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Holy Spirit leads to truth, renews the earth, emboldens, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The power of the Holy Spirit transforms people into bold witnesses of the Gospel, who reach out to others, exercise charity and live in harmony with creation, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis blesses the faithful with holy water as he celebrates Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses the faithful with holy water as he celebrates Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Celebrating Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square May 24, the pope spoke of Pentecost as the day the church was born universal but united.

When the Spirit came upon the disciples, Pope Francis told people in the square, “they were completely transformed: fear was replaced by courage, closure gave way to proclamation and every doubt was driven away by faith full of love.”

The day’s first reading, Acts 2:1-11, recounts how people from every land heard the disciples speaking in their own languages, the pope said. “The church was not born isolated, it was born universal — one, catholic — with a precise identity, but open to all.”

The good news of salvation proclaimed by the disciples was meant for the whole world, he said.

“Mother church does not close the door in anyone’s face,” he said. “Not even the biggest sinner’s.”

The tongue of fire resting on the head of each disciple as a sign of the Holy Spirit was “the flame of love that burns away all harshness; it was the language of the Gospel that crosses every border humans make and touches the hearts of the multitude without distinction of language, race or nationality.”

Today, just as on Pentecost, the pope said, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the church and on every follower of Jesus “so that we would leave behind our mediocrity and being closed off, and rather communicate to the whole world the merciful love of the Lord.”

Pope Francis urged Christians to model their lives on the two people beatified May 23: Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador and Italian Consolata Sister Irene Stefani, who worked and died in Kenya.

Referring to Blessed Romero as a “zealous pastor,” Pope Francis said that “following Jesus’ example, he chose to be in the midst of his people, especially the poor and oppressed, even at the cost of his life.”

Blessed Stefani, he said, “served the Kenyan people with joy, mercy and tender compassion.”

“May the heroic example of these blessed ones give rise in each of us to the deep desire to witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice.”

In his homily at the Pentecost Mass that morning, Pope Francis said the Scriptures assure Christians that the Holy Spirit continues to be at work in the church and in the world doing what Jesus promised the Spirit would do: “he guides us into all the truth, he renews the face of the earth, and he gives us his fruits.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples went from being confused about Jesus’ death and afraid to speak and afraid of being arrested, to being bold announcers of salvation in Jesus, the pope said.

The Spirit made them understand that “the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the living one, the Lord, the redeemer of mankind, the Lord of history and of the world.”

At the same time, the pope said, the Spirit is the one who renews the earth and can renew people’s relationship with it.

“The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same,” he said. “Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the ‘garden’ in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect.”

If people allow themselves to be renewed by the spirit, he said, “we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of sons and daughters in harmony with all creation.”

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant to be shared with all, Pope Francis said. “The world needs the fruits, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul lists them: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’”

God sent the Holy Spirit “so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace.”

The Spirit cannot be forced on anyone, the pope said. But “closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom, it is a sin.”

“There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism — seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law whom Jesus referred to as hypocrites; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways.”

“Strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts,” Pope Francis prayed, “may we be able to battle uncompromisingly against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption, which continues to spread in the world day after day (and) devote ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.”


Blessed Romero ‘another brilliant star’ belonging to church of Americas


Catholic News Service

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Some thought this day would never arrive. Others hoped and some always knew it would.

On May 23, the Catholic Church, beatified Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, of El Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass, just a day after pleading and ordering soldiers to stop killing innocent civilians.

Priests carry the blood-stained shirt of Archbishop Oscar Romero during his beatification Mass at the Divine Savior of the World square in San Salvador May 23. (CNS photo/Lissette Lemus)

Priests carry the blood-stained shirt of Archbishop Oscar Romero during his beatification Mass at the Divine Savior of the World square in San Salvador May 23. (CNS photo/Lissette Lemus)

“Blessed Romero is another brilliant star that belongs to the sanctity of the church of the Americas,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, during the ceremony in San Salvador. “And thanks be to God, there are many.”

While those who persecuted him have died or are in obscurity, “the memory of Romero continues to live in the poor and the marginalized,” Cardinal Amato said.

His homilies often pleaded for better conditions for the poor, for a stop to the escalating violence in the country and for brotherhood among those whose divisions ultimately led to a 12-year conflict.

He’s not a symbol of division but one of peace, Cardinal Amato said.

In a message sent Saturday on the occasion of the beatification, Pope Francis said that Archbishop Romero “built the peace with the power of love, gave testimony of the faith with his life.”

Proof of that is the shirt he died in, soaked in blood, after an assassin’s single bullet took his life. Eight deacons carried the blood-stained shirt, now a relic, to the altar in a glass case. Others decorated it with flowers and candles during the Saturday ceremony. Several priests reached out to touch the case and later made the sign of the cross.

In a time of difficulty in El Salvador, Archbishop Romero knew “how to guide, defend and protect his flock, remaining faithful to the Gospel and in communion with the whole church,” the pope said in his message. “His ministry was distinguished by a particular attention to the poor and marginalized. And at the time of his death, while celebrating the holy sacrifice, love and reconciliation, he received the grace to be fully identified with the one who gave his life for his sheep.”

The event, at the square of the Divine Savior of the World in the capital city of San Salvador, saw the attendance of four Latin American presidents and six cardinals including: Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, of Honduras; Leopoldo Brenes, of Nicaragua; Jaime Ortega, of Cuba; Jose Luis Lacunza, of Panama; Roger Mahony, of the U.S.; and Italian Cardinal Amato, as well as Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of Archbishop Romero’s cause.

Their excitement couldn’t have been greater than that of those like Father Estefan Turcios, pastor of El Salvador’s St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Soyapango and national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in El Salvador. Before El Salvador’s conflict, Father Turcios was imprisoned for defending the rights of the poor. Archbishop Romero helped free him.

“There have been people inspired by Romero for 35 years. How do you think they feel right now?” asked Father Turcios.

But just as he has devotees, Archbishop Romero has had detractors.

After his death, the Vatican received mounds of letters against Archbishop Romero, Archbishop Paglia, has said. And that affected his path toward sainthood, which includes beatification. But three decades after his assassination, Pope Benedict XVI cleared the archbishop’s sainthood cause.

In February Pope Francis signed the decree recognizing Archbishop Romero as a martyr, a person killed “in hatred of the faith” which meant there is no need to prove a miracle for beatification. In general two miracles are needed for sainthood — one for beatification and the second for canonization.

Father Turcios said by studying Blessed Romero’s life, others will discover all the Gospel truths that led him to defend life, the poor and the church, and do away with untruths surrounding his legacy.

During the country’s civil war that lasted from 1979 until 1992, some Salvadorans hid, buried and sometimes burned photos they had taken with or of Archbishop Romero, because it could mean others would call them communists or rebel sympathizers and put their lives in danger.

Though he still has some detractors, Father Turcios said, the beatification can help others understand the reality and truth that others have known all along: Archbishop Romero “was loyal to God’s will, was loyal to and loved his people and was loyal to and loved the church,” he said.


Allow the gaze of Jesus to change your life, Pope Francis says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The gaze of Jesus can change a person’s life just like it did with St. Peter, Pope Francis said.

“He always looks at us with love. He asks us something, he forgives us and he gives us a mission,” the pope said May 22 during his early morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.

During his May 22 homily, Pope Francis asked people to consider, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” The above image of Jesus at the Last Supper is depicted in a stained-glass window at Christ the Redeemer Mausoleum in St. John Cemetery in the New York borough of Queens. /Gregory A. Shemitz)

During his May 22 homily, Pope Francis asked people to consider, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” The above image of Jesus at the Last Supper is depicted in a stained-glass window at Christ the Redeemer Mausoleum in St. John Cemetery in the New York borough of Queens. /Gregory A. Shemitz)

Pope Francis suggested that members of the congregation welcome and receive Jesus in the Eucharist with the prayer, “Lord, you are here among us. Fix your gaze on me and tell me what I must do, how I must weep for my mistakes, my sins, and with what courage I must continue on the path you have traveled before me.”

The pope, who wakes up several hours before the 7 a.m. Mass to pray and prepare his homily, said he was struck that morning by the exchange of gazes in the day’s Gospel, John 21:15-19, which includes Jesus, after the resurrection, asking Peter three times if he loves him.

When Jesus first met his apostle, “Jesus fixed his gaze upon him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John; you will be called Peter,’” the pope said. “That was the first gaze, the gaze of mission” and Peter responded enthusiastically.

Then, after Jesus had been arrested and Peter denied Jesus three times, he feels the gaze of Jesus again and “weeps bitterly,” the pope said.

“The enthusiasm of following the Lord was turned into tears because he had sinned, he had denied Jesus,” the pope said. “That gaze changed Peter’s heart more than the first did. The first changed his name and vocation, but the second was a gaze that changed his heart; it was a conversion to love.”

The third gaze is recounted in the day’s Gospel, the pope said. Jesus looks at Peter, asks him if he loves him and tells him to feed his sheep.

The third gaze, he said, confirms Peter’s mission but also asks Peter to confirm his love.

The Gospel recounts more of the conversation, with Jesus warning Peter that his future will not be easy and that, in fact, he also will suffer and die.

Ask yourself, “how is Jesus gazing upon me? With a call? With forgiveness? With a mission?” the pope said.


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Holiday weekend movie? Man, girl and robot save the future

May 22nd, 2015 Posted in Featured, Movies Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

Against all expectations, Walt Disney took a theme park ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and turned it into a blockbuster film franchise.

Britt Robertson stars in a scene from the movie "Tomorrowland." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.(CNS photo/Disney)

Britt Robertson stars in a scene from the movie “Tomorrowland.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.(CNS photo/Disney)

Now the studio has similar hopes for an entire theme park area in “Tomorrowland.”

The result? “Tomorrowland” is a delightful science-fiction film and great fun for the entire family.

Directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”), who co-wrote the screenplay with Damon Lindelof (TV’s “Lost”), “Tomorrowland” is bursting with optimism and enthusiasm. Its hopeful view of the future is a refreshing contrast to the depressing dystopian vision that has dominated Hollywood films of late.

The film borrows the name but little else from the futuristic-themed section of Disneyland and other Disney parks. Instead, there’s a meticulous recreation of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which was a showcase of future ideas and innovations.

There Disney created the “It’s a Small World” ride to promote global harmony. In the film, it serves as the gateway to the gleaming utopia that exists, “Twilight Zone”-like, in another dimension.

Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, a whiz-kid boy inventor, Frank (Thomas Robinson), takes a detour on the ride into Tomorrowland.

He’s lured there by a mysterious girl, Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Her mission is to recruit the best and brightest talent on Earth to learn from a place of peace and promise.

Fast-forward 40 years, and something has gone awry. Earth is fraught with problems, including war and natural disasters. Despair fills the air, and the future is far from bright.

In school, Casey (Britt Robertson) is frustrated by all the gloom and doom. “I get things are bad,” she tells her teacher. “What are we doing to fix it?”

Casey is a dreamer, inspired by her father, Eddie (Tim McGraw), a NASA engineer. But even NASA is being dismantled, along with Casey’s dream of reaching the stars.

Before you can say “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Athena reappears, looking none the worse for wear, for she is actually a sophisticated (and ageless) robot. She recruits Casey for a special mission: to save Tomorrowland. The city has fallen under the spell of a coldhearted bureaucrat called Nix (Hugh Laurie), who is responsible for wreaking havoc on earth.

Why Casey is the savior is anyone’s guess. With Athena in tow, she looks up Frank, who has aged into the dashing George Clooney. Twenty years ago, Frank was banished from Tomorrowland for threatening to expose the conspiracy.

“Tomorrowland” morphs into a buddy movie as man, girl and robot race against time to, literally, save the future.

The action sequences in the film have a cartoonish quality, but the ray guns and decapitations (of robots) may upset the younger set. Others will be equally amused and enchanted.

In the end, the film takes a cue from a Disney anthem composed for the World’s Fair: “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

The film contains cartoonish but bloodless action sequences and a few mild oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II, adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG, parental guidance suggested.


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Grads at Catholic colleges urged to ‘do good,’ work hard and be confident


A best-selling suspense novelist, a four-time Grammy winner, a Chicago archbishop and a New York cardinal, and lawmakers and corporate leaders were among speakers at undergraduate commencements this spring at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges.

And at least one family had three children in the class of 2015: the Marbach triplets, Melanie, Megan and John Jr., each graduating from a different university in a different state on a different date.

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, poses for a photo with Laetare Medal awardee Aaron Neville at the university's 2015 commencement ceremony May 17. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame)

Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, poses for a photo with Laetare Medal awardee Aaron Neville at the university’s 2015 commencement ceremony May 17. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame)

In Washington at The Catholic University of America’s 126th annual commencement May 16, novelist Mary Higgins Clark told graduates to trust in God as their own life story unfolds.

That day, she said, they would begin writing the prologue of “your own suspense novel, and It’s called, ‘The Rest of My Life.’”

Author of 42 books and a lifelong Catholic, Higgins Clark said the graduates — whether they will be starting a new job, continuing their studies or pursuing a religious vocation — will now be protagonists in their own life story.

Like the protagonist in her own novels, she urged each one to “be a person who combines faith, optimism, intelligence, generosity and a good sense of humor.”

The ability to laugh at oneself and at fate “is a cure for both body and mind,” she said, adding that she always tries to give protagonists a good friend, too. “That buddy may be a parent, a sibling, a lifetime pal, but I want all of you to have that kind of person in your life,” she said, adding that her protagonists often find a love interest, “the person who may share your life with you.”

Any good novel, and a good life, inevitably has challenges and problems that need to be solved, Higgins Clark said. “I pray that you, the protagonist, will face up to your problems with determination and strength,” she said.

In Indiana, Aaron Neville, a four-time Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, received the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal May 17. The honor has been given annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

Neville delivered brief remarks in accepting the medal and then sang the “Ave Maria” for the crowd.

“I am honored and humbled to be receiving such a prestigious medal. I hope I’m worthy of standing next to the people who have received it before me,” he said. “If it’s for me trying to get my life on the right track the way God wanted me too, then I am worthy, because I know, and God knows, that I’ve tried. I’ve prayed to see the world through God’s eyes and asked that the world see God in me.”

“My early life has been a preview of where I am now. It took who I was and where I came from to make me who I am. For that I have to thank my late parents, Arthur and Amelia Neville,” the singer continued. “They, along with the nuns at St. Monica’s Catholic School, especially Sister Damien, taught me morals and guidance.”

He said his Catholic upbringing “helped me in some dark times. One dark night, I remembered a poem I had to memorize and recite in front of the class in maybe the fifth grade. Later, I put music to it and recorded it. The poem was ‘Lovely Lady, Dressed in Blue, Teach Me How to Pray.’”

Neville said he “was always mesmerized by the Blessed Mother, and was grateful to get the chance to learn the ‘Ave Maria.’ I didn’t know what the words meant, but a lady asked me to sing it at her sister’s wedding, so I learned it and have been singing it ever since. … To close, I’d like to sing it for you.”

For John Marbach and Sherry Pressler of Belle Mead, N.J., it was a wild ride as their triplets graduated from college: Melanie from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore May 16; Megan from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., May 17; and John Jr. from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., May 18.

“Four nights out, three different hotels, train tickets, car travel and airplane travel, wow,” said Sherry.

The planning of the trip got underway in 2010. Even then, Sherry and John worried about the triplets’ college graduations being on the same day. “When they were choosing where to attend college four years ago, I remember checking the graduation calendars,” said Sherry. “I would be heartbroken not to be able to attend all three graduation ceremonies.”

Added John: “All three children felt it was important to attend each other’s graduation.”

“The whole family feels incredibly lucky that the ceremonies fall on different days,” said Megan, who was graduating from Fairfield University’s School of Nursing. “Melanie and John are my best friends for life, so I wouldn’t miss their graduations for anything.”

In his commencement address at Boston College May 18, Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich told the graduates, “You make us all proud and you are, for all of us today, evidence of the givenness of life, the eternal truth that God’s grace is never exhausted.”

“The world needs the hope of those who know and are inspired by the givenness of life, the grace of life. Keeping fresh that sense of givenness will have an impact not only on you but on our world,” the archbishop said. “It will help you become the leaders we need today, in the world of business, our politics and the economy.

“Leaders who, as Pope Francis has urged, promote the common good and measure economic health by how the economy treats the poor, and leaders who advocate for inclusion and economic security for all.”

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, speaking May17 at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, told students that “knowledge is what’s in your noggin. Wisdom is what’s in your heart and soul. Knowledge teaches us how to get, and wisdom teaches us how to give. Knowledge teaches us how things operate and work, and wisdom teaches us how things are.”

Other speakers at commencements included:

  • First lady Nana Lordina Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Fordham University, May 16.
  • Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, St. Joseph’s University, May 16.
  • Garry Kasparov, world champion chess grandmaster, St. Louis University, May 16.
  • Catherine M. Burzik, general partner at Targeted Technologies, Canisius College, May 16.
  • Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, a Sister of Charity, at Marquette University, May 17. An alumna of Marquette, Sister O’Neill is founder of El Centro Arte Para la Paz in El Salvador, an agency dedicated to helping the country’s poor and marginalized.
  • Bishop David M. O’Connell of Trenton, New Jersey, at St. John’s University in the New York borough of Queens, May 17.

In graduation ceremonies May 3, the University of Dayton in Ohio gave an honorary degree to Ramon Estevez, better known as Martin Sheen. He was honored for his lifelong commitment to peace, social justice and human rights exemplifying the Marianist university’s mission.

Sheen intentionally failed his University of Dayton entrance exam to overcome his father’s objections and start his acting career.


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God will judge people on care for the poor and the environment, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The powerful of the earth will face God’s judgment and will be asked to account for how they cared for the poor and how they cared for the environment so that it could produce food for all, Pope Francis said.

“The planet has enough food for all, but it seems that there is a lack of willingness to share it with everyone,” Pope Francis said May 12 during his homily at a Mass opening the general assembly of Caritas Internationalis.

The network of 164 Catholic charities, who were to welcome Caritas South Sudan as the confederation’s 165th member, was to focus on the theme, “One Human Family, Caring for Creation.” Read more »

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Police follow Jesus in seeking to serve, defend others, says pope


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Police officers follow Jesus’ path in serving and protecting others, rather than seeking to be served, said Pope Francis.

The pope met May 21 with members of the Italian state police and with the family members of officers who died in service.

New York Police officers embrace after the body of officer Brian Moore leaves in an ambulance from Jamaica Hospital in New York City May 4. Moore, 25, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa, N.Y., was shot in the head May 2 as he tried to question a local man sought on gun charges. He died May 4. (CNS photo/Stephanie Keith, Reuters)

New York Police officers embrace after the body of officer Brian Moore leaves in an ambulance from Jamaica Hospital in New York City May 4. Moore, 25, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa, N.Y., was shot in the head May 2 as he tried to question a local man sought on gun charges. He died May 4. Pope Francis said May 21 that police officers follow Jesus’ path in serving and protecting others. (CNS photo/Stephanie Keith, Reuters)

The police profession is an “authentic mission,” which puts into practice the values of duty, discipline and sacrifice, even of one’s life, to defend public order and democracy, which are in contrast with organized crime and terrorism, he said.

“The community is indebted to you for the possibility of living an orderly life, free of the arrogance of violent and corrupt people,” he said.

Reflecting on police work from the perspective of faith, the pope said, “whoever serves the community with courage and self-sacrifice encounters, along with the difficulties and the risks connected to one’s role, a high level of self-fulfillment because he or she walks on the same road as our Lord, who wanted to serve and not to be served.”

In seeking to serve others, a person “fulfills his or her life, even in the eventuality that he or she may lose it, as Jesus did by dying on the cross,” he said.

The witness of Christian values is “all the more eloquent in these times,” when people are often unable to channel their sense of generosity toward a commitment that is “coherent and stable,” the pope said.

Police work is a commitment to something that has been “solid through time,” guaranteeing citizens order and lawfulness so that they can enjoy all other goods, he said.

The pope also recognized the work of the Italian police “on the front lines” in assisting the hundreds of migrants who land on Italy’s shores, distinguishing themselves by their “spirit of service and humanity” and motivated by the “moral imperative to do good” rather than simply to fulfill a legal duty.


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Pope calls on parents to take active role in their children’s education


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Parents must not exclude themselves from their children’s lives and, despite what some “experts” may say, they must take an active role in their children’s education, said Pope Francis during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square May 20.

“It’s time for fathers and mothers to come out of their exile, because they have exiled themselves from their children’s education, and to fully assume again their educational role,” he said.

Pope Francis gestures as he greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis gestures as he greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Continuing a series of talks about the family, the pope said its “essential characteristic” is its “natural vocation to educate children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.”

But, faced with numerous experts who tell them how their children should be raised, many parents have withdrawn their involvement in their children’s education, and this is “very grave,” he said.

“Critical intellectuals of all types have silenced parents in a thousand ways to defend the younger generation from the damages, real or imagined, of education in the family,” he said. “The family has been accused, among other things, of authoritarianism, favoritism, conformism and affective repression that generates conflict.”

The result is a “divide between families and society, between families and schools,” he said.

“The educative partnership between society and family is in crisis because mutual trust has been undermined,” the pope said.

Tensions and disagreements between parents and teachers are a symptom of the crisis, he said, and children bear the brunt of it.

He also spoke of the multiplication “of so-called experts, who have taken over the role of parents, even in the most intimate aspects of education,” convincing parents their only role is to “listen, learn and adapt.”

Parents then “tend increasingly to entrust to the experts even the more delicate and personal aspects of their children’s lives, setting themselves off alone in a corner,” he said.

In trying to demonstrate how “things have changed,” the pope told a personal story about when he said a bad word to his fourth-grade teacher, who promptly called his mother. When his mother came to school the next day, she made him apologize to the teacher and then disciplined him when he got home.

Today instead, he said, parents will reprimand a teacher who tries to discipline their child.

The pope said it is obvious the current situation is not good or harmonious, since it tends to put families and schools in opposition rather than in collaborative relationships.

In addition, he said, “puzzled by the new demands made by children” and the complexity of life, many parents are “paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake.”

“Educating children is difficult for parents who see them only in the evening when they return home tired from work,” he said. “It is even more difficult for parents who are separated, who are weighed down by their circumstances.”

He urged separated parents to “never, never, never take a child hostage” by speaking ill of the other parent. He recognized that being separated is “a trial” but added that “children must not be the ones to carry the weight of this separation or to be used like hostages against the other spouse.”

The advice the apostle Paul gives to both children and parents in his Letter to the Colossians, that children obey their parents in all things and that parents not exasperate their children by “commanding in a bad way” so as not to discourage them, is “a wise rule,” he said.

To exasperate a child is to ask them to do things they are not able to do, the pope explained. Rather, children must be accompanied and “grow without being discouraged, step by step,” he said.

He also exhorted families to practice patience.

“Even in the best of families, there is the need to put up with each other,” he said. “But that’s life. Life is not lived in a laboratory, it’s lived in reality.”

“Wonderful” Christian parents “full of human wisdom” demonstrate that good education in the family is the “spine of humanism,” he said. Their “radiance compensates for the gaps, wounds and voids of fatherhood and motherhood” that many children experience, he added.

If families were able to recover their pride in being the primary educators of their children, he said, “many things would change for the better, (both) for uncertain parents and for disappointed children.”


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Syrian nun describes bombing of family, pleads ‘Pray for Aleppo’

May 19th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags: , , , ,


Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — A religious sister in Syria described how the members of one Christian family were blown to bits during a bombardment of the northern city of Aleppo.

Sister Annie Demerjian, an Armenian Catholic members of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, described how shells fired by either Islamic State or Nusra Front rebels killed two adult sons and their mother. Read more »

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Pope Francis urges reflection on ‘final farewell’ from earthly life

May 19th, 2015 Posted in Featured Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Everyone would do well to reflect on their “final farewell” from earthly life and on whether they are prepared to entrust themselves and all they will leave behind to God, said Pope Francis.

During a morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae May 19, the pope reflected on the day’s readings in which Jesus, after speaking to his disciples of his imminent departure for the Father, prays “the hour has come” (Jn 17:1-11a), and in which St. Paul gathers with the elders of Ephesus before leaving for Jerusalem (Acts 20:17-27). Read more »

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