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Vatican releases pope’s schedule for May visit to Fatima

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating the 100th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis will lead the evening recitation of rosary and celebrate Mass on the anniversary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima when he visits Portugal May 12-13.

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through a crowd in 2016 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis visit Portugal May 12-13. (CNS photo/Paulo Chunho, EPA)

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through a crowd in 2016 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis visit Portugal May 12-13. (CNS photo/Paulo Chunho, EPA)

The pope will make the two-day pilgrimage to the site where Mary appeared to three shepherd children May 13, 1917. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

During his visit, the pope also will meet with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and have lunch with the bishops of Portugal.

Pope Francis will be the fourth pontiff to visit the Marian shrine, following in the footsteps of Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who each made visits on a May 13 to mark the anniversary of the first apparition.

Here is the schedule for the pope’s trip to Fatima as released by the Vatican March 20. All times are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses:

Friday, May 12 (Rome, Fatima)

  • 2 p.m. (8 a.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
  • 4:20 p.m. (11:20 a.m.) Arrival at Monte Real air base in Leiria, Portugal. Welcoming ceremony.
  • 4:35 p.m. (11:35 a.m.) Private meeting with the president of Portugal at the Monte Real Air Base.
  • 4:55 p.m. (11:55 a.m.) Visit to the Monte Real air base chapel.
  • 5:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.) Transfer by helicopter to Fatima stadium.
  • 5:35 p.m. (12:35 p.m.) Arrival at Fatima stadium and transfer to the shrine.
  • 6:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.) Visit and prayer at the Little Chapel of the Apparitions.
  • 9:30 p.m. (4:15 p.m.) Blessing of the candles at the chapel. Speech by pope and recitation of the rosary.

Saturday, May 13

  • 9:10 a.m. (4:10 a.m.) Meeting with prime minister of Portugal at Our Lady of Mount Carmel house in Fatima.
  • 9:40 a.m. (4:40 a.m.) Visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima.
  • 10 a.m. (5 a.m.) Outdoor Mass at the basilica. Homily by pope. Greeting by pope to the sick.
  • 12:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m.) Lunch with the bishops of Portugal at Our Lady of Mount Carmel house in Fatima.
  • 2:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at the Monte Real air base.
  • 3 p.m. (10 a.m.) Departure for Rome.
  • 7:05 p.m. (1:05 p.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.

 

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Sainthood cause of Fatima visionary now awaits miracles

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Diocese of Coimbra concluded its phase of the sainthood cause of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is pictured in a 2000 photo. Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra, Portugal, formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97. (CNS photo/Paulo Carrico, EPA)

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is pictured in a 2000 photo. Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra, Portugal, formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97. (CNS photo/Paulo Carrico, EPA)

Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra, Portugal, formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97.

The ceremony included the sealing of 50 volumes, 15,000 pages, of evidence and witness testimonies detailing the life of Sister Lucia. The documents sealed at the ceremony were to be shipped to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes at the Vatican.

After a thorough review of the materials and a judgment that Sister Lucia heroically lived the Christian virtues, her cause still would require the recognition of two miracles, one for beatification and another for canonization, attributed to her intercession.

The Marian apparitions at Fatima began on May 13, 1917, when 10-year-old Lucia, along with her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, reported seeing the Virgin Mary.

The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Father Romano Gambalunga, postulator of the visionary’s cause, said that while “Lucia is already a saint in the eyes” of many people, “the prudent path of the church is that she is proposed to all, not just those who believe.”

“Lucia became holy over the years, not because of the apparitions,” Father Gambalunga told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese bishops’ conference. Without providing details, he said she had a “spiritual experience” in the convent.

While many hope her heroic virtues will be recognized by the church soon, it is important “not to do things in a hurry,” he said Feb. 13.

The evidence and testimonies gathered for Sister Lucia’s cause, he said, provide “a great occasion for spiritual and theological deepening,” and the material will help “illuminate the history of the church over the last 100 years.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Fatima May 12-13 and many people hope he will use the occasion to canonize Sister Lucia’s cousins, Francisco and Jacinta, who were beatified by St. John Paul II in 2000.

Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima told Radio Renascenca, the Portuguese bishops’ radio station, that while nothing is certain, he is “deeply hopeful” the canonization will take place this year, the centenary of the apparitions.

“We are waiting and continue to pray to the Lord. But I hope that, during the centenary, we will have the grace and joy to participate in the canonization,” he said.

Bishop Marto also admitted that “he is a convert,” who, as a priest, was initially skeptical of the Marian apparitions in Fatima.

“I was a skeptic. I didn’t care; I did not take an interest nor did I take a position. I understood it as something for children,” Bishop Marto said.

The skepticism changed into belief after attending a conference on the apparitions and reading Sister Lucia’s memoirs, he told the radio station. “I was deeply impressed, both by the authenticity of the testimony she gave and by the seriousness of the problems she dealt with. I read her memoirs three times to find the historical and ecclesial context” of the apparitions.

 

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Pope Francis to visit Fatima in May for 100th anniversary of Marian apparitions

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Portugal in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions of Fatima.

The pope, who accepted the invitation made by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and the bishops of Portugal, “will go on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima from May 12-13,” the Vatican announced Dec. 17.

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through a crowd May 13 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 99th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, received the first of several visions May 13, 1917. (CNS photo/Paulo Chunho, EPA)

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through a crowd May 13 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 99th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, received the first of several visions May 13, 1917. (CNS photo/Paulo Chunho, EPA)

The pilgrimage will mark the anniversary of the Marian apparitions, which first began on May 13, 1917, when three shepherd children reported seeing the Virgin Mary.

The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

Following the announcement, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, rector of the Fatima shrine told Agencia Ecclesia, the news agency of the Portuguese bishops’ conference, that the visit was a cause for joy for the shrine.

“For the shrine of Fatima, it is a great joy to receive this confirmation of Pope Francis’ visit,” he said.

“We know that those days will be a pilgrimage marked by this festivity that, on the one hand is for the centennial of the apparitions and, on the other hand, marks the presence of the pope in our midst and a pope as beloved as Pope Francis,” Father Cabecinhas said.

While the Vatican confirmed the dates of the visit, the pope had already said that he intended to go.

“Certainly, as things presently stand, I will go to Portugal, and only to Fatima,” he told journalists during his return flight to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2.

Pope Francis will be the fourth pontiff to visit the Marian shrine, following the footsteps of Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who each paid homage different years to Mary on the anniversary of the first apparition May 13.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Pope’s voting advice: Study issues, pray, vote your conscience

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Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM AZERBAIJAN — Catholics facing difficult political choices must study the issues, pray about the election and then vote according to their consciences, Pope Francis said.

A man exits a voting booth in Laconia, N.H., Feb. 9. (CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA)

A man exits a voting booth in Laconia, N.H., Feb. 9. (CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA)

Flying back to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2, the pope was asked by a reporter what U.S. Catholics should do in a presidential election where both candidates hold some positions contrary to church teaching.

Although he was in a relaxed mood and welcomed reporters’ questions for almost an hour, Pope Francis said he would never comment on a specific electoral campaign.

“The people are sovereign,” he said. “Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”

Pope Francis also was asked when he would name new members to the College of Cardinals and what criteria he would use to choose them.

He said he still had not decided precisely when to announce the names or hold the consistory to create the new cardinals, but it would likely be at the end of this year or the beginning of 2017.

As for the choices, Pope Francis said, the list of worthy candidates is long, “but there are only 13 places” to reach the limit of 120 cardinals under the age of 80.

The selection process will aim for a geographic mix, he said. “I like it when one can see in the College of Cardinals the universality of the church, not just the European center, shall we say.”

Although he and the reporters traveling with him had not yet returned to Rome and already were set to go to Sweden Oct. 31-Nov. 1, a journalist asked the pope where he would be traveling in 2017.

A trip to Fatima, Portugal, is definite, he said. He intends to go May 13 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Also on the calendar, the pope said, is a trip to India and Bangladesh and another trip to Africa, although the specific nation or nations has not been decided.

Asked about his promise to visit Colombia after peace was established in the country, Pope Francis said the peace agreement signed in September between the government and rebels was important, but the people of Colombia still have to vote to ratify the agreement and begin the real work of living in peace.

In addition, Pope Francis confirmed that he had spoken with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, about setting aside the usual five-year waiting period to allow the collection of eyewitness testimony regarding the murder in July of French Father Jacques Hamel as he celebrated Mass.

“It is very important not to lose the testimonies,” the pope said. “With time, someone may die, another forgets something.”

 

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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May 13 — The 99th anniversary of first apparition at Fatima, Portugal.

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A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through the crowd May 12 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 99th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, received the first of several visions May 13, 1917. (CNS photo/Rafael Marchante, Reuters)

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima is carried through the crowd May 12 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 99th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, received the first of several visions May 13, 1917. (CNS photo/Rafael Marchante, Reuters)

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‘I sleep like a log’ — Pope talks friendship, pardon, immigrant crisis in radio interviews

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A pope needs friends, needs mercy and needs to reach out to all people, Pope Francis said in two radio interviews released in mid-September.

Pope Francis told Portugal’s Catholic Radio Renascenca that he goes to confession “every 15 days, 20 days. I confess to a Franciscan priest, Father Blanco, who is kind enough to come here and confess me.”

Pope Francis recently gave interviews to radio stations in Argentina and Portugal. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis recently gave interviews to radio stations in Argentina and Portugal. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Laughing, the pope said, “I’ve never had to call an ambulance” to carry him away “in shock over my sins.”

In a separate interview with Argentina’s Radio Milenium, Pope Francis was asked how he feels when he hears people refer to him as a global moral leader and a point of reference for all humanity.

“I know that I am a sinner,” the pope responded, and “so I speak with Jesus and tell him, ‘People are so good to think this of me.’ But the good that is in me, I owe to him. It is a gift from God.”

The interviewer, Marcelo Figueroa, a Protestant, was the host of the television program the pope used to appear on in Buenos Aires with Rabbi Abraham Skorka. The radio program broadcast Sept. 13 focused on the biblical idea of friendship, a topic for the television program that was interrupted by the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election as Pope Francis in 2013.

Pope Francis told Figueroa, “I’ve never had as many ‘friends’ in quotation marks as I have now. Everyone is a friend of the pope!”

However, he said, friendship is something “very sacred.” It involves walking alongside another person. Friendship takes time. And it is not about “using” the other, which Pope Francis said has happened to him, just as it happens to everyone.

The world, he said, seems to be cultivating a “culture of enmity” rather than friendship and brotherhood. In response, religious leaders must cultivate dialogue, friendship and a culture of encounter, rather than setting themselves up as a judge.

Fundamentalists in every religion, he said, judge others and “seek to destroy because they are faithful to an idea, but not to a reality.”

In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he said, there are people who “transform God into an ideology and also in the name of God kill, attack, destroy and slander.”

In both radio interviews, Pope Francis spoke about his need to be with people, even though it is difficult now that he is pope.

“A priest must be a bridge; that’s why they call a pope pontiff, that is, he must build bridges and not isolate himself,” the pope told Figueroa. “When I say priest, I mean bishops and the pope as well.”

Interacting with people, “I’m not only giving, but I receive. I need the faithful. They give me a gift,” he said. Pope Francis said he is not trying to be an example, “it is my identity. I feel like a priest and it comes spontaneously. Otherwise, I’d just be a church employee.”

He told Radio Renascenca’s Aura Miguel that he really needs to get out of the Vatican more, which is something he is working on. “But I have contact with people on Wednesdays” at his general audience “and this helps a lot. The only thing I really miss from Buenos Aires is going out, walking along the streets.”

Pope Francis also told Miguel he hopes to go to Portugal in 2017 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

In anticipation of the anniversary, Pope Francis said people should do what Mary wants: “The Virgin Mary always asks us to pray, to look after the family and follow the commandments. She doesn’t make odd requests. She asks us to pray for those who have lost their way, for those who say they are sinners, aren’t we all? I am the first.”

Pope Francis also spoke about the huge wave of refugees, particularly from Syria, who were seeking safety and a new life in Europe in August and September.

The summer’s movement of people “is the tip of an iceberg,” he said. “These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg. Because underneath that is the cause; and the cause is a bad and unjust socio-economic system.”

“The dominant economic system today has removed the person from the center, placing the god money in its place, the idol of fashion,” Pope Francis said.

Where profit is more important than job creation, development, peace and safeguarding creation, conditions necessary for a dignified life, people will continue to believe they must move in order to provide for their families, he said.

Miguel also asked the pope what keeps him awake at night. “Can I tell you truth,” Pope Francis responded. “I sleep like a log.”

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