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Pope at canonization Mass: God never stops inviting us to the heavenly banquet

October 15, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 05:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints in the Catholic Church, saying that no matter how often we reject him, the Lord will continue to love us and invite us to participate in his heavenly banquet.

“The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite,” the Pope said Oct. 15.

“When he hears a ‘no,’ he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation. In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.”

Francis explained that when we are hurt by others, we often harbor grudges and resentment. But God, on the other hand, while pained by our rejection of him, does not give up. He tries again and again.

“He keeps doing good even for those who do evil. Because this is what love does. Because this is the only way that evil is defeated,” the Pope said.

“Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.”

In a Mass with 35,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints, including Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, three teenage boys from the 16th century in Mexico, who were beaten to death after converting to Catholicism.

“…we declare and define Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, Mateo Moreira and 27 companions; Cristobal, Antonio and Juan; Faustino Miguez; and Angelo of Acri to be Saints,” Francis stated.

“And we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel from Matthew, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast to explain the Kingdom of God. In the parable, guests are invited by the king to the wedding feast of his son.

“Such is the Christian life, a love story with God,” the Pope said. “The Lord freely takes the initiative,” inviting, not a select few, but everyone to participate in his Kingdom.

“The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love,” he said.

The Pope pointed out that some people, however, ignore the invitation and instead continue to go about doing their own thing.

In the Gospel passage, each person “was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation,” he continued. The guests weren’t worried about being bored or annoyed, they simply did not care.

“They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands,” he said. In the Gospel, then, we are being asked where we stand: with God or with ourselves, Francis stated. “Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.”

We should ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him. Among all the things we say each day, there should also be the prayer, “Lord, I love you’ you are my life,” he said.

Because without love, and without a relationship with Christ, the Christian life becomes empty and dead; merely a collection of rules and laws with no good reason for obedience. “The God of life, however, awaits a response of life. The Lord of love awaits a response of love.”

Today’s newly canonized saints all responded to God with love, he explained. As the Gospel emphasizes, it is not enough to merely respond “yes” to God’s invitation one time, and then do nothing.

“Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the ‘habit’ of practicing love,” he said.

The newly canonized saints, especially the many martyrs, are an example of this daily habit of choosing to love God and choosing to do his will, he pointed out.

Cristobal, Antonio and Juan lived in Mexico in the 16th century, at the start of the Christian missionary work in the country. Cristobal was educated in the Christian faith by Franciscan missionaries, asking to be baptized.

He then began to share the Gospel with his family and acquaintances in an effort to convert them, especially his father who had abusive habits and was frequently drunk.

One day, after Cristobal destroyed the pagan idols in his family’s home, his father began to kick and beat him, breaking his arms and legs. The boy continued to pray, despite the intense pain, so his father threw him into a burning fire, killing him.

The boy Antonio and his young servant Juan, all born in the same town as Cristobal, helped the Dominican missionaries who were setting up a mission in a nearby town as interpreters for the other indigenous people.

The boys were warned that it was a task that could likely end in death, but still volunteered to go. One day, while entering a house to destroy the pagan idols as usual, angry townspeople approached and began beating Juan to death with sticks.

Antonio turned to the aggressors and asked, “Why do you beat my companion who has no fault? It is I who collect idols, because they are diabolical and not divine.” The people then turned to Antonio, also beating him to death.

The blood of the three boys is considered the first seed of the great growth of Catholicism in the country of Mexico.  

Martyrs Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, were killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on July 16, 1645; Mateo Moreira, a layman, and 27 fellow martyrs, were also killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on October 3, 1645.

Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, who took the religious name Faustino of the Incarnation, was a priest and a professed member of the Piarists (the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). He lived from 1831-1925 in Spain.

Angelo of Acri, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, lived in Italy from 1669-1739.

Concluding his homily, the Pope urged everyone to ask the Lord, “through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters,” for the grace to make a habit of love, accepting God’s invitation to the wedding feast.

We should also ask for his help in keeping our wedding clothes “spotless.”

“How can we do this?” Francis asked. “Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness. This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.”


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Pope announces special 2019 Synod of Bishops on South American region

October 15, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis announced the decision to hold a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in October 2019, on the state of evangelization in the Amazonian region of South America.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops’ conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” Francis said Oct. 15.

The purpose of the assembly will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the region of the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, “especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” he said.

The assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

The Pope’s announcement was made in St. Peter’s Square before the recitation of the Angelus, and following the canonization Mass of 35 new saints.

New saints Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, and Mateo Moreira and 27 companions were all martyred in Brazil. Three teenage boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, also martyred, were from Mexico.

The other new saints are Faustino Miguez of Spain and Angelo of Acri, Italy.

“The new Saints will intercede for this ecclesial event, so that, in respect for the beauty of creation, all the peoples of the earth may praise God, Lord of the universe, and enlightened by him walk on the paths of justice and peace,” Francis stated.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope’s) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel…and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod of Bishops may meet for ordinary general assemblies, which are on a matter of importance to the Church in general and held at fixed intervals, or for special assemblies, which focus on a specific geographical area of the Church.
Extraordinary general assemblies can also be organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The last special assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in 2010 on the situation in the Middle East.

The 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place in October 2018, and will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an Extraordinary Synod in 2014, which was followed by the Ordinary Synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.


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Pope Francis: You can’t spread God’s love from an armchair

October 14, 2017 CNA Daily News 5

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2017 / 06:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis said that to share God’s love with the world requires action and service – and that we can’t just sit around and wait for other people to perform our vocation.

“Love is dynamic, it goes out of itself,” the Pope said Oct. 14. The person who loves does not just sit in an armchair watching and waiting for the world to improve. Instead, he or she “with enthusiasm and simplicity gets up and goes.”

As St. Vincent de Paul said, our vocation is not merely to go to one parish or diocese, but to go throughout the earth, he continued. And what do we do? We “inflame the hearts of men, doing what the Son of God did, he who came to bring fire to the world to inflame it with his love.”

The vocation to love, Francis said, “is always valuable for everyone.”

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Vincentian Family during a celebration in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 14 celebrating the 400th anniversary of the start of the charism of the Vincentian Family, a group of organizations founded by or under the inspiration of St. Vincent de Paul.

A 17th-century French priest, St. Vincent is known as the patron of Catholic charities for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized.

The meeting was part of a week-long symposium in Rome which included Mass, prayer services and talks.

In their audience, Francis said he wanted to encourage the members of the Vincentian Family to continue their journey of charity.

Besides the verb “to go,” he offered two other simple words he said are of great importance for “the Vincentian spirit but also for Christian life in general:” To worship and to welcome.

For St. Vincent, worship of God, or prayer, was essential, the Pope said. There are many invitations from him in his writing encouraging us to cultivate an inner life, devoting ourselves to prayer, which “purifies and opens the heart,” he said.

St. Vincent considered prayer like the compass of every day, the “manual of life.” Only through prayer can we draw from God the love that we then pour into the world, he continued.

But the saint didn’t consider prayer a set of formulas or a sterile duty, he continued. Prayer, for St. Vincent, was to stand before God, being with him and devoting yourself to him.

“This is the most pure prayer, the one that makes room for the Lord and his praise, and nothing else: adoration,” he said.

“Here is adoration: to stand before the Lord, with respect, with calm and in silence, giving him the first place,” abandoning oneself with confidence.

Whatever the situation or problem, those who spend time worshiping God can’t help but be “contaminated” by the living source of love, he continued. Which makes us want to treat others like we have been treated by the Lord.

Those who spend time in worship and adoration become “more merciful, more sympathetic, more available, above rigidity and open to others.”

When we think of the verb “to welcome,” we often think of doing something, like performing an act of hospitality or the like, Francis said. But it actually has more to do with a way of thinking.

Welcoming is really “a slow detachment from all that is mine: my time, my rest, my rights, my plans, my agenda.”

The Christian is truly welcoming who sets aside his or her own ego in favor of sowing peace and concord and communion, even when not reciprocated.

“Thank you for moving in the streets of the world, as St. Vincent would ask you today,” the Pope concluded. I hope you continue to draw God’s love from adoration, spreading it throughout the world, through the “good contagion” of charity.

“I bless all of you and the poor you meet.”


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Pope Francis, Lebanese prime minister discuss Middle East

October 13, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 11:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and the prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Rafic Hariri, discussed Friday the current situation in the Middle East and Lebanon, which has received a large number of refugees from Syria.

According to an Oct. 13 statement from the Vatican, the meeting took place “in an atmosphere of great cordiality,” which enabled a productive discussion of various issues in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Among these, the two expressed hope for “increasingly fruitful collaboration between the various political powers” in support of the common good of the nation.

They also focused on the importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East and the “historic and institutional role of the Church in the life of the country.”

In the half-hour meeting, Francis and Hariri spoke about the need to find a “just and comprehensive solution” to conflicts in the region and Pope Francis also expressed his appreciation for the welcome Lebanon has shown to refugees fleeing Syria and other countries of the Middle East.

Now more politically stable, before Oct. 2016 and the election of President Michel Aoun, the Lebanese parliament was under a 29-month deadlock to choose the next president.

Bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south, the situation in Lebanon is closely tied to that of the Middle East. The country has welcomed the largest number of refugees per capita, which now represent an estimated one quarter of the country’s 4.5 million population.

In an effort to keep refugees from overwhelming any one area of the country, Lebanon has banned formal refugee camps, but already in some Lebanese towns there are now more Syrians than native Lebanese.

In Lebanon, Christians make up about 41 percent of the population, and Muslims, evenly divided between Sunnis and Shiites, around 54 perecent. Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group.

In the meeting the Pope and Prime Minister also conversed on the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as the value of collaboration between Christians and Muslims in promoting peace and justice.

Francis gave Hariri a gift of an olive branch sculpture, symbolizing peace. On his part, the Prime Minister gave Francis a silver necklace with a cross.

As is usual for heads of state, following his meeting with Francis, the Prime Minister also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher.


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Celebrating 50 years, Special Olympics athletes meet with Pope Francis

October 13, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 06:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis met with Special Olympics soccer players, commending their commitment to the promotion of inclusion and the dignity of all.

“You are the symbol of a sport that opens eyes and heart to the value and dignity of individuals and people who would otherwise be subject to prejudice and exclusion,” the Pope said Oct. 13.

The papal audience was part of 50th anniversary celebrations put on by Special Olympics Italy. Francis met with around 350 participants of a unified soccer tournament taking place in Rome Oct. 12-15.

The event, called “We #Change the Game with PlayUnified,” involves 120 young athletes, both with and without intellectual disabilities, from the countries of Italy, France, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Romania.

The Special Olympics was started in 1967 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the first international Special Olympics Games took place at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968.

Today Special Olympics is active in 170 nations; more than 4 million athletes participate around the world.

Pope Francis told athletes that “sport is one of those universal languages ??that overcomes cultural, social, religious and physical differences, and succeeds at uniting people, making them part of the same game and protagonists together of victories and defeats.”

During the days of the tournament, participants will reaffirm the importance of “unified” sports, where athletes with and without disabilities play together on the same teams, he said.

“Do not be tired of showing the world of sport your shared commitment to building more fraternal societies in which people can grow and develop and fully realize their abilities,” he encouraged.

For its part, the Catholic Church supports and encourages these initiatives, he continued, because they foster the good of people and communities.

He recalled that in sports one can find many great stories of people who have overcome difficulties or come to terms with misfortunes such as poverty and physical and emotional wounds.

“These stories show us how the determination and character of some can be a motive for inspiration and encouragement for so many people in all aspects of their lives,” he said.

He praised their commitment to the promotion of human dignity and unity through sport, which he said “nourishes the hope of a positive and fruitful future of sport, because it makes it a real opportunity for inclusion and involvement.”
“I hope you spend these days with joy and serenity,” he concluded. Along with fun, also cultivating “friendship and solidarity.”

“As I ask you to pray for me, I invoke the Lord’s blessing on you, on your families, and on those who support you in your sporting activity,” he said.


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Pope Francis offers prayer for victims of California wildfires

October 13, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2017 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With more than 30 deaths caused by the various wildfires devouring swaths of California, Pope Francis on Friday sent a message voicing his solidarity with victims, and ensuring his prayer for all those affected by the blazes.

“Informed of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of property caused by the wildfire in California, the Holy Father assures you of his heartfelt solidarity and his prayers for all those affected by this disaster,” read an Oct. 13 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Addressed to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, the letter assured of the Pope’s closeness to “those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing.”

The letter also offered encouragement to civil authorities and emergency personnel working to put put the fires and help victims of the “tragedy,” and extended his blessing.

The 17 different wildfires raging in northern California, made worse by dry conditions and unrelenting winds, have so far scorched at least 100,000 acres and have killed at least 31 people since the beginning of the week. Thousands more have been displaced, their homes and businesses destroyed.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an estimated 2,834 homes were destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa alone, one of the hardest hit by the fires, while roughly 400,000 square feet of commercial spaces have also been reduced to ash.

Much of the area of the Diocese of Santa Rosa has been under mandatory evacuation, including the chancery and the local Catholic Charities office.

In an Oct. 10 message, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa said “the sense of great helplessness is palpable” among residents. “When people ask how they can help I answer that I really do not know. I do know that prayers are the greatest source of solace and help.”

The bishop offered his own prayers for those who had lost loves ones in the fires, praying “for your consolation and for eternal rest for your lost loved ones. Our hearts go out to all of you.”

“At the same time, we acknowledge the sense of loss and suffering experienced by those who have lost their homes, or businesses, or places of employment,” he said. “We pray that you do not lose hope, nor the sense of God’s presence and ultimate goodness. You must know that the hearts of the entire community, though it can neither feel what you feel, nor undo the loss, do go out to you.”

Vasa also thanked the firefighters and police, both those from California and throughout the country who have offered their help.


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Our Lady of Aparecida’s smile gives us hope, Pope Francis says

October 12, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 11:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent a video message Thursday for the 300th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida, whose simple smile, he said, is a source of encouragement even during the most difficult times.

“The simple smile of Mary, which we can see in her image, is the source of the smile of each one of you in the face of the difficulties of life,” he said Oct. 12.

“The Christian can never be pessimistic!”

Recalling his first international apostolic visit, to Brazil in 2013, Francis said that visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in São Paulo was an occasion of joy and grace for him.

Repeating the message of his visit, the Pope said that at Aparecida “we learn to preserve hope, to be surprised by God, and to live in joy.”

Hope, he insisted, is the virtue that must “permeate the hearts” of believers, especially when discouraged by desperate situations: “Do not let yourselves be overcome by discouragement. Have trust in God, have trust in the intercession of Our Mother of Aparecida.”

The Pope’s video message was sent to the people of Brazil Oct. 12 for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Our Lady of Aparecida, the country’s patroness.

“What I leave here are simple words, but I want you to receive them as a fraternal embrace at this time of celebration,” he said.

The story behind the feast involves a clay statue of Mary Immaculate that was caught by three fishermen in Brazil in October 1717 while they were preparing for a feast dedicated to royalty passing through the town.

Guarantinqueta, a small city along the Paraiba River, was expecting to receive the Count of Assumar on his travels to a gold mining site in Vila Rica.

The feast required a vast amount of fish, but it was not the right season and weather conditions proved challenging. After a night of fishing, the men caught nothing.

Having prayed to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the fishermen caught in their nets the body of the statue and then the head.

After the statue was brought aboard the boat, the men decided to pray to “Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida” – Our Lady of the Appeared Conception – to help them catch the fish. Their nets suddenly became very full, and the catch has been considered a miracle.

This miracle encouraged them to have confidence in God, Pope Francis said. With that miracle God surprised them, for he “who created us in infinite Love always surprises us,” he underlined.

At the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, he said, as well as in every heart devoted to Mary, we can find hope “embodied in the experience of spirituality, generosity, solidarity, perseverance, fraternity, joy, these values which in turn sink their roots deeper into the Christian faith.”

At the beginning of April the Pope had sent a letter to Brazil’s president apologizing for his inability to visit the country in 2017.

President Michael Temer had invited Pope Francis to visit Brazil for the 300th anniversary of the Marian apparition, and in 2013, Francis had expressed the desire to visit during the anniversary if possible.

In his video message, Francis reiterated how he would have liked to be with the people of Brazil during this jubilee year, saying that unfortunately, “the life of a Pope is not easy.”

Instead he nominated Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, vice-dean of the College of Cardinals, to be his papal delegate for the Oct. 12 celebrations. “To him I entrusted the mission to ensure the Pope’s presence among you!” he said.

Though not able to be physically present, he expressed the wish that his affection be felt by the people of Brazil, devoted to the Mother of God.

Closing his message, the Pope thanked the Brazilian people for their prayers, especially at Mass, asking them to continue to pray for him, knowing that he is praying for them as well.

Brazil, he continued, needs men and women who, full of hope and faith, “witness that love, manifested in solidarity and in sharing, is stronger and brighter than the darkness of selfishness and corruption.”

“Together, near or far, we form the Church, the People of God,” he said. “Every time we work together, even if in a simple and subtle way, for the announcement of the Gospel, we become, like Mary, authentic disciples and missionaries.”


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Pope’s death penalty views may mean new approach to criminal justice

October 12, 2017 CNA Daily News 3

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 09:37 am (CNA).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis told a gathering in Rome that the Catechism of the Catholic Church should significantly revise its treatment of the death penalty.

It’s no surprise that Francis proposed a stronger theological condemnation of capital punishment.  He’s criticized the practice throughout his papacy, as did his most immediate predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. All three popes have pled for clemency when the execution of condemned prisoners is imminent, and all three have linked capital punishment to the “culture of death” and the “throwaway culture” they’ve criticized.  All three have called for nations to abolish the death penalty.

The Church’s official position on the death penalty is nuanced. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the “Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty,” assuming a criminal’s guilt is sufficiently established, and only when execution seems to be the only just way of protecting public safety.  

In his landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae, issued in 1995, John Paul wrote that the punishment of criminals should focus on rehabilitation, while also ensuring the common good – public order and safety. He opposed capital punishment “except in cases of absolute necessity,” when a community would have no other means to protect itself.

Because of the resources available for modern and secure penal systems, John Paul said that today, “such cases are very rare, if practically non-existent.”

In fact, the Catechism was formally revised in 1997 to reflect the teaching of Evangelium Vitae.

The gist of the Church’s current teaching on the death penalty is this: the state has the right to execute criminals, if there is no doubt about that the crime was grave and the offender is guilty. The state cannot justly execute a criminal if it can protect the common good and public safety equally well through non-lethal means. It is the job of the state to judge its own civil conditions and capacity for punishment, in order to determine how to apply those principles, but, when doing so, it should take seriously the moral direction of popes and bishops who have repeatedly said that the death penalty seems unnecessary in the context of developed nations.

On Wednesday, Francis proposed a strikingly different vision. He said that the death penalty “is in itself contrary to the Gospel.” For many theologians, this language, and the idea that the death penalty “in itself” is contrary to the Gospel, has evoked the theological concept of “intrinsically evil acts,” a group which includes torture, rape, lying, abortion, and sexual immorality.

The distinction is important. Intrinsically evil acts are understood to be wrong in all cases, regardless of the circumstances, intention, or rationale. The morality of other kinds of acts is judged, in part, by circumstances. The traditional teaching on the death penalty puts it in the latter category; the morality of a particular execution is partially determined, as the Catechism explains, by the state’s ability to secure the common good in other ways. 

Classifying capital punishment as an intrinsically evil act would say that there are no circumstances, in any time and place, in which it can be justified.

Francis’ speech recognized this distinction. He explained that thinking about the death penalty in a new way is the result of the development of social doctrine.

“We are not in the presence of some contradiction with the teaching of the past,” he explained, “because the defense of the dignity of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death has always been found in the teaching of the Church.

“The harmonious development of doctrine, however, requires that we [now] leave out arguments which now appear decisively contrary to the new understanding of Christian truth,” namely, the circumstantial qualifiers which guide current moral reasoning about executions.

Francis proposes that because the Church has gradually developed a deeper understanding of human dignity, over time, we are now able to recognize that execution is always immoral.

The development of doctrine is a thorny theological concept. Theologians have already begun asking whether Francis’ proposal represents a development of prior positions, or a rupture from them. This debate will be complex, likely contentious, and not quickly resolved. But given increased attention to the death penalty in the last half-century, it is an important question to resolve.  

Francis did not announce which Vatican offices would be responsible for the reforms he proposed. Past revisions have included the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is likely to take a lead role in this process. But the Holy Father has a penchant for involving voices beyond traditional structures, so consultation may include some unexpected figures.

There is an additional factor of interest for American readers. In 2014, Pope Francis said that the use of long-term solitary confinement is a kind of torture. This position is also held by many psychologists, who have noted that solitary incarnation can have a profoundly negative impact on mental health. Long-term solitary confinement is the most prominent alternative to the death penalty proffered by American corrections officials, especially for habitual unmanageable inmates.

If long-term solitary confinement is a kind of torture, and thus an intrinsically evil act, it can never be morally justified. If execution also begins to be classified as an intrinsically evil act, Catholics will have to think carefully and creatively about very different approaches to criminal justice in the United States. Spurring that thinking may be a part of what Pope Francis has in mind.

Death penalty opponents across the world have cheered Pope Francis’ comments on capital punishment. But his remarks on Thursday might also reveal something about the Pope’s understanding of doctrine’s development, a theological issue with effect on many other elements of the pontiff’s teaching, including the already controversial Amoris Laetitia. That conversation will probably make fewer headlines, but for the Church, its implications could be significant.



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Pope Francis: Be courageous in prayer – God will answer

October 12, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 06:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis told members of the Pontifical Oriental Institute and various Eastern Churches that they have a mission for peace and reconciliation, and that if we are courageous in prayer, God will answer, giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Here is the true gift of the Father. Man knocks with prayer at the door of God to ask for grace. And he, who is Father, gives me that and more: a gift, the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said Oct. 12. “That which the Lord, the Father, gives us more of is the Spirit.”

In his homily, the Pope reflected on the promise of prayer through which God bestows his gifts, stressing that when we pray, we need the courage of faith.

We must have “confidence that the Lord listens to us, the courage to knock at the door,” just as Jesus says in the day’s Gospel, he said, quoting the text: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

However, posing a series of questions to participants, the Pope asked is our prayer really courageous? Does it involve our entire selves, our heart and our life? Do we know how to knock at God’s heart?

We must “learn to knock on the heart of God! And we learn to do it courageously,” he said. And this brave prayer should inspire us and nourish us in our service to the Church, leading our commitment to grow and develop, giving “fruit at its own time” as the day’s Psalm said.

At the end of the Gospel passage from Luke, the Pope pointed out that Jesus says no father, when his son asks for a fish, gives him a serpent. Or when asked for an egg, hands his child a scorpion.

Jesus goes on to say that “if you, therefore, who are bad, know to give good things to your children, how much more your heavenly Father…”

The Pope said we expect Jesus to continue by saying that he will give us good things, but “he does not say that! He says: He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. That is the gift that is the ‘more’ of God.”

Pope Francis celebrated a special Mass Oct. 12 at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV.

Before Mass, he greeted superiors of the congregation, patriarchs and major archbishops. He then blessed a cypress tree in the garden of the Pontifical Oriental Institute building, afterward meeting with benefactors and the Jesuit community.

In a message addressed to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Pope Francis greeted members of both entities.

He highlighted major events in the founding and history of the congregation and institute, explaining that his predecessor, in founding them, “wanted to draw attention to the extraordinary richness of the Eastern Churches.”

Even in the midst of the “turbulent” First World War, Benedict XV reserved “special attention to the Churches of the Orient.”

Now, we must look toward the “future mission” of the congregation and institute, he said, noting that at the beginning, there may have been some confusion about the balance between study and pastoral work of the institute.

But today, he continued, this conflict does not and should not exist: it’s not about ‘either/or,’ he explained, but ‘both/and.’

He invited the professors to place their scientific commitments “in first place,” based on the example of their predecessors, whom he said distinguished themselves with their scholarly contributions and editions of liturgical, spiritual, archaeological and canonical sources.

While many are aware of the contributions scholars have made in these areas, the Pope said that now, as it was 100 years ago, we again find ourselves in challenging times, with war and hatred attacking “the very roots of peaceful coexistence in the persecuted lands of the East.”

The institute is again at the center of a “providential crossroads,” Francis said, and encouraged members to maintain their long tradition and attention to research, but also to listen to the challenges and experiences of students during this difficult time.

With the collapse of totalitarian regimes and various dictatorships, and the rise and spread of international terrorism, Eastern Christians are experiencing a time of persecution and worry, he said, and “in these situations nobody can close their eyes.”

The Oriental Institute is called to listen in prayer to what the Lord wants “at this precise moment,” he said, and in coherence with the three wise men, they must “seek new ways to go.”

Many of the students and professors are experiencing this important moment in history, he said, and the Oriental Institute, “through research, teaching and testimony, has the task of helping our brothers helping our brothers and sisters to strengthen and consolidate their faith in the face of the tremendous challenges they face.”

The institute can be a place of formation for seminarians, priests and laity, giving them hope so that they can collaborate and cooperate with Christ’s reconciling mission, he said.

He noted that the Pontifical Oriental Institute has an ecumenical mission in relation to the various Eastern Churches, with which we are still journeying toward full communion.

The way the institute can carry out this ecumenical mission, he said, is by fostering good relations with the Eastern Churches, collaborating on important issues, and devoting thorough study to the problems and questions still dividing Rome from the East.

However, he stressed that this work must be in the knowledge that everything happens in the Lord’s time and manner.

Francis said the institute is also in a good position, with the trust of the many students of the non-Catholic Eastern Churches who attend, to “make known the treasures of the rich traditions of Eastern Churches in the Western world, so that they are understandable and can be assimilated.”

Concluding, Pope Francis bestowed his apostolic blessing on participants, giving thanks for the work of the Pontifical Oriental Institute over the last 100 years.

He also voiced his hope for the continued pursuit of its mission, which he said is to study and spread “with love and intellectual honesty, with scientific rigor and pastoral perspective, the traditions of the Oriental churches in their liturgical, theological, artistic and canonical variety.”

This mission, he said, also involves responding “better and better to the expectations of today’s world to create a future of reconciliation and peace.”


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New Miami auxiliary is first Peruvian-born US bishop

October 12, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2017 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis named Fr. Enrique Delgado, who has a background in economics, as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami, making him the first Peruvian bishop in the United States.

Previously holding the position as pastor of the Miami’s Saint Katherine Drexel Parish in Weston, Delgado will serve under Miami’s Archbishop Thomas Wenski. His appointment as bishop was announced in an Oct. 12 communique from the Vatican.

In addition to being the first Peruvian bishop in the U.S., Delgado is the 14th auxiliary bishop to serve South Florida’s Catholic community since the Miami diocese was created in 1958. It became an archdiocese in 1968.

Born in Lima, Peru in 1955, Delgado studied at the University of Lima and in 1982 obtained a Masters Degree in Economics, with an emphasis in Finance and Accounting.

He worked as a manager for a number of years in Peru before eventually came to the United States and entering seminary for the Miami Archdiocese, undergoing studies in the in the Saint John Vianney College Seminary of Miami and later in the Saint Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach.

After completing his studies in 1996, he was ordained a priest for Miami the same year. Delgado served as pastor of several parishes after his ordination, including St. Agnes Parish in Key Biscayne, Nativity Parish in Hollywood, Saint Justin Martyr Parish in Key Largo and finally Saint Katherine Drexel Parish in Weston, where he has been stationed since 2010.

The bishop-elect continued his studies while serving as a priest, and obtained his doctorate in Practical Theology from Saint Thomas University in Miami Gardens in 2015.

In an Oct. 12 press release from the Archdiocese of Miami, the diocese said they are “proud” to have Delgado on board.

He will officially be introduced by Archbishop Wenski during a 10a.m. press conference at the Archdiocese of Miami’s pastoral center. His episcopal ordination will take place Thursday, Dec. 7, at Miami’s St. Mary Cathedral, with Archbishop Wenski presiding.