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Blessed Oscar Romero was ‘a good priest, a wise bishop and a virtuous man,’ cardinal says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero’s preferential love for the poor “was not ideological, but evangelical,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

The cardinal, who was delegated by Pope Francis to preside over Archbishop Romero’s beatification May 23 in San Salvador, told Vatican Radio the martyred archbishop “was, in fact, a good priest and a wise bishop, but most of all, he was a virtuous man.”

People carry large portraits of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero during a rally in March in San Salvador to pay tribute to the late archbishop, who was assassinated 35 years ago. Archbishop Romero, who wase beatified in San Salvador May 23, has become a symbol of Latin American church leaders' efforts to protect their flocks from the abuses of military dictatorships. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

People carry large portraits of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero during a rally in March in San Salvador to pay tribute to the late archbishop, who was assassinated 35 years ago. Archbishop Romero, who wase beatified in San Salvador May 23, has become a symbol of Latin American church leaders’ efforts to protect their flocks from the abuses of military dictatorships. (CNS photo/Roberto Escobar, EPA)

“He loved Jesus and adored him in the Eucharist, he loved the church, he venerated the Blessed Virgin Mary and he loved his people,” Cardinal Amato said.

“His martyrdom was not an improvisation,” the cardinal said, “but had a long preparation,” which went all the way back to Archbishop Romero’s preparation for priestly ordination in 1942 when he consecrated his very life to God.

The Vatican Radio reporter asked about what many people refer to as Archbishop Romero’s “conversion” from being rather quiet and focused on internal church affairs to being more outspoken in defense of the poor and the victims of his country’s military dictatorship.

“A change in his life of being a meek and almost timid pastor” was the murder in 1977 of Salvadoran Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, who had left his university position to be a “pastor of the farmworkers, the oppressed and emarginated,” Cardinal Amato said. The murder “was the event that touched the heart of Archbishop Romero, who mourned his priest like a mother would her own child.”

While his public words became much sharper and more focused on the lived reality of his people, he said, “his words were not an incitement to hatred and revenge, but were the heartfelt exhortation of a father to his divided children, calling them to love, forgiveness and agreement.”

For Cardinal Amato, Pope Francis summarized “the priestly and pastoral identity of Romero when he called him ‘bishop and martyr, pastor according to the heart of Christ, evangelizer and father of the poor, heroic witness of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of justice, brotherhood and peace.’”

Archbishop Romero, he said, “is another bright star shining in the American spiritual firmament.”

Citing saints from North, Central and South America, he said there are “many American saints and martyrs who pray to the Lord for their brothers and sisters still on the earthly pilgrimage. Blessed Oscar Romero belongs to this impetuous wind of holiness that still blows over the American continent, a land of love and fidelity to the good news of the Gospel.”

 

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

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

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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

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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 urges prayers for China, persecuted Christians

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked Catholics worldwide to show solidarity through their prayers for Catholics in China and for persecuted Christians over the Pentecost weekend.

The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is observed each year on the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, May 24, which this year falls on Pentecost.

Catholics in China invoke Mary, venerated at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan, near Shanghai, each May 24, the pope noted.

“We, too, will ask Mary to help Catholics in China always to be credible witnesses of this merciful love among their fellow citizens and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter, upon whom the church is built,” he said.

The pope also underlined a prayer initiative of the Italian bishops’ conference inviting all Italian dioceses to pray for persecuted Christians on the vigil of Pentecost.

The vigil is intended to “remember the many brothers and sisters exiled or killed for the sole reason that they are Christian,” said the pope. “They are martyrs.”

The pope expressed his hope that the prayer vigil will “increase awareness” of the “drama of persecuted Christians in our day” and of religious freedom as an “inalienable human right,” as well as to “bring an end to this unacceptable crime.”

 

 

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

By

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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Mother Teresa’s canonization in 2016 only hypothetical, says Vatican

May 19th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite reports in the Italian press that Blessed Teresa of Kolkata’s canonization has been set for Sept. 4, 2016, a Vatican spokesman says the date is only hypothetical and cannot be confirmed.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement May 19 in response to media reports that the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who worked among the poorest of the poor, would be canonized before the end of the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy. Read more »

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Faith is expressed in charity, unity, pope says at canonization Mass

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Declaring four 19th-century women religious saints, Pope Francis said they are models for all Christians of how faith, nourished in prayer, is expressed concretely in acts of charity and the promotion of unity.

The new saints, proclaimed during a Mass May 17 in St. Peter’s Square, included two Palestinians — Sts. Marie-Alphonsine, founder of the Rosary Sisters, and Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Melkite Carmelite — as well as French St. Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve and Italian St. Maria Cristina Brando. Read more »

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Pope Francis offers coaches game plan for team spirit, being role models

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Coaches need to show integrity, fairness, patience, joy and kindness, especially toward those who are struggling, Pope Francis said.

Like any good educator, a good coach or trainer is extremely important in helping kids develop into mature, well-balanced and well-rounded adults, he said.

A coach congratulates a player during a Catholic baseball camp in 2014 at Russell Sports Complex in Kent, Wash. Coaches need to show integrity, fairness, patience, joy and kindness, especially toward those who are struggling, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Stephen Brashear)

A coach congratulates a player during a Catholic baseball camp in 2014 at Russell Sports Complex in Kent, Wash. Coaches need to show integrity, fairness, patience, joy and kindness, especially toward those who are struggling, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Stephen Brashear)

Instilled with solid values and Christian faith, athletes can help prevent sports from becoming distorted by “pressure from many increasingly intrusive interests, especially economic,” he said in a written message released May 14.

The pope’s message was presented to participants at an international seminar on the role of coaches and trainers as educators of human and Christian values. The seminar at the Vatican May 14-16 was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity’s church and sport office.

Good teachers and coaches are vital for children and young adults because they are at a “delicate stage in life” as their personalities are developing and they are looking for role models and approval from others, the pope wrote.

It’s a stage in life when “the danger of getting lost by following bad examples and seeking false happiness is more real,” he wrote.

Therefore, coaches, like teachers, have a great responsibility because they often “have the privilege of spending many hours each week with young people and have a great influence on them,” he wrote.

But their influence depends more on “who they are as people and how they live than on what they say,” the pope wrote. “How important it is then a coach be an example of integrity, consistency, correct judgment, impartiality, but also joy for life, patience, ability (to show) esteem and kindness toward everyone and especially those most disadvantaged.”

Being a person of faith is just as important, he said, because being able to raise people’s eyes up to God helps put victories and losses into better perspective.

“Faith gives us that gaze of kindness toward others and it makes us overcome the temptation of a rivalry that’s too heated and aggressive; it makes us understand the dignity of every person, even those less gifted and at a disadvantage,” he said.

Coaches can do much to help make sports an occasion for solidarity and inclusion by giving those usually left out a chance to play and socialize.

For this reason, Pope Francis said, resources and time must be invested in educating coaches and trainers so that they can be “authentic witnesses of life and lived faith.”

 

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Vatican and Palestine finalize agreement that supports ‘two-state’ solution

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Vatican and Palestinian representatives have finalized the text of a formal agreement recognizing freedom of religion in the “State of Palestine” and outlining the rights and obligations of the Catholic Church, its agencies and its personnel in the territory.

Without fanfare, the Vatican has been referring to the “State of Palestine” at least since January 2013. The “Annuario Pontificio,” the Vatican’s official yearbook, lists a diplomatic relationship with the “State of Palestine.”

A Palestinian Catholic girl carries a crucifix while walking the traditional path that Jesus took on his last entry into Jerusalem during the Palm Sunday Procession on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem March 29. On May 15, Vatican and Palestinian representatives have finalized the text of a formal agreement recognizing freedom of religion in the “State of Palestine” and outlining the rights and obligations of the Catholic Church, its agencies and its personnel in the territory., (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

A Palestinian Catholic girl carries a crucifix while walking the traditional path that Jesus took on his last entry into Jerusalem during the Palm Sunday Procession on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem March 29. On May 15, Vatican and Palestinian representatives have finalized the text of a formal agreement recognizing freedom of religion in the “State of Palestine” and outlining the rights and obligations of the Catholic Church, its agencies and its personnel in the territory., (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

The Vatican, which praised the United Nations’ recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in 2012, said May 13 that the bilateral commission working on the agreement had finalized the text.

“The agreement will be submitted to the respective authorities for approval” and a formal signing ceremony should be held soon, the statement said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to meet Pope Francis May 16, the day before attending a canonization Mass at the Vatican for two new Palestinian saints.

Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican undersecretary for relations with states and head of the Vatican delegation at the negotiations, said the Vatican wanted the agreement to “promote the life and activity of the Catholic Church and its recognition on a juridical level.”

The text of the agreement will not be released until it receives top-level approval. However, Msgr. Camilleri described the general contents to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The agreement, he said, expresses hope for an end to Palestinian-Israeli tensions and supports the existence of two separate, independent nations living side by side in security and peace.

The chapter on “freedom of religion and conscience,” he said, is “very elaborate and detailed.”

Other chapters deal with “various aspects of the life and activity of the church in the Palestinian territories: its freedom of action, its personnel and jurisdiction, its personal status, houses of worship, social and charitable activity (and) means of social communication. Finally, a chapter is dedicated to financial and property questions.”

Asked if the agreement could be a model for agreements with other Muslim-majority countries, Msgr. Camilleri said every bilateral treaty deals with the specific situation of the countries involved.

“In this case, because it deals with the presence of the church in the land where Christianity was born, the agreement has a unique value and significance,” he said.

At the same time, though, he said the agreement’s recognition of the church and of religious freedom “could be followed by other countries, including those with a Muslim majority, and demonstrate that such recognition is not incompatible with the fact that the majority of the country’s population belongs to another religion.”

The monsignor said he hoped the agreement would help Palestinians reach the point of seeing “established and recognized an independent, sovereign and democratic State of Palestine that lives in peace and security with Israel and its neighbors.”

The Vatican, he said, also wants to encourage “the international community, especially the parties most directly interested, in undertaking more decisive action to contribute to reaching a lasting peace and the hoped-for solution of two states.”

 

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