Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2018 / 02:17 pm (CNA).- The allegation that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused a teenager is a bombshell for the Catholic Church in America.
McCarrick has stepped down from active priestly ministry at the direction of… […]
Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 21, 2018 / 01:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, the World Health Organization reported it would no longer designate transgenderism as a mental health disorder in its updated classification of diseases.
“It was taken out… […]
Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 21, 2018 / 11:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of the Church, confirming a person’s identity as a beloved child of God, and reminding Catholics of the responsibility owed toward their brothers… […]
Vatican City, Jun 21, 2018 / 08:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to ecumenical leaders Thursday, Pope Francis said Christian unity in many ways depends on a willingness to go out of oneself to meet the needs of others, and called for a “new evangelical outreach” among Christian communities.
In a June 21 speech, the pope voiced concern over what he said is a growing impression that ecumenism is divorced from missionary outreach, saying the mission aspect of Christianity “cannot be neglected nor emptied of its content.”
Missionary outreach, he said, “determines our very identity,” since the preaching the Gospel is core to the Christian identity. And while the ways in which this mission is carried out might vary, we must constantly remind ourselves that Christ’s Church grows by attraction.”
To this end, Francis said a “new evangelical outreach” is needed among Christians of different confessions, who are called to be one people that “experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters.”
Francis voiced his conviction that “an increased missionary impulse” would spur Christians toward greater unity, leading to an “ecumenical spring” which, despite the “constant vacillations” among different denominational communities, would allow them to gather together around Jesus Christ.
The pope spoke during a June 21 ecumenical meeting in Geneva to mark the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.
Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is a global fellowship of churches whose goal is to promote unity among different Christian confessions. With some 348 members worldwide, the organization has long been a driving force for ecumenism in Europe.
Members are present in 110 countries and represent over 500 million Christians, including Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist churches, as well as many Reformed, United and Independent churches.
The majority of the founding members initially came from Europe and North America, however, today the bulk of the WCC membership is in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. The Holy See is not a member of the WCC, but it is an observer, and collaborates with the organization in several areas.
Pope Francis visited the WCC headquarters during his June 21 daytrip to Geneva, which he made specifically for the 70th anniversary celebrations.
After his arrival, the pope met with the President of the Swedish Confederation, Alain Berset, and led an ecumenical prayer encounter, telling attendees that their love for Christ must overcome divisions rooted in party preferences and differences in belief.
Francis then lunched with ecumenical leaders from around the world before returning to the WCC headquarters for his ecumenical meeting. After the gathering, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass for Switzerland’s Catholic population before returning to Rome.
In his address at the ecumenical meeting, Pope Francis pointed to the biblical significance of the number 70, noting how in the Gospel Jesus tells his disciples to forgive one another “not only seven times, but seventy times seven.”
That number, the pope said, is not a limit and nor does it quantify justice, but rather, it “opens up a vast horizon” and “serves as the measure of a charity capable of infinite forgiveness.”
After centuries of conflict among Christian communities, this charity “now allows us to come together as brothers and sisters, at peace and full of gratitude to God our Father,” he said, adding that the day’s gathering is the fruit of the forgiveness and efforts toward unity of many who have come before them.
“Out of heartfelt love for Jesus, they did not allow themselves to be mired in disagreements, but instead looked courageously to the future, believing in unity and breaking down barriers of suspicion and of fear,” he said.
Those working in the ecumenical field today are heirs to the “to the faith, charity and hope of all those who, by the nonviolent power of the Gospel, found the courage to change the course of history,” Francis said.
While in the past this history “had led us to mutual distrust and estrangement, and thus contributed to the infernal spiral of continual fragmentation,” the Holy Spirit has changed the route, “and a path both old and new has been irrevocably paved: the path of a reconciled communion aimed at the visible manifestation of the fraternity that even now unites believer.”
Pope Francis also noted that the number 70 reflects the number of disciples Jesus sent out two-by-two in the Gospel, which implies that in order to be a true disciple, one must “become an apostle, a missionary,” going beyond division to spread the Good News.
Pointing to the theme of the day’s meeting, “Walking, Praying and Working Together,” the pope said walking is a two-fold movement which implies both going “in and out,” which means going in toward the center, which is Christ, and out toward “the existential peripheries” of the world.
Prayer is “the oxygen of ecumenism,” he said. “Without prayer, communion becomes stifling and makes no progress, because we prevent the wind of the Spirit from driving us forward.” The pope then urged attendes to ask themselves how often they pray for one another, and for unity.
On the point of walking together, Francis pointed to several ongoing initiatives in which the Holy See already collaborates with ecumenical leaders, including the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; collaboration with the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation and the joint preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, among others.
He also praised the WCC’s Bossey Ecumenical Institute for their work in training both pastoral and academic leaders for different Christian churches throughout the world.
“The work of our Christian communities is rightly defined by the word ‘diakonia,’” a Greek term meaning service to others, he said, adding that credibility of the Gospel “is put to the test by the way Christians respond to the cry of all those, in every part of the world, who suffer unjustly from the baleful spread of an exclusion that, by generating poverty, foments conflicts.”
With vulnerable populations becoming increasingly marginalized and the rich becoming more wealthy, and with Christian persecution increasing throughout the world, Christians themselves are called to draw near to those who suffer, remembering that unity is already established in the “ecumenism of blood,” he said.
Pope Francis closed his address urging attendees to encourage one another while avoiding the temptation “to absolutize certain cultural paradigms and get caught up in partisan interests.”
“Let us help men and women of good will to grow in concern for events and situations that affect a great part of humanity but seldom make it to the front page. We cannot look the other way,” he said, adding that “it is problematic when Christians appear indifferent towards those in need.”
More troubling still, he said, is the certainty shown by some, “who consider their own blessings clear signs of God’s predilection rather than a summons to responsible service of the human family and the protection of creation.”
Asking what each community can concretely do together, the pope urged participants not to hesitate in putting a plan together when ideas arise, so as to “experience a more intense fraternity in the exercise of concrete charity.”
Vatican City, Jun 21, 2018 / 03:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis landed in Geneva Thursday for a day-trip aimed at bolstering ecumenical relations, saying off the bat that division among Christians is borne from worldliness, and Christ must be prioritized over any differences that might get in the way of unity.
In his first official speech after touching down, the pope said Christians are called to walk together along the path of the Spirit, which means “rejecting worldliness” and “opting for a mindset of service and growing in forgiveness.”
“It means playing our part in history but in God’s good time, not letting ourselves be caught up in the whirlwind of corruption but advancing calmly on the way whose signpost is the one commandment: ‘ou shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“We are called, together, to walk along this path,” he said, noting that walking together requires perpetual conversion and “the renewal of our way of thinking, so that it can conform to that of the Holy Spirit.”
It could be said that to walk in this way is to “operate at a loss,” he said, “since it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive.’”
The pope then pointed to St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in which the apostle told the community that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
He also referred to the passage in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which the apostle pointed to divisions in the Christian community of Corinth, saying “each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
What modern Christians are asked do, Francis said, is “to belong to Jesus before belonging to Apollos or Cephas; to belong to Christ before being ‘Jew or Greek’; to belong to the Lord before identifying with right or left; to choose, in the name of the Gospel, our brother or our sister over ourselves.”
“In the eyes of the world, this often means operating at a loss,” he said, calling the ecumenical movement “a great enterprise operating at a loss.”
However, this loss “is evangelical,” he said, and quoted Jesus’ words from the Gospel when he told his disciples that “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
“To save only what is ours is to walk according to the flesh; to lose everything in the footsteps of Jesus is to walk in the Spirit,” he said. “Only in this way does the Lord’s vineyard bear fruit.”
Pope Francis spoke to participants in an ecumenical prayer gathering during his June 21 visit to Geneva for the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is a global fellowship of churches seeking to foster unity among different Christian confessions and has some 348 members worldwide.
Members are present in 110 countries and represent over 500 million Christians, including Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist churches, as well as many Reformed, United and Independent churches.
While the majority of the founding members came from Europe and North America, currently the bulk of the WCC membership is in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. The Holy See is not a member of the WCC, but it is an observer, and routinely sends representatives to the organization’s meetings.
Francis’ homily during the prayer gathering was the first official speech of his daytrip to Geneva. He spoke at the WCC headquarters after holding a private meeting with President of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset.
In his address, the pope said Christian divisions have historically arisen because “ a worldly mindset has seeped in” at their root.
What happened, he said, is that “self-concern took priority over concern for Christ,” and once this took place, devil “had no difficulty in separating us, because the direction we were taking was that of the flesh, not of the Spirit.”
Even certain attempts to end these divisions in the past have “failed miserably because they were chiefly inspired by a worldly way of thinking,” he said, noting that the ecumenical movement “came about as a grace of the Holy Spirit.”
“Ecumenism made us set out in accordance with Christ’s will, and it will be able to progress if, following the lead of the Spirit, it constantly refuses to withdraw into itself.”
Looking at relations between modern Christian churches and the slew of issues which often stand in the way of full unity, Francis said the current experience is akin to that of the early Christian communities in Galatia.
“How difficult it is to overcome hard feelings and to foster communion! How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations!” he said.
At times, it is “more formidable to withstand the subtle temptation to join others, to walk together, but for the sake of satisfying some partisan interest.” However, this is not the mindset of an apostle, but is the attitude of Judas, who walked alongside Jesus, “but for his own purposes.”
The 70th anniversary of the WCC, Pope Francis said, is a call to strengthen the steps toward ecumenism that have already been taken.
He said Christians should not cease their quest for unity when faced with continual differences, and nor should they be overcome by weariness or a “lack of enthusiasm.”
“Our differences must not be excuses. Even now we can walk in the Spirit: we can pray, evangelize and serve together,” he said. “This is possible and it is pleasing to God! Walking, praying and working together: this is the great path that we are called to follow.”
The aim of this path is unity, and the opposite is a path to division which leads to “conflict and breakup,” he said, stressing that the lack of unity among Christians is not only “openly contrary to the will of Christ,” but is also “a scandal to the world and harms the most holy of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature.”
The Lord, he said, “asks us for unity; our world, torn by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity.”
And for Christians, to walk together is not merely a “ ploy to strengthen our own positions,” but is rather an act of obedience to Jesus and his love for the world, Francis said, and closed by praying that God would help Christians to “walk together all the more resolutely in the ways of the Spirit.”
“May the Cross guide our steps, because there, in Jesus, the walls of separation have already been torn down and all enmity overcome.”
Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2018 / 12:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has posted a video series for Religious Freedom Week 2018, inviting Catholics to pray and act in support of religious liberty.
“We have a duty to treat all persons with charity and justice, we have a duty to seek common ground in public life whenever possible,” says Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia in one video.
“But we also need to work vigorously in law and politics to protect our faith and to form our culture in a Christian understanding of human dignity and the purpose of human freedom. To do that, we need to defend our religious liberty.”
An eight-video YouTube series offers reflections on the importance of religious liberty.
The videos feature members of and consultants for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ standing committee for religious liberty.
Each day, a different bishop challenges Catholics to reflect on how religious freedom is connected to elements of the public square, such as medicine, immigration, and education. Other topics discussed in the video series include Christian persecution in the Middle East, and the importance of publicly proclaiming one’s faith.
Religious Freedom Week, held by the U.S. bishops’ conference, is observed this year from June 22-29. The theme for this year is “Serving Others in God’s Love.”
The conference website includes a list of suggested reflections, prayers, and actions that may be followed by parishes, families, and individuals during the week.
In the second video of the series, Archbishop Chaput highlights the importance of truth in politics, saying “dishonest language leads to dishonest politics, and dishonest politics leads to bad public policy and bad law.” He urges Catholics defend truth in the public sphere.
“As Catholic citizens, we owe it to our country to speak and to act in a spirit of truth and to insist on the same behavior from other people, including our elected and appointed leaders.”
Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska says that Catholic education is a key part of the Church’s mission.
“But there are forces in our society and culture which would like to inhibit our freedoms…to be able to teach what we believe is the truth about the human person, about the dignity of life as well as God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman,” he says, emphasizing the need for religious freedom in education.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ committee on migration, notes the role that the Church plays in immigration and refugee resettlement.
“The Church has long sought to serve the unique needs of people on the move: from providing for basic needs, to assisting with resettlement, to offering legal services to help newcomers navigate the system of their host country.”
However, he warns, in recent years, Catholic entities have faced legal challenges because they will not facilitate abortions as part of their work with migrants.
“Those that try to force the Church to choose between unborn children and migrant children are undermining religious liberty,” Bishop Vasquez cautions.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who chairs the religious freedom committee, concludes the video series by appealing to viewers “to pray that we might continue to take steps to make room within our culture for the exercise of religious freedom” and “to use that religious freedom in the public square well.”
Santiago, Chile, Jun 20, 2018 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Chilean bishops’ conference announced Tuesday the members of a “Listening Service” set up to welcome and guide victims of sexual abuse.
The list was published June 19 after Archbishop Scicluna of Malta and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu, Pope Francis’ envoys for the Pastoral Mission to Osorno confirmed the creation of this service in order to facilitate the process for victims.
The members of the Listening Service belong to the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse and Accompaniment of the Victims of the Chilean bishops’ conference and will have as their mission “to welcome and guide” those people who could not meet with the papal envoys.
Appointed by Archbishop Scicluna, the members are Pilar Ramírez, the current coordinator of the council; Josefina Martínez; Sister Marcela Sáenz; Fr. Larry Yévenes; and Fr. David Albornoz.
“The members of the National Council who will perform this service will offer a point of contact victims can trust so they can feel supported in the process of the search for the truth with charity and justice,” the statement said.
Two local Churches in Chile also announced this week investigations into priests accused of sexual abuse.
The Diocese of Temuco made known in a June 18 statement the cases of three diocesan priests accused of the sexual abuse of minors.
Pablo Walter Isler Venegas was sanctioned October 20, 2015 for the sexual abuse of minors and was prohibited from the public exercise of the priestly ministry and pastoral work with adolescents and young people.
He was also “definitively prohibited” from residing in that diocese or from visiting the parishes of Lautaro, Imperial, and Traiguén without the prior and express authorization of the bishop.
The process began in 2011 when the first accusations were received.
Isler had left the Temuco diocese in 2003, “and was performing various pastoral works in the Prelature of Illapel.”
The diocese explained that “at the express request of the victims who at the time asked for complete confidentiality, the case had not been made public.”
“From what we have learned over the years, we realized that respect and protection for the victims in no case exempts us from the moral duty of informing the community of these grave crimes,” the statement says.
The second case involves Juan Carlos Mercado Elgueta who in 2013 submitted his resignation from the priestly ministry following a preliminary investigation for the sexual abuse of minors.
The third priest sanctioned is José Vicente Bastías Ñanco, who is facing a canonical trial for the sexual abuse of minors and who is “temporarily suspended from the public exercise of the ministry.”
The diocese’s statement reiterated the “firm disposition” of Bishop Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas “to take up the challenges Pope Francis has called for, by ensuring the Church has healthy and safe environments people can trust, for boys, girls and youths.”
And the Vicariate Apostolic of Aysén stated June 18 that it had begun a canonical investigation into Fr. Porfirio Díaz Reyes, accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.
The accusation was made to the Council for Care and Hope of the vicariate June 17 and refers to incidents that took place in the parish in Puerto Aysén in 2002.
As a precautionary measure, the priest “is suspended from the public exercise of the priestly ministry while the investigation lasts,” a statement from the Aysén vicariate apostolic stated.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.