Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec 1, 2017 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis met with the bishops of Bangladesh, urging them to be close to the laity, especially young people and families, and to encourage them to serve the Church according to th… […]
Lima, Peru, Dec 1, 2017 / 12:00 am (CNA).- The Peruvian government will withdraw a 2016 national school curriculum that has been widely criticized for its “gender ideology.”
In a Nov. 24 statement, Peru’s Department of Education anno… […]
Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov 30, 2017 / 10:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Celebrating Mass in the Bangladeshi capital on Friday, Pope Francis ordained 16 men to the priesthood.
“Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons … are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised,” he exhorted the crowd in his homily, which is that provided in the Roman Pontifical.
The Dec. 1 Mass was said at Suhrawardy Udyan, a park and national memorial in Dhaka.
“Our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church … priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God,” the Pope preached.
“After mature deliberation, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate, so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.”
He reflected that the newly ordained would be consecrated “to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.”
Turning to the ordinandi, he said: “For your part, you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.”
“Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church,” he added.
“Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.”
Referring to their duties in the sacraments and in the recitation of the Divine Office, he called them to remember “that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.”
“Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
Having finished the exemplar homily from the Pontifical, Pope Francis then addressed extemporaneously the crowd attending the Mass.
“Thank you for your generosity,” he told them. “This shows the love you have for the Church. This shows the love you have for Jesus Christ. Thank you all. Thank you all for your generosity. Thank you for your faithfulness.”
“Today I ask you in a special way always to pray for these new priests … the People of God sustain their priests with prayer. Your responsibility is to sustain your priests.”
“Don’t get tired of sustaining your priests with prayer. I know you will do this.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 30, 2017 / 05:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, CA has encouraged Catholics in the U.S. to advocate for an extension to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before the spring … […]
Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 30, 2017 / 03:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In preparation for the first Sunday of Advent, the Archbishop of Los Angeles has said the season is a time to spiritually “stay woke,” shaking off apathy and becoming more aware… […]
Yangon, Burma, Nov 30, 2017 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When Pope Francis travels around the world, he often makes time to visit with local Jesuit communities. This week Fr. Wilbert Mireh, SJ, took part in the Pope’s visit with the Jesuits… […]
Jerusalem, Nov 30, 2017 / 10:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the recent restoration of the Holy Sepulchre, archaeologists have confirmed the construction dates of the structure surrounding what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus.
Having undergone renovations in 2016, the tomb was opened for first time in centuries last October. Archeologists were able to test samples of the mortar near the cave’s southern wall and the entrance, according to National Geographic. The sediment in the samples was was measured for its most recent exposure to light using a process called optically stimulated luminescence.
They found that the mortar and marble slab covering the original burial bed dated back to about 345 AD. This coincides with the time period that Constantine was believed to have built the shrine around the tomb, and refutes claims by many researchers that the shrine was built only 1,000 years ago, during the Crusades.
Veneration of Christ’s burial place dates back to the fourth century, when St. Helena is believed to have discovered and identified the tomb. St. Helena’s son, Emperor Constantine, is believed to have built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 326 and enshrined the tomb.
The shelf on which Christ’s body was laid is the central point of veneration, which has been encapsulated by a 3-by-5 foot marble structure – the Edicule – since at least 1555.
Since its construction, the church has been built and rebuilt several times, repairing destruction caused by fires, earthquakes, and religious conflicts.
A year-long restoration of the site was recently completed, and scientists are looking into additional restoration work on the foundation.
Scientists also found that in between the burial bed and the most recent marble covering was a broken slab marked by a cross and words “burial tomb,” belonging to the original shrine.
The tests performed on the tomb samples also provided evidence for the historical restorations of the Crusades and the 16th century Franciscans.
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2017 / 05:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis arrived in Bangladesh with words of praise for the humanitarian assistance the nation has given to Rohingya Muslim refugees, and urged greater action on their behalf from the international community.
Speaking to Bangladeshi president Abdul Harmid and the nation’s authorities and diplomatic corps, the Pope said that in recent months “the spirit of generosity and solidarity” the country is known for “has been seen most vividly in its humanitarian outreach to a massive influx of refugees from Rakhine State.”
He noted how Bangladesh “at no little sacrifice” has provided shelter and basic necessities for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims at their border.
With the eyes of the world watching the crisis unfold, no one “can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the immense toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps,” he said.
It is therefore “imperative” that the international community “take decisive measures to address this grave crisis.”
Resolution, he said, means not only working to resolve the political problems that led to the mass displacement of people in recent months, “but also by offering immediate material assistance to Bangladesh in its effort to respond effectively to urgent human needs.”
Pope Francis spoke hours after arriving in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the second phase of his Nov. 27-Dec. 2 tour of Asia. He was in Burma Nov. 27-30, and will stay in Bangladesh for two days before returning to Rome.
His visit comes amid boiling tensions over the mass exodus of the Rohingya, a largely Muslim ethnic group who reside in Burma’s Rakhine State, from their homeland amid increasing state-sponsored violence that has led the United Nations to declare the crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
With an increase in persecution in their home country of Burma more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh, where millions are in refugee camps.
Though the Vatican has said the crisis was not the original reason behind the Pope’s visit to the two nations, it has largely overshadowed the trip, with many keeping a watchful eye on how the Pope would respond, specifically when it comes to use of the term “Rohingya.”
Despite widespread use of the word in the international community, it is controversial within Burma. The Burmese government refuses to use the term, and considers the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. At the request of local Church leaders in Burma, Pope Francis refrained from using the word, and he has also done so in Bangladesh.
In his speech to authorities, the Pope praised the natural beauty in Bangladesh, which is seen in its vast network of rivers and waterways, saying the vision is symbolic of the nation’s identity as a people made up of various languages and backgrounds.
Pope Francis then pointed to the nation’s first leaders, whom he said “envisioned a modern, pluralistic and inclusive society in which every person and community could live in freedom, peace and security, with respect for the innate dignity and equal rights of all.”
Bangladesh gained independence from West Pakistan in 1971 after a bloody nine-month war that began when Pakistani military attacked their eastern state in a bid to eliminate Bengali nationalists from the region. West Pakistan began their assault in March 1971, and surrendered in December of the same year, resulting in the independence of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
The future of democracy in the young nation and the health of its political life, then, are “essentially linked” to fidelity to the original vision of the founding fathers, Pope Francis said.
“Only through sincere dialogue and respect for legitimate diversity can a people reconcile divisions, overcome unilateral perspectives, and recognize the validity of differing viewpoints,” Francis said, adding that true dialogue looks to the future and builds unity in the service of the common good.
This dialogue, he said, is also concerned for the needs of “all citizens, especially the poor, the underprivileged and those who have no voice.”
These words are especially relevant for Bangladesh, which is among the most populated countries in the world, but is also one of the poorest, with nearly 30 percent of the population living under the poverty line.
Francis said that while he came primarily to support the tiny Catholic community in the country, he is looking forward to meeting with interreligious leaders, as he did in Burma.
Interfaith dialogue has been a major theme of the Pope’s visit, as Burma is a majority Buddhist nation and Bangladesh is majority Muslim. In Bangladesh, 86 percent of the population practices Islam. The 375,000 Catholics there represent less than 0.2 of the total population.
In his speech, Pope Francis noted that Bangladesh is known for the sense of harmony that exists between followers of different religions, saying this atmosphere of mutual respect and interreligious dialogue “enables believers to express freely their deepest convictions about the meaning and purpose of life.”
By doing this, religions are able to better promote the spiritual values which form the basis for a just and peaceful society. And in a world “where religion is often – scandalously – misused to foment division, such a witness to its reconciling and unifying power is all the more necessary.”
Francis said this witness was seen in an “eloquent way” after a brutal terrorist attack at a bakery in Dhaka last year left 29 people dead, prompting the country’s leaders to make a firm statement that God’s name “can never be invoked to justify hatred and violence against our fellow human beings.”
Speaking of the role Catholics play in the country, Pope Francis said they have an essential contribution, specifically through the schools, clinics and medical centers run by the Church.
The Church, he said, “appreciates the freedom to practice her faith and to pursue her charitable works, which benefit the entire nation, not least by providing young people, who represent the future of society.”
He noted how many of the students and teachers in Church-run schools are not Catholic, and voiced his confidence that in keeping with the Bangladeshi constitution, the Church “will continue to enjoy the freedom to carry out these good works as an expression of its commitment to the common good.”
The Pope closed his speech assuring his of his prayers “that in your lofty responsibilities, you will always be inspired by the high ideals of justice and service to your fellow citizens.”
In his greeting to Pope Francis, Bangladesh President Abdul Harmid thanked the Pope for his visit and stressed the importance the nation places on religious freedom and development.
“People are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely and without fear,” he said, adding that in Bangladesh they “cherish” religious liberty and therefore stand with the Pope in defending it, “knowing that people everywhere must be able to live with their faith, free from fear and intimidation.”
Harmid also pointed to Francis’ message on mercy, which he said Bangladesh has put into practice with their welcome of the Rohingya Muslims.
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure for them a safe, sustainable and dignified return to their own home and integration with the social, economic and political life of Myanmar,” he said, adding that the Pope’s “passionate” condemnation of the brutality they face brings hope for a resolution.
“Your closeness to them, your call for helping them and to ensure their full rights gives moral responsibility to the international community to act with promptness and sincerity.”
The president also pointed to the problem of radical terrorist violence, saying “no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.”
The Bangladesh government, he said, is therefore pursuing a “zero tolerance” policy committed to eradicating the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism.
“We denounce terrorism and violent extremism, in all its forms and manifestations,” Harmid said, yet at the same time, like other Muslim majority countries, Bangladesh is also concerned about “the rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes in many western societies, which is adversely affecting lives of millions of peaceful people of faith.”
“We believe that inter-faith dialogue, at all levels of the society, is important to combat such extremist trends,” he said. He closed his speech with an appeal to protect the natural environment, and said the Pope’s visit “renews our resolve towards building a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous world.”
Yangon, Burma, Nov 29, 2017 / 09:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic young people of Burma are “a welcome sound” of encouragement, Pope Francis told them Thursday at a Mass said at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Yangon.
“Dear young people of Myanmar … you are a beautiful and encouraging sight, for you bring us ‘good news’, the good news of your youth, your faith and your enthusiasm. Indeed, you are good news, because you are concrete signs of the Church’s faith in Jesus Christ, who brings us a joy and a hope that will never die,” Francis said Nov. 30 in the largest city of Burma (also known as Myanmar).
The Pope’s Mass with Burmese youth comes at the conclusion of his visit to the country, where he arrived Nov. 27. He also met with government officials, religious leaders, Buddhist monks, and the country’s bishops. The previous day, he said Mass in Yangon’s Kyaikkasan Ground, attended by much of the country’s Catholic population. From Burma, he will continue on to Bangladesh before returning to Rome.
“As my visit to your beautiful country draws to a close, I join you in thanking God for the many graces we have received in these days,” he stated.
“Some people ask how it is possible to speak of good news when so many people around us are suffering? Where is the good news when so much injustice, poverty and misery cast a shadow over us and our world?”
In the face of this suffering, he said it is important that the Burmese youth “are not afraid to believe in the good news of God’s mercy, because it has a name and a face: Jesus Christ. As messengers of this good news, you are ready to bring a word of hope to the Church, to your own country, and to the wider world.”
“You are ready to bring good news for your suffering brothers and sisters who need your prayers and your solidarity, but also your enthusiasm for human rights, for justice,” and for Christ’s love and peace.
The Pope’s words about solidarity, human rights, and justice come as international attention on Burma is focused on the Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who have been denied citizenship and who face general persecution in the Buddhist-majority country. In recent months, more than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the country for Bangladesh amid state-sponsored violence against them.
At the same time, Pope Francis challenged his listeners with three conditions of salvation given in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans which was proclaimed at the Mass, and which ask us “to think about our place in God’s plan.”
“In effect, Paul asks three questions, and I want to put them to each of you personally,” he said. “First, how are people to believe in the Lord unless they have heard about him? Second, how are people to hear about the Lord unless they have a messenger, someone to bring the good news? And third, how can they have a messenger unless one is sent?”
While wanting all of his listeners “to think deeply about these questions,” the Pope offered guidance to “help you to discern what it is that the Lord is asking of you.”
First, he said, it is important to listen for God’s voice: “Our world is full of many sounds, so many distractions, that can drown out God’s voice. If others are to hear and believe in him, they need to find him in people who are authentic. People who know how to listen … But only the Lord can help you to be genuine, so talk to him in prayer. Learn to hear his voice, quietly speaking in the depths of your heart.”
“But talk also to the saints,” he added, pointing to Saint Andrew, whose feast was celebrated at the Mass. “Andrew was a humble fisherman who became a great martyr … But before he became a martyr, he made his share of mistakes, and he needed to be patient, and to learn gradually how to be a true disciple of Christ. So do not be afraid to learn from your own mistakes!”
Pope Francis urged Burma’s youth to “let the saints lead you to Jesus and teach you to put your lives in his hands. You know that Jesus is full of mercy. So share with him all that you hold in your hearts: your fears and your worries, as well as your dreams and your hopes. Cultivate your interior life, as you would tend a garden or a field. This takes time; it takes patience. But like a farmer who waits for the crops to grow, if you wait the Lord will make you bear much fruit, a fruit you can then share with others.”
The Pope then turned to young people’s need to be “messengers of the good news of Jesus, above all to your contemporaries and friends. Do not be afraid to make a ruckus, to ask questions that make people think!”
“Don’t worry if sometimes you feel that you are few and far between,” he told them, in consideration of the fact that Catholics make up only about one percent of Burma’s population. “The Gospel always grows from small beginnings. So make yourselves heard.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pope?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Pope</a> to young people in Yangon: “Do not be afraid to make a ruckus, to ask questions that make people think!… Make yourselves heard. I want you to shout! But not with your voices. No! I want you to shout with your lives, with your hearts, & in this way to be signs of hope…” <a href=”https://t.co/XvufBjwyhR”>pic.twitter.com/XvufBjwyhR</a></p>— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) <a href=”https://twitter.com/EdwardPentin/status/936088670423019520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 30, 2017</a></blockquote>
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“I want you to shout … with your lives, with your hearts, and in this way to be signs of hope to those who need encouragement, a helping hand to the sick, a welcome smile to the stranger, a kindly support to the lonely.”
Finally, Pope Francis discussed being sent forth at the conclusion of Mass “to take with us the gifts we have received and to share them with others. This can be a little daunting, since we don’t always know where Jesus may be sending us. But he never sends us out without also walking at our side, and always just a little in front, leading us into new and wonderful parts of his kingdom.”
To be sent by Christ is to follow him, the Pope added. “The Lord will invite some of you to follow him as priests … Others he will call to become religious or consecrated men and women. And yet others he will call to the married life, to be loving fathers and mothers. Whatever your vocation, I urge you: be brave, be generous and, above all, be joyful!”
Francis concluded by given Burma’s young people the example of Mary, who though young, “had the courage to trust in the ‘good news’ she had heard, and to express it in a life of faithful dedication to her vocation, total self-giving, and complete trust in God’s loving care. Like Mary, may all of you be gentle but courageous in bringing Jesus and his love to others.”
“Dear young people, with great affection I commend all of you, and your families, to her maternal intercession. And I ask you, please, to remember to pray for me. God bless Myanmar!”
London, England, Nov 29, 2017 / 04:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In 1936, when British King Edward VIII declared that he was intended to marry Wallis Simpson, he abdicated the throne.
Opposition to the union was strong – Simpson was doubly-divorced, and many thought she was only after Edward for his money.
Besides general disapproval from the elite, a more definite obstacle stood in the couple’s way – as King, Edward VIII was the head of the Church of England, which at the time did not allow divorced persons to remarry if their first spouse was still alive. In order to marry Simpson in a civil ceremony, he abdicated the throne in December, and was succeeded by his brother, George VI.
Earlier this week, another royal engagement was announced. On Monday, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry, who is fifth in line for the throne, is engaged to Meghan Markle. Like Simpson, Markle is an American and divorced. Furthermore, Markle has Catholic ties in her family, and is possibly a baptized Catholic herself.
Obstacles which just a few years ago might have disqualified the couple from ascending to the crown – divorce, Catholic ties – no longer require the Prince to abdicate his place in the line of succession to the British throne.
What has changed?
Father James Bradley, a Catholic priest in the U.K. and a former Anglican, told CNA that because of the previous rules of the Anglican Church, Edward was essentially obligated to abdicate because “he would have been in a relationship which the Church of which he was Supreme Governor did not approve,” he said.
In 2002, a synod of Anglican bishops officially changed Anglican doctrine regarding divorce, declaring that while “marriage should always be undertaken as a ‘solemn, public and lifelong covenant between a man and a woman’…some marriages regrettably do fail and that the Church’s care for couples in that situation should be of paramount importance…there are exceptional circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.”
The Anglican Church does not define exactly what qualifies as exceptional circumstances; this is primarily left up to the presiding minister to determine whether a second church wedding can be allowed.
One instance in which the Anglican Church forbids a second church wedding for divorced persons is if the new relationship contributed to the breakdown of the first marriage, Ed Condon, a Catholic canon lawyer in the U.K., told CNA. This was what prevented a church wedding for Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005.
“If there’s been no openly scandalous reasons or contributing factors, that would allow the Anglican authorities to say well, you can have a church wedding,” Condon said. Harry and Markle are expected to be married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
But accepting attitudes about divorced monarchs is indicative of a broader breakdown of marriage that can be seen, particularly in the West, Bradley noted.
“The opposition to Edward VIII was, first of all, that society didn’t recognize divorce as something that was good at the time, and now it does, unfortunately,” he said.
Currently, “(the) new head of the [British] Supreme Court is pushing for no-fault divorce. We’ve gone from a situation where divorce was such a social issue that you couldn’t remain monarch and be married to a divorced person, and now we’re in a situation where the Supreme Court is pushing for no-fault divorce,” he said. “So it’s the complete collapse of marriage as we see in America and the rest of the West.”
Royals marrying Catholics
While Markle attended an all-girls Catholic school in L.A., it is unclear whether she was baptized as a Catholic, and she told Vanity Fair earlier this year that she was not raised as one.
Numerous British sources report that Markle has identified as a Protestant for some time before the engagement, and plans to be baptized and confirmed in the Church of England before marrying Harry.
However, if she were a Catholic, this too would have been an obstacle to her marrying into the royal family until very recently. Opposition to Catholics ascending to the throne dates back to King Henry VIII, who broke from the Catholic Church in the 1500s in order to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry another, because he blamed Catherine for failing to produce a son who could succeed to the throne.
The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 allowed heirs to the throne to marry Catholics, among other changes. However, the law still stipulates that the acting British sovereign mustn’t be a Catholic.
Catholics and the indissolubility of marriage
The Catholic Church teaches “that marriage is indissoluble, it is literally black and white,” Bradley noted.
“It’s a bond that cannot be broken, because God respects the promises that the husband and wife make to each other, and he does what’s asked. He binds together these two people who are asking to be bound together, it’s a respecting of the free will of the individuals,” he added.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 1614, states that: “In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts.The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
The Catholic Church recognizes as sacramental the marriages between two baptized persons of any Christian community, Bradley noted.
“If there are two baptized Anglicans marrying, the Catholic Church would recognize that as a sacramental marriage,” he said, because the Catholic Church recognizes all Christian baptisms as valid.
“If both parties are baptized it’s a sacramental marriage, and non-Catholics are not bound by canonical form, so they’re quite at liberty to be married in the Church of England, and we recognize that they’re being married according to the rights of their ecclesial communities.”
However, if Markle’s first-marriage were valid, she would not be free to validly marry Harry. An annulment, or declaration of nullity, of her first marriage, would establish that her previous marriage was invalid, Bradley said.
Condon noted that the Catholic Church also presumes the indissolubility of all marriages, whether those be marriages of Catholics, Christians, believers, or nonbelievers.
“The life-long partnership of one man and one woman is part of the natural law and God’s plan for all humanity. The Church’s presumption of validity pertains to all marriages, including Ms. Markle’s,” he said.
“That having been said, we don’t know any of the details of that union, or if a canonical process is underway regarding it. Catholics should, I would suggest, understand the royal engagement the same way they would the marriage of any two people they don’t know personally: be happy for them.”
Bradley added that the fact that royal engagements are always met with a resounding reaction of “joy and happiness,” which “shows that even when, in some sense, the marriage isn’t everything we would want it to be, society as a whole has a natural inclination towards the good and towards what marriage represents.”
“So people see the goodness of marriage, even people who are opposed to the institution of marriage will cheer when a couple like this get married, or get engaged, because it takes a very hardened heart not to be happy that two people are seeking this good.”