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Pope Francis: Evangelization is about knowing the human heart

September 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 3

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2017 / 11:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis said that the work of evangelization belongs to all people, and that the richness found in a variety of traditions can be a way of opening people’s hearts to the Gospel.

“The new stage of evangelization we are called upon to follow is certainly the work of the whole Church, ‘people on the way to God,’” he said Sept. 29.

Evangelization “by its very nature belongs to the People of God.”

Referencing the Second Vatican Council document Lumen gentium, he said, “From every population to which we go, a wealth emerges which the Church is called to recognize and value to bring about the unity of ‘all mankind’ of which it is the ‘sign’ and ‘the sacrament.’”

Pope Francis’ speech was part of a meeting with around 60 members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, at the conclusion of their plenary session Sept. 27-29.

In the audience, he told them he wanted to reflect on the “urgency” the Church feels to “renew its efforts and enthusiasm” for its mission of evangelization.  

The many good traditions that people and their cultures possess give richness to the Church and life to the action of grace, which opens hearts to accept the Gospel, he said.

These traditions are “authentic gifts” expressing the infinite creativity of the Father and fostering communion, which then acts as a “seed of salvation, a prelude to universal peace and a concrete place of dialogue.”

Pope Francis also emphasized that the call to evangelize “transcends” the availability of a single person, but is actually part of a complex design of interpersonal relationships.

“Few institutions like the Church can boast of having a knowledge of the people able to enhance that cultural, moral and religious heritage that is the identity of entire generations,” he said.

This is why, he explained, it is important that in our evangelization efforts we know how to enter people’s hearts and help them to discover the sense of God and his love that gives confidence and serenity despite difficulty and challenge.

If we look deeply, he continued, we may find a “genuine desire for God that makes restless the heart of so many fallen people…”

“The joy of evangelization can reach them and give them the strength for conversion,” he said.

Pope Francis also reflected on last year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy, which he said was a time of grace lived by the whole Church “with great faith and intense spirituality,” especially the rediscovery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“We cannot permit that such enthusiasm be diluted or forgotten,” he said.

The Pope said that everyone who evangelizes should be committed to announcing the message of mercy, which is made concrete and visible in the lives of believers.

Furthermore, those who have the task of proclaiming the Gospel should remember the words of the Apostle Paul, who says in 1 Timothy 1:12-16: “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.”

“I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,” the Pope quoted.

“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost.”

The Church has a great responsibility to continue to be an instrument of mercy, Francis said.

“In this way, it can be easier to allow the reception of the Gospel to be perceived and lived as an event of salvation and it can bring a full and definitive meaning to personal and social life.”



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Pope zeroes-in on ‘fake news’ for next communications day

September 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 5

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2017 / 06:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With social platforms increasingly targeting so-called “fake news,” Pope Francis has decided to weigh-in, dedicating his message for the 2018 World Day of Social Communications to eliminating the spread of false information and providing the truth.

Announced Sept. 29, the theme for the 2018 message is: “The truth will set you free: Fake news and journalism for peace.”

In a communique from the Vatican Secretariat of Communications, headed by Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, it was said the Pope’s message will be centered on “so-called ‘fake news,’” which is namely “baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions.”

Fake news, the communique read, “involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior.”

Since the big players among social media companies, global institutions and even politics are now confronting the issue, “the Church too wishes to offer a contribution.”

To this end, the Church wishes to put forward “a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media.” Her goal is also to help in promoting “professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people.”

World Day of Social Communications was established in 1963 with the document “Inter Mirifica” on the media of social communications, and was the only global celebration to be requested by the Second Vatican Council.

The event is celebrated in countries throughout the world on the Sunday after Pentecost, which this year falls on May 13, 2018. The Pope’s message for the event is typically published on the Jan. 24 feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

Pope Francis has often spoken out on journalism and the need to provide accurate, constructive reporting that doesn’t degrade or defame others.

Journalists were the focus of Pope Francis’ prayer intention for October 2016. In a video released announcing the intention, the Pope said “We need information leading to a commitment for the common good of humanity and the planet.”

Specifically, he prayed that journalists, “in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for the truth and a strong sense of ethics.”

Just two months later, in December 2016, the Pope gave an interview to a Belgian magazine in which he cautioned media to avoid several major temptations, including the desire to always focus on scandal – which he compared to “coprophilia,” a mental illness in which a person has an abnormal interest in feces.

“Media I think have to be very clean, very clean and very transparent. And not fall – without offending, please – into the sickness of coprophilia,” the Pope said in the interview.

Coprophilia, or coprophagy, is technically defined as a condition in which a person has an abnormal interest and pleasure in feces or excrement. However, for Pope Francis, his use of the word referred to an attitude in journalism that always tries to communicate scandal. 

However, he said media are also “the builders of a society,” and as such are meant to foster a fraternal exchange of ideas, to educate and to make one think. Media is not inherently evil, he said, but cautioned that we are all sinners, and even media “have their temptations.”

First of all, they can be tempted to slander or defile people, above all in politics, he said, and also warned against defamation, since “every person has the right to a good name.”

To bring to light a problem from a person’s distant past and to hold them responsible, even if they have already rectified the situation, “is serious, it does damage, it nullifies a person,” Francis said.

“There is no right to this. This is a sin and it does harm,” he said, pointing to another particularly harmful attitude in the media: “misinformation.”

Described by the Pope as telling only one part of the truth but not the other, Francis said that to do this: “This is to misinform. Because you, the viewer, you give them half of the truth. And therefore they cannot make a serious judgment on the complete truth.”

Misinforming people “is probably the greatest harm that media can do. Because it directs opinion in one direction, taking away the other half of the truth,” he said, adding that if media stay away from these problematic attitudes, “they are builders of opinion and they can edify, and do an immense, immense good.”


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Questions and Answers on the ‘filial correction’

September 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 4

Steubenville, Ohio, Sep 29, 2017 / 03:19 am (CNA).- Dr. Jacob Wood, an assistant professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, offers answers on some frequently-asked-questions about the ‘Filial Correction on the Spread of Heresies” a letter sent to Pope Francis by a group of bishops, priests, and scholars, who released the letter this past weekend.  

What is fraternal correction?

Fraternal correction is an act of charity (CCC 1829), in which we call a brother or sister in Christ, who has fallen into serious sin, back to the way of the Gospel. Fraternal correction is explained by Jesus in the Gospel (Mt 18:15-17).

Why is this called a “filial” and not a “fraternal” correction?

Christ established a hierarchy in his Church (CCC 877), and the signatories on the letter are not on equal footing with the pope in that hierarchy. Out of respect for the pope’s authority, they appeal to the pope as his spiritual sons and daughters, not as spiritual brothers and sisters.

Why is this correction being issued?

Some of the signatories issued a filial appeal to Pope Francis last year, asking him to clarify the Church’s teaching with regard to marriage, sin, and grace. When they did not receive a response, they prepared this correction. The correction was originally sent to Pope Francis privately in July.

Why is this correction being made public now?

When the signatories received no response from Pope Francis to their appeal or their correction, they were concerned about the possibility of scandal, and so they made it public.

Was it right to make the correction public?

Not necessarily, no.

In Donum Veritatis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stipulates that theologians who wish to critique the timeliness, form, or substance of non-infallible magisterial documents should address their concerns to the “responsible authority” rather than the “mass media” (DV 30). The responsible authority for the Church’s teaching on faith and morals is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The responsible authority for the interpretation of canon law is the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Moreover, the principal concern of a filial or fraternal correction should be the amendment of the one who is thought to have sinned. But the publication of the document (as opposed to its private submission) was not undertaken primarily with a view towards correcting a supposed sin of Pope Francis. Rather, the cited reason for the publication of the correction is the avoidance of scandal to others, not the correction of Pope Francis himself.

Furthermore, although the correction seeks to avoid scandal, the correction itself has served as a cause of scandal. It insinuates that the pope is a heretic, it thereby weakens people’s trust in the pastors of the Church, and it provides the mass media with the opportunity to paint a false picture of the Church, in which those who believe the Church’s teaching about marriage, sin, and grace are seen as somehow opposed to the pope.

What authority does the correction have?

The correction is a private act on the part of the individual signatories, which they have undertaken in their capacity as baptized members of the Church (Can. 212, §3). The correction therefore has no magisterial authority in the Church.

Are Catholics required to follow the correction?

No. Since the correction lacks magisterial authority, Catholics are not required to agree with it or to follow it.

What is heresy?

“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same…” (CCC 2089).

Does this mean that the pope is a heretic?

No. Despite the document’s title, the signatories acknowledge in the document that they lack the authority to judge whether the pope has committed the sin of heresy or the canonical crime of heresy. The difference between the sin and the crime of heresy, and an answer to the question about whether the pope can be a heretic, are discussed here.

If the signatories cannot convict the pope of heresy, what sin do the signatories claim that the pope has committed?

The signatories claim that the pope has failed to stop the spread of heresy, rather than that he has committed the sin of heresy himself.

What heresy do the signatories claim that the pope has failed to stop?

The signatories claim that the pope has failed to stop the spread of seven heresies. Most of these concern the Church’s teaching on mortal sin. The Church’s teaching is that we cannot with full knowledge and deliberate consent choose to perform grave evil without cutting ourselves off from God’s grace (CCC 1857), and that we cannot live in a state in life which is contrary to God’s law without cutting ourselves off from the Sacrament of the Eucharist (CCC 1650).

Are those heresies contained in Amoris Laetitia?

None of the passages of Amoris Laetitia cited by the correction explicitly denies that a person who knowingly and willingly commits grave evil cuts himself or herself off from God’s grace.

Amoris Laetitia does explore the possibility that a person who commits grave evil may in some cases not have full knowledge or deliberate consent when doing so, but precisely insofar as they lack full knowledge and/or deliberate consent, such a person is not necessarily committing mortal sin.

Amoris Laetitia also explores the process of healing the gravely sinful elements of a state in life which is contrary to God’s law, without necessarily abandoning that state in life altogether. Amoris Laetitia only speculates as to what may be possible in this context, and its teaching is not clear. The Church teaches that in ambiguous cases such as this one, “everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way.” (CCC 2478) That means interpreting ambiguous statements in continuity with the faith and practice of the Church, not in terms of a rupture with that faith and practice.

How can we gain clarity about the teaching of the Church on divorce and remarriage?

With magisterial authority, St. John Paul II declared that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “sure norm for teaching the faith” (Fidei Depositum 3). We may therefore look to the teaching of the Catechism on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony (1601-1666), sin (1846-1879), and grace (1950-2029). Four Cardinals of the Catholic Church have also submitted five “dubia” to Pope Francis. A “dubium” is a question about faith and/or morals to which the faithful would like a magisterial answer, and “dubia” is the plural of “dubium.” Should Pope Francis answer the dubia, it would give us further guidance as to his intended teaching.

What should Catholics do now?

Catholics should pray for the pope, for the signatories of the correction, and for the Church. Jesus Christ himself promised to send his Holy Spirit so as to lead the Church into all truth (Jn 16:13), and to defend the Church from error (Mt 16:18). Jesus is always faithful to his promises.


Dr. Jacob Wood is assistant professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. His opinions are his own.


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Cardinal Parolin: Iraqi Christians are called to be ‘artisans’ of reconciliation

September 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Sep 29, 2017 / 12:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a conference on rebuilding Christian villages on the Plains of Nineveh, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Christians are an essential part of Iraqi society, and must strive to be witnesses of peace true reconciliation.

One of the greatest challenges in Iraq right now is “to restore to the Christian communities the environment of a normal life, essential for all the families in overcoming fear and despair, and looking to the future with hope,” Cardinal Parolin said in his Sept. 28 speech.

The rebuilding of houses and villages, he said, “is the first and fundamental condition for the return of Christians to their own lands.”

However, beyond the rebuilding of cities and structures, Parolin said “there is the more important obligation of reconstructing Iraqi society and consolidating a harmonious and peaceful coexistence.”

“Here, Christians have the specific position to be artisans of peace, reconciliation and development,” he said.

And this mission, he added, is made all the more important in the context of current regional instability and “urgently demands a process of national reconciliation and shared effort by all parts of society to achieve shared solutions for the good of the whole country.”

Cardinal Parolin was one of seven panelists participating in a half-day symposium organized by the pontifical organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on efforts to rebuild Christian towns and villages on the Nineveh Plains.

In addition to Parolin, other speakers included Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, international president of ACN and prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin, apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan; and Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad Luis Rafael Sako, among others.

During the symposium, one of ACN’s reconstruction projects, titled “Iraq, return to the roots,” was presented. From 2014-2017, the project has financed various programs for Christians in Iraq, amounting to an approximate total of 30 million euro.

Among the structures destroyed or damaged since the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plains in 2014, it is estimated that some 13,000 homes, schools, hospitals and religious buildings were completely or partially destroyed.

The project, with a total estimated cost of $250 million, aims to continue providing a concrete response to Christians from the Nineveh Plains who want to return to their homes.

In his speech, Cardinal Parolin noted the significance of the fact that the project draws participation from the three main Christian Churches in Iraq: the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac-Catholic Church and the Syriac-Orthodox Church, each of which had representatives present at the meeting.

“May the cooperation between Churches be a tangible sign of unity in charity,” the cardinal said, and thanked the bishops for their “generous commitment,” urging them “to spare no effort before overcoming the sources of tension between the various communities in order to obtain a renewed unity.”

“Such a witness of Christian unity is made all the more urgent and necessary by the complex situation that the country faces and the real danger of loss of the Christians and the Christian presence,” he said.

In addition to the challenges posed by violent extremism, the region has also undergone new threats to social stability with a Sept. 25 referendum held by the Kurdish Regional Government on whether to declare independence from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.

In the referendum, Kurds voted almost unanimously in favor of the referendum, prompting concern on the part of some that a declaration of independence would lead to war between Baghdad and Kurdistan, which would likely take place on the Nineveh Plains, again putting Christians in harm’s way.

In his speech, Cardinal Parolin stressed the need to work for unity, saying one of the greatest challenges in Iraq right now is “to create the social, political and economic conditions to enable a new social cohesion which favors reconciliation and peace.”

This also entails ensuring Christians and other minorities have full rights, he said. Christians do not want to simply be “benignly tolerated,” but want “to be citizens whose rights are protected and guaranteed along with all the other citizens,” he said.

And without the option of returning to the cities and villages of their birth, “very little of the aforementioned would be possible.”

“Christian presence is fundamental in the Middle East for peace, stability and pluralism,” he stressed. “Each of the Christian communities have made their own contribution in the centuries.”

The presence of Christians is in “constant decline” due to a lack of security and an unclear future, Parolin said, adding that the conflicts and tensions of recent years have made the situation worse, posing a risk “not only for the survival of Christians, but also for the very possibility that the Middle East can be a place of coexistence between peoples of different religious and different ethnic groups.”

He stressed the importance of safeguarding the rights of Christians by means of “adequate juridical instruments,” including their right to return home, their right to security and to religious freedom.

“There is likewise a need to address the root causes of the phenomenon of terrorism and to promote inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding,” he said, noting that while “much has been done” since the effort to re-take Mosul began a year ago, “much remains to be done.”

“The process of reconstruction (and) the return of Christians to a degree of normality in their lives should be the primary and urgent objective of our efforts,” he said.

This, Cardinal Parolin added, “will allow the Christian community in new force to face up to other challenges that await them, so that they can be fully and generously engaged in working for the common good of the entire nation.”

In his speech, which was a joint statement from the patriarchs of the three Christian Churches in the region, Patriarch Sako said that in the face of the Christian genocide perpetrated by ISIS, “it is our duty” to reconstruct the houses and villages of Christians.

Their presence in these areas, he said, “is as important as maintaining witnesses of Gospel values, otherwise, they will leave the country.”

In order to help Christians stay, he stressed the need for educational and political support, humanitarian assistance, the defeat of fundamentalism, and security and stabilization of the areas freed from ISIS so that those displaced by the group can return home.

“Iraqi Christians need well-defined support and strong action to save them and help them return to their towns, homes and jobs,” he said, urging those in positions of authority to be “seriously open-minded.”

In many ways, Iraqi culture is still deeply “tribal,” Sako said, and as such is frequently drawn to war, violence and revenge.

Going into the future, “we need to be trained to live in peace, respecting life and living in harmony together despite our religion or ethnicity,” he said.

He also pushed for a swift stabilization of areas recently liberated from ISIS, saying this sense of security is “essential” in ensuring both the “rapid return” of those who have been displaced, and long-term protection.

When it comes to putting an end to terrorism in the region, the patriarch stressed that a military victory over ISIS “does not mean all of the problems have been solved.” This, he said, is because the extremist ideology continues to present “a fundamental problem and risk for us all.”

“Therefore, it is urgent for all who are concerned to work together for dismantling and eradicating the extremists’ widespread ideology,” he said, explaining that this can be possible through adequate educational programs.

Patriarch Sako closed his address saying Christians in Iraq “love our land, where our root traces back to thousands of years and we want to stay and contribute in the reconstruction of our country.”

“Christians also have not only problems and sufferings; they have a mission in Iraq,” he said, explaining that they want to stay faithful to Christ and understand faith as a journey “into the light that can ‘point the way.’”

“It is like a lamp that burns and turns into a joy, that brightens our night,” he said, and “with this faith we can overcome fears by daily prayers while we are awaiting our blessed hope.”



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Baptist theologian: Fr. Martin’s ideas ‘require a total redefinition of doctrine’

September 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 2

Washington D.C., Sep 28, 2017 / 05:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Baptist theologian, Dr. Albert Mohler, has claimed that Fr. James Martin’s teaching on sexuality is “an entire re-orientation of the Catholic faith.”

Mohler’s comments refer to Martin’s suggestion that Catholics should refer to same sex attraction or an LGBT identity as “differently ordered” rather than the Catechism’s use of “intrinsically disordered.” Mohler says the suggestion fundamentally changes Catholic teaching on sexuality, and on creation itself.

In comments to CNA, Martin rebuffed Mohler’s comments, calling them “obtuse,” and stating that those who identify as LGBT, or those who are not educated in philosophy or theology, could easily perceive the Church’s language to be “cruel.”

“So my point is simply that we have to be sensitive to the language we use. We can’t pretend that language like that isn’t harmful,” Martin told CNA.

Martin has drawn criticism after the publication of his most recent book, Building A Bridge, which addresses the Church’s engagement with those who identify as LGBT. Most notably, he has been critiqued for the book’s avoidance of Catholic teaching on celibacy and chastity, and for the book’s lack of engagement with Catholics who identify as LGBT, but observe the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. In August, Martin announced on Facebook that he intends to respond to these critiques in a revised edition of the book.

Martin’s comments came in response to a podcast by Mohler, who is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

On the Sept. 19 edition of his podcast, “The Briefing,” Mohler points to a passage in Martin’s book, which suggests replacing the theological term “disordered” with the phrase “differently ordered.”

“If you say that LGBT sexual orientation is merely differently ordered, you have actually not only changed the catechism in this specific case of the Roman Catholic Church, you have changed the Catholic Church’s understanding of the doctrines of creation, of humanity, of sin, of redemption, of the church. It is an entire re-orientation of the Catholic faith,” Mohler said.

Mohler explained his comments in an interview with CNA, saying that to an evangelical Protestant, language like Martin’s is “pointing to a fundamental change that’s happening in the Catholic Church.”

He expressed concern that given Martin’s statements, his role at the Vatican could imply a change in Catholic Church doctrine. In April, Martin, the editor-at-large of America Magazine, was appointed to serve as a Consultor to the Secretariat for Communications in the Vatican.

“Acceptance of the LGBT revolution by Christians, or any belief system based upon a claim to revelation, will require a total redefinition of doctrine,” Mohler said. He stated that, in his view, such a change of language “isn’t just about sex, it’s about our understanding of Creation.”

Mohler elaborated, saying that the phrase ‘intrinsically disordered’ explains that same-sex attractions are a result of mankind’s fall, whereas the phrase ‘differently ordered,’ means that those attractions are “a part of the goodness of creation.”

“That’s just not changing the position on homosexuality, now you’re redefining the Garden of Eden.”

Martin called Mohler’s understanding of his book “absurd,” and questioned Mohler’s conclusions. He continued, saying that Mohler’s reaction is part of why it’s difficult to even discuss persons who identify as LGBT in Christian churches. “To link a new way of understanding their sexuality with the destruction of the faith is not only absurd, it’s a sign of how LGBT people are still seen primarily, and in this case totally, as sinful,” he said.

Martin accused such an approach of echoing the “scribes and Pharisees, who cared more about words than about people,” rather than Jesus. “The Catholic faith, in the end, is not about a single phrase in the Catechism; it is about an encounter with the Risen One,” he said.

The phrase in question derives from paragraph 2357 of the Catechism of Catholic Church, which states that “ tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’…They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Catechism elaborates, explaining that those “who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” should be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”