Vatican City, Feb 1, 2017 / 06:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said the Christian belief in the Resurrection of Christ and in our own resurrection at the end of time is more than just wishful thinking, but rather implies confidence in… […]
Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An Iraqi priest who was forced to flee his village when the Islamic State seized the area in 2014 said the hardship and persecution Christians in Iraq have experienced has taught them what it really… […]
Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The archdiocese that once sent St. John Paul II to the papacy has a new archbishop: Marek Jedraszewski. The archbishop has special memories of the sainted Pope and the Divine Mercy devotion he brought to the world.
“Thanks to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later St. John Paul II, the message of mercy became very important for the world. And this is a message really close to Pope Francis, too,” Archbishop Jedraszewski told CNA.
Krakow is a major center of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy devotion, based on private revelations of Jesus Christ to St. Faustina Kowalska. It hosts Sister Faustina’s convent and a shrine dedicated to Divine Mercy. St. John Paul II was himself a devotee and a popularizer of the Divine Mercy.
But the devotion itself began in the Archdiocese of Lodz, Archbishop Jedraszewski’s previous assignment.
“It is really symbolic that I am coming from Lodz, where the Divine Mercy devotion began, to Krakow, where the devotion flourished. In the Lodz cathedral, Sr. Faustina saw Jesus who told her to enter the convent in Warsaw. The beginning of her spiritual life started in Lodz.”
For this reason, he added, “I feel committed to prolong this mission of mercy in Krakow, even to welcome all of the people coming to Krakow to pray over Sr. Faustina tombs, and actually touch the places Sr. Faustina lived.”
Archbishop Jedraszewski leads the archdiocese that at one time was headed by Cardinal Wojtyla, elected Pope John Paul II in the 1978 conclave. The archbishop recalled his friendship with the late Pope.
The new archbishop of Krakow said that their relationship started back in 1975, when he was living at the Polish College in Rome to study philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
“Cardinal Wojtyla used to come often to Rome, and stayed at the same college,” he said. “Cardinal Wojtyla was really interested in young Polish students, he spent much time with them, and so he did with me,” he recounted. “As I was studying philosophy, a subject he was very fond of, there were many possibilities to talk and discuss with him about philosophy.”
After Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, Archbishop Jedraszewski kept a personal correspondence with him, “in particular when I was appointed bishop, since John Paul II always wanted Polish bishops who passed in Rome to spend a lunch or a dinner with him.”
The installation Mass of Archbishop Jedraszewski came in a favorable moment for Polish Catholicism. The latest figures of the Polish Church’s yearbook show a slight increase in the numbers of Sunday Mass attendance, as well as the number of communicants. About 40 percent of Poles attend daily Mass, while about 17 percent receive Holy Communion each Sunday.
The research also stressed the strong commitment of lay people in the Church. In Poland there are some 60,000 organizations involving about 2.5 million people.
Archbishop Jedraszewski told CNA that World Youth Day 2017 was “a convincing testimony that Poland cannot be considered a de-Christianized country.”
He noted that the statistics indicate growth not only in the traditionally devout southern Poland, but also in Lodz, a “highly secularized area.”
He concluded that “in the end, we may say that there is an increase of faith in Poland. On the other hand, it is true that challenges given from the secularizing trends are big.”
Archbishop Jedraszewski raised the issue of secularization with Pope Francis, during the Polish bishops’ meeting with the pontiff July 27. During that meeting, Pope Francis stressed the danger of gender ideology.
The archbishop also saw this approach to gender as a threat. He said Benedict XVI had affirmed gender theory as more dangerous than Marxist and Communist ideology because “it breaks with the anthropological vision of what the man his according the work of the Creator God.”
“God created the man as male and female, while gender ideology does everything possible to cancel differences between man and woman,” Archbishop Jedraszewski said. “This is absurd from a biological point of view, and it does not deals just with the human being: gender ideology has dramatic consequences in social life and in current culture.”
In the end “we cannot be open to this ideology, that is profoundly against God the Creator and against everything Christ himself taught us.”
Washington D.C., Feb 1, 2017 / 01:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Super Bowl Sunday. It’s as American as apple pie, but in recent years, controversy has erupted over the beloved American pastime and – considering the risk it poses – whether or not the game of football is even worth it.
Whether one is a devoted football fan, or only watches once a year, Super Bowl Sunday holds a place as a major event for people across the country. However, some say that aspects such as commercialism, graphic content, and the life-changing injuries sustained by players should make Catholics think critically about the game they’re seeing, even as they cheer on the teams before them.
“I love football and in fact it would be difficult to find someone who loves football more than I do,” said Charles Camosy, professor of ethics at Fordham University. He even credits football for his existence, given that his parents met on a train to the Notre Dame-Alabama Sugar Bowl game in 1973.
But despite his love for the game, Camosy said there are a variety of potentially troubling aspects about the Super Bowl. From the often lewd commercials and halftime show to the sometimes cult-like intensity of the fans and violence of the game itself, viewers must take care in how they view the Big Game, he said.
“The key is to be hyper aware of what this is, what you’re doing, and where you stand,” Camosy told CNA. “Be aware that we need to resist those things. Even call it out as you’re watching.”
While the Super Bowl is the most-watched television event in the U.S., there is growing concern that behind the screen and underneath the helmet, the brains of the players competing in the Super Bowl are sustaining potentially life-altering damage.
Within the past decade, researchers at various institutions have noted a link between repetitive brain trauma sustained in football – including hits that produce no immediate symptoms – and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Also known as CTE, the degenerative brain disease triggers progressive brain damage, and symptoms include memory loss, impulse control, depression and progressive dementia. The mental health problems created by CTE have also been linked to suicidal thoughts and attempts by former professional football players.
CTE has been found in 96 percent of NFL players whose brains were submitted for a 2015 analysis by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University. The disease was also found in 71 percent of all football players – including high school players – whose postmortem samples were submitted for research.
This risk for life-changing brain damage, Camosy said, is “built into football.”
“There are certain things built into football, at least the way we play the game now, that aren’t built into soccer” and other sports, he suggested.
“Given what we now know and given how central violence is to the game, that gives another reason perhaps to resist this.”
Camosy has written several essays on the morality of America’s football culture. He suggests that it is “morally problematic” to support a game that is so deeply intertwined with violence and connected to long-lasting damage for those who partake in it.
He pointed to the criticism voiced by Church Fathers including Tertullian for the Roman gladiator games and the Christians who went to see them. In his treatises, Tertullian slammed the games’ idolatry, the justifications for their bloody nature, the public’s addiction to watching them, and the violence of the matches themselves.
Many of these criticisms of the gladiatorial games, Camosy continued, are relevant to the way football is played today. “We prefer not to look at the violence. We somehow make it compatible with the non-violence Jesus calls us to,” he said.
Chad Pecknold, a professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at The Catholic University of America, had a different perspective.
While the gladiatorial games of the Roman Empire and American football today have some similarities – and can provide insight into the respective cultures that created them – there are also important differences, he said.
Most obviously, imminent death was a prominent characteristic of the gladiator games, in a way that is not characteristic of football.
“The Roman gladiatorial games were a by-product of war, and in this sense they were a potent cultural expression of Rome’s ‘lust for domination,’” Pecknold said.
While theologians such as St. Augustine taught that in some circumstances, the violence of war could be justified, they criticized Rome’s approach to war and found that when the “horrific violence” of war was turned solely into entertainment in the gladiatorial games, that the games “were more pernicious than war itself,” he continued.
American football, Pecknold suggested, does not carry the exact same significance the early Christians cautioned against.
Still, he said, there is reason for caution with football.
“I am not sure if we should worry about football in the same way that the early Church fathers worried about gladiatorial spectacle, but we should pay attention to how easily the goodness of sports can be disordered.”
Both Camosy and Pecknold acknowledged positive aspects to the game of football – including the God-given athletic talent, strategy and teaching of virtue, as well as the game’s ability to bring together families and communities.
“If it can serve the common good of the family, the neighborhood, the community, then it’s really terrific and we should thank God for it,” Pecknold said.
But that affection can quickly become disordered and occupy a disproportionate place in people’s lives, he cautioned. And the commercial aspect of football, which grows out of the economy, can also be concerning because of what it reflects about the culture.
Ultimately, he said, when approaching the Super Bowl and its content, “Christians can watch football with a clean conscience, but they might want to turn off the halftime show.”
Camosy agreed that it is possible to watch the Super Bowl with a clean conscience, but suggested that Christians avoid being drawn into the negative elements, perhaps by openly “(making) fun of the commercials and what the half-time show is all about.” He also warned Catholics who watch the Super Bowl to be wary of their own focuses and care for the game, and to be careful, when cheering for teams, “that we don’t create another source of ultimate concern here – that this isn’t another god.”
And Catholics should speak up about the violence that plagues the game, Camosy said.
“What I call for is a similar kind of shift that happened almost a hundred years ago,” he said, recalling Teddy Roosevelt’s reforms to the game when college students were dying during matches.
“Leave the good – get rid of the bad.”
This article was originally published Feb. 6, 2016.
Manila, Philippines, Jan 31, 2017 / 07:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of the Philippines voiced strong objections to proposals intended to reinstate the death penalty in the country.
“The Gospel of the Lord Jesus is the Gospel of L… […]
Dallas, Texas, Jan 31, 2017 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Citing legal and community changes, the Boy Scouts of America have said self-declared gender identity now determines youth eligibility for its scouting programs. The move could add new difficulties for Catholic sponsors of scout troops trying to adapt to the organization’s relatively new policy on homosexuality.
“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” the Boy Scouts of America said Jan. 30.
The statement said its local councils will “help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.”
The statement said Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are “specifically designed to meet the needs of boys.” In previous years, the organizations have used individuals’ birth certificates to determine whether they are eligible for single-sex programs.
“However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state,” the statement said.
The new policy comes after a transgender child in New Jersey was asked to leave the Cub Scouts late last year. The child’s pack was hosted by Immaculate Conception parish in Secaucus. The child had told CNN that “it’s not fair because my friends get to do it, but I can’t.”
CNA contacted the National Catholic Committee on Scouting for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.
The Boy Scouts of America had announced in July 2015 that it would adopt a non-discrimination policy allowing homosexuals to be scout leaders and volunteers. The decision promised that churches with objections to homosexual behavior could set their own standards for affiliated organizations.
Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, himself a former boy scout, in summer 2015 reluctantly told his North Dakota diocese to disaffiliate from the Boy Scouts of America due to the legal risks and the moral confusion its leadership policy could cause for Catholics.
He said the policy could risk lawsuits for church-sponsored troops that attempt to hold their leaders and volunteers to Catholic moral standards.
Bishop Kagan lamented the goals of those who sought the policy change to “redefine what is acceptable and unacceptable in society.”
At the same time, the bishop suggested that the Boy Scouts of America would not be able to defend the previous policy in court given trends in the American legal system.
However, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, a leading member of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, had recommended “cautious optimism” towards that policy change, voicing hope that Catholic churches could still use Boy Scouts of America programs in a way consistent with Church teaching.
He said Catholic-chartered scouting units are “the only way we can have a direct influence” on Catholic youth involved in scouting.
At the same time, the bishop acknowledged there is no way Catholics can control the material in Boy Scout programs, merit badge material, and its Boys’ Life magazine.
Bishop Kagan recommended alternatives to the Boy Scouts, enumerating the Federation of North American Explorers, the Columbian Squires, and Trail Life USA. He also recommended alternatives to the Girl Scouts, listing American Heritage Girls, Little Flowers’ Girls Clubs, and the Federation of North American Explorers.
There are about 2.3 million members of Boy Scouts of America groups between the ages of 7 and 21. President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, is a past national president of the Boy Scouts of America and served on its executive board in 2013 when it voted to lift the ban on homosexual scouts, The New York Times reports.
Vatican City, Jan 31, 2017 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- In the first days of U.S. president Donald Trump’s administration, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark said he has seen encouragement on pro-life matters, but cause for concern when it comes to refugees.
Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan 31, 2017 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Parishioners were distressed after a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn posted a meme on Facebook that encouraged Trump opponents to commit suicide.
“Show your hate for Trump. Do it for so… […]
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 31, 2017 / 02:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When asked by a reporter about the threat of civil war in his country, Archbishop Ubaldo Santana of Maracaibo responded starkly: “there is already a bloodbath of considerable proportions in Venezuela.”
“We’re talking about 30,000 people murdered a year, and if we don’t manage to find peaceful ways to understand each other, that number can increase,” he said in a recent interview.
Archbishop Santana, the former head of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, made his remarks to the Alpha and Omega news weekly during a visit to Spain, in which he discussed various issues related to the grave crisis affecting Venezuela.
In the wake of Nicolas Maduro succeeding former socialist president Hugo Chavez after the latter died from cancer in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval.
Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers and medicines.
Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.
The Venezuelan government is known to be among the most corrupt in Latin America, and violent crime in the country has spiked since Maduro took office.
In response to a question about the possibility of a civil war in the South American country, Archbishop Santana said that a potential conflict “would be in very asymmetrical terms.”
“The party that possesses weaponry belongs to the government,” he clarified. “I can’t say the opposition groups don’t have weapons, because today arms trafficking is uncontrollable, but perhaps not in the number and quantity of the other groups.”
“That doesn’t mean there can’t be a bloodbath. In fact, we can say that in Venezuela there already is a bloodbath of considerable proportions,” the archbishop said.
He noted added that “there are armed groups all over the country. In Maracaibo, we have in addition groups of criminals and gang members that would seem to enjoy a certain impunity. We know that there’s a lot of overcrowding in the prisons and at times the authorities have opted for a massive release of prisoners to reduce the congestion.”
There are also “extortion rings,” he noted, “that operate in the city, many are undercover in the security forces, not infrequently backed by operatives in some of those groups who by day keep order and at night are robbing.”
To this “is added is the presence of irregular armed groups on the border who come from Colombia,” he said. “They ensure protection, order and the resolution of small neighborhood conflicts
upon payment of what we call a ‘vaccine.’”
A “vaccine” is an illegal charge that armed groups in Venezuela and Colombia use to allow passage through territory they control. Archbishop Santana said that these are paramilitary groups, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and some factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that have not demobilized.
Despite the country’s problems, a recent assembly of bishops and lay people held in Venezuela had an upshot that “was highly positive,” he said. “You could feel a great deal of consensus in the lay people’s feeling regarding the need for political change in the country.”
“We talked about how the laity could play a more important role in the Church and in their transformative action in diverse social environments,” he said.
The meeting also discussed “the formation being offered to lay people and its impact because we see they are not sufficiently present as Catholics in the political, economic and cultural worlds. The time was short, but it resulted in proposals for future meetings.”
Pope Francis also met with President Maduro in October of last year, According to the official Vatican communique on the meeting, Francis invited the president “to undertake with courage the path of sincere and constructive dialogue.”
He also invited the Venezuelan dictator to make it a priority “to alleviate the suffering of the people – first of all, those who are poor – and to promote a climate of renewed social cohesion which would offer a vision forward with hope for the future of the nation.”
Vatican City, Jan 24, 2017 / 03:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his annual message to communicators around the world, Pope Francis again condemned the tendency for media to focus on the “bad news,” saying journalists, while being accurate, must also offer a message of hope.
“We have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news,’” such as war, terrorism, scandal and other human failures, the Pope said in his message for the World Day of Social Communications.
It was published Jan. 24 to mark the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers, journalists and the Catholic press. The actual day of communications will be celebrated May 28, and will focus on the theme of the Pope’s message: “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”
In his message, the Pope said steering clear of bad news “has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering,” and neither does in involve “a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil.”
“Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits,” he said.
Pointing to those in the communications industry who operate with the mentality that “good news does not sell,” and where evil and human suffering often become a form “entertainment,” Francis stressed that “there is always the temptation that our consciences can be dulled or slip into pessimism.”
He urged those who work in the field of communications to pursue “an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil,” but rather tries to focus “on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients.”
“I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart ‘good news,’” he said.
Pope Francis’ appeal for a more positive take on the news isn’t the first time he’s made such a request, nor is it the first time he’s condemned journalists who always focus on negativity and scandal.
In an interview with Belgian weekly magazine “Tertio” published Dec. 7, 2016, the Pope gave a stern warning to journalists to steer clear of the temptations of slander, defamation, misinformation and focusing excessively on scandal.
Using vivid language, he compared the latter to the disease of “coprophilia,” a mental illness in which a person has an abnormal interest in feces.
A few months earlier, Francis dedicated his prayer intention for October 2016, to praying for journalists, specifically asking that they be truthful and ethical in their reporting.
In his message for the world day of communications, the Pope noted that thanks to modern technology, media “makes it possible for countless people to share news instantly and spread it widely.”
“That news may be good or bad, true or false,” he said, recalling how early Christians compared the human mind to a “constantly grinding millstone.” In this image, it is up to the miller to decide what grind: “good wheat or worthless weeds.”
For those who are constantly “grinding out information” in their personal and professional lives, it’s important to engage in “constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice toward others and foster a culture of encounter,” he said, adding that this will help everyone “to view the world around us with realism and trust.”
When it comes to reporting the good news rather than always focusing on the bad, Francis said we have to change the lens thought which we view reality. For Christians, he said, this above all means viewing reality through the lens of “the Good News par excellence: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God.”
“This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture,” he said, noting that this suffering is “an integral part of Jesus’ love for the Father and for all mankind.”
With Christ, “even darkness and death become a point of encounter with light and life,” he said, adding that from here a hope “accessible to everyone” is born and “does not disappoint,” since from this hope God’s enters our hearts.
“Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world’s history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew,” he said.
Pope Francis then used Jesus’ Ascension into heaven as an example of what our hope is based on, saying that even though the Lord might appear distant at the moment, “the horizons of hope expand all the more.”
With the help and power of the Holy Spirit, we can become both “witnesses and communicators” of a renewed and redeemed humanity throughout the world, he said.
Confidence in “the seed of God’s Kingdom” spread throughout the world ought also shape the way we communicate, he said, adding that this confidence allows everyone in the communications field to carry out their work with the conviction “that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person.”
In a Jan. 24 news briefing for the publication of the Pope’s message, Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, stressed the importance of having “constructive communication,” that leans neither toward scandal nor optimism, but is realistic.
It’s important to not “make evil the protagonist,” even when reporting on tragic events, he said, and also warned journalists to steer clear of hypocrisy, which he called an “impure gaze” of reality that “impedes charity.”
Also present at the briefing was Delia Gallagher, Vatican correspondent for CNN, who said the Pope’s document was “an opportune message” that’s important for news agencies to keep in mind.
She focused specifically on the need to be accurate when reporting the news, saying one “can’t be a good journalist if they are not certain of the facts.”
Pope Francis’ message provides a path “if not of truth, precision – to give the news accurately,” she said, and used the Pope himself and how he is often reported as an example.
While it’s not always easy to convey his message due to translations and a variety of other challenges, it’s important to stick to the facts and “to give the context when he says something,” rather than just reporting on snippet of what he said without offering the reader the full picture.
“It’s a job that seems easy, but requires experience,” she said, encouraging her colleagues to be accurate and precise, adding that “from the good news can also come from this.”