No Picture
News Briefs

Don’t believe in hell? You haven’t seen Syria lately, cardinal says

March 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2017 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Six years after the start of the Civil War, Syria’s apostolic nuncio said that the country is in a “bloodbath” – a situation so desperate it leaves you with the impression of being in hell.

“I do not know how to describe these atrocities,” Cardinal Mario Zenari told CNA March 25. “I always say, whoever does not believe in hell, just go to (Syria) and it will convey the weight of hell.”

“In Damascus ten days ago we saw on the television, this display, these Kamikaze, seventy dead, forty dead, it is a bloodbath,” he said.

Cardinal Zenari has been the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to Syria since 2008. A new cardinal, he was appointed by Pope Francis in the last consistory in November and came to Rome from Syria for his installation Mass at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci March 25.

March 15 marked the sixth anniversary of the start of the Syrian Civil War. What began as peaceful demonstrations protesting ongoing human rights abuses and suppression of free speech erupted into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions from their homes.

Today an end to the violence is nowhere in sight. The majority of Syria’s population has been displaced. And new threats that have grown out of the situation – most prominently ISIS – have only added to the chaos.

Asked if Pope Francis is likely to visit Syria, Cardinal Zenari said that “he’s ready to come,” but it’s a question of security, not only for him, but also for the people there.

“If the Pope comes to Syria he would have to stay at the nunciature” for safety, he said, but this causes problems because when the Pope visits a country he “must meet the people, meet the crowds.”

With the danger of suicide bombers in Damascus right now, the responsibility is too high for him to come, Zenari said. “If he’s ready, he’s ready but you have to say wait a bit just for the safety of all, of the faithful… because of what we see, really, these huge bloodstains.”

It is very important, the cardinal said, to continue to raise awareness of the “enormous suffering.” He is afraid that after a few years, people will gradually forget the trauma, stop talking about it. It is necessary that we keep talking, praying, and working to influence governments to help as well, he said.

“There are so many of our brothers and sisters here, and, I would say, all-in-all, there are people of all faiths suffering…”

However, minority groups such as Christians are under the highest risk from others, he said. They understand very well the Christian view of suffering as universal and like the cross.

But though there is so much atrocity, Cardinal Zenari explained that “there are also many beautiful examples of altruism.”

Many volunteers, probably more than one thousand by now, have lost their lives bringing aid to Syria, he said, so they have these examples of generosity, people he calls, “desert flowers.”

Several times he has heard people list these atrocities before international communities, Zenari said, and every time, they see and do nothing.

“You should notice more of this suffering of the civilians, especially women and children,” he said. “It is time to notice and not just read about this but realize it means to do something.”

Alvaro de Juana contributed to this story.


No Picture
News Briefs

Spanish bishop interprets Amoris Laetitia through ‘the preceding Magisterium’

March 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Alcalá de Henares, Spain, Mar 30, 2017 / 01:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Spanish bishop last week published criteria for the accompaniment of the divorced-and-remarried, inviting them to a “catechumenal itinerary” by which they come to live according to Christ’s words.

“The Church has only one goal to propose to man: the way of life that Jesus taught us and to which he introduces us in the sacraments,” Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Alcalá de Henares wrote March 20 in Accompanying the baptized who have divorced and live in another union, a set of provisions for his diocese.

The bishop began by noting the interest in and debate over pastoral care for the divorced-and-remarried  which has increased since the publication of Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

He first recommended the indications found in a vademecum produced by Fr. José Granados, Dr. Stephan Kampowski, and Fr. Juan José Pérez-Soba, of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. The guide had been presented at a family congress in Alcalá de Henares March 10-12.

“The Church in her beginnings, when she saw that many asked for the sacrament of baptism while living a life far removed from Christian demands, proposed a catechumenal itinerary which included an important change in their mode of living which had to be verified in order to access the sacraments,” Bishop Reig then said.

“She did so with the conviction that the approach to the Christian community and to her way of life was the necessary support so that the person could respond to the grace of God and convert to the live proper to a Christian.”

He also explained that “penitential itineraries” were also developed “which permitted to be received again fully into the Christian community the baptized who, having moved away from life according to the Gospel, repented of their sins.”

The bishop stated that “in this sense and as a principle to avoid any gradualness of the law which the Synod of Bishops rejected and which Pope Francis disqualified in his apostolic exhortation, I encourage all our divorced brethren in irregular situations to draw near to the Christian community in order to participate in her life and accompaniment.”

By doing so they can “thus set out on a path which, step by step, brings them closer to Christ, going deeper into the Gospel of marriage, instituted by God in the beginning as an indissoluble union of man and woman and transformed by Christ into a living and efficacious sign of his love for the Church.”

“The goal of this path will be for these baptized persons to be able to live in accord with the words of Jesus,” Bishop Reig wrote. “Only when they are disposed to take this step will they be able to receive sacramental absolution and the Holy Eucharist.”

He emphasized that “the objective conditions required by the Magisterium of the Church in order to be able to be admitted to the reception of the sacraments remain in force. These objective conditions were expressed by Pope St. John Paul II in the exhortation Familiaris consortio 84, ratified by Benedict XVI (Sacramentum caritatis 29) and contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1650. Moreover, in 2000 the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts published its Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried.”

“It is by following these principles that we are to receive the magisterium of Pope Francis expressed in chapter eight of the exortation Amoris laetitia. That is, in continuity with the preceding magisterium (cf. Amoris laetitia chapter 3).”

Bishop Reig said that Pope Francis’ proposal “consists in promoting a greater outreach” to the divorced-and-remarried and “in promoting an itinerary that permits those who are in irregular situations to return to a life in conformity with the words of Jesus.”

“The discernment which the Pope asks of us refers to the path which we are called to travel, and not to the goal we must reach.”

He added, quoting from Familiaris consortio, that it is necessary to remember particularly that on the basis of Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the Church does not admit the divorced-and-remarried to Communion, because “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist … Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.’”

“That is an objective requirement which does not admit of exception and whose fulfillment must be the object of careful discernment in the internal forum; no priest may be considered to have the authority to dispense with this requirement,” Bishop Reig taught.

He noted that the diocesan office for family counseling and its tribunal are both available as an aid to priests and families dealing with irregular situations.

Amoris laetitia “encourages us, as was already affirmed in Familiaris consortio 84, to open paths of accompaniment which will help these persons to take steps to have the capacity to live the sacramental truth of their situation,” the bishop concluded.

“This is the concrete way to live mercy toward these brethren, offering them a Love which heals their wounds and permits them to live the plenitude of Communion with God and with the Church.”


No Picture
News Briefs

This pregnant woman found her faith in 1930s Spain – and died for it.

March 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Madrid, Spain, Mar 30, 2017 / 05:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A pregnant woman who found her faith in a Spanish prison, refused to give up the name of her Christian catechist to her persecutors, and died for lack of medical care was beatified on Saturday.

“Emilia is a martyr of suffering, because she died some 10 days after giving birth for lack of medical attention, clutching her rosary. She had a chance to apostatize, to betray the one who taught her the faith, but she did not. She’s an example,” Historian Martin Ibarra told CNA.  

On March 25, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Causes of Saints, beatified Emilia Fernandez and 114 other martyrs of religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War, which lasted from 1936-1939.

Emilia became the first Romani – or Gypsy – woman to be beatified by the Catholic Church.

“Emilia’s life up to 24 years of age was normal for an Andalusian Gypsy woman at the beginning of the century,” Ibarra said. “She devoted herself to her family, her work as a basket maker. She was a hard working woman, a Gypsy and honest.”

She and her husband, Juan Cortes and were imprisoned for trying to prevent Juan from being conscripted into the war.

Although Emilia was pregnant when she went to prison, she did not receive any additional care. Officials assigned her the same insufficient food ration as the rest of the female prisoners.

Emilia “carried her pregnancy in the prison under terrible conditions, and suffered a lot from hunger,” Ibarra said.

It was in prison where she discovered her faith.

“Even though she had been baptized, she never set foot in a church. It was especially through the rosary that her catechist Dolores del Olmo taught her,” Ibarra recounted.

“Every afternoon the female prisoners prayed, even though it was forbidden. Emilia wanted to know more about her faith and she asked Dolores del Olmo to explain it to her. There she realized that she belonged to the Church, and she learned the ‘Our Father,’ the ‘Hail Mary’ and the ‘Glory Be’.”

The warden for the women’s prison, Dolores Salmerón, knew that Emilia and the other prisoners were praying. She offered the woman more food and offered to release her and her husband on one condition: she must reveal the name of whoever taught her to pray.

Emilia refused to betray her catechist and so she was punished with solitary confinement.

A few months later, Emilia gave birth. “Between the cries and sobs, her catechist was saying prayers which Emilia repeated, although she could not continue because of the pain,” Ibarra added.

Dolores del Olmo, her catechist, baptized Emilia’s newborn daughter with the name Angeles. The new mother died 10 days later.

Ibarra is the author of the book “Emilia, the Basket Maker, Martyr of the Rosary,” which tells of her life and death. He said that Emilia’s devotion to the rosary led her to love Jesus Christ more.

“She fulfilled her maternity, risking her life and in fact she died for lack of medical attention,” the historian said. “She died from her sufferings, for being faithful to her faith, for bringing a life into the world and did not give in to her jailer’s desire that she apostatize.”

For Ibarra, Emilia’s beatification shows the vitality of the Church.

“She is a call to hope and responsibility, who teaches us with her life that God is at our side, even in difficulties,” he said. “Emilia went to prison hardly knowing the faith and when she died, she did so as a friend of God. That is beautiful.”

She was beatified in a group of martyrs from Almeria, Spain. They include cathedral dean Father Jose Alvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and 114 companion martyrs: 95 priests, 20 laymen and two women, including Emilia.

Emilia is the first Romani woman to be beatified. The first male Gypsy blessed, Ceferino Giménez Malla, known as El Pelé, was beatified by Saint John Paul II in 1997. He died in the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War for protecting a priest. Before his persecutors shot him, he held a rosary in his hand and cried out “Long live Christ the King!”

Iberra characterized both Emelia and Ceferino as “martyrs of the rosary” because both of them refused to stop praying it.

“This demonstrates that the Virgin leads us to God. For those two martyrs, she was the Gate of Heaven,” he said.