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Mercy can scandalize those who don’t see their own sin, pope says

September 21st, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating the feast of St. Matthew, the anniversary of the day when as a 17-year-old he said he was overwhelmed by God’s mercy, Pope Francis said it was interesting how many Catholics today seem to be scandalized when God shows mercy to someone.

Pope Francis gives the homily during morning Mass Sept. 19 in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta Sept. 21, Pope Francis looked in depth at the day’s short Gospel story of the calling of St. Matthew.

The story, the pope said, has three parts: “the encounter, the celebration and the scandal.”

Jesus sees Matthew, a tax collector — “one of those who made the people of Israel pay taxes to give to the Romans, a traitor to his country” — and calls him to follow. Jesus looks at him “lovingly, mercifully” and “the resistance of that man who wanted money, who was a slave to money, falls.”

“That man knew he was a sinner,” the pope said. “He was liked by no one and even despised.” But it was “precisely that awareness of being a sinner that opened the door to Jesus’ mercy. He left everything and followed.”

“The first condition for being saved is knowing you are in danger,” he said. “The first condition for being healed is feeling sick.”

In the Gospel story, Matthew celebrates by inviting Jesus for a meal. Pope Francis said it reminded him of what Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Luke, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

But, the pope said, the Pharisees saw Jesus with Matthew and were scandalized that he would eat with tax collectors and sinners.

The Pharisees were people who continually repeated, “The law says this, doctrine says that,” the pope said. “But they forgot the first commandment of love and were closed in a cage of sacrifices, (saying), ‘We make our sacrifices to God, we keep the Sabbath, we do all we should and so we’ll be saved.’”

But, the pope said, “God saves us, Jesus Christ saves us and these men did not understand. They felt secure; they thought salvation came from them.”

In the same way today, he said, “we often hear faithful Catholics who see mercy at work and ask, ‘Why?’”

There are “many, many, always, even in the church today,” the pope said. “They say, ‘No, no you can’t, it’s all clear, they are sinners, we must send them away.’”

But, Pope Francis said, Jesus himself answered them when he said, “I have come not to call the just, but sinners.” So, “if you want to be called by Jesus, recognize you are a sinner.”

Pope Francis admits mistake in approving lenient sanctions against priest abuser

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of “zero tolerance” toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults.

U.S. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Pope Francis address the commission this week and called Cardinal O’Malley a “prophet” in the church who has come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.(CNS /Paul Haring)

Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon.

“Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness,” he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.

Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.

The Catholic Church has been “late” in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to “swim against the tide” because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.

“When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late,” he said. “I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late.”

“Perhaps,” he said, “the old practice of moving people” from one place to another and not fully facing the problem “lulled consciences to sleep.”

But, he said, “prophets in the church,” including Cardinal O’Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.

Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added.

Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are “grave” and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem, it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested.

However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the “many cases that do not proceed” with the backlog.

Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese.

He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor “is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse” for an appeal. “If there is proof. End of story,” the pope said; the sentence “is definitive.”

And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator.

The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from “a sickness.”

The pope told the commission he has been learning “on the job” better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended.

Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned “it’s a terrible sickness: that requires a different approach.

     

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

Vatican calls any nuclear threat against North Korea ‘deplorable’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Holy See ratified and signed the new U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the high-level Vatican diplomat who signed the treaty told a U.N. conference that the Catholic Church supports efforts “to move progressively toward a world free of nuclear weapons.”

North Koreans watch a news report of an intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on a big screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Kyodo via Reuters)

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations Sept. 20. More than 40 other countries signed it as well. The treat would enter into force 90 days after at least 50 countries both sign and ratify it.

Also at the United Nations, Archbishop Gallagher addressed the 10th Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a treaty the Vatican adhered to in 1996. The text of his speech was released at the Vatican Sept. 21.

The Vatican, he said, believes “a nuclear test ban, nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are closely linked and must be achieved as quickly as possible under effective international control.”

But delays in getting eight more countries to ratify the treaty mean that it still has not entered into force. “Two decades without the treaty’s entry into force have been two decades lost in our common goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Archbishop Gallagher said.

The treaty, he said, “is all the more urgent when one considers contemporary threats to peace, from the continuing challenges of nuclear proliferation to the major new modernization programs of some of the nuclear weapons states.”

“The rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program are of special urgency,” he said. “The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations. The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security,” the archbishop said. “Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of annihilation.”

The new treaty signed by the Vatican bans testing, but also bans efforts to develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The United States and other countries possessing nuclear weapons did not take part in the negotiations and do not plan to sign the treaty.

A celebration of life in the Bible

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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When we think about the Respect Life cause in biblical terms, we probably recall the phrase from Deuteronomy that has become a popular pro-life slogan, “Choose life” (Dt 30:19). It’s a pointed and comprehensive phrase that reflects the pro-life message about valuing all human life. However, the Bible contains other great examples that highlight the value of life.

Consider the moment Elizabeth and Mary met at the visitation. Both women were miraculously pregnant — Mary, by the virginal conception of Jesus, and Elizabeth after having been declared barren. The recognition of the precious lives within them caused the child within Elizabeth’s womb to leap for joy (Lk 1:41). Read more »

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Domestic abuse: A parish response

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

As places of faith, compassion and respect for life, parishes are in a unique position to raise awareness about domestic abuse and support families as they find help. But misinformation and a hesitancy to talk about such a tough issue can make this challenging.

Catholics for Family Peace Education and Research Initiative, housed at The Catholic University of America within the National Catholic School of Social Service, was formed to help parishes respond to domestic abuse in an “informed, compassionate way,” said director Sharon O’Brien. Read more »

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Love them both

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

In my early high school years, I hung around the hippy crowd. We were all about long hair, rock music and anti-war marches. My English teacher was the coolest teacher at the school. She had us read a new best-seller, “The Population Bomb,” that predicted food shortages and wars due to runaway overpopulation.

She also alerted us to the crisis many women face who get pregnant unexpectedly, when they are not ready to raise a child. And then she told us that many of these women, seeking a solution to the crisis, have recourse to back-alley abortionists who kill some of these women and maim others. Read more »

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Living our Faith: Respect Life and Domestic Violence Awareness

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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October is Respect Life Month, as well as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“The Visitation,” circa 1445, which was created by Luca della Robbia, was featured in an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Bible contains great examples that highlight the value of life. Consider the moment Elizabeth and Mary, both miraculously pregnant, met at the visitation. (CNS photo/courtesy National Gallery of Art)

To be pro-life means to value all human life, from conception through natural death.

Parishes can tie these two issues together through homilies, bulletin announcements, flyers, resources and focused prayer, especially in the prayer of the faithful at Mass.

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Sunday Scripture readings, Sept. 24, 2017:

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

By

Catholic News Service

 

Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

           

Cycle A Readings

1) Is 55:6-9

Psalm 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

2) Phil 1:20-24, 27

Gospel: Mt 20:1-16

           

In the vineyard

Gospel parables often contain a paradox meant to open us to a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are in relationship to God. To unpack the deeper meaning of the parable takes time, reflection and silence.

At times, we are challenged to “think outside the box” to understand the meaning of God’s word. This is particularly true of today’s Gospel parable that invites us to reflect on how different God’s ways are from our ways. Read more »

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Saint of the Week: Vincent de Paul

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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St. Vincent de Paul

Feast Day: September 27

Born in southwestern France, Vincent began priestly studies in 1595 and was ordained in 1600.

St. Vincent de Paul (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1605, he was taken off a ship attacked by pirates.

After two years as a slave in Tunisia, he escaped and returned to France, taking up parish work outside Paris.

From about 1615, he dedicated his life to serving the poor.

To that end, he founded the Confraternity of Charity, the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and, with St. Louise de Marillac, the Daughters of Charity.

In 1885 Pope Leo XIII named him the patron of all works of charity.

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Saint of the Day: Therese Couderc

September 20th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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St. Therese Couderc

Fesast Day: September 26

Born to a French farm family, Marie-Victoire Couderc joined a new religious teaching order, but was sent to manage a mountain

St. Therese Couderc

hostel for women pilgrims at the shrine of St. John Francis Regis.

It became a successful retreat house under her guidance, and the order split into a teaching ministry, the Sisters of St. Regis, and a retreat ministry, the Congregation of Our Lady of the Cenacle.

Mother Therese was superior of the Cenacle sisters until 1838, when Jesuit advisers began replacing her with a succession of wealthy women.

She lived out her days as an ordinary nun, suffering deafness and painful arthritis at the end.

She wrote that “the surrendered soul has found paradise on earth,” and was canonized in 1970.

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