reflection,” said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, regarding plans for the world meeting. “I can’t imagine that any of the presenters won’t pay close attention to what’s happening” in Rome.

Archbishop Chaput said as many as 15,000 people are expected to take part in the meeting, whose program will be kept flexible to allow for topics that emerge from the bishops’ discussions at the Vatican this October.

“But we haven’t approached this as a part of the synod,” Archbishop Chaput said. “It’s a celebration of family life, the Catholic church’s commitment to support families.”

Pope Francis is widely expected to attend the Philadelphia event, although Archbishop Chaput noted that an official announcement in that regard might not come until well into 2015. If the pope does attend, he said, a “papal Mass could easily draw more than a million people.”

Among the other family-related events planned for the coming year, Pope Francis will meet Sept. 28 will thousands of grandparents and other elderly people, including a married couple who have fled Islamic State terrorism in northern Iraq.

The pope will give the elderly a large-print edition of the Gospel of Matthew and bless the group, which will also include about 100 priests.

Archbishop Chaput announced the publication of the preparatory teaching document, “Love is Our Mission,” for the world meeting and unveiled a portrait of the Holy Family by a Philadelphia artist. The portrait will hang in the city’s cathedral during the 2015 event.

The extraordinary synod will meet at the Vatican Oct. 5-19, bringing together the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches, Vatican officials and papally appointed delegates, including laypeople. The world Synod of Bishops, which will include more bishops, many elected by their peers, will meet at the Vatican Oct. 4-25, 2015, to continue the discussion on pastoral approaches to the challenges facing families.

 

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Irish cardinal: ‘Peace would not have been delivered’ without Paisley

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Irish Cardinal Sean Brady had paid tribute to a controversial Protestant firebrand-turned-peacemaker who once heckled St. John Paul II as the “antichrist.”

The Rev. Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader, holds up a sign reading "Pope John Paul II Antichrist" as he denounces the pontiff during his 1998 speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rev. Paisley died Sept. 12 at age 88, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement. (CNS photo/Jean-Claude

The Rev. Ian Paisley, Northern Ireland’s former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader, holds up a sign reading “Pope John Paul II Antichrist” as he denounces the pontiff during his 1998 speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Rev. Paisley died Sept. 12 at age 88, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement. (CNS photo/Jean-Claude

The Rev. Ian Paisley, 88, who served as first minister in the cross-community power-sharing government in Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2008, died Sept. 12 and was buried after a private family funeral Sept. 15.

Rev. Paisley initially resisted calls to share power with Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority.

He infamously denounced Catholics as “vermin” and was widely criticized when he claimed that Catholic churches that had been destroyed in sectarian arson attacks had, in fact, burned to the ground because they had been storing explosives for paramilitary use.

Cardinal Sean Brady, who met with the politician in 2006, told Ireland’s RTE radio that, without the Rev. Paisley, “peace would not have been delivered.”

Cardinal Brady emphasized that, over the years, Rev. Paisley had moved from a position where he opposed civil rights for Catholics to one where he was willing to enter a power-sharing government with representatives of the Catholic community, including Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.

“That is the point; he moved,” said Cardinal Brady, recently retired as archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland. “He was an important player in public life in Northern Ireland for 50 years, and without him peace would not have been delivered, that is my conviction.”

As well as being a political leader, Rev. Paisley founded his own denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church, in 1951. He was bitterly opposed to ecumenism and denounced fellow Protestants for entering dialogue with the Catholic Church. Recalling their 2006 meeting, Cardinal Brady said Rev. Paisley “made it quite clear that the meeting was not ecumenical — it was social and political affairs.”

Rev. Paisley led opposition to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to 30 years of sectarian conflict in the region. However, by 2003, his Democratic Unionist Party had become the largest political bloc in Northern Ireland, and he began making contact with the Irish and British governments in a bid to make a deal. This led to a 2006 accord, known as the St. Andrew’s Agreement, in which Rev. Paisley agreed to share power if Sinn Fein would give unequivocal support for policing and the judiciary.

While Rev. Paisley retired in 2008, the power-sharing government has continued uninterrupted under his successor, Peter Robinson.

Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, based in Belfast, where the Northern Ireland legislature is based, praised Rev. Paisley for his “principled stand on marriage, family and sanctity of human life at all stages.”

“While his historic legacy in terms of his interaction with the Catholic community was at times controversial, his contribution to the search for peace and political stability in Northern Ireland was, in the end, crucial,” Bishop Treanor said.

 

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East Jerusalem tour heightens U.S. bishops’ awareness of complexities

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — U.S. bishops visiting the Holy Land said a tour and briefing about the situation in East Jerusalem heightened their awareness of the settlement issue in the divided city.

“The expansion of settlements is quickly driving (the possibility of a two-state solution) off the drawing board,” said Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. “The continuing expansion of the Jewish communities and its implication for a two-state solution has been a concern of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.”

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

U.S. Bishops John O. Barres of Allentown, Pa., and Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind., listen as Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann gives an explanation of land use at an overlook on Mt. Scopus in East Jerusalem Sept. 12. Eighteen bishops are on a nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

On a two-hour tour, Israeli attorney and activist Daniel Seidemann shared his concerns for the increasingly shrinking window of opportunity to push forward the concept of the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The group visited the sites of small Jewish enclaves being built in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which abuts the 1967 border with West Jerusalem.

The bishops also viewed the desert corridor northeast of Jerusalem. The corridor, known as E1, has been designated by Israel for a Jewish settlement that would connect the largest settlement in the West Bank, the 30,000-resident city of Ma’aleh Adumim, with Jerusalem. That would, in effect, cut off that area of the Palestinian West Bank from any connection to Jerusalem, contributing to a further cantonization of the West Bank and destroying the possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state, said Seidemann.

The tour included a visit to the Israeli separation wall that divides the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis, running across the road that, traditionally since Biblical times, has led to Jericho.

In an envisioned peace agreement, most of the 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem would be permitted to remain in exchange for land of equal quality and size elsewhere in the West Bank, noted Seidemann. He said while the Israeli enclaves embedded in East Jerusalem remain small, with at most 2,500 Israeli Jews living there, it is still possible to withdraw them, but that if the settlements continue to expand the situation will become more complicated.

The next two to three years are critical if a peace agreement is to be reached, he told the bishops.

“Seven years ago in order to get to where the border needs to be (to reach an agreement), we would need to relocate 100,000 settlers. Today, we will need to relocate 150,000. If it continues to grow, at some point it will not be feasible for the national leaders to relocate hundreds of thousands of settlers. It will be so Balkanized it won’t be possible,” said Seidemann.

Bishop Pates said the bishops’ visit was intended to support the peace process.

“The importance of Jerusalem (in the negotiations) has been heightened as well as the necessity to maintain ourselves open to all religious communities (here), particularly the Jews, Christians and Muslims,” he said. “This visit enables us to focus on this reality and to coalesce behind the Vatican initiative to insist on international guarantees of this religious expression in Jerusalem.”

Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, said the bishops would need to listen to other narratives before they can come up with some recommendations about what needs to be done on both sides. Nevertheless, he said, Seidemann’s briefing had captured very well “the frustration the people living in East Jerusalem are experiencing, especially with the settlements.”

“It is suddenly clear that if this is not addressed aggressively and immediately, a two-state solution will no longer be viable,” he said.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, noted the importance of learning more about the intricacies of the situation although he has been aware of the churches’ support for the two-state solution.

The possibility of losing the window of opportunity to reach a viable solution is “alarming,” he said, and increases the need for religious leaders to pray for peace and to encourage political leaders to work towards a just solution.

“This story has been a long time in the making. It is not only political but also a religious and human one. Coming here has certainly cemented for us the human lives which are affected by this situation — Muslim, Christian and Jewish,” Bishop Cantu said.

The group of 18 bishops from the United States began their nine-day pilgrimage Sept. 11 and celebrated Mass with Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem following the Sept. 12 tour.

Later in the day they were to meet with Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land, and participate in an interfaith Sabbath eve prayer at a local Jewish synagogue.

More interfaith and ecumenical prayers were scheduled during the visit. The bishops were also to visit Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem and Galilee, as well as meet with Israeli and Palestinian political leaders.

 

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 Church leaders, politicians, laity meet in D.C. on behalf of Christians

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Emphasizing that diversity does not preclude unity, nearly a thousand Christian leaders, politicians and laypeople gathered in Washington to launch a massive effort on behalf of the minority communities of the Middle East.

High-ranking church leaders representing Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, patriarchs of Eastern churches, members of Congress and Christians in the diaspora came together in Washington for the inaugural In Defense of Christians summit. They set off for Capitol Hill Sept. 10 with a message to U.S. lawmakers and policymakers: Christians and other minorities have an inherent right to live in the Middle East, where they have lived for centuries. Read more »

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Pope cites lessons from Mary: Be joyful, help others, never give up

September 8th, 2014 Posted in International News, Uncategorized, Vatican News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When a mother has a birthday, children send their greetings and love, so make sure to do the same thing on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Pope Francis said.

The liturgical feast day Sept. 8 “would be her birthday. And what do you do when your mom has a birthday? You send her greetings and best wishes,” the pope said, after praying the Angelus with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 7.

Pope Francis waves as he leads his Angelus from the window of his office in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 7.  (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he leads his Angelus from the window of his office in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The pope asked people to say “a Hail Mary from the heart” and to not forget to tell her “Happy Birthday.”

Mary has three very important lessons for today’s Christians, the pope said in a written message to Cuban bishops marking Sept. 8 as the feast of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba.

He said Mary teaches people to experience the joy of Christ and share it with others; to never let adversity beat you down; and always help those in need with love and mercy, he said.

The pope said people should imitate how Mary responded to God’s call with her same joy, haste and perseverance, the pope said.

“Every time I read sacred Scripture, in the verses that talk about Our Lady, three verbs catch my attention,” the pope said.

The three kinds of action — be joyful, help without hesitation and persevere, should be “put into practice” by all Catholics, he added.

Whoever discovers Jesus will be “filled with an inner joy so great that nothing and no one can take it away,” he said.

With Christ in their lives, people find the strength and hope “not to be sad and discouraged, thinking problems have no solution.”

For the second action, people should always rise “in haste,” just like Mary, to help others in need, he said.

“Victory is to those who repeatedly rise up, without getting discouraged. If we imitate Mary, we cannot sit with our arms crossed, just complaining or perhaps avoiding any effort so that others do what is our responsibility,” he said.

Making a difference and helping others does not have to be done on a grand scale, he said, but entails doing everyday things “with tenderness and mercy.”

“The third verb is to persevere,” the pope said.

Mary relied on God and his goodness for the strength and courage needed to stay by Christ’s side no matter what and to encourage his disciples to do the same.

“In this world in which long-lasting values are rejected and everything is changing, in which the disposable triumphs, in which it seems people are afraid of life’s commitments, the Virgin encourages us to be men and women who are constant in their good works, who keep their word, who are always faithful,” the pope said.

Cuban bishops visited the Vatican in late August for the installation of their gift, a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, which was placed in the Vatican Gardens.

 

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Irish Vincentians return Jackie Kennedy’s letters to family

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Letters between former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and a Dublin-based priest have been handed over to the Kennedy family.

In a statement issued Sept. 5, the Vincentians said the order wished “to confirm that private letters, written by the late Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy to our deceased confrere, Father Joseph Leonard, have been transferred to the Kennedy family.”

“This has taken place with regard to the respect due to what is correspondence of a private nature,” the statement said before adding that the Vincentians will be making no further comment on the matter.

The letters exchanged by Kennedy and Father Leonard were set to be auctioned in Dublin earlier this year to raise funds for struggling All Hallows College. However, the letters were later withdrawn for sale on the insistence of the Vincentian order amid public controversy about the private nature of the correspondence. The college later announced that it would have to close down due to a lack of funds and had hoped the sale of the letters would plug the gap.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million.

One letter, dated January 1964, just weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, revealed how the tragedy left Kennedy struggling with her Catholic faith.

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters also revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died May 19, 1994, at age 64.

 

 

 

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