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Visionaries’ canonization would ‘complete’ the Fatima centenary

March 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Fatima, Portugal, Mar 28, 2017 / 01:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Fatima’s bishop has said the centenary of the locale’s Marian apparition would not be complete without the announcement of the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the children who witnessed the apparition.

“I would consider the centenary to be incomplete without the canonization. I have had this hope. We are in time for it to be May 13, but everything depends on the exclusive competency of the Pope,” Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima said at a recent press conference.

The bishop also spoke about the news that Pope Francis approved March 23 the decree recognizing a second miracle attributed to the intercession of both siblings. This opens the way for their canonization.

Together with their cousin Lucia Santo, the brother and sister witnessed the 1917 apparitions of Mary.

Francisco and Jacinta died soon after, in 1919 and 1920, respectively. Lucia became a Carmelite nun, and died in 2005.

Bishop dos Santos Marto said he received with “enormous satisfaction the news of the approval of the miracle.”

He acknowledged that the announcement was not a surprise because “I had confident hope.” However, he said, “I must confess I was caught by surprise by the date; I didn’t expect it to be so soon.”

“After this there’s just one remaining decisive step, which belongs to the Holy Father: choosing the date and location of the canonization.”

He indicated that information will not be available until the April 20 consistory.

Also present at the press conference was the postulator for the cause of canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Sister Angela Coelho. The religious is also the vice-postulator of the cause for the beatification of Sister Lucia.

Sister Coehlo pointed out that “the little shepherds, who died at the age of 10, will be the youngest saints in the history of the Church, with the exception of child martyrs.”

She said the miracle attributed to the intercession of the blessed involves the cure of a child in Brazil. The healing began to be studied in 2013, but “more details on the case are not allowed to be revealed” because it concerns a child and the need to protect the child’s identity.

Sister  Coelho also spoke about the speed with which the theological approval came about after the medical validation of the miracle. “The theological argumentation was already prepared previously and all the documentation for Rome was immediately sent,” she said.

The postulator clarified that no announcement is expected concerning the process of beatification for Sister Lucia. “That’s a separate cause,” she explained.


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Mother Angelica was a ‘forerunner’ of the New Evangelization

March 27, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Mar 27, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A veteran Vatican official praised EWTN foundress Mother Angelica as a pioneer of the New Evangelization, saying the way in which the Church speaks to the men and women of today wouldn’t be the same without her influence.

“I think Mother Angelica was a New Evangelizer ante litterum (before her time),” Monsignor Graham Bell told CNA.

An official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization who has spent around three decades in Rome, Msgr. Bell said that while St. John Paul II coined the phrase some 30 years ago, Mother Angelica had been an active player “long before.”

“She just fits into that so well, because why do we have the New Evangelization? Not because the Gospel is new – the Gospel is ever-new, but it’s also unchanging, and the ‘new’ in the New Evangelization is essentially seeking to find new languages with which to communicate the Gospel to the men and women of our time.”

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation founded EWTN in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She died March 27, 2016 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years-old.

Mother Angelica, Msgr. Bell said, was able to talk about even difficult or sensitive topics in a meaningful way that always brought people “back to the center, which is Christ.”

Please see below CNA’s full interview with Msgr. Bell:

One of the reasons I wanted to speak to you about this is because of the frequent remarks you’ve made in the past about Mother Angelica and what she accomplished. Why is she such a striking and important person for you?

I came to Mother Angelica not through her television programs, but maybe at the beginning of the 2000s, there was a craze – maybe it was more popular then, I’m not sure, but there was a kind of podcast craze, and what EWTN did at that time is they would put out Mother Angelica live as a podcast, so I faithfully downloaded this every week. I didn’t know this nun before I started listening to the podcasts, and what immediately became clear is that there’s nothing original in Mother Angelica, she’s not trying to be original, all she’s trying to do is she’s taking the Word of God, she’s taking the teaching of the Church and she’s applying them to people’s lives. And the more I listened to this lady, the more I was reminded of Cardinal Newman’s motto: Cor ad cor loquitur, heart speaks to heart. And she has this phenomenal capability of speaking to your heart, and that comes across. Obviously I was listening to it as a podcast, I couldn’t see how people were reacting in the studio to what she was doing, but this great humanity came out. I think Newman got his motto from Saint Francis de Sales, and I think Francis de Sales said heart speaks to heart, whereas the tongue just hits the ear. You always had the impression with Mother Angelica that her heart was behind what she was saying. It struck people as true because she recognized it as true, and I think this is a phenomenal gift. It’s a gift every preacher should seek to have, but it’s also a gift that every Christian should seek to have. This phenomenal capacity to communicate and to communicate the unchanging truth of the Gospel in a way that’s relevant for men and women today, and that’s an art, it’s a grace.

Do you think this is a reason she’s been so attractive and appealing to so many people?

Yes, I do. Because language changes, and it changes now at a greater pace than it’s ever changed, and Mother Angelica in my opinion was able to bridge the gap. Sometimes the institutional Church isn’t good at speaking to people, but I think Mother Angelica, first of all with her many books, and then when she got the television and radio thing going, she was capable of bridging that gap. I can think of many things she said about people with addictions, you know? Sometimes the Church isn’t good at doing that, but she was good at looking at things which were difficult to talk about, but talking about them in a way that was very, very meaningful and always bringing people back to the center, which is Christ. I listened to all of her podcasts, and I just thought it was phenomenal. It certainly helped me in my preaching, and also helped me in the living of my priesthood.

In view from your position on the Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, how do you think Mother Angelica has influenced the New Evangelization? Clearly she’s been a huge personality …

I think Mother Angelica was a New Evangelizer ante litterum (before her time). I think John Paul II coined the expression himself in 1979 when he was in Poland, and what Mother Angelica had been doing long before that was certainly New Evangelization, certainly. She just fits into that so well, because why do we have the New Evangelization? Not because the Gospel is new, the Gospel is ever-new, but it’s also unchanging, and the “new” in the New Evangelization is essentially seeking to find new languages – I use the term language in the extended sense – with which to communicate the Gospel to the men and women of our time, who obviously have to hear the Gospel in a language which can understand. But the thing about Mother Angelica is, it was never the case of communicating a content which really didn’t concern her. Her communicating the Gospel was she was really communicating a part of herself, because Christ was so much a part of her and a part of her religious vocation. In communicating Christ through television, through radio, through her many books, she was actually communicating a part of herself, she was so identified with Christ, and I think that’s the heart of the New Evangelization. Obviously another thing I think is very close to the heart of the New Evangelization is the whole question of witness. Because how did Jesus communicate the Gospel to his disciples? He is the Gospel in himself and in his person. It was done through what he said and what he did, and what he said and what did find their center in his very person. So it must be for those who witness to the Gospel. It’s not enough just to speak about Christ, and it’s not enough just to do good works. There has to be a relationship so that what we say is explained by what we do, and what we do is explained by what we say. And I think in Mother Angelica, as in the great saints, this is exemplified, this is exemplified very, very strongly.

A lot of people see the impact she had specifically in the Church in the Unites States and say that she changed the Church in the U.S. during a really critical time, but we also see that this is spreading very internationally. With your experience and in your time following EWTN, how do you see that she’s influenced culture even here in Europe?

Mother Angelica, it must never be forgotten, was a woman religious. And women religious have a very, very, very important role to play in the New Evangelization and in the Church generally, because people react so favorably to them, because they express the maternity of the Church in a way in which priests and men religious really aren’t capable of doing. Mother Angelica, I think, is exemplary in this, and in her clarity of identity. What you see is what you got, there was no mystification there. You saw this nun with her habit, and she was always the same, the message was always the same, and this sense of authenticity I think absolutely captivates people. And I think that’s a big part of her secret and why she’s so popular. It’s this capacity of expressing maternity in an age in which maternity is not very fashionable.

Being here in the Vatican for so long – you’ve been here for about 30 years, right? – have you seen any impact that she’s made here specifically?

I don’t know about that, about what impact she’s made here. I think she’s made a positive impact to the extent that I think women religious always make a positive impact. When women religious are faithful to their vocations and faithful to the Church, they always make an impact, and I think the history of the Church demonstrates this. I wouldn’t be able to say what her impact has been on the various dicasteries. Certainly I do consider her one of the forerunners of the New Evangelization, and it would be difficult to imagine the New Evangelization without figures like her. I think one of the keys to the success of the New Evangelization will be how we can involve women religious in this project. I think the more we involve them, the more the New Evangelization will be successful.

So in your opinion, aside from EWTN, what do you think is the core of the legacy she has left that and that we’re continuing to see grow?

I would say this very, very humble, that I think today in the Church we are very much concerned, I would even say obsessed, by the question of communications, because we want to keep up with the times and we realize that this is very, very important; communications are a very important part of how the modern world works, and it’s important that the Church should be there. But what we must never forget, in my opinion, is that content always has a primacy over the technical aspect. The technical aspect is absolutely wonderful, but if you’ve got nothing to communicate it’s completely useless, and I think Mother Angelica, she wasn’t just the person who founded this fantastic, hotshot television network that was financed completely by the people who listened to it. It wasn’t just that. It was the fact that she always put content first, and I think that’s a great part of her legacy. But I also think another equally important part of her legacy is the eternal truth of our Catholic faith. It always has been and always will be until Christ comes again, it’s a question of a man or a woman who believes in the Resurrection of Christ, looks into the eyes of another man or another woman and says ‘I believe’, and asks you to believe, too. And Mother Angelica exemplifies this; the transmission of the revelation, the transmission of our faith will always be an interpersonal relationship, and all of the hardware and all of the software and all of the gadgetry will never be able to replace that. And she never imagined that EWTN or her various initiatives would ever substitute this interpersonal transmission of the faith. So I think her legacy will be discovered 10, 20 years down the way. I really do.

Would you say that part of the appeal and effectiveness of how she communicated the Gospel and the Resurrection had to do with how she experienced it in her own life?

Yeah. She suffered. I can’t remember all the details of her biography, but I know early on in her life she had a serious medical conditions, and these were overcome and they were overcome through prayer. She might also have been the subject of a miracle, thinking about her very early life before she decided to become a nun. And then all through her life she battled through ill health. One of the things that makes her so authentic is that when you listen to – one of the things I used to love about EWTN was listening to all the podcasts, and you could hear her coughing, and she would put a cough sweet into her mouth, and if you look at the big, sleek media operations like the BBC, you very rarely hear people coughing and at EWTN you could hear all this, and it was so human. With technology, I think a television lens transforms everything, and it really is – if it’s the great observer, it’s also the great betrayer because you look at these television studios and how they come through the lens of the camera, but when you actually go there and you see how they’re built with all the cables everywhere that people never see, and the lighting makes it seem much bigger than it is, it’s smoke and mirrors, it really is from start to finish. You never got that impression with EWTN. You got the impression that here’s a lady in her parlor, speaking to you in your parlor, that’s what it came across as. So she coughed, and she put in a cough sweet and it was wonderful.

Did you ever get to meet her personally?

I didn’t, no. I always used to ask – sometimes we got people coming up from EWTN – I would always ask how is she, and I think the most of the latter half of her life she was bedridden. And sometimes you wonder what did God want from her in that time? What was her vocation in that time? That’s very difficult to discern.

It was striking to me that the culmination of those last few years and then to pass away on Easter after what I understand were very excruciating last days. There was clearly something at work …

Her oneness with Christ … Another chap who greatly influenced me when I was listening to Mother Angelica about 10-12 years ago was Father Benedict Groeschel, because he had Sunday Night Live. That would come out as a podcast and I would download that too. He is another one, I think they’ll both be saints. With Benedict, I know something happened at the end of his life, but that will be forgotten. In fact, it should probably be forgotten right away, because I don’t think he said what he was intending; an old man – and a young man – can make mistakes. But I am convinced that both of them will be beatified, I’m absolutely convinced.


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Dublin prepares for 2018 World Meeting of Families

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, Mar 23, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just a little more than a year away, the Archdiocese of Dublin released a video Wednesday inviting families from around the world to come together in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August 2018.

“I’m very pleased to have been asked to host this meeting, and to invite you to join with us in preparing for this event, and hopefully also to come to Dublin, to celebrate with families from all around the world,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin says in the video.

The next World Meeting of Families will be held Aug. 22-26, 2018. As the promo video, released March 22, says, it will include – “God-willing – having Pope Francis join us for the Festival of Families and the final Mass.”

Pope Francis’ visit to Dublin in 2018 will be a significant moment for Ireland, since it has been almost 40 years since their last visit from a Pope, Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See, Emma Madigan, told CNA in January.  

The Archdiocese of Dublin is currently using the website to provide information about the event in English, as they work on launching a more comprehensive, multi-lingual site soon, which will also include ticket and registration information.

The theme of the 9th World Meeting of Families is “The Gospel of family, joy for the world.” As the video says, “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. Our Catholic Church is a family of families.”

“Our Holy Father Pope Francis is encouraging families from all across the world to come to Ireland in 2018 to celebrate family life. And to reflect on the importance of family in our lives,” Cardinal Kevin Farrell says in the video.

Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, as well as a Dublin native, Cardinal Farrell is one of the persons responsible for organizing the event.

The last World Meeting of Families, which took place in Philadelphia in 2015, was attended by around 18,000 people for the congress and somewhere around 800,000-900,000 for the final Mass with Pope Francis.

The last World Meeting of Families was a huge success, according to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. “The spirit of the whole city was strikingly positive,” he told CNA Sept. 29, 22015 in an interview following the event.

Dublin is looking forward to a similar event in 2018.

“Every society, every person, understands a universal bond, a bond that connects us: family,” the promotional video states. “We look forward to welcoming people from every corner of the world to our shores for the 2018 World Meeting of Families.”


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Prayers go out amid confusion, chaos following London attack

March 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

London, England, Mar 22, 2017 / 01:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Church and government leaders offered prayers in the aftermath of an attack in London on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the incident in Westminster this afternoon,” read a post on Twitter from the news page of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Details surrounding the March 22 attack in Westminster remained unclear some four hours after an attacker in a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. The assailant then reportedly crashed the car and attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife before being shot by armed police.   

According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including one police officer and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.

Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

March 22 marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history.

While details surrounding the London attack remain uncertain, religious and national leaders offered condolences and prayers.

“Please join me in praying for the people of #London, especially those killed and injured today. St. George and St. Paul, pray for us,” said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln on Twitter.

“Terrible scene in London,” said U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan in a post on Twitter. “Praying for the victims of this apparent act of terror. We stand with our friends in Parliament and Great Britain.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also released a statement offering prayers.

“On behalf of the United States, I express my condolences to the victims and their families,” he said. “The American people send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the United Kingdom. We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference.”


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What the bishop who resisted the Nazis can teach us today

March 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Münster, Germany, Mar 22, 2017 / 07:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When Father Clemens August von Galen was consecrated Bishop of Münster in October 1933, he chose for his episcopal motto Nec laudibus, nec timore – neither by praises nor by fear, which summed up his ministry throughout Germany’s Nazi period.

The motto was taken from the liturgy for episcopal consecration, which prays that the new bishop will love humility and truth, and not be overcome by either praise or fear.

Bishop von Galen wrote in his first pastoral letter that “Neither the praises of men nor fear of men shall move us. Rather, our glory will be to promote the praise of God, and our steadfast effort will be to walk always in a holy fear of God.”

During his entire episcopacy the bishop spoke up against the Nazis’ euthanasia program and racial theories, and defended human rights and the cause of justice. He was the most outspoken of Germany’s bishops during that era, and assisted the writing of Pius XI’s 1937 anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge.

He was made a cardinal in February 1946, just one month before his March 22 death, and he was beatified in 2005 by Benedict XVI.

Blessed von Galen’s motto “would be a great motto to have for a bishop,” Fr. Daniel Utrecht of the Toronto Oratory told CNA. Fr. Utrecht is the author of The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis.

Fr. Utrecht was drawn to write about Blessed von Galen because he was a model bishop.

“I was telling some people about him during World Youth Day in 2005, and they said, ‘We need bishops like this, why have we never heard of this guy? Someone should write a book about him’,” he related.

The priest recalled reading in German a two volume work of Blessed von Galen’s documents, letters, and sermons written as a bishop. “They became more and more fascinating, and there just wasn’t much in English to read about him. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was up to me to write an English-language biography.”

Blessed von Galen was born into a German noble family in 1878, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Münster in 1904. As a priest he wrote on the origins and limits of state power, and the importance of voting as a responsibility for the common good rather than doing so for private interests.

In the later years of the Weimar Republic, Blessed von Galen supported the German Centre Party, which worked to present a Christian voice in defense of Catholic interests and human rights in the public square, and entered into coalition governments with other parties in an effort to balance power.

But the priest was unable to sway many of his acquaintances to support the Centre Party – other Catholics were arguing that the Nazi Party was most compatible with Catholic ideals.

Many bishops had barred Catholics from being members of the National Socialist movement. But when Hitler softened his antireligious stance and stated early in 1933 that Christianity would be prominent in Germany’s rule, the bishops took him at his word and began allowing Catholics to join the movement.

But when Blessed von Galen was made a bishop later that year, he maintained his anti-Nazi beliefs. Within a year he clashed with government officials over the rights of Catholic schools and the Nazis’ racial and anti-Jewish ideology.

He was most outspoken against the Nazi’s involuntary euthanasia program, which under which the disabled, mentally ill, deformed, senile, those with Down syndrome, and the incurably sick were killed. The program began in 1939, and more than 70,000 people were euthanized under it.

Blessed von Galen led Catholic protest against euthanasia. He delivered three sermons in the summer of 1941 which condemned the program, as well as Nazi attacks on the Church, and raised public awareness of what has happening. After the sermons’ delivery he was nicknamed “The Lion of Münster”, and they resulted in a Nazi propaganda minister, Walter Tiessler, recommending that he be executed.

The bishop remained outspoken against Nazi atrocities throughout World War II, and afterwards spoke up against injustices committed by the occupying Allied forces.

“I see plenty of parallels today,” Fr. Utrecht told CNA. “I hope that people reading the book get it for themselves.” Blessed von Galen’s “example of courage and being able to speak out in defense of human life is of interest, very much of interest today, in the fight against abortion and euthanasia …  the defense of liberty, religious liberty, the defense of a place for religion in the public square is a very, very big lesson that he has for us.”

In addition to supporting Catholic witness to the value of human life in the face of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the dictatorship of relativism, Fr. Utrecht said that the cardinal can speak to Catholics facing political dictatorships as well.

The priest shared how during a recent trip to Germany he met a priest from Africa who is “very keen on making von Galen known to the Africans, because he said ‘In many places we have totalitarian governments and not enough of the bishops speak out’, – so he thought there was a great parallel there.”

Since Cardinal von Galen was beatified 12 years ago, there is a need to develop devotion to him, Fr. Utrecht reflected. “Greater devotion to him is the next step, not just locally, but worldwide.”

“There are plenty of people who do know about him and who are pushing devotion to him, but it needs kind of a new push, so I hope we can get a push, and not only there, but among English- reading people elsewhere.”