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March for Life speakers emphasize that ‘every life is a gift’

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — On a chilly and cloudy morning on the National Mall in Washington, crowds gathered Jan. 22 for the annual March for Life, this year marking the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand.

Tens of thousands gathered first to hear a lineup of speakers, before marching from the Mall up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill.

March for Life participants carry the banner past the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington Jan. 22. Tens of thousands took part in the annual event, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

March for Life participants carry the banner past the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington Jan. 22. Tens of thousands took part in the annual event, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

Early in the day, Pope Francis showed his support of the pro-life gathering by tweeting the theme: “Every Life is a Gift” with the hashtag #marchforlife.

By late morning, the temperature had reached about 40 degrees, warmer than many a previous march, and a music group opened the rally with the songs “To Be Loved” and “You’re Not Alone.”

Several members of Congress were in attendance, including U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, who told Catholic News Service, “I am here to make my colleagues listen.” Huelskamp said life is a core issue in the public debate, and that Kansas was already at the forefront of human rights issues. “They were at the forefront of the slavery issue,” he said, and are now at the forefront of the life issue.

Levi Fox, a volunteer and a graduate of Liberty University, said, “Half of our generation is missing. Sixty million have been killed since Roe v. Wade, which is why I am dedicating my time to the March for Life.”

After the musical opening, Patrick Kelly, the chairman of the March for Life board, told the crowd they were attending “the largest and most important human rights rally in the world,” and noted the march is becoming “bigger and younger every year.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, opened the rally with prayer alongside priests, bishops and patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox, Orthodox American, Antiochean Orthodox and Serbian Orthodox churches, in a show of what the archbishop called “a sign of Christian unity.”

The archbishop called the marchers to not only “be joyful witnesses to the gospel of life,” but also to be loving and welcoming to those in dire circumstances.

Jeanne Monahan-Mancini, director of the March for Life, addressed the marchers, congratulating them for making a pilgrimage before focusing on this year’s theme.

“Every Life Is a Gift” emphasized that every life is a gift, regardless of a person’s difficulty or disability, and also was meant to emphasize that everyone has a call and a mission — and a role to play creating a culture of life.

A large congressional delegation in attendance emphasized the importance of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act before yielding the floor to a passionate and energetic address by Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, who said the defense of life was “the responsibility of every single person in America.” The conscience bill would implement a broad religious exemption and conscience protections for private employers who oppose the federal contraceptive mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who followed Scott, told the crowd, “There have never been more pro-life lawmakers in Congress than we have today.”

In discussing the Knights of Columbus’ ultrasound initiative, which has just donated its 500th ultrasound machine, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “Women have a right to know the truth.”

In what may have been the most inspiring address of the day, Julia Johnson, a senior at Shanley Catholic High School in Fargo, North Dakota, said it was up to the youth of America to “end the scourge of abortion.”

As a member of “the pro-life generation,” she said she was proud to have come alongside “400 pro-life warriors,” referring to the school bringing its entire student body on the 1,300-mile journey to the march.

“Our generation has seen through the smokescreen of lies and secrets,” she added.

The president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, discussed the gift of her son’s life despite a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. Hawkins said, “I have personally witnessed the push in our culture to create perfect babies.” she said.

The remarks echoed those of the other speakers and marchers in declaring that “we are the pro-life generation.”

— By Nate Madden

 

 

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Young people find ‘amazing’ atmosphere, high energy at pro-life rally, Mass

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WASHINGTON — Just as the sun rose Jan. 22, thousands of Catholic teenagers and young adults from across the country poured into the Verizon Center to meet other pro-lifers, pray for the unborn and celebrate the joy of being alive at the annual Youth Rally & Mass for Life.

Many, like Megan Holzmeister, who attends a Catholic high school in Kansas City, Kansas, found that the combination of prayer, song and celebration kept them wide awake in the early morning hours.

Students from St. Anthony School in Washington hold signs during a pro-life youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washington Jan. 22. Thousands of young people gathered at the arena to rally and attend Mass before taking part in the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Students from St. Anthony School in Washington hold signs during a pro-life youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washington Jan. 22. Thousands of young people gathered at the arena to rally and attend Mass before taking part in the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“The atmosphere is amazing,” she said. “With all the young kids, it keeps it fun and upbeat, and it’s a great opportunity to meet people.”

Before the Mass, several youths in brightly colored, coordinated sweatshirts joined the long Dunkin Donuts line before hopping into the equally long line for the sacrament of penance.

Others took pictures in the photo booths, and then tweeted them out along with hashtag #Mass4Life or hashtag #iStand4Life to show an online witness.

Young adult Grace Duffley and her adopted brother, Chris, serenaded the crowd with “Hold Me” by Toby Mac and Jamie Grace, and then Chris, who is autistic and blind, sang and played “Open the Eyes of My Heart” on the piano.

The youth leadership team, consisting of teens from youth groups in parishes around the archdiocese, led the Verizon Center in praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, the main celebrant at the Mass, was joined by hundreds of priests and religious as well as dozens of bishops who traveled with their young people to Washington.

He remarked that between the Verizon Center, the DC Armory, and some 14 churches in the archdiocese, “we’ll have some 30,000 energetic young people representing the next generation. These young people are saying, ‘Let us embrace every mother, let us embrace every child, let us embrace all life.’ That’s a great message.”

In his homily, Father Mario Majano, a parochial vicar at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Takoma Park, Maryland, said he considered a true hero to be someone who spoke up for the truth again and again. He gave an example of a woman who had three crisis pregnancies and chose life every time.

In one instance, her child was conceived in rape, and another child had the possibility of being born deformed because of the cancer treatment she was undergoing at the time. However the child was born healthy and grew up alongside her two siblings.

“So thanks, Mama,” said Father Majano, looking over to his mother in the crowd. Everyone stood and applauded.

Eleventh-grader Abby Durniat from Atlanta said in an interview that she was pro-life because the doctors told her parents to abort her twin sisters, believing they would have mental disabilities. Her parents refused, and her sisters were born without any disabilities.

“I don’t know where I’d be without them,” Abby said, looking over at her sister Ally. Even though her sisters were born healthy, Abby said she believes in the value of a human life no matter what obstacle or disability faces a child.

“I babysit a girl with Down syndrome, and she’s so important to me. Even when children have disabilities, they’re still kids, they’re still going to be a life that’s important,” she said.

After the rally and Mass, the participants headed over to the National Mall for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

Mary Archer and Seth Tavera, students at The Catholic University of America, were there selling T-shirts that featured a pro-life quote from Pope Francis. The proceeds from the sales were going toward the students’ mission trips to Costa Rica, Belize and Jamaica.

Archer and Tavera also were there with around 300 to 400 other Catholic University students to show their support for life. “Life is an inalienable right and it’s a tragedy that abortion is legal,”said Archer. “Plus, who doesn’t love little babies?”

— By Zoey Di Mauro

 

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More than $4.7 million pledged to Annual Catholic Appeal  

January 22nd, 2015 Posted in Featured, Our Diocese Tags:

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Special to The Dialog   Pledges more than $380,000 over last year’s target, parishioners’ generosity came amid major campaign   Catholics opened their hearts and pledged more than $4.7 million to the 2014 Annual Catholic Appeal to support the work of diocesan ministries and offices in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, surpassing last year’s target by almost $382,000. The appeal’s success came even though its same pool of potential donors also gave more than $31 million to Sustaining Hope for the Future, a campaign aimed at helping the Diocese of Wilmington to get back on its feet following the 2011 bankruptcy settlement that resolved 150 claims of survivors of sexual abuse by priests. Read more »

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Archbishop Kurtz asks pro-life marchers to be ‘holy, kind and brave’

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Catholic News Service WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference Jan. 22 exhorted the thousands of Catholics at the closing Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life to be “ambassadors for life.” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, said to the worshippers, “Think of what an ambassador is … someone who represents to others a great case.” I

A young woman prays the rosary during the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

A young woman prays the rosary during the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

In this instance, the archbishop said, the case is the good news of Jesus Christ. “Today, you and I are being chosen as ambassadors for life, to stand up for life on the 42nd anniversary of the tragic decision of Roe v. Wade,” which permitted legalized abortion virtually on demand nationwide, Archbishop Kurtz said.

The Mass took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The prayer vigil started at mid-afternoon Jan. 21 with confessions, followed by the opening Mass which attracted more than 11,000 people. After the Mass, activities continued overnight which included a rosary, night prayer, more opportunities for confession and a series of Holy Hours, followed by adoration with morning prayer and benediction before concluding with the morning Mass celebrated by Archbishop Kurtz.

In the Old Testament reading for the morning Mass, Samuel became a noted ambassador when God spoke to the young man three times one night while in the temple, where he was being raised. Once his mentor, Eli, figured out the source of the voice, he advised Samuel to respond if he heard the voice again. When he did, Samuel replied, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

“Before we are sent out, Jesus always asks us to come and follow him,” Archbishop Kurtz said. In many situations, the ambassador does not know what he or she will confront, he added. But what Jesus wants of his ambassadors is for them to be “holy and kind and brave.”

When Pope Francis was in the Philippines, “he called the encounter with Christ key,” Archbishop Kurtz said. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, according to the archbishop, was so moved with the pope’s remarks that he said, “We want to accompany you, Holy Father. We don’t all want to go to Rome with you. … We want to go to the Philippines” and accompany the people “who have no voice.”

Archbishop Kurtz spoke of his recent visit to Haiti to observe the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the principally Catholic, and extremely poor, nation. Part of that visit included the rededication of St. Francis Hospital, which had been destroyed in the quake.

He recalled that when workers came upon the rubble, “the image they couldn’t get out of their mind was the overturned incubators.”

The tragedy claimed 300,000 lives, including those of children, but to see the incubator-dependent babies fatally trapped in the incubators must have been heartbreaking to see, according to the archbishop. In the same way, “something touches our hearts when a child in the womb dies,” he said.

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Cardinal O’Malley reveals an ‘Oprah moment’ and abortion myths at Prayer Vigil for Life

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Evoking a phrase long associated with the civil rights movement, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told an overflow crowd in Washington that “we shall overcome” in the fight against abortion.

Quoting Pope Francis in his homily Jan. 21 during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Cardinal O’Malley said, “The church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for a better world.”

He added, “In our country, people have come together in the fight to overcome racism” and other social ills. “The quest for human rights and solidarity brought together people of faith to ‘repair the world,’ to use the Jewish expression.”

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley gives the homily during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley gives the homily during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Now, Cardinal O’Malley said, the fight is for the right to life, “and we shall overcome,” he said to applause from a crowd of more than 11,000 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Without saying so directly, Cardinal O’Malley’s use of the phrase as the linchpin for his homily might have come from a phone call from Oprah Winfrey.

The cardinal and some priests were eating dinner at a diner near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston when the call came. “I presumed it was a telemarketer,” Cardinal O’Malley said, but Winfrey called to thank him for some comments he had made in an earlier blog posting about the movie “Selma,” of which she was one of the producers and had a featured role.

The comment focused on “how every person was made in the image and likeness of God,” Cardinal O’Malley said, a point often made in the pro-life movement.

The cardinal, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, used his sermon to take apart some “American mythology” about abortion. The three biggest myths, he said, are that abortion is a woman’s issue, that most Americans “are pro-choice, pro-abortion,” and that “young people are overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-abortion position.”

But polling over the past 20 years, according to Cardinal O’Malley, shows “women have consistently been more pro-life than men.” By supporting abortion, he said, “men rationalize their irresponsibility” and push women to abort their unborn child, “threatening to abandon her if she ‘chooses’ to gives birth. … An abortion is a bargain compared to monthly child-support payments.”

On the second myth, Cardinal O’Malley quoted outgoing NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keegan said “there is a large intensity gap” among supporters of legal abortion and their foes.

And young people, the cardinal added to applause, “are the most pro-life segment of the American people.” Five years ago, the Gallup organization “declared pro-life is the new normal,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Congratulations, young people — you’re normal.”

“We shall overcome indifference only by love,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We must press on with the full assurance that we shall overcome.”

Worshippers did not seem bothered by the mixture of light rain and fluffy snowflakes that descended on Washington the afternoon of the Mass. Nor did they seem thrown by the Mass starting a half-hour earlier than in past years. The shrine was filled to the brim; even an hour before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. starting time.

More than 1,000 bishops, priests, seminarians, novices and servers took part in the 42-minute entrance procession. And they all had a chair on which to sit in the shrine’s massive sanctuary — which itself has the interior space of a medium-sized suburban church. There also was sufficient seating space in the sanctuary for several dozen nuns and select laypeople.

After the Mass, confession was offered from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. in Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel in the lower level of the national shrine.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik led those who stayed on in the National Rosary for Life in the Crypt Church. Bishop Kurt R. Burnette of the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersey, led a night prayer in the church with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, as homilist.

 

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Poverty stems from unjust economic system, not big families, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Families who have lots of children do not cause poverty, Pope Francis said.

The main culprit is “an economic system that has removed the human person from its focus and has placed the god of money” as its priority instead, he said Jan. 21.

A woman holding her daughter takes a selfie with Pope Francis during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan.21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

A woman holding her daughter takes a selfie with Pope Francis during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan.21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

The pope dedicated his general audience talk to a review of some of the highlights from his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines Jan. 13-19.

Speaking to some 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope recalled his second apostolic journey to Asia after visiting South Korea last August.

He said he wanted to encourage Catholics in their faith and missionary zeal as well as promote interreligious dialogue, peace, unity and social development by highlighting the important role families and young people should play.

Meetings with families and young people in Manila were a major high point on his trip, he said, because they showed how “healthy families are essential to the life of society.”

“It gives consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift of God. They know that every child is a blessing,” he said.

He criticized as “simplistic” claims that high birth rates caused poverty.

Rather, an economic system that creates “a culture of disposal,” where men, women and children are excluded “is the main reason for poverty, not large families,” he said to applause.

He reiterated the importance of showing “the beauty of the family in God’s plan” and defending it from the many threats and new forms of “ideological colonization that attack its identity and mission.”

On the flight back from Manila to Rome, the pope told journalists Jan. 19 that “for the people who are the poorest, a child is a treasure” and “God knows how to help them.”

But he also underlined that being a good Catholic did not mean married couples “had to be like rabbits,” that is, have children “one after the other” without any sense of responsibility.

Through dialogue with each other, their pastors and church groups, each couple can seek to discern its own “parental responsibility” and recognize there are “licit” means, through natural family planning, to be “prudent” and generous in welcoming life, he said on the papal plane.

In his audience talk Jan. 21, Pope Francis said another important message he highlighted on his trip to Asia was that “taking care of the poor is an essential element of our Christian life and witness.”

This entails “refusing every form of corruption because corruption steals from the poor and demands a culture of honesty,” he said to applause.

The main motivation for his trip to the Philippines was to meet with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban and “pay homage to the local people’s faith and ability to recover,” he said.

He again prayed for an “innocent victim” of local storms, the 27-year-old Catholic Relief Services worker, Kristel Padasas of Manila. She had worked with a recovery project for victims of Typhoon Haiyan and died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when high winds blew over scaffolding.

Meanwhile, he said the importance of reconciliation was the focus of his trip to Sri Lanka, which is seeking to rebuild unity after its 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009.

The nation’s different religions have “a significant role” to play in fostering a spirit of cooperation and helping bring healing with “the balm of forgiveness,” the pope said.

Dialogue, respecting human dignity and involving everyone in seeking solutions and promoting the common good are critical, he said he told government officials.

But the high point of that trip, he said, was canonizing “the great missionary,” St. Joseph Vaz.

The pope said he hoped the new saint’s “holiness and love for the other would continue to inspire the church in Sri Lanka, in its apostolate of charity and education.”

He said St. Vaz is a model for all Christians who are “called today to propose the saving truth of the Gospel in a multireligious context, with respect for others, with perseverance and humility.”

Before the general audience, in the lobby of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence, Pope Francis received two lambs who had been blessed earlier in the day in Rome’s Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls, where they were placed on the altar over the martyr’s tomb.

Every year on the feast of St. Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs raised by Trappist monks on the outskirts of Rome.

The wool of the lambs blessed on the feast day is woven by a community of nuns and becomes the fabric for the “pallium,” a circular stole, which the pope gives each June to new archbishops from around the world.

 

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Pope Francis discusses U.S. visit, urges Catholics to practice responsible parenthood

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Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, but probably no other stops.

Pope Francis made his remarks Jan. 19, in an hourlong news conference with reporters accompanying him back to Rome from a weeklong trip to Asia.

Four days after announcing he would canonize Blessed Junipero in the U.S. in September, the pope said he wished he could do so in California, the 18th-century Franciscan’s mission field, but would not have time to travel t

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

here.

The pope said he planned instead to perform the canonization ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, saying Washington would be a fitting location because a statue of Blessed Junipero stands in the U.S. Capitol.

The pope also confirmed he would visit the United Nations in New York. He had already announced his participation in the late-September World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Asked about widespread speculation that he would visit the U.S.-Mexico border on the same trip, Pope Francis said “entering the United States by crossing the border from Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.” But he said making such a visit would raise expectations that he would visit Mexico’s shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and he joked that “war could break out” if he failed to do so.

“There will be time to go to Mexico later on,” he said.

Catholic News Agency reported on a proposed schedule that U.S. and U.N. church leaders have submitted to the Vatican. That schedule, which has not yet been approved, would have the pope arriving in Washington the evening of Sept. 22; visiting the White House and celebrating Mass at the shrine Sept. 23; addressing a joint sessions of Congress Sept. 24 before traveling to New York City to address U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25.

As previously announced, he would spend Sept. 26 and 27 in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

However, sources familiar with the trip planning have noted that plans submitted to the Vatican are not always approved, and Pope Francis’ comments about the canonization of Blessed Junipero indicated not all plans are finalized.

His Jan. 15 announcement on the plane from Sri Lanka to the Philippines surprised even the people who have been promoting the sainthood cause of Blessed Junipero. The CNA interview with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, said the Mass at the shrine “would be primarily for bishops, consecrated and religious men and women, seminarians and representatives from humanitarian and Catholic charitable organizations,” while Pope Francis said that is when he would canonize Blessed Junipero.

Pope Francis would be the first pope to address a joint session of Congress.

Helen Osman, secretary for communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it was “exciting that the Holy Father has confirmed that he is visiting Washington, New York and Philadelphia. Plans are already under way to enable as many people as possible to participate, including through mass media. We are anticipating that the Vatican will be providing more details toward the end of February and are hoping that a final schedule can be announced soon afterward.”

During his inflight press conference, Pope Francis also stressed that, despite church doctrine against contraception, Catholics fail to practice “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children.

He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to indoctrination of children by the Nazis and fascists.

Pope Francis reaffirmed his rejection of population-control programs as an example of ideological colonization and his praise of Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception.

But “this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another,” the pope said, citing the case of a woman who became pregnant an eighth time after giving birth to seven children via cesarean section.

“Does she want to leave seven orphans?” he said. “This is tempting God.”

“Some people think, excuse me for saying this, that to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits,” Pope Francis said, yet church teaching provides for “many licit ways” to limit reproduction.

Elaborating on comments he made in Manila Jan. 16 about “ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family,” the pope offered a 20-year-old example of an unnamed government official, apparently in his native Argentina, who was offered a loan to build schools for poor children on the condition she assign students a textbook on “gender theory.”

Catholic leaders often use the term “gender theory” to refer to ideas that question or deny the God-given nature of sex differences and the complementarity of man and woman as the basis of the family.

Pope Francis said African bishops attending the October 2014 Synod on the Family had complained of similar restrictions on funding for projects in their countries,

“Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they use a people’s need as an opportunity to come in and impose their will on children. But this is nothing new. The dictatorships of the last century did the same thing; they came in with their doctrine. Think of the Balilla. Think of the Hitler Youth,” the pope said.

The Balilla was a youth organization instituted by Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

One reporter asked the pope to explain his controversial Jan. 15 statement, prompted by the recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, that freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence.

“In theory, we can say what the Gospel says, that we should turn the other cheek. In theory, we can say that we have freedom of expression,” he said. “But in practice, let’s stop a bit, because we are human and we risk provoking others. For this reason, freedom must be accompanied by prudence. That’s what I wanted to say.”

Asked about the limited response to his calls on Muslim religious, political and intellectual leaders to condemn violence in the name of religion, Pope Francis said “some of them have done something, but we need to allow a little time, because the situation is not easy for them. I have hope, because there are so many good people among them, so many good people, so many good leaders, and I am sure they will do it.”

Pope Francis explained his refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama in December, when the exiled Tibetan leader was in Rome for a conference of Nobel Peace Prize winners. He said Vatican protocol prevents the pope from “receiving heads of state and people at that level when they are taking part in an international meeting.”

Pope Francis denied his decision was motivated by fear of the Chinese government, which considers the Dalai Lama an outlaw, and which has often arrested Chinese Catholics who oppose government control of the church. The Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since shortly after the country’s 1949 communist revolution, but the pope said both sides treated each other respectfully, and he reiterated his openness to meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing or Rome.

While addressing the weightiest topics, the pope once again displayed his disarmingly frank and informal way of speaking. During extended remarks on the evil of government corruption, he recalled being solicited for a bribe by Argentine officials.

“At that moment, I thought about what I would do: either I insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn’t shine or I play the fool,” Pope Francis said. “I played the fool.”

 

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Pope, at Mass with millions, tells Filipinos to protect the family

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Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family “against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.”

The pope’s homily at the Jan. 18 Mass also reprised several other themes he had sounded during the four-day visit, including environmental problems, poverty and corruption.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass in Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass in Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Despite continuous rain, the congregation in Rizal Park began to assemble the night before the afternoon celebration. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila canceled other Masses throughout the archdiocese to enhance turnout. The crowd was so dense in spots that people passed hosts to fellow worshippers unable to reach priests distributing Communion.

The government estimated total crowd size at 6 million-7 million people. According to the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, that would be the largest number of people ever to gather to see a pope. A Mass with St. John Paul II in the same place 20 years earlier is believed to have drawn 4 million-5 million people, often described as the largest live crowd in history.

The Mass was celebrated on Santo Nino Day, or the feast of the Holy Child Jesus, one of the most popular feast days in the Philippines. Many of those who walked great distances down closed roads to get to Rizal Park held statues of Santo Nino.

For his final scheduled public talk in the country, Pope Francis stuck to his prepared English text and did not improvise in Spanish, as he had done at several emotional points during the visit. Yet his voice rose with emphasis during the passage about protecting the family.

Those words echoed his warning, during a Jan. 16 meeting with Filipino families, against “ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.”

In his homily, Pope Francis said Christians “need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.”

The pope praised the Philippines, whose population is more than 80 percent Catholic, as the “foremost Catholic country in Asia,” and said its people, millions of whom work abroad, are “called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.”

Yet he warned the developing nation, one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, against temptations of materialism, saying the devil “hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being modern, like everyone else. He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink.”

Pope Francis, who had urged a group of young people earlier in the day to address the challenge of climate change through dedication to the environment, told Mass-goers human sinfulness had “disfigured (the) natural beauty” of creation.

Other consequences of sin, the pope said, were “social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption,” problems he had emphasized in his Jan. 16 speech at Manila’s presidential palace.

 

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Pope meets with father, uncle of CRS worker killed in Philippines

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Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — After praying publicly at a youth gathering for the repose of the soul of a Catholic Relief Services worker killed the previous day, Pope Francis met Jan. 18 with her father and her maternal uncle.

Kristel Padasas, 27, of Manila, who worked with a recovery project for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, died after the papal Mass in Tacloban when high winds blew over scaffolding. She had traveled from Samar Island, where her project is based, to volunteer at the Mass.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila told reporters that he translated at the meeting.

Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, console the father of Kristel Padasas, 27,  Jan. 18 in Manila. Padasas, a Catholic Relief Services employee, died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when strong winds caused scaffolding in an area near the altar to fall. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, console the father of Kristel Padasas, 27, Jan. 18 in Manila. Padasas, a Catholic Relief Services employee, died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when strong winds caused scaffolding in an area near the altar to fall. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

“The Holy Father was searching for words,” the cardinal said. “How do you console with words a father who just lost his only child? The Holy Father did not apologize for his lack of words, but he was there” and let his presence speak.

“I think what struck the Holy Father was the statement of the father of Kristel. At first he said he felt devastated and he even asked God, you know, ‘I have only one child, why is she taken away from me?’” the cardinal said.

“But then it surprised the Holy Father when this grieving father said, ‘I have accepted this. I have resigned myself to the fact that my daughter’s no longer with me. I rejoice that she died serving other people, especially serving this visit of the Holy Father. So it’s a meaningful death,’” the cardinal quoted the father as saying

The young woman’s father explained that he had decided to stay home and watch the papal visit on television because he was certain the expected crowds meant he would not be able to get anywhere near Pope Francis.

“‘Then,’ he said, ‘my daughter died. She arranged this meeting with the Holy Father.’ And when I translated that for the Holy Father, the Holy Father just shook his head and said, ‘What faith. What faith,’” the cardinal said.

“I think the Holy Father was surprised, in a pleasant way, that here he was trying to show compassion and mercy, but this grieving man witnessed to his faith before the Holy Father.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that for the meeting, the young woman’s father brought two photographs that were kept on the table as they spoke: One was a recent photo and another was of her as a little girl with her mother and father.

During the meeting, Father Lombardi said, there was an attempt to reach the young woman’s mother by telephone in Hong Kong.

“The pope had the idea, as he very often does, to call,” but it was unsuccessful.

CRS staffers were stunned and mourned Padasas’ death, offering prayers for her family.

“Her colleagues remember her as someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties,” said a Jan. 17 statement from CRS, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency. “She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families.”

“Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS,” the statement added. “She traveled a great distance to volunteer at today’s papal Mass and to remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

 

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Tears often are only correct response to suffering, pope tells youths

By

Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — The realities of life described by young people, especially the tearful question of a 12-year-old girl about why God allows suffering, led Pope Francis to set aside the first text he had prepared for a meeting Jan. 18 with the young people of the Philippines.

“Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears,” the pope said Jan. 19 after listening to Glyzelle Palomar, who used to live on the streets but now has a home thanks to the foundation for street children Pope Francis visited in Manila Jan. 16.

Pope Francis embraces Glyzelle Palomar, 12, after the former street child spoke during a meeting with young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. Also pictured is Jun Chura, 14, who also spoke. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis embraces Glyzelle Palomar, 12, after the former street child spoke during a meeting with young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. Also pictured is Jun Chura, 14, who also spoke. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Palomar spoke after Jun Chura, a 14-year-old rescued from the streets by the same foundation, described life on the streets as a struggle to find enough to eat, to fight the temptation of drug use and glue sniffing, and to avoid adults looking for the young to exploit and abuse.

Covering her face with her hand as she wept in front of the microphone, Palomar asked the pope, “Why did God let this happen to us?”

As some 30,000 young people looked on at the University of Santo Tomas, the pope kissed the top of Palomar’s head and pulled her close for a big hug, then embraced her and Chura together.

He also listened to the testimony of two other young men and their questions: How do young people discover God’s will for them? What is love? How can young people become agents of mercy and compassion?

The pope’s gathering with the youths was emotional from the beginning. Opening the encounter, the pope spoke about 27-year-old Kristel Padasas, an employee of the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, who died after being struck by a speaker stand knocked down by the wind Jan. 17 after the pope’s Mass in Tacloban.

She was “young, like yourselves,” the pope told the youths, asking them to join him in praying for her and for her parents. “She was the only daughter. Her mother is coming from Hong Kong (and) her father has come to Manila to wait,” he told them.

Pope Francis had received the texts of the young people’s testimonies and questions in advance and had begun rewriting his speech the night before to ensure he responded directly to what they planned to say, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. There was not time to have the new text translated, so Pope Francis, who did not read from the text, asked Msgr. Mark Miles from the Vatican Secretariat of State to translate from his Spanish. After more than half an hour, he made a passing attempt to return to the original text, but only to emphasize the challenges the youth face: the challenge of personal integrity, of helping the poor and of protecting the environment.

One of the first things he commented on talking to the youths was the fact that Palomar was the only female on the program.

“Sometimes we’re too ‘machista’ and don’t allow room for the woman,” he said. “But the woman is able to see things with a different eye than men. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.”

“Pay attention,” the pope told the young people. Palomar was “the only one who posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn’t able to express it in words but tears.”

“When the next pope comes to Manila,” he told them, include “more women” on the program.

Speaking directly to Palomar, he told her, “You have expressed yourself so bravely.”

While it is impossible to explain why God would allow children to suffer, he told the young people, “only when we, too, can cry” can one approach a response.

“I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, ‘Have I learned to weep and cry when I see a child cast aside, when I see someone with a drug problem, when I see someone who has suffered abuse?’” the pope told them.

Being moved to tears out of compassion and in the face of the mystery of suffering is holy, he said. It is not the same thing as crying to manipulate or get something from someone.

“Jesus in the Gospel cried, he cried for his dead friend,” Lazarus, “he cried in his heart for the family that had lost its child, he cried in his heart when he saw the old widow having to bury her son, he was moved to tears of compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor,” Pope Francis said.

“If you don’t learn how to cry you cannot be good Christians,” he told them.

In the face of suffering like Palomar’s and Chura’s, he said, “our response must either be silence or the word that is born of our tears.”

“Be courageous, do not be afraid to cry,” the pope said.

Responding to the questions of Leandro Santos II, a law student, and Rikki Macolor, a recent graduate who, with his friends, designed a solar-powered night light for typhoon victims, Pope Francis focused on love, compassion and the challenge of not just helping the poor, but allowing oneself to learn from and be evangelized by them.

“What is the most important subject that you have to learn in university, what is the most important subject you learn in life?” the pope asked. “To learn to love. This is the challenge that life offers you.”

“True love is to love and allow yourself to be loved,” he said. “It is harder to let yourself be loved than to love.”

Even when it comes to the life of faith, he said, it seems easier to love God than to really allow oneself to be loved by him. But when one succeeds, he continued, God responds with surprises.

“Don’t be like a computer, thinking that we know everything,” the pope said.

Pope Francis thanked Macolor and his friends for helping the poor victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, but he asked them, “Do you allow yourselves to receive?” Putting his finger to his lips, the pope said he didn’t want them to respond immediately, but to ponder the other, essential Christian part of being with the poor, which is being willing to learn from them and to accept their gifts.

“The Sadducees and doctors of the law in the time of Jesus gave much to the people, they gave them the law and taught them, but they never allowed the people to give them something,” he said.

“Become a beggar,” the pope said. “Learn how to beg,” to receive with humility, “to be evangelized by the poor. The persons we help, the poor, the sick have so much to give us.”

Contributing to this story was Francis X. Rocca in Manila.

 

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