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One smile and love of a family can warm coldest world, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY —The smile and love of a family can light up the world, bringing warmth and hope to communities that have become cold, lifeless and depressed, Pope Francis said.

“No economic and political engineering is able to substitute this contribution from families,” he said Sept. 2 during his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis signs as woman's cast during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis signs as woman’s cast during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Unlike the ancient city of Babel’s “skyscrapers without life,” he said, “the Spirit of God, on the other hand, makes deserts bloom.”

The pope’s catechesis on the family looked at the importance of Christian families living out their faith and sharing it with others. By experiencing God’s love, families “are transformed, are ‘made full'” to overflowing with a sense of going outside themselves to embrace all people, especially those in need, as brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, he said.

Understanding what is real love and affection, which can never be bought or sold, “is the best inheritance” one can receive from one’s family, he said. The grammar of love is learned in the family, “otherwise it is quite difficult to learn.”

But people are asked to live their family life within God’s plan, he said, and in “obedience to the faith and in covenant with the Lord,” which protects families, “freeing them from selfishness, safeguards them from breaking down, brings them to safety for a life that never dies.”

Families living in covenant with God “are called today to counter the desertification of communities in the modern city,” Pope Francis said.

Today’s cities have become barren places because of “a lack of love, a lack of smiles.” One can find plenty of entertainment, lots of things to do “to kill time, to have some laughs, but love is missing,” the pope said.

The father or mother who can smile despite being busy with work and family, theirs is the family that is “able to conquer this desertification of our cities; this is the victory of love of the family,” he said to applause.

“We must get out of the towers (of Babel) and vaults of the elite in order to once again spend time in homes and places open to the multitudes, open to the love of the family,” Pope Francis said.

This “communion of charisms” of men and women living the sacrament of marriage or consecrated life “is destined to transform the church into a place fully familial for an encounter with God,” he said.

Families living out the Gospel and God’s love are “a blessing for the people: bringing hope back to the world,” he said. Their example and actions are able to do things thought to be inconceivable.

“Just one smile miraculously eked out of the desperation of an abandoned child, who starts a new life,” Pope Francis said, “explains the workings of God in the world to us better than a thousand theological treatises.”

All those men and women who sacrifice and take risks for children who aren’t their own “explain things about love to us that many scientists no longer understand,” giving further proof that actions and gestures from the heart “speak louder than words,” he said.

The pope asked people to imagine what the world would be like if history, society, the economy and politics were to be finally guided by men and women working together, leading with future generations in mind. Ecological issues, home life, the economy and employment all “would be playing a different tune,” he said.

“Let us not lose hope,” he said. “Where there is a family with love, that family is able to warm the heart of an entire city with its witness of love.” He also asked that the Holy Spirit help families by bringing them “a happy jolt” and help bring cities “out of their depression.”

At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis recalled the end of World War II in Japan exactly 60 years ago to the day and launched an appeal for the end of all wars, asking that the world today no longer experience “the horror and frightful suffering of similar tragedies.”

Echoing Blessed Paul VI, the pope said “War never more,” and highlighted the ongoing plight of “persecuted minorities, persecuted Christians, the insanity of destruction.”

He also criticized “those who make and traffic weapons, blood-stained weapons, weapons soaked in the blood of so many innocent people.”

 

A video to accompany this story can be found at https://youtu.be/2Pzv6x6yPag

Contemplate, give thanks, protect: Pope Francis prays for creation

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Leading prayers for the safeguarding of creation, Pope Francis prayed that people would learn to contemplate God in the beauty of the universe, give thanks and protect all life.

Pope Francis prays as he leads an evening prayer service to mark World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis prays as he leads an evening prayer service to mark World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

During an evening celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the pope prayed that God would “enlighten the lords of power and money so they would not fall into indifference, but would love the common good, encourage the weak and care for the world in which we live.”

Pope Francis announced in August that the Catholic Church would join the Orthodox Church in marking the prayer day Sept. 1 each year.

In his opening prayer, he asked God to fill people with a desire”to protect every life, to prepare a better future so that your kingdom of justice, people, love and beauty would come.”

Although the pope led the service in St. Peter’s Basilica, he asked the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, to give the homily.

In his homily, the Capuchin, a member of the Franciscan family, referred to both Pope Francis and his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

Some environmentalists, he said, have blamed the Bible and Judeo-Christian tradition for the destruction of nature, claiming the idea that human beings have “dominion” over nature gave them permission to use and destroy the earth.

But, he said, “the map of pollution” covering the globe coincides less with the places where people believe in God and more in places that underwent “unbridled industrialization aimed only at profit” or are subject to rampant corruption.

“No one can seriously serve the cause of safeguarding creation without the courage of pointing a finger at the exaggerated accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few,” the Capuchin friar said.

St. Francis of Assisi, he said, was able to recognize and contemplate God’s beauty in all created things precisely because he owned nothing and recognized that anything he was able to use, especially for food or clothing, was a gift of God.

“Possession excludes, contemplation includes. Possession divides, contemplation multiplies,” he said. If one person owns a lake or park, “all the others are excluded,” but if no one owns it, thousands can enjoy it without taking it away from anyone.

Father Cantalamessa said that while the world St. Francis lived in was not facing the environmental emergency people today are facing, he still knew that if he took more than he needed, he was stealing from others.

“We must ask: Am I a resources thief, using more than my due and therefore taking it from those who will come after me?” the preacher said.

Pointing to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” the Capuchin said safeguarding creation is an “artisanal” activity, one that must begin with individuals and their daily actions.

“What sense is there, for example, in being worried about the pollution of the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if I don’t hesitate before throwing a plastic bag on the shore?” he asked.

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For Year of Mercy, pope extends to priests worldwide authority to absolve women who confess having abortion

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In an extraordinary gesture for the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has extended to priests worldwide the authority to absolve women for the sin of abortion and has decreed the full validity during the year of the sacrament of confession celebrated by priests of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

A priest blesses a woman as he hears confession during a 2013 outdoor Mass in Madrid. Pope Francis has issued a letter offering a series of instances in which absolution can be granted during the Year of Mercy. (CNS photo/Emilio Naranjo, EPA) \

A priest blesses a woman as he hears confession during a 2013 outdoor Mass in Madrid. Pope Francis has issued a letter offering a series of instances in which absolution can be granted during the Year of Mercy. (CNS photo/Emilio Naranjo, EPA) \

“This jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one,” the pope wrote in a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, the office organizing events for the holy year, which opens Dec. 8.

Pope Francis said one of the most serious problems facing people today is a “widespread and insensitive mentality” toward the sacredness of human life.

“The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails,” while many other women believe that “they have no other option” but to have an abortion, the pope wrote in the letter, released Sept. 1 by the Vatican.

The pressures exerted on many women to abort lead to “an existential and moral ordeal,” Pope Francis said. “I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”

When such a woman has repented and seeks absolution in the sacrament of confession, he said, “the forgiveness of God cannot be denied.”

Although church law generally requires a priest to have special permission, called faculties, from his bishop to grant absolution to a person who has procured or helped another to procure an abortion, the pope said he decided to grant “to all priests for the jubilee year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

Pope Francis urged priests to welcome to the sacrament women who have had an abortion, explain the gravity of the sin committed and indicate to them “a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters the pope’s letter “highlights the wideness of God’s mercy” and is “not in any way minimizing the gravity of the sin” of abortion.

In his letter, Pope Francis also granted another exception to church rules out of concern for “those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests” belonging to the traditionalist Society of St Pius X. Although the society is no longer considered to be in schism and the excommunication of its bishops was lifted in 2009, questions remain over whether the sacraments they celebrate are valid and licit.

The pope’s decision was “taken with the faithful in mind” and is limited to the holy year, which runs through Nov. 20, 2016, Father Lombardi said.

The spokesman also confirmed that the Vatican’s contacts with leaders of the Society of St. Pius X have continued. Pope Francis wrote in his letter that he hoped “in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the fraternity.”

Pope Francis’ letter also explained expanded opportunities for obtaining the indulgences that are a normal part of the celebration of a holy year. An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due because of his or her sins. In a holy year, it is offered to pilgrims who cross the threshold of the Holy Door at the Vatican or in their local diocese, confess their sins, receive the Eucharist and pray for the pope’s intentions.

The celebration of God’s mercy, he said, is “linked, first and foremost, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the celebration of the holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the church and of the entire world.”

Those who are confined to their homes can obtain the indulgence by offering up their sickness and suffering, he said.

Pope Francis also included special consideration for people who are incarcerated, touching on the Old Testament tradition of a jubilee year as a time for granting prisoners amnesty.

Those who, “despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they committed,” may receive the indulgence with prayers and the reception of the sacraments in their prison chapel, he wrote.

“May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom,” he wrote.

 

 

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ABC News to air Pope Francis’ ‘virtual town hall’ with Americans on “20/20”

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis held a “virtual town hall” with Catholics in Chicago, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, in advance of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.

Pope Francis will appear on ABC's "World News Tonight," Aug. 31 and ond "20/20" in segments on a "virtual town hall the pope held with Americans in Chicago, Los Angels, and McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis will appear Sept. 4 on ABC’s ” “20/20″ in segments on a “virtual town hall the pope held with Americans in Chicago, Los Angels, and McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

The town hall was arranged by ABC News, which aired portions of the meeting during its “World News Tonight” program Aug. 31, with an hour-long version of its “20/20” newsmagazine called “Pope Francis & the People” airing 10-11 p.m. Sept. 4. ABC News said the event would also the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on abcnews.com.

Pope Francis engaged via satellite with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, homeless men and women and those working with homeless people in Los Angeles, and members of a McAllen parish located near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We were allowed inside the Vatican for an hour with Pope Francis, where he greeted us as he prepared for his trip,” said David Muir, “World News Tonight” anchor, in a 90-second “special report” that aired midday on ABC.

“He told me he’s ready, and he delivered a couple of messages to the American people before his historic visit, saying, ‘For me it is very important to meet with all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadness, your problems, like everyone else. That’s why this trip is important, for me to draw close to you, in your path, your history,”’ Muir said of the pope.

Muir added, “He went on to say, ‘I’m praying for you all, and I ask you to please pray for me’”

The pope allowed us to visit so we could connect him with people in other parts of the country where he won’t be able to visit,” Muir said. “He took questions and heard stories of struggle. He also spoke in English in some of his answers, at one point asking a teenager in Chicago fighting adversity to please sing for him. And she did.” Pope Francis, a native Spanish speaker, will celebrate Mass in Spanish during his U.S. visit.

“Today was an unforgettable day in the 20-year history of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School,” said a tweet from the school after the town hall ended. Chris Meyer, the school’s director of technology, tweeted, “A glorious morning at Cristo Rey Chicago,” advising in a separate tweet there would be “powerful stories” on the Sept. 4 broadcast.

“The pope did not shy away from some key issues,” Muir added, although he did not disclose what issues they were, inviting viewers to watch “World News Tonight” and the “20/20” installment.

 

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A heart closed to God leads to life of hypocrisy, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The line that separates good from evil is found in the human heart, not just in diligently following religious rituals and laws, Pope Francis said.

The outside world is not what “makes us saints or not saints, rather it is the heart that expresses our intentions, our choices and the desire to do everything for God’s love,” he said before praying the Angelus Aug. 30 with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

The pope reflected on the day’s reading from Deuteronomy (4:1-8) in which Moses urged people to observe the Lord’s commandments without adding to or subtracting anything from them and from the Gospel according to Mark (7:1-23) in which Jesus criticized hypocrites who honor God “with their lips” but not with their hearts.

“You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition,” Jesus said, adding that it is not the outside world that defiles people, but “the things that come out from within are what defile,” including evil thoughts, theft, murder, adultery, greed, envy and arrogance.

Pope Francis said, “The boundary between good and evil does not lie outside of us, but rather inside of us.”

Jesus teaches that religious rituals of purifying the body and objects do nothing without the conversion and purification of the heart, the pope said.

“Without a purified heart,” he said, “one can never have hands that are truly clean and lips that speak sincere words of love,” mercy and forgiveness.

A heart that is hardened or closed to God leads to a “double life” and hypocrisy, he said.

Going through the motions in “the external observance of the law” is not enough to be a good Christian, he said.

“The literal observance of precepts is something sterile if the heart does not change and if it is not translated into concrete acts: opening oneself up to God and his Word in prayer; seeking justice and peace; coming to the aid of the poor and the oppressed.”

Think of the scandal and harm done to the church by those who call themselves “very Catholic and go to church often, but then, in their daily life, they neglect their family, speak ill of others and so on. This is what Jesus condemns because this is a counter-witness” to Christianity, he said.

The pope asked that everyone pray to receive “a pure heart, free from every hypocrisy” so that every Christian can “live according to the spirit of the law and achieve its end, which is love.”

 

 

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Former nuncio dies in Vatican residence while awaiting sex abuse trial

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A Vatican official has ordered an autopsy on the body of former archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was found dead Aug. 28 in the Vatican residence where he was awaiting trial on charges of child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski  (CNS photo/Luis Gomez, Diario Libre via Reuters)

Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski (CNS photo/Luis Gomez, Diario Libre via Reuters)

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, Vatican spokesman, said Wesolowski’s body was found at 5 a.m. by a priest who also lives in the building, which houses the Franciscans who hear confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica and offices of the Vatican police force. Wesolowski was in front of a television, which was on, the spokesman said.

Officials from the Vatican police, medical service and court arrived quickly, he said, for an “initial verification, which indicated the death was from natural causes.”

“The promoter of justice ordered an autopsy, which will be carried out today,” the spokesman said. “The results will be communicated as soon as possible.”

In the statement, issued less than four hours after Wesolowski’s body was found, Father Benedettini said Pope Francis had been informed.

The spokesman told reporters Wesolowski had been in ill health and was under medical supervision at the time of his death.

Wesolowski was to be the first person to be tried by a Vatican criminal court on sex abuse charges. The first session of the trial had been scheduled for July 11, but was postponed when he was taken to the hospital the day before after suffering “a collapse,” Father Benedettini said. He remained in the hospital until July 17.

The Vatican court had not announced a date for the continuation of the trial of the former Polish archbishop and nuncio, Vatican ambassador, to the Dominican Republic.

In its official statement about his death, the Vatican referred to him as “His Excellency Monsignor Josef Wesolowski,” even though he was dismissed from the clerical state in June 2014 after an investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

His appeal of the dismissal was denied, Father Benedettini said, “but was not officially communicated so as not to aggravate the situation” while he was awaiting the separate criminal trial. He was still listed as an archbishop in the 2015 edition of the “Annuario Pontificio,” the Vatican yearbook.

Before his criminal trial was postponed July 11, the Vatican prosecution read out the five charges against Wesolowski, which included having “corrupted, by means of lewd acts, adolescents presumably between the ages of 13 and 16,” in the Dominican Republic, where Wesolowski had served as a Vatican nuncio from 2008 to 2013, when he was accused of abusing adolescent boys.

According to Vatican prosecutors, Wesolowsk’s crimes continued once he was brought back to the Vatican. While being investigated, the court said, he procured and possessed on Vatican City State property and elsewhere, a “large amount” of “material from Internet sites” depicting minors under the age of 18 in sexually explicit acts or poses.

He also was charged with causing “serious injury to adolescent victims of sexual abuse, consisting of mental distress” and of “conduct that offends religious principles or Christian morality” by repeatedly logging on to pornographic sites while in the Dominican Republic, Rome, Vatican City State and elsewhere.

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Busy parents can start family prayer time with small gestures, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Parents who juggle packed work and family schedules deserve a Nobel Prize in mathematics for doing something not even the most brilliant scientists can do: They pack 48 hours of activity into 24, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Aug. 26. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Aug. 26. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

“I don’t know how they do it, but they do,” the pope told thousands of people gathered Aug. 26 for his weekly general audience. “There are moms and dads who could win the Nobel for this!”

Focusing his audience talk on the family and prayer, Pope Francis said he knows modern life can be frenetic and that family schedules are “complicated and packed.”

The most frequent complaint of any Christian, he said, is that he or she does not have enough time to pray.

“The regret is sincere,” the pope said, “because the human heart seeks prayer, even if one is not aware of it.”

The way to begin, he said, is to recognize how much God loves you and to love him in return. “A heart filled with affection for God can turn even a thought without words into a prayer.”

“It is good to believe in God with all your heart and it’s good to hope that he will help you when you are in difficulty or to feel obliged to thank him,” the pope said. “That’s all good. But do we love the Lord? Does thinking about God move us, fill us with awe and make us more tender?”

Bowing one’s head or “blowing a kiss” when one passes a church or a crucifix or an image of Mary are small signs of that love, he said. They are prayers.

“It is beautiful when moms teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or Mary,” the pope said. “There’s so much tenderness in that. And, at that moment, the heart of the child is transformed into a place of prayer.”

“Isn’t it amazing that God caresses us with a father’s love?” he asked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square. “It’s beautiful, so beautiful. He could have simply made himself known as the Supreme Being, given his commandments and awaited the results. Instead, God did and does infinitely more than this. He accompanies us on the path of life, protects us and loves us.”

If you learn as a child to turn to God “with the same spontaneity as you learn to say ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy,’ you’ve learned it forever,” he said.

By teaching children how to make the sign of the cross, to say a simple grace before meals and to remember always that God is there and loves them, he said, family life will be enveloped in God’s love and family members will spontaneously find times for prayer.

“You, mom, and you, dad, teach your child to pray, to make the sign of the cross,” Pope Francis said.

The simple little prayers, he said, will increase family members’ sense of God’s love and presence and their certainty that God has entrusted the family members to one another.

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Pope urges visitors to really get to know Jesus by reading Gospels

August 24th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis asked thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to be quiet for a moment and ponder the question, “Who is Jesus to you?”

After the moment of silence Aug. 23, the pope introduced the midday Angelus prayer by asking Mary to help Christians purify their faith, removing “worldly incrustations and fears.” Read more »

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Vatican Letter: Theologians discuss promise, pitfalls of family synod discussions

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The discussion at last year’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was lively, some media coverage made it sound like a battle, and a new book from the Pontifical Council for the Family shows the debate continues.

“Family and Church: An Indissoluble Bond,” published this summer only in Italian, is a collection of presentations by theologians and canon lawyers gathered by the council for three full days of discussion and debate.

Pilgrims reach to receive Communion as Pope Francis celebrates Mass Jan. 18 in Manila, Philippines. As Catholics prepare for the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October, a number of church leaders and theologians are discussing ways to reach out to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. (CNS photo/Francis Maalasig, EPA)

Pilgrims reach to receive Communion as Pope Francis celebrates Mass Jan. 18 in Manila, Philippines. As Catholics prepare for the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October, a number of church leaders and theologians are discussing ways to reach out to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. (CNS photo/Francis Maalasig, EPA)

Their consensus is that the church must do something to present more clearly its teaching on marriage; it must do more to help young couples prepare for marriage; it must be more effective in helping couples in trouble; and it must reach out to those who divorced and remarried without an annulment.

At the same time, the text indicates that many bloggers and reporters are wrong when they try to pigeon-hole church leaders as being in either-or categories of loving ministers of God’s mercy or strong defenders of God’s truth. The challenge lies in being both.

The meetings brought together two dozen participants, men and women, most teaching at pontifical universities in Rome, including the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The experts — Europeans, an Indian, Africans and South Americans — met in January, February and March.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the family council, told an Italian Catholic magazine that finding pastoral approaches to express God’s mercy while being faithful to church teaching is complicated. However, he told Famiglia Cristiana, “It is pharisaical to limit ourselves to repeating laws and denouncing sins. The church must be frank in admonishing, but it also must be ready to find new paths to follow.”

One of the paths suggested before and during last year’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family was a “penitential process” that gradually would lead some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to confession, absolution and Communion.

Participants at the family council’s meetings explored the idea, giving suggested steps and highlighting potential pitfalls beginning with the obvious danger of signaling to the couples and the world at large that perhaps some sacramental marriages are not indissoluble after all. But doing nothing, several said, risks signaling that entering a new union, even after being abandoned by a husband or wife, is the only situation where the church cannot be a minister of God’s forgiveness.

In his presentation, Father Giampaolo Dianin, an Italian professor of moral theology, insisted forgiveness is not “some kind of amnesty.” In Catholic teaching it is “a free and full gift of God which asks for and provokes a commitment to repair, begin again and rebuild.”

A possible “penitential path,” he said, would include:

  • A diocesan bishop appointing a priest or a team of qualified people to evaluate individual cases and accompany the applicants, first determining if they have the grounds for an annulment, which would allow them to have their new union blessed as a marriage.
  • For a spouse who was abandoned, the process would aim at promoting forgiveness of the offending party. For all involved, the process would include recognizing their sins and ways they contributed to the destruction of the marriage.
  • Evaluating the solidity of the second union and the commitment of the couple to live seriously as Christians.
  • “Readmission to the sacraments could be full or partial.” Some might maintain that permanent readmission downplays the fact that the second union is not a sacramental marriage, Father Dianin said; they would allow the couple to receive absolution and Communion during the Easter season and on special occasions.

In Father Dianin’s process, there is no requirement that the couple abstain from sex, living “as brother and sister.” In current church practice, that is what is required of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics who want to receive the sacraments.

Father Dianin and several other participants said that beyond the difficulty, and perhaps impossibility, many couples would have in fulfilling that requirement, there is a theological problem in suggesting that the spiritual and corporal aspects of love can and should be separated. In addition, Father Alberto Bonandi, another theologian, said it gives the message that the sexual relations in a new union are the only way the couple is living in conflict with their original marriage bond when, in fact, they have withdrawn their affection and are building a life with someone else.

Father Eugenio Zanetti disagreed. The Italian canon lawyer outlined not a “penitential path,” but what he called a “path of conversion to Love,” meaning to God who is love.

The process would begin with a year of individual and group prayer and reflection, particularly looking at the obligations that remain to the spouse and any children from one’s sacramental marriage, he said. During Lent, the prayer would intensify and the reflection would include attention to the Christian understanding of sexuality. At the end of Holy Week, the couple would be invited to confession, “recognizing their sins, including their complex and not fully correct marriage situation.” As a condition of granting them absolution, the church would ask for a promise that they abstain from sexual relations during the Octave of Easter, which would permit them to receive Communion on Easter and on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Publishers have announced the coming release of other books on Catholic teaching and the family before the world Synod of Bishops on the family begins Oct. 4. One of them, coming from Ignatius Press, is: “Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint.”

The book, widely expected to be cautious about broadening the church’s “penitential path,” is described by the publisher as steering “a wise and merciful course that engages genuine concerns, while avoiding false compassion, which compromises both truth and authentic love.”

The discussion and debate continues.

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Papal message: Sense of longing reminds people they are ‘made for great things’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A sense of longing, of missing something, often is not a sign that a person has taken a wrong turn, but rather is the heart’s reminder “that our nature was made for great things,” said a message written in the name of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, reflected on the teachings of Pope Francis and of retired Pope Benedict XVI in the message he sent Aug. 19 to the Meeting in Rimini, an annual event sponsored by the Communion and Liberation movement.

For the theme of the gathering’s 2015 edition, organizers chose a line from a poem by Mario Luzi: “What is this lack a lack of, oh heart, of which all of a sudden you are full?”

In a world that offers so many easy answers or solutions that just lull people to sleep, Catholics must ask themselves how best to “give voice to the questions that everyone carries inside them,” Cardinal Parolin wrote.

“No one can begin a dialogue about God without fanning the flame of the little light burning in the other’s heart — without accusation because we all have limits and without presumption, but welcoming and listening to all,” the message said.

It is normal and human, the cardinal said, to pose questions such as: Why must we suffer? Why does evil exist? Is hope possible? Do loving, working and sacrificing make sense? What are we doing in this world?

“These are questions that everyone, young and old, believers and nonbelievers, ask,” he wrote. At some point in life, either at a time of great disappointment or great joy, “everyone has to take into account one or more of those questions.”

A sense that something is missing, he said, does not mean one made a mistake, “on the contrary, it is the bell that sounds to remind us that our nature is made for great things.”

The world tries to convince people they can find happiness “in money, power, drugs of all kinds or in satisfying one’s momentary desires,” the message said. But Christians know that meaning, joy and fulfillment come from God.

Cardinal Parolin told Meeting participants that Pope Francis hoped they would “go out to all sustained by a desire to propose with strength, beauty and simplicity the good news of the love of God, who continues to bend down and fill us with the water of life that flows from the risen Jesus.”

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