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Italians arrest suspected terrorists; Vatican says no current threat

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Italian police arrested at least nine people in what officials described as a terrorist cell that had planned, in 2010, to strike at the Vatican with a suicide bomber.

St. Peter's Square. (CNS file)

St. Peter’s Square. (CNS file)

A few hours after the police in Cagliari announced the arrests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the planned attack on the Vatican was “a hypothesis going back to 2010, one which did not take place.”

The threat did not appear to be ongoing, he said, therefore it was not “a reason for particular concern.”

DIGOS, the Italian police division that investigates terrorism and organized crime, arrested eight Pakistanis and an Afghani in seven Italian provinces April 24. They were still looking for three more suspects.

Mauro Mura, chief prosecutor in Cagliari, told reporters that DIGOS agents had arrested the spiritual leader of the terrorist cell, which was believed to have ties to al-Qaida.

The Italian investigation dates to 2005 and included telephone wiretaps of conversations that led to the theory of a plan in 2010 to strike the Vatican using a suicide bomber from Pakistan. The man apparently is no longer in Italy.

 

Pope Francis: Church is made of martyrs; world leaders must respond to killings

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — With so many women and men being killed because of their faith in Christ, the church today is a church of martyrs, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

And, in a message to the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, he also urged the world’s leaders to hear the cry of all the Christians who are victims of violence, cruelty and killings.

Islamic State militants lead what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Libya in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website April 19. With so many women and men being killed because of their faith in Christ, the church today is a church of martyrs, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. (CNS photo/Social Media Website via Reuters TV) S

Islamic State militants lead what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Libya in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website April 19. With so many women and men being killed because of their faith in Christ, the church today is a church of martyrs, Pope Francis said in a morning homily. (CNS photo/Social Media Website via Reuters TV) S

“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil. All the more this cry must be heard by those who have the destiny of peoples in their hands,” the pope told Patriarch Mathias of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in a message sent April 20.

Pope Francis sent his condolences to the patriarch for the execution of more than 20 Ethiopian Christians at the hands of Islamic State militants in Libya. A video of the killings was released April 19.

“With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya,” the pope wrote.

He assured the patriarch of his “closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia. It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant. Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ.”

At a time when Christians worldwide were still celebrating the joy of Easter, he said, “we know that the life we live in God’s merciful love is stronger than the pain all Christians feel, a pain shared by men and women of good will in all religious traditions.”

Pope Francis highlighted the fate of the martyred Christians April 21 at his early morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta as the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (7:51-8:1) described the stoning and killing of St. Stephen, the church’s first martyr.

“How many Stephens there are in the world these days. We think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya; we think of that young boy burned alive by his fellow citizens because he was Christian; we think about those migrants who were thrown into the high seas by others, and many others whom we don’t know about, who suffer in prisons because they are Christians,” he said.

“Today the church is a church of martyrs: They suffer, they give their life and we receive God’s blessings for their witness,” the pope said, according to Vatican Radio.

Those who judged and persecuted St. Stephen could not bear to hear his condemnation of their sins and their opposition to the Holy Spirit, he said.

That’s because “the word of God always displeases certain hearts. The word of God irritates when your heart is hardened, when you have a pagan heart because the word of God asks you to go further, searching and feeding you with that bread Jesus spoke of” that comes from God, he said.

Those who persecuted St. Stephen and the prophets believed that they were acting on God’s behalf, “to give glory to God, they believed that (by doing) this they were faithful to God’s doctrine,” the pope said.

However, he said, their hearts were corrupt and hardened to the work of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, there are also “hidden martyrs, those men and women who are faithful to the power of the Holy Spirit, to the voice of the Spirit, who make inroads, who look for new ways to help brothers and sisters and to love God better,” he said. For that reason “they come under suspicion, are slandered, persecuted by many ‘modern Sanhedrins’ who believe they own the truth,” he said.

“Let us unite ourselves with so many brothers and sisters who suffer the martyrdom of persecution, slander and murder in order to be faithful to the only bread that satiates, Jesus,” he said.

 

 

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Parents of slain child oppose death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber

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BOSTON — The parents of Martin Richard, the youngest victim killed in the Boston Marathon bombings two years ago, are asking that the death penalty be taken “off the table” for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The family of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard walk along Boylston Street April 15 with a clergyman and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, left, following a ceremony at the site of the second bomb blast on the second anniversary of the bombings. Martin's father, Bill, smiles as he walks behind his daughter, Jane, second from left, son Henry and wife Denise, right. Young Martin was killed in the attack, just a few days shy of his ninth birthday. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

The family of Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard walk along Boylston Street April 15 with a clergyman and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, left, following a ceremony at the site of the second bomb blast on the second anniversary of the bombings. Martin’s father, Bill, smiles as he walks behind his daughter, Jane, second from left, son Henry and wife Denise, right. Young Martin was killed in the attack, just a few days shy of his ninth birthday. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

On April 8, Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to the attack that killed three people and severely injured 260 others at the finish line of the 2013 marathon.

The penalty phase of the trial began April 21 at the U.S. District Court in Boston and was expected to last about four weeks. Jurors will decide between sentencing Tsarnaev to death or to life without parole.

In a letter published in the Boston Globe April 17 titled “To end the anguish, drop the death penalty,” Bill and Denise Richard asked that the Department of Justice bring the case to a close.

“We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal,” they wrote.

“We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it. The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul,” they wrote.

Their son Martin died in the attack just shy of his ninth birthday.

“We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.”

The Richards acknowledged their decision is a “deeply personal issue” and that they can only speak for themselves but they state their belief that “now is the time to turn the page, end the anguish, and look toward a better future — for us, for Boston, and for the country.”

As Tsarnaev’s trial was concluding, the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts released a statement reiterating the church’s teaching on the death penalty: The Catholic Church opposes capital punishment except “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human live,” but says such circumstances are very rare if nonexistent.

The Richards belong to St. Ann Parish in Dorchester.

During the bomb explosion at the 2013 marathon, Bill Richard, Martin’s father, received shrapnel wounds and burns and suffered hearing loss; Martin’s mother, Denise, suffered a head injury and lost vision in an eye. Martin’s sister, Jane, lost a leg; his older brother, Henry, was unharmed.

At Tsarnaev’s trial, the prosecution presented evidence that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted the bombs that exploded near the finish line at the marathon, killing not only young Martin but also 29-year-old Medford native Krystle Campbell, and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese national studying at Boston University. Later, the pair killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier as they attempted to make an escape from the Boston area.

Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys argued that 26-year-old Tamerlan, who died following a gun fight with police after Collier was slain, was the mastermind of the bombings and his younger brother, who was 19 at the time, took part only out of a sense of loyalty to his brother.

According to an AP story, his attorneys were expected to use the same line of defense during the penalty phase, while prosecutors pushed for the death penalty, arguing, as they did at trial, that Tsarnaev was an equal partner in the bombings.

On April 20, this year’s Boston Marathon took place with an estimated 30,000 participants, running under watchful security along the route.

Four-time winner Bill Rodgers told AP before this year’s race that the 2013 bombings are now part of the run’s history but after the tragedy, he said, “the public got to see what the Boston Marathon really stands for, and how the Boston area came together.”

Everyone expected this year’s event to be “a wonderful celebration, just like it has always been,” he added.

 

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Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, who was convicted in 2012 on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse.

The Vatican announced the bishop’s resignation April 21, specifying it was under the terms of the Code of Canon Law, which says, “A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who was convicted in 2012 on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Bishop Finn is pictured in a 2014 photo at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who was convicted in 2012 on one misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse. Bishop Finn is pictured in a 2014 photo at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Vatican offered no further comment.

The pope’s acceptance of Bishop Finn’s resignation comes after members of the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection announced that one of their priorities was to ensure measures were in place to promote the accountability of bishops in protecting children and upholding the Vatican-approved norms for dealing with accusations of child abuse made against church workers.

In an interview published April 20, Marie Collins, a member of the commission and a survivor of abuse, told the news site Crux, “I cannot understand how Bishop Finn is still in position, when anyone else with a conviction that he has could not run a Sunday school in a parish. He wouldn’t pass a background check.”

Bishop Finn is the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to face criminal charges related to the priest sex abuse scandal that erupted within the U.S. church in 2002.

In September the Vatican had asked Canadian Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, to make an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

On Sept. 6, 2012, Bishop Finn was convicted of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse and acquitted on another count in a brief bench trial.

Diocesan authorities’ failure to immediately report a computer technician’s discovery of child pornography on a computer used by Father Shawn Ratigan, then pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Butler, Missouri, led to Bishop Finn being charged with misdemeanors for failing to report suspected child abuse to state authorities. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph faced similar charges.

In August 2012, the former pastor pleaded guilty to five counts of producing or attempting to produce child pornography. He received 10 years for each count. In September 2013 he started his 50-year sentence in federal prison.

After the priest entered his guilty plea, the diocese filed a petition with the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that he be laicized.

The child pornography was first discovered in December 2010. Authorities were not notified until six months later, when a search of the priest’s family home turned up images of child pornography.

Judge John M. Torrence of Jackson County Circuit in Missouri issued the verdict and sentenced the bishop to two years’ probation. The charges carried a possible maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Torrence dismissed the charges against the diocese after sentencing the bishop.

Several of the steps taken by the diocese to address abuse, including mandatory training of all staff and all clergy and putting in place reporting requirements, were among conditions Torrence set for Bishop Finn’s probation.

Bishop Finn, 62, is a native of St. Louis. Ordained to the priesthood in 1979, he was named coadjutor bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 2004 and became bishop in 2005.

Jack Smith, diocesan communications director, said in a statement that Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has been named diocesan administrator until a successor to Bishop Finn is appointed.

 

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Abessinios create $1 million matching-gift fund for Catholic Charities

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Donations to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington can be worth twice as much until July 15.

Catholic Charities announced April 20 that the Abessinio Family Foundation will match up to $1 million in contributions to the St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities during the next three months.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio have pledged $1 million matching gift fund for do nationals to Catholic Charities until July 15.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio have pledged $1 million matching gift fund for do nationals to Catholic Charities until July 15.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio, who received Catholic Charities’ Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award April 15, said they pledged the dollar-for-dollar matching gift in gratitude for the award and in honor of Charities’ 185th anniversary.

“We are thrilled to benefit from the generosity of the Abessinio Family Foundation, and especially Rocco and Mary Abessinio,” said Richelle Vible, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Their desire to share their resources with the most vulnerable in our communities is truly inspiring.

“The St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities will match every donation made through July 15. Help Catholic Charities earn $1 million in matching funds,” Vible said.

Rocco Abessinio credited his devotion to St. Rocco as the inspiration for the couple’s creation of the fund. Born of nobility in the 14th century, St. Rocco followed the example of St. Francis of Assisi and distributed all his worldly goods among the poor.

The Abessinios told Catholic Charities they hope the matching-gift fund will inspire others to share their resources with the most vulnerable.

To make a gift to Catholic Charities online using a credit card, click here, or visit www.cdow.org/charities.html.

On the secure donation form, donors can click “Yes” to the question, “Do you want your gift to be doubled by the St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities to qualify your donation for the matching gift?”

Donors can also send a check to Catholic Charities at 2601 W. Fourth St., Wilmington, DE 19805. Please note St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities on the check memo line.

Donations to support Catholic Charities’ Basic Needs, Bayard House or Casa San Francisco programs may qualify organizations and individuals who pay Delaware state income taxes for tax credits. In exchange for a qualified contribution, the Neighborhood Assistance Act program provides state tax credits equal to 50 percent of the investment. For individuals, a qualified donation is $2,500; for businesses, the donation is $10,000.

Please call Catholic Charities at (302) 655-9624 to learn more about this option.

Each year, Catholic Charities helps more than 53,000 individuals stay in their homes with basic needs supports like rent and utility assistance, feeds 5,300 families, temporarily shelters 150 individuals, and counsels 1,000 individuals and families who need mental health services.

The agency offers a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for children, assist the disadvantaged, and build human relationships throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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Saint Edmond’s Academy announces next headmaster

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WILMINGTON — Brian J. Ray will succeed Brother Michael A. Smith, C.S.C., as headmaster of Saint Edmond’s Academy here effective July 1, the school announced April 20.

Ray, 44, has been the chief business officer of Washington Jesuit Academy in Washington, D.C., for the last nine years.

Brian J. Ray has been named headmaster of St. Edomnd's Academy in Wilmington. (Courtesy St. Edmond's Academy)

Brian J. Ray has been named headmaster of Saint Edomnd’s Academy in Wilmington. (Courtesy St. Edmond’s Academy)

Prior to that he was at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Md., where he was dean of residential programs and director of alumni relations.

“The Saint Edmond’s Academy Board of Directors, with support from the corporate members, believe that Brian’s fund-raising, community outreach, and recruiting experience will be invaluable in helping the academy enhance its recognition in the community, along with increasing enrollment and funds raised”, said Saint Edmond’s Academy Board Chairman Ernie Dianastasis.

Ray will be moving from Ashburn, Va., to the Wilmington area with his wife Michelle and their four children.

Saint Edmond’s Academy is an independent Catholic school that educates boys in the Congregation of the Holy Cross tradition from junior kindergarten (preK) through eighth grade. This year’s enrollment is 250 students.

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700 migrants drown: Pope Francis urges action on behalf of migrants, unemployed, poor

April 20th, 2015 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The poor, migrants in search of a better life and the unemployed want what all human beings want: life, dignity and a chance to earn a decent living, Pope Francis said in several speeches urging compassion and assistance by both governments and individuals.

A child is carried by a rescue worker as migrants arrive on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19. Reciting the ìRegina Coeliî prayer April 19, just hours after reports surfaced that perhaps more than 700 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, Pope Francis asked the thousands of people in St. Peterís Square for a moment of silence and to join him reciting a Hail Mary for the victims and survivors. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

A child is carried by a rescue worker as migrants arrive on a boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo April 19. Reciting the ìRegina Coeliî prayer April 19, just hours after reports surfaced that perhaps more than 700 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, Pope Francis asked the thousands of people in St. Peterís Square for a moment of silence and to join him reciting a Hail Mary for the victims and survivors. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer April 19, just hours after reports surfaced that perhaps more than 700 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, Pope Francis asked the thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for a moment of silence and then to join him reciting a Hail Mary for the victims and survivors.

The Italian coast guard reported that as of late April 19, 28 survivors had been rescued and 24 bodies had been recovered; one of the survivors, a Bangladeshi, told authorities the smugglers had locked hundreds of people in the hold, so there may have been as many as 950 people on board.

Pope Francis called on the international community to act decisively and quickly to prevent the deaths of more migrants. “They are men and women like us, our brothers and sisters who seek a better life; hungry, persecuted, injured, exploited, victims of war — they seek a better life. They were seeking happiness.”

Pope Francis had spoken April 18 with Italian President Sergio Mattarella about the continuing wave of migrants who set off from North Africa, often in overcrowded and unsafe fishing boats, hoping to land in Italy and make their way to other European countries. For years the Italian government has been asking the European Union for concrete assistance in regulating migration, patrolling the waters and rescuing those at risk of drowning.

The pope thanked Italy for assisting “the numerous migrants who, at the risk of their lives, ask to be welcomed. It is obvious the size of the phenomenon requires a much broader involvement,” the pope said. “We must never tire of requesting a commitment that extends to a European and international level.”

As Mattarella made his first state visit to the Vatican, Pope Francis also urged greater Italian government efforts to create jobs, especially for the young. Among all the ingredients needed for economic growth and development, the pope said, work is one of the most important because it is tied to the dignity of the person and his or her ability to build a life.

“The lack of jobs for young people,” he said, is “a cry of pain” that must be heard by governments, private businesses and the church community, which should rally together to give job creation priority. “Access to dignity and a future relies on access to a job,” the pope said.

Pope Francis also spoke April 18 with members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which dedicated its plenary assembly to examining the phenomenon of human trafficking, including the trafficking of migrants.

The Bible insists that Christians will be judged by how they cared for “the least” of their brothers and sisters, he said. “And today among these most needy brothers and sisters are those who suffer the tragedy of modern forms of slavery, forced labor, prostitution” as well as the victims of trafficking in organs and in drugs.

Slavery, which “was widespread and socially accepted, scandalously including in the Christian world because it was big business,” eventually was abolished through long-term and dedicated efforts by both Christians and people of no religious faith who worked together to fight for human dignity, he said.

“Unfortunately, in a global economic system dominated by profit, new forms of slavery have developed and in some ways they are worse and more inhumane than that of the past,” the pope said. “We are called to denounce and combat them.”

Every citizen of every country must be made aware of human trafficking and join the fight against it, he said.

Special action is needed to encourage countries to enact legislation to bring traffickers to justice and to use “their unjust earnings for the rehabilitation of victims,” he said. Nations also must be encouraged to grant asylum to the migrants who have fallen prey to traffickers and ended up in their nations.

Also April 18, Pope Francis met with representatives of the International Catholic Society for Girls, an organization offering shelter and education, training, psychological and spiritual assistance to migrants and other girls and young women at risk.

While he praised the organization’s members for living out the Gospel call to service, he also asked them to “learn from these young women you stand alongside and help. Despite their difficulties, they often are witnesses of the essential virtues of brotherhood and solidarity.”

In addition, the pope said, “they remind us that we are fragile and depend on God and on others.”

Pope Francis prayed, “May the merciful gaze of the Father touch us and help us accept our own poverty in order to move forward with trust and commit ourselves together to that revolution of tenderness that Jesus began with his incarnation.”

 

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Heart, mind and touch: Pope Francis shares personal devotion to Mary

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — From Easter to Pentecost, and especially during the Marian month of May, Catholics recite the “Regina Coeli” (“Queen of Heaven”) prayer “with the emotion of children who are happy because their mother is happy” that Jesus has risen from the dead, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis uses incense to venerate a statue of Mary as he celebrates Mass at the Verano cemetery in Rome on the feast of All Saints in 2013. The pope is deeply devoted to Mary and often expresses his devotion by praying in front of Marian statues and then gently touching them. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis uses incense to venerate a statue of Mary as he celebrates Mass at the Verano cemetery in Rome on the feast of All Saints in 2013. The pope is deeply devoted to Mary and often expresses his devotion by praying in front of Marian statues and then gently touching them. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Although his devotion to the Mother of God is profound, it is simple in many ways: Mary is a mother to every believer; Jesus would not leave his followers orphans.

While his connection to Mary clearly is a matter of heart and mind, it is also physical. Whenever Pope Francis passes a statue or icon of Mary, he kisses it or allows his hand to rest tenderly upon it.

Honoring the Mother of God, of course, is a solid part of Catholic tradition and a mainstay in the devotion and teaching of the popes. St. John Paul II’s motto, “Totus Tuus” (“All yours”), and the large M on his coat of arms were just the most graphic elements of a devotion that led to a whole body of teaching about Mary, her role in Catholics’ faith life and the importance of praying the rosary.

Pope Francis would not have an argument with any of St. John Paul’s Marian piety or discourse.

But there are differences.

“The sense of Pope Francis’ devotion to Mary is a little more personal, more intimate” than St. John Paul’s was, said Redemptorist Father Sabatino Majorano, a professor at Rome’s Alphonsianum Institute. Pope Francis expresses “that feeling that exists between a son and his mother, where I think Pope John Paul’s was more that of a subject and his queen.”

The difference, he believes, comes from their roots: Pope Francis’ Latin roots, not just in Argentina, but also from his Italian family, and St. John Paul’s Slavic, Polish culture.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI spoke and wrote less about Mary than his predecessor and successor, but one now-solid Marian custom began in his pontificate: Whether or not it is a Marian feast day, a statue of Mary is placed prominently near the altar at papal liturgies.

Pope Francis’ habit of touching images of Mary is a typical Latin American gesture, one Father Majorano said he saw repeated thousands of times at Brazil’s Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, which is staffed by his brother Redemptorists. “The tactile experience is part of praying. It’s a spirituality that takes flesh, becomes concrete; it is not just an idea or a theory.”

At Mass and other formal liturgical services, Pope Francis uses incense to bless the Marian images. He notices the images and often comments on them.

In Caserta, Italy, last July, Pope Francis celebrated the feast of St. Anne, Mary’s mother. A locally loved statue of St. Anne holding the hand of her little girl, Mary, was placed to the side of the altar.

In his homily, the pope said, “When I was using the incense, I noticed something very beautiful: The statue of St. Anne does not have a crown, but her daughter Mary is crowned. St. Anne is the woman who prepared her daughter to become queen, to become queen of heaven and earth. This woman did a great job.”

Visiting Naples in March, Pope Francis told priests, nuns and seminarians that one way to make sure Jesus is the center of their lives is to ask “his mother to take you to him. A priest, a brother, a nun who does not love Mary, who does not pray to her, I would even say one who does not recite the rosary, well, if you don’t love the mother, the mother will not give you the Son.”

In the same talk, the pope spoke again about how he recently read “The Glories of Mary,” a hefty book written in 1750 by St. Alphonsus Liguori. “In this book, I like reading the stories about Mary that are behind each chapter; in them you see how Mary always leads us to Jesus.”

Father Majorano, an expert in the writings of St. Alphonsus, said he and his confreres were not surprised to hear Pope Francis praising the 265-year-old work of their founder.

The style St. Alphonsus uses to speak of Mary reflects the Latin culture he and the pope share, “warm, written with the heart more than the head, although it is intelligent,” Father Majorano said. “In general, St. Alphonsus in his books shows a great knowledge of patristic works and other church writers; he cites them continually, but this work on Mary is written more with the heart.”

The two focal points of St. Alphonsus’ life, he said, were “the crucifix as an expression of God’s love, not his justice, and Mary. They were the two realities that motivated his preaching and what he proposed in his missions.”

St. Alphonsus focused on Mary’s role as the “Queen of Mercy,” the Redemptorist said. “The basic characteristic he emphasizes is that Mary is God’s welcomer; that is, when we are afraid to approach God because of our sins, she welcomes us and helps us turn to him. So, her mercy is acceptance and her mercy is her ability to intercede for us and her mercy is to always anticipate our needs, like she did at the wedding at Cana.”

In his official proclamation of the 2015-2016 Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wrote, “Mary attests that the mercy of the son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception. Let us address her in the words of the ‘Salve Regina,’ (‘Hail Holy Queen’) a prayer ever ancient and new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes toward us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her son Jesus.”

 

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Model-turned-CEO Kathy Ireland brings message of faith, success to Padua students

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – When Kathy Ireland was gracing the covers of magazines during her career as a supermodel, she was used to hearing one particular instruction over and over: “Shut up and pose.”

Ireland vowed that would be the last time she’d be without a voice, and on April 16, during a visit to Padua Academy in Wilmington, she told the student body of more than 660 girls how she has made herself heard as a businesswoman and philanthropist in the years after her modeling career ended.

“Don’t let anyone put you in a box,” Ireland said. “And please don’t let anyone silence you.” Read more »

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St. Hedwig’s celebrates Divine Mercy, St. John Paul II relic

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Dialog reporter

WILMINGTON – A busy and grace-filled week at St. Hedwig Church included a celebration of God’s mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday and a the opportunity to host a first-class relic of St. John Paul II for two days later in the week.

Hundreds of people gathered on April 12 for Divine Mercy Sunday, which included Mass and a procession around the Hedgeville neighborhood where the parish is located. Read more »

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