Vatican City, Aug 1, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If problems between Russia and Western countries are going to be resolved, the two must overcome differences and concern for personal interests in order to achieve peace, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sa… […]
This year the Catholic Church in Rwanda is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ordination of the country’s first local clergy. As they mark this anniversary, the Diocese of Kabgayi recently hosted the ordination to […]
Kansas City, Kan., Jul 31, 2017 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new study from researchers at Kansas University has found that unborn babies are able to distinguish between different languages as early a month before they are born.
The study found that… […]
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed (Ignatius Press) by Fr. Charles P. Connor. On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther, long fearful for […]
Rome, Italy, Jul 31, 2017 / 12:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- To mark Monday’s feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, Pope Francis as usual visited his brother Jesuits at their General Curia house in Rome.
The Church’s first Jesuit Pope, who is taking a break from all public audiences during July, was welcomed by the Father General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa.
Earlier in the day Pope Francis sent a tweet honoring St. Ignatius and asking for his prayers, telling his 35 million followers: “Like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, let us be won over by the Lord Jesus and, led by Him, place ourselves at the service of others.”
Pope Francis has made a point to visit the Jesuits on the feast of their founder every year since his election.
Shortly after he was elected Bishop of Rome in 2013, Francis marked the July 31 feast of the saint by celebrating Mass at the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Jesuit order and where St. Ignatius is buried.
Every year since Francis has made a point to visit the order’s headquarters, whether for lunch or for dinner, to celebrate the feast with his brothers.
St. Ignatius was born into a noble family in Guipuzcoa, Spain 1491. He served as a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella before becoming a soldier in the Spanish army.
He wounded his leg during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. While recovering, Ignatius read lives of the saints, an experience that led to a deep conversion, and he dedicated himself to the Catholic faith.
After making a general confession at a monastery in Montserrat, Ignatius spent nearly a year in solitude, during which he wrote his Spiritual Exercises and afterward made a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, where he worked to convert Muslims.
St. Ignatius returned to complete his studies in Spain and then France, where he received a degree in theology. While many were jealous or resentful of his holy lifestyle, the saint’s wisdom and virtue attracted numerous followers, and the Society of Jesus was created.
The Society was approved by Paul III in 1540, and grew rapidly. St. Ignatius remained in Rome, where he governed the Society and became friends with St. Philip Neri. He died July 31, 1556, and was canonized by Gregory XV in 1622.
Pope Francis entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1958. He received a philosophy degree in 1963 and spent the next three years teaching literature and psychology.
The now-Roman Pontiff then studied theology from 1967 to 1970, during which time he was ordained a priest. His priestly ordination was Dec. 13, 1969.
He did the final state of Jesuit formation from 1970 to 1971, and was novice master at the Jesuit seminary in San Miguel, a Buenos Aires suburb, from 1972 to 1973, where he taught theology.
In 1973, he made his perpetual vows in the Society, and that year was elected provincial for Argentina. After his time as provincial, from 1980 to 1986, he served as rector of the seminary at San Miguel, where he had studied, and was pastor of a parish in the city. He was elected Bishop of Rome March 13, 2013.
London, England, Jul 31, 2017 / 10:31 am (CNA).- Charlie Gard, an 11 month-old British infant who made headlines around the world over a fierce legal battle on parental rights, had been baptized the same week he died.
In April, a picture of his tiny fist made the rounds on the internet of him clutching a St. Jude medal.
The boy’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, on Friday issued a statement announcing his death, saying: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”
Family spokesperson Alison Smith-Squire announced on Sunday that he will be buried with his toy monkeys, pictured with him in one of the viral photos of the boy.
“We should be planning Charlie’s first birthday but instead we’re planning his funeral,” his mother said, according to the Sun.
According to the Sun, his parents spent the weekend with family and on Monday were planning to register his death. They had wanted to keep a low profile from the media after the boy’s passing.
Charlie had been at the center of a legal battle between his parents and the Great Ormund Street Hospital (GOSH), an internationally known children’s hospital where he was being cared for. The case raised questions about medical ethics, end-of-life procedure, and parental rights.
Charlie was born on Aug. 4 last year, and in September was discovered to have a rare genetic condition which resulted in muscular deterioration. He was believed to be one of 16 sufferers of the disease in the world.
He was admitted to GOSH in October, and in a series of court cases stretching from March to June, judges repeatedly ruled in favor of doctors who wished to have the boy’s life support removed, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights’ rejection to hear the case. Yates and Gard had hoped to take Charlie to the U.S. for experimental treatment.
In early July, both Pope Francis and U.S. president Donald Trump intervened in support of the family on twitter. Trump said that the United States would cooperate with the boy’s parents in helping Charlie receive the experimental care.
On July 10, unpublished research on Charlie’s condition seemed to indicate the therapy being developed in the States could improve his condition. However, as weeks passed, his condition deteriorated beyond chance of improvement, and GOSH doctors insisted that international specialists claiming he could improve had not fully reviewed his medical records.
Yates and Gard conceded their legal battle on Monday after the latest medical reports indicated their son was beyond improvement indefinitely, and began fighting to have him spend a week in care at home before life support would be pulled.
On Thursday, Yates announced that they had been denied their wish to have him die at home. The boy’s parents had wished to spend a week with him in hospice. This too, however, was denied to them on the grounds that it may cause Charlie prolonged suffering, according to GOSH doctors.
The boy’s death was announced on Friday in a statement from the family.
A number of prominent figures, both from the secular and Catholic worlds, made statements on the passing of the little boy whose plight sparked international support as well as a debate on medical, infant, and parental rights.
Shortly after his passing was announced, Pope Francis tweeted his solidarity with the parents.
“I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him,” the pontiff said. He had previously made two statements in support of and solidarity with the child and his parents. One of these statements led to “the Pope’s hospital,” l’Ospedale Bambino Gesù, offering to care for Charlie.
Days before the boy’s passing, Bambino Gesù issued another statement, called “Charlie’s Legacy,” noting that it was too late for the boy to receive care but also commending the fact that “(f)or the first time, the international scientific community has gathered around a single patient, to carefully evaluate all the possibilities.” They called this “the true legacy of Charlie.”
The Great Ormund Street Hospital, where Charlie spent much of his final months, sent “heartfelt condolences.” Charlie’s parent had accused the hospital of putting up “obstacles” to allowing their child to die at home. The parents’ taking GOSH to court was the spark that lit the months-long legal turmoil for the family.
Theresa May, Prime Minister of Great Britain, said: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Charlie Gard. My thoughts and prayers are with Charlie’s parents Chris and Connie at this difficult time.”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Saddened to hear of the Passing of Charlie Gard. Karen & I offer our prayers & condolences to his loving parents during this difficult time.”
The March for Life issued a statement with their condolences and offering their prayers for the family.
“Though his life here on earth was cut short, Charlie’s spirit will continue to inspire an international fight to ensure that the sanctity of every human life is respected,” the March’s statement said.
Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, issued a statement saying that “Our hearts are heavy today as we learn of Charlie Gard’s passing. We are so thankful for his life, which though too brief, has made a lasting impact on the world and drawn together people from all walks of life and political persuasions, uniting them around the dignity and value of every human being.” She also offered condolences to the parents and assured that “Charlie’s legacy” would build a culture of life.
The Catholic Association (TCA) also offered their condolences, noting that Gard and Yates had to endure both the death of their son as well as a tumultuous legal fight.
“(T)his excruciating decision should have belonged to his loving and devoted parents,” the TCA said. “There was no apparent compelling justification for the courts to override and replace the unique parental bond of love in this case, which has only added to the heartbreak of Charlie’s passing.”
The TCA statement continued: “The international response to the plight of this baby is a beautiful testament to the irreplaceable value of one human life.”
Lima, Peru, Jul 30, 2017 / 04:04 pm (CNA).- José Arturo Castellanos was a Catholic from El Salvador who during the Second World War was sent as a diplomat to the city of Geneva, Switzerland.
But after his requests to his country to rescue Jews who began to face massive persecution at the hands of the Nazis were denied, he took matters in his own hands. Through courage and cunning, Castellanos helped save 40,000 Jewish people from the Holocaust.
His actions resulted in his being posthumously granted in July 2010 the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” awarded to non-Jews by Yad Vashem, an institution of the Israeli government constituted to honor the memory of the martyrs and heroes of the Holocaust. This title has been conferred on priests, religious and other lay persons who saved Jews at that time.
In July 2016 Pope Francis had an encounter at the Auschwitz concentration camp located in Poland with the representatives of some “Righteous Among the Nations” who had already died.
José Arturo Castellanos was born in 1893 in El Salvador to a Catholic and military family. In his youth he decided to join the army like his father and began to develop a brilliant career. In 1930 he traveled to Europe to complete his education.
A biography of him published on the Yad Vashem website states that at the age of 44 Colonel Castellanos was sent as a diplomat to England and in 1938 assigned to Germany.
There he witnessed the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime. In face of this he asked his superiors if he could grant them visas so they could escape the country, but this request was denied.
However, Castellanos did not give up and in 1939 he sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador in which he described the situation of the Jews and asked for his help. This petition was also denied to him.
The website of the documentary “Castellanos Movie” set up by his grandsons Alvaro and Boris Castellanos says that the colonel disobeyed the orders received from his country’s government and began to extend visas and Salvadoran nationality to Jews to prevent them from being sent by the Nazis to the concentration camps, where they were made to do forced labor in inhumane conditions or were killed.
In 1942 Castellanos was appointed El Salvador’s consul in Geneva. There he named George Mandel-Mantello, a Jewish refugee from Romania who was a friend of his, as first secretary of the consulate to implement the “Salvadoran action.”
The colonel authorized Mandel-Mantello to secretly deliver passports and certificates of Salvadoran citizenship to the Jews. The Yad Veshem institution explained that those that obtained these benefits were saved because El Salvador was considered a neutral country for not supporting any one of the sides that fought during the Second World War.
Castellanos made the issuance of more than 13,000 Salvadoran documents to be done without any charge. These papers were sent through his contacts to Jews who resided in France, Hungary, Germany, Holland, Slovakia and Romania.
According to the Castellanos Movie website, the issuance of just one document was enough to save a whole family.
Through this work carried out between the years 1942 and 1945, Castellanos succeeded in saving about 40,000 Jews. The Yad Vashem institution noted that after the 1944 elections, the new president of el Salvador, Salvador Castaneda Castro, unlike his predecessor, had his country get involved in the protection of the Jews in places like Hungary and provided support for Castellanos in his rescue mission.
Currently thousands of these certificates which granted Salvadoran nationality to Jews in Europe are exhibited in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Castellanos married Maria Schürmann of Switzerland, and the couple had three children. When the Second World War was over in 1945 he was sent to London and retired in 1972 at the age of 79.
He returned to El Salvador where he led a quiet life until he died in 1977, without having been awarded any recognition for his work.
After his death, several institutions began to hold tributes in memory of Colonel Castellanos.
In 2010 when it was announced that he would be awarded the title of “Righteous Among the Nations,” the El Salvador Minister of Foreign Relations, Hugo Martinez, said that the Salvadoran diplomat “stood out for his humanism and for his work in aiding a people which in their time was persecuted and whose existence was threatened.”
The ambassador of Israel in the Central American country, Mattanya Cohen, said that Castellanos is the fourth Latin American to receive this tribute.
In late June 2017, the embassies of Israel and El Salvador to the Holy See held an event in Rome to honor the memory and the work of José Arturo Castellanos. A video was also shown there of the testimony of a Jewish man who obtained Salvadoran citizenship and was able to escape with his family.
In a press release announcing this event posted on the website of Diplomatic Missions of Israel in the World, noted that Catellanos “in a time when many remained indifferent to human suffering, he was one of the few heroes who opposed an absolute evil in order to save the lives of thousands of Jews.”
Vatican City, Jul 30, 2017 / 05:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis said that when we seek out Christ, sacrificing everything in the process, in the end we find a joy that is worth far more than anything we may have lost.
“The disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential; He is one who has found much more: he has found the fullness of joy that only the Lord can give,” the Pope said July 30.
“It is the evangelical joy of healed people; of forgiven sinners; of the thief to whom is opened the door of paradise.”
Speaking about the day’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, which tells the parables of the “hidden treasure” and the “pearl of great price,” Pope Francis emphasized that “the attitude of searching is the essential condition for finding.”
The treasure is the Kingdom of God, found through the person of Jesus Christ, he said. And to obtain it, our hearts must burn with the desire to seek it and find it out.
“He is the hidden treasure, he is the pearl of great value. He is the fundamental discovery, which can make a decisive turning point in our lives, filling it with meaning,” Francis said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his address before the Angelus.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus uses three different parables, or analogies, for finding the Kingdom of God, but the Pope said he wanted to “linger” over the first two examples, which “underline the decision of the protagonists to sell everything to obtain what they have discovered.”
The first case is a farmer who happens upon a hidden treasure in the field where he is working, but since he does not own the field, he first must buy it in order to possess the treasure. “So he decides to risk all his belongings in order not to miss that extraordinary opportunity,” Francis said.
In the second example a merchant finds a precious and valuable pearl. He too decides to sell everything in order to have the pearl.
“These similarities highlight two characteristics concerning the possession of the Kingdom of God,” the Pope continued, “searching and sacrifice.”
Highlighting the action, rather than passivity, involved in reaching heaven, he said it is true, “the Kingdom of God is offered to all – it is a gift, a favor, a grace – but it is not made available on a silver plate, it requires dynamism: it is to seek, to walk, to do.”
When they discover the treasure and the precious pearl, both the farmer and the merchant sell everything they own, he pointed out. “Evaluating the invaluable treasure value leads to a decision that also involves sacrifice, detachment and renunciation.”
The decision of the disciple to sacrifice everything for their relationship with Christ is not a matter of “despising” everything, but of putting things in the proper order, he said, placing Jesus before everything.
And doing so, leads to the joy of the Gospel, which fills the hearts and lives of those who have found Jesus. “Those who are saved by Him are freed from sin, sadness, inner void, and isolation,” he said. “With Jesus Christ, the joy is always born and reborn.”
Today’s Gospel urges us to contemplate the joy of the farmer and the merchant in the parable, a joy that is for each of us to discover in the “consoling presence of Jesus in our lives.”
And this presence, Pope Francis said, is one that transforms our hearts, opening us up to the needs of our brothers and sisters, in particular those that are weaker than us.
“Let us pray, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for each of us to witness, with daily words and gestures, the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God, that is, the love the Father has given us through Jesus,” he concluded.
After praying the Angelus, Francis noted that today we remember the World Day against human trafficking, leading those present in a ‘Hail Mary’ for the victims of trafficking and for the conversion of the hearts of traffickers, calling the modern form of slavery “an aberrant plague.”
“Each year, thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing,” he said. “This is ugly, it’s cruel, it’s criminal!”
Austin, Texas, Jul 29, 2017 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Texas Senate passed a bill which would ban general insurance policies from covering abortions for private citizens, government employees, and those insured under the Affordable C… […]
Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After attempts to block abortion funding in health care failed with the demise of the Senate’s health care bill early Friday morning, pro-life leaders vowed to keep fighting.