Is it weird that Catholics venerate relics? Here’s why we do

August 11, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Houston, Texas, Aug 11, 2017 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- “We are many parts, but we are all one body,” says the refrain of a popular ’80s Church hymn, based on the words of 1 Cor. 12:12. 

While we are one body in Christ, if you happen to be a Catholic saint, the many parts of your own body might be spread out all over the world. 

Take, for example, St. Catherine of Siena.  

A young and renowned third-order Dominican during the Middle Ages, she led an intense life of prayer and penance and is said to have single-handedly ended the Avignon exile of the successors of Peter in the 14th century.

When she died in Rome, her hometown of Siena, Italy, wanted her body. Realizing they would probably get caught if they took her whole corpse, the Siena thieves decided that it would be safer if they just took her head. 

When they were stopped on their way out by guards outside of Rome, they said a quick prayer, asking for St. Catherine of Siena’s intercession. The guards opened the bag and did not find the dead head of St. Catherine, but a bag full of rose petals. Once the thieves were back in Siena, Catherine’s head re-materialized, one of the many miracles attributed to the saint. 

The head of St. Catherine of Siena was placed in a reliquary in the Basilica of St. Dominic in Siena, where it can still be venerated today, along with her thumb. Her body remains in Rome, her foot is venerated in Venice. 

From the Shroud of Turin, or the finger of St. Thomas, to the miraculous blood of St. Januarius, or the brain of St. John Bosco, the Catholic Church keeps and venerates many curious but nevertheless holy artifacts, known as relics, from Jesus and the saints. 

To the outsider, the tradition of venerating relics (particularly of the corporeal persuasion) may seem like an outlandishly morbid practice. 

But the roots of the tradition pre-date Jesus, and the practice is based in Scripture and centuries of Church teaching. 

While it’s one of the most fascinating traditions of the Church, it can also be one of the most misunderstood. 

Father Carlos Martins, CC, is a Custos Reliquiarum, which is an ecclesiastically appointed Curate of Relics with the authority to issue relics. 

He is a member of Companions of the Cross, and the head of Treasures of the Church, a ministry that aims to give people an experience of the living God through an encounter with the relics of his saints in the form of an exposition. The ministry brings expositions of various relics throughout North America by invitation. 

In the following interview with CNA, Fr. Martins answers questions and dispels some common misunderstandings about the tradition of relics. 

First of all, what is a relic? 

Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes: 

First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh.

Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items). 

Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.

The word relic means “a fragment” or “remnant of a thing that once was by now is no longer.” Thus, we find in antique shops “Civil War relics” or “Relics of the French Revolution.” Obviously, we are not talking about these kinds of relics but rather sacred relics.

Where did the Catholic tradition of venerating saints’ relics come from? 

Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.” 

When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).

 A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).

The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch’ them (Acts 5:12-15).

When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).

In each of these instances God has brought about a healing using a material object. The vehicle for the healing was the touching of that object. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts. In other words, relics are not magic. They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God.  

Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing. But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).

When did the veneration of relics begin?

It was present from the earliest days of Christianity, during the Apostolic age itself. The following is an account written by the Church in Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey) when its bishop, St. Polycarp was burned alive:

“We adore Christ, because He is the Son of God, but the martyrs we love as disciples and imitators of the Lord. So we buried in a becoming place Polycarp’s remains, which are more precious to us than the costliest diamonds, and which we esteem more highly than gold.” 
(Acts of St. Polycarp, composed approx. 156 AD)

Polycarp was a significant figure. He was converted by John the Apostle, who had baptized him and subsequently ordained him a bishop. Thus we see that from its outset the Church practiced devotion to the remains of the martyrs. 

What is the spiritual significance of relics? 

I think that St. Jerome puts it best when he said:
    
“We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907).

We venerate relics only for the sake of worshipping God.  

When we collect relics from the body of a saint, what part of the body do we use? 

Any part of the saint’s body is sacred and can be placed in a reliquary. Any and every bone may be used. In addition, flesh, hair, and sometimes blood, are also used. Sometimes everything from the tomb is dispersed from it. Sometimes a tomb is preserved.

At what point in the canonization process are items or body parts considered official relics by the Church? 

Before the beatification takes place, there is a formal rite whereby the relics are identified and moved (the official word is “translated”) into a church, a chapel, or an oratory. Put simply, the grave is exhumed and the mortal remains are retrieved.

Only the Church has the juridical power to formally recognize the sanctity of an individual. When the Church does this – through beatification and canonization – their relics receive the canonical recognition as being sacred relics. 

There is an importance difference between beatification and canonization.  Beatification is the declaration by the Church that there is strong evidence that the person in question is among the blessed in heaven. Nevertheless, beatification permits only local devotion. That is, devotion in the country in which the individual lived and died. When Mother Teresa was beatified, for instance, only in India and in her native Albania was her devotion permitted. Her Mass could not be celebrated, for example, in the United States, nor could her relics be placed within its altars.

Whereas beatification permits local devotion, canonization, on the other hand, mandates universal devotion. It grants to the canonized individual the rights of devotion throughout the universal Church.

The Church allows saints’ body parts to be scattered for relics, but forbids the scattering of ashes of the deceased who are cremated. Why is that? 

Every person has a right to a burial. This means that the community has a duty to bury the dead.  

Every human society and culture throughout time has felt this duty. The dead have always been buried, and archaeology has never discovered a human community that did not practice this.  One could rightly say, therefore, that burying the dead forms part of our human cultural DNA. 

The theological term for this instinct natural law. Nature has imprinted a law within the human heart that manifests itself in the practice of burying the dead as a final act of love and devotion, or at least an act of respect and propriety.  

It should be no surprise, then, that the Church lists as one of the corporal works of mercy burying the dead. Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.

There is flexibility in the kind of burial. Remains may be buried in the ground, in the sea, or above ground within, for example, a cave or columbarium. The point is that a burial occurs within a single place, such that it can be said that the person “occupies” the place as a final location of rest. The human heart longs for this. We see people arriving at graves and speaking to the grave as if they were speaking to the deceased. And they do so differently than they might speak to the dead at home. At the grave, they speak to the dead as if they are in a place.  

For this reason, among others, the Church has always taught not only that it is completely beneath the dignity of human body to have its remains “scattered,” but also completely beneath basic human sensibilities. People need a place to encounter and meet the dead in their physicality.  

Nevertheless, the saints, as members of the body of Christ, have a right to have their remains venerated. And this right, flowing from their dignity as members of the Body of Christ, supersedes their right to have their remains remain in burial.   

What is the proper way to keep relics? Are lay Catholics allowed to have first class relics in their homes? 

Relics are very precious. They are not something that was alive at one time and is now dead. In the case of first class relics, we are talking about flesh that is awaiting the general resurrection, where the soul of a saint will be reunited with his physical remains.

As such, the way we treat relics is of the utmost importance. Ideally, relics should be kept in a Church or chapel where they can be made available for public veneration. 

The highest honor the Church can give to a relic is to place it within an altar, where the Mass may be celebrated over it. This practice dates from the earliest centuries of the Church. In fact, the sepulchers of the martyrs were the most prized altars for the liturgy.  

As an alternative to encasing them within altars, they may be installed within a devotional niche where people may venerate them. Such shrines are important as they afford people a deeper experience of intimacy with the saint.

The Church does not forbid the possession of relics by lay persons. They may even keep them in their homes. However, because of the many abuses that have been committed concerning relics, the Church will no longer issue relics to individuals – not even to clergy.  

These abuses included failing to give them proper devotion (neglect), careless mistreatment of them, discarding them, and in some cases, even selling them. The abuses were not necessarily committed by the person to whom the Church had originally bequeathed the relics. But when such persons became deceased, and the relics were passed on by inheritance, they were often subject to great vulnerability. With the eclipse of the Christian culture in the western world, faith can no longer be taken for granted, even among the children of the most devout people.

Thus, to protect relics, the Church only issues them to Churches, chapels, and oratories.

How important is the authenticity of the relic? How does the Church go about determining authenticity of very old relics from the beginning of the Church? 

The authenticity is critically important.

But for the ancient saints, determining identity is much easier than you might think.  It was tradition to build a church over top of a saint’s grave. That is why St. Peter’s Basilica is where it is, or why St. Paul Outside the Walls is there. Both encompass the tomb for the saint, which is located directly beneath the altar.

Modern archaeology has only affirmed what the ancient tradition has believed.
 

[…]

Dominican Republic priest arrested on suspicion of killing teen

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Aug 10, 2017 / 03:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The National Police of the Dominican Republic have arrested a priest on suspicion of killing a teenager, who was allegedly sexually abused by the cleric while serving as an altar boy.

Fernely Carrión had been missing since Aug. 4, after a taxi driver dropped the 16 year-old boy off with Father Elvin Taveras.

The boy’s body was later found along the road of Los Mina, a sector located outside of Santo Domingo Este. Reports indicate the teen was stabbed several times.

The young man had lived in El Torito and Villa Mella, where the priest said Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Carrión began altar serving for Father Elvin at 10 years-old.

Father Elvin has also been accused of molesting Carrión, who was allegedly being paid by the priest to remain silent.

According to a Aug. 8 statement by the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, the priest will be suspended from his duties and the church will fully cooperate with the police.

The victim’s family was distraught over the news but relieved that the priest is in custody and that plans for legal action are underway, reported Hoy Digital. 

Freddy Carrión, the father of the victim, said “justice has been done, a person who does something like that is not a priest,” according to the news agency.

Prosecutor Olga Diná Llaverías said that both he and the victim’s family will be aiming for “the maximum sentence of 30 years” for the priest.

[…]

A theologian’s take on how to avoid conflict with North Korea

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2017 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dialogue and prudent actions to uphold international resolutions are key to maintaining peace amid rising tensions between North Korea and the international community, one theologian said.

“Dialogue is critical to resolving this particular issue,” Dr. Joseph Capizzi, a moral theologian at the Catholic University of America, told CNA. “We have kicked the can down the road for 50-plus years, with regard to Korea.”

“And the further we kick the can down the road, the more difficult the situation becomes, the less solvable it becomes by the use of force. So dialogue is more essential now than it ever was before.”

The Vatican has shown concern over the developing situation and has also expressed the need for dialogue between countries. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, said on Wednesday that the “way of conflict is always the wrong way.”

“The way forward is not that of having the latest military technology, but of having an approach of inclusion,” the archbishop said, as reported by Vatican Radio.

In July, North Korea successfully tested ballistic missiles that had the capability of reaching the U.S. mainland, following a series of launches of medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier this year.

Then on Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that North Korea had produced a small-enough nuclear warhead that could be placed inside a missile, according to intelligence analysts. North Korea reportedly has as many as 60 nuclear weapons, according to one United States estimate.

On Wednesday, DPRK state media reported that the Kim Jong-Un regime was considering a strike against the island of Guam in the West Pacific, the westernmost U.S. territory and one from which B-1 bombers have flown over the Korean peninsula in military exercises. The AP followed up on Thursday by reporting that a plan for North Korea to launch four missiles aimed to land in the ocean within 25 miles of Guam, as an exercise of its threat to the U.S. territory, had been hatched and could be submitted for approval in the next week to Kim Jong Un.

Because of North Korea’s continued nuclear buildup and its ballistic missile tests, the UN Security Council unanimously voted last weekend to impose more sanctions on the Communist dictatorship.

President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday that if North Korea continued to threaten the United States, they would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a Wednesday press conference that “what the President is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

“I think the President just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S. unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies,” he said.

The need for dialogue carries with it the importance of prudence and “sobriety” in the rhetoric of U.S. and world leaders, Capizzi said.

“We do want to engage them,” he said. “We’re trying to pull back some of the incendiary nature of the rhetoric. And then to have the President immediately follow that up with the ‘fire and fury’ comment, it makes us seem erratic. It makes us seem inconsistent,” he said.

Yet, he added, “action is much more important here than rhetoric.” The international sanctions, and the unanimous vote of UN Security Council members – including even Russia and China — to impose them, were an important step to take, he said, “to induce North Korea to stop testing missiles.”

Also, the actions that have not been taken are important, he said, like an overly aggressive mobilization of U.S. military forces.  “You don’t see our military or our navy sort of ratcheting up right now,” he said.

“That’s what we really need to keep our eyes on, is what is our military doing? Where are our ships going in that part of the world? What is Japan doing?” he said. “And so far I think everybody recognizes there’s nothing to gain by pushing this further. What we really want to do is sit down and see if we can negotiate out of this.”

Pope Francis, in an April 29 in-flight press conference during his return from Egypt, said that regarding the escalating international tensions with North Korea, “the path is the path of negotiation, the path of diplomatic solutions.”

“This world war in pieces of which I’ve been talking about for two years, more or less, it’s in pieces, but the pieces have gotten bigger, they are concentrated, they are focused on points that are already hot,” he said.

“Things are already hot, as the issue of missiles in North Korea has been there for more than a year, now it seems that the thing has gotten too hot.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told UN News this summer “general disarmament — that is a priority this year.”

“There is no doubt that the Catholic Church, Pope Francis now in particular, is very much against not only the use but also the possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.  

Leaders for the U.S. and European bishops also called for nuclear disarmament in a July 6 statement “Nuclear Disarmament: Seeking Human Security.” Bishop Oscar Cantu, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, signed the statement along with Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions.

“For many, the horror of a potential nuclear war receded from consciousness with the end of the Cold War, but recent geopolitical developments remind us that our world remains in grave danger,” the bishops stated.

“Even a limited nuclear exchange would have devastating consequences for people and the planet. Tragically, human error or miscalculation could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.”

While the United Nations conference to negotiate the multi-lateral and legally-binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was wrapping up in July, the bishops said, the U.S. and “most European nations” were noticeably absent.

122 countries present voted in favor of the treaty, with one, the Netherlands, voting against it and Singapore abstaining, the UN reported.

“Nuclear states are making significant new investments to modernize nuclear arsenals. These costly programs will divert enormous resources from other pressing needs that build security, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” the bishops stated.

“The indiscriminate and disproportionate nature of nuclear weapons, compel the world to move beyond nuclear deterrence. We call upon the United States and European nations to work with other nations to map out a credible, verifiable and enforceable strategy for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

[…]

Cardinal calls eviction of Venezuela’s legislature ‘unacceptable’

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 10, 2017 / 10:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas expressed Tuesday his “astonishment and rejection” of a series of measures that violate the “will of the sovereign people” in Venezuela.

In an Aug. 8 statement, the cardinal denounced the eviction of the country’s legislature, the National Assembly, from the Federal Legislative Palace. The action was taken so that the constituent assembly, tasked with rewriting the constitution, could meet in the building.

“This is a measure astonishing for its violence and arbitrariness,” Cardinal Urosa said, adding that it “violates the will of the people who sovereignly elected the National Assembly in the December 2015 elections.”

The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition, while the constituent assembly was elected July 30 in a process that has been denounced as fraudulent by bishops, much of the international community, and the company in charge of the election’s electronic voting system. Pope Francis had spoken against the constituent assembly’s inauguration.

“In addition to being an invalidly constituted body, since it was not convened by the people, and whose election is suspected of fraud, the constituent assembly doesn’t have the right to appropriate the seat of the National Assembly. That is arbitrary and violent, and, therefore, unacceptable.”

The Archbishop of Caracas also denounced that “in recent weeks, we have seen how the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has levied very severe sanctions against several opposition mayors. Yesterday, the removal from office, imprisonment, and disqualification for the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. And the mayor of El Hatillo, David Smolansky is summoned for tomorrow. Both, as well as the mayor of Lecheria, have been charged with contempt by the court.”

“Those sanctions go against the rights of those mayors and the will of the people who elected them to govern their towns,” he stated.

“The search for peace and understanding that President Maduro preaches is impeded by those measures. We ask that these actions be stopped and that an atmosphere of calm be created which will allow for finding solutions to the country’s current political, economic and social crisis,” the cardinal concluded.

The constituent assembly approved a decree Aug. 8 that it will control all the branches of the Venezuelan government.

The decree was issued a day after the National Assembly said it will ignore the decisions of the constituent assembly, and two days after a small group of soldiers and civilians from Carabobo state declared themselves in rebellion against Maduro’s government, seeking “to restore constitutional order” in the country.

Since April 1, more than 120 people have been killed in protest’s against Maduro’s government.

The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America – which includes Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua – met in Caracas recently to express their support for the constituent assembly, while another 17 nations of the Americas met in Peru to state that Maduro’s government is a dictatorship.

Among the signers of the ‘Lima Declaration’ are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Canada, and Uruguay.

The declaration states that its signatories do not recognize the constituent assembly; it fully supports the democratically elected National Assembly, only recognizing the acts that this body approves and validates; and it condemns the violation of human rights, the violence, and the repression occurring in Venezuela.

[…]

Pope orders Belgian religious group to stop offering euthanasia to patients

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Aug 10, 2017 / 10:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is cracking down on a Belgian Brothers of Charity-run organization, giving the group until the end of August to stop offering euthanasia to patients in their psychiatric centers.

In addition, each of the religious brothers serving on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group, the organization that runs the centers, has been ordered to sign a joint letter to their general superior, Br. Rene Stockman, declaring their adherence to Church teaching.

Brothers who refuse to sign the letter to the Pope will face punitive action under canon law, while the group itself is expected to face legal action and could have its Catholic status revoked if it does not change its policy.

The Vatican order, sent at the beginning of August, follows several prior requests that the group drop the policy, which allows doctors to euthanize non-terminal mentally ill patients on its grounds.

In comments to CNA Aug. 10, Br. Stockman said he initially went to the Vatican for help in the spring, when the group, which is a state organization run by the order, decided to change their policy on euthanasia on the grounds that their stance was culturally abnormal.

Since the year 2000, the group has maintained a firm policy against euthanasia and how to cope with requests for it, he said, explaining that as a state organization, they take requests for euthanasia seriously, and try to help the patient regain their desire for life, “knowing of course that someone who is very depressive can have the tendency to ask for euthanasia.”

After doing everything possible to help alleviate any depression present in a patient, if the individual still requests euthanasia – which is legal in Belgium – the brothers would transfer them elsewhere.

“We don’t accept that euthanasia should be done inside our institutes,” Br. Stockman said, noting that this had been the organization’s firm policy until last year, when the group “started to deflect,” claiming that the Catholic position was “unique” in Belgium, where euthanasia is widely accepted, even for children.

The group argued that they had to “adapt,” and so developed a new vision that Br. Stockman said “we could not accept as a congregation.”

Despite the fact that all board members are Catholic, and some have high political profiles, in Belgium “secularization is very, very high, very strong,” Br. Stockman said, “so you have to ask yourself what is Catholic still?”

In response to the group’s decision to change the policy, “we said very clearly first of all, for us respect of life must always be absolute,” the superior general said.

However, he said, the group responded that “respect of life is fundamental, but autonomy for the person is on the same level,” and once the two are placed on the same level, “then the autonomy of the patient becomes absolute, and not respect for life.”

Despite meeting resistance from Br. Stockman, the group insisted on implementing their new policy, which went into effect in June for each of the 15 psychiatric centers they run throughout Belgium.

As a response, the general superior went to the Belgian Catholic Bishops Conference and asked that they back him in the debate. When the organization continued to resist, despite pressure from the bishops conference, Br. Stockman took the issue to the Vatican.

He was eventually invited to present the issue before both the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, both of which became involved in investigating the issue.

The doctrinal congregation then promptly drafted a letter reiterating the Church’s position on euthanasia and insisted that the group step back into line with doctrine. However, the letter was ignored.

Br. Stockman then received a specific mandate from the Congregation for Consecrated Life “to see that the organization can again be in line” with Church teaching.

Part of his mandate is enforcing the ultimatum and gathering the group’s response by the end of August. Br. Stockman said he has not spoken with Pope Francis personally, but that it is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life who conceived the ultimatum and presented it to the Pope, who gave it his full support.

Of the three brothers who are members of the organization’s board of trustees – the majority of board consists of laypeople – Br. Stockman said he is still waiting for their answers, but is “quite positive about that, I can say that, I think the brothers will conform themselves.”

To ask the brothers to reaffirm their adherence to Church teaching is “logical,” he said, because “when you are a religious, then you have to be in line with the Church.”

“I know them and they are really under pressure from the whole mentality,” he said, but voiced confidence that they will send the letter without any problems.

As for the organization itself, the general superior said he has been in contact with the board members. “They said they received the letter and that they will discuss again in their board the situation,” he said, adding “I am waiting for the final answer.”

When asked if there was fear that even if the organization does change the policy back, they would be forced by the state to provide euthanasia, Br. Stockman said that thankfully, as of now institutions can’t be forced, “so I think we also have to use this opening not to do it.”

“If the law changes and they say that institutions have to do euthanasia, then the situation becomes totally different. Then we have to ask ourselves, can we still continue as a Catholic hospital in a certain environment where we are forced to do euthanasia?”

“But until now we have the possibility to refuse euthanasia inside the walls of the institute,” he said.

[…]

Brazilian archbishop robbed at his residence

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Maceio, Brazil, Aug 10, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While preparing to travel to Mass on Saturday morning, Archbishop Antonio Muniz Fernandes of Maceio was robbed at gun point, along with a deacon and a caretaker at his residence.

“I was targeted by a gun, but the assailants didn’t physically assault anyone. They took personal possessions and the little money that was in a wallet,” Archbishop Muniz said, according to the website of the Archdiocese of Maceio.

“I’m fine and tranquil. It is normal for anyone who goes through this to be surprised, but thanks be to God nothing serious happened.”

Archbishop Muniz was to be picked up at his house in the Farol neighborhood of the Brazilian city by Deacon Inaldo Pitta in order to celebrate Mass at Saint Goncalo parish. While the deacon was talking to the caretaker, three armed men approached them in a vehicle at around 5:40 am Aug. 5.

The robbers took the deacon and caretaker inside where the archbishop had also surrendered, and forced the caretaker onto the ground. While two men held the group at gun point, the third ran through the house looking for money and valuables.

The criminals stole scented oils, the men’s pocket money, and the archbishop’s cross and cell phone, but they broke the phone and left it in the street during their escape.

During a moment of distraction, the deacon was able to hide away in the bathroom, where he called the police. Once the robbers realized he was missing, they fled.

Security secretary Paulo Domingos Lima Junior reported the case is already under investigation, but no leads into the thieves’ identity have yet been reported. Colonel Marcos Sampaio, commander of Military Police, also visited Archbishop Muniz to offer his support on behalf of Lima and Governor Renan Filho.

[…]

Why YouTube needs Catholics

August 10, 2017 CNA Daily News 2

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic YouTube junkies of the world, unite – you are needed for the New Evangelization.

That was essentially the message of the recent Catholic YouTubers Hangout, the first-of-its-kind online meeting of dozens of Catholics from around the world who last month about bringing the Gospel to their YouTube channels.

About 50 channels logged on to take part, hailing mostly from the United States, but also with channels joining from places like Italy, Brazil and Spain.

The hangout started as the brainchild of Daniel Glaze, who is one-half of the channel “That Catholic Couple” – the other half is Daniel’s wife, Ana. On their channel, they show their followers (dubbed “The Donut Squad,” a play on Glaze) all about their life as a young Catholic couple and first-time parents.

Daniel said the idea for the hangout came when he was watching a Catholic YouTube video one day and wondered whether Catholics on YouTube knew each other or ever collaborated together.  

Steve the Missionary (aka Steven Lewis) of the “Steve the Missionary” channel, and Maria Mitchell, the producer of the “Ascension Presents” channel, had similar questions. Why weren’t there more Catholics on YouTube, the way there were on other social media platforms like Twitter? Why wasn’t there a Catholic community on the platform?

“(We all) noticed that there really wasn’t a cohesive community of people who create together, react to each other, or collaborate with each other,” Lewis told CNA.

“Daniel was the one who was smart enough to start calling his friends and asking what we wanted to do about it.”

And that’s how the Catholic YouTubers Hangout was born. The free online conference was open to any channel that was in some way, shape or form, Catholic – meaning either the content explicitly talked about Catholicism and the Catholic church, or the creator of a channel is a Catholic who is letting their faith influence their work.

The goals for the hangout were twofold: to create a community of Catholic YouTubers, and to encourage further collaboration within that community.

Each host of the hangout also gave a keynote address, the main ideas of which can also mostly be found in this collaborative by Daniel, Ana and Lewis: https://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=inXOliuYdQk&t=21s  

This community of Catholic YouTubers is necessary, Lewis said, because “Catholics need to get their voice in the hyper-progressive, strictly materialistic, and atheist and agnostic conversation happening on YouTube.”

He said he wants there to be a “Catholic YouTube” of sorts – a corner within the platform dominated by explicitly Catholic conversations and creators, like there is on Twitter or Instagram.

“But I know that that’s not enough,” he said.

“The second thing I want is for Catholics to be a part of every other corner of YouTube. We should be earning our rights to be heard in the conversations happening on ‘Gamer YouTube,’ ‘Politics YouTube,’ or ‘Movie-Nerd YouTube,’” he said.
 
“Having both of these is important to spreading the Gospel. The first is important for answering the explicit questions of people interested in the faith, the second is important for putting the Gospel in new places among the people of the world.”

Lewis, who has been creating videos for his channel since 2013, said he was inspired to start making videos because he was already a major YouTube junkie, as well as a missionary with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at the time. He realized there was a need for the Gospel to reach one of his favorite online platforms.

“I love trying to say old truths in new ways. I love seeing and explaining the new ways that deep truths percolate into our lives,” Lewis said.

While many of his videos could fit in a category of apologetics and faith conversations geared towards millennials, they also include things like Lewis’ thoughts on the World Cup, eulogies for closing coffee shops, or his ability to eat bacon on certain Fridays in Lent when some dioceses were granted dispensations and others were not.

Daniel noted that even within his own Catholic-themed channel, the conversations are not necessarily explicitly Catholic, but are about life as a young family, informed by a Catholic view.

“We need more variety of Catholic content on YouTube, which means we need Catholic content creators living out their faith and showcasing it through video. For example, my channel ‘That Catholic Couple’ is a vlogging (video blogging) channel where we regularly share what it means to be a young family. Yes, we speak about our faith, but our content isn’t always explicitly Catholic. Plus, we need different perspectives on the platform to put the Gospel in the niche corners of YouTube,” he said.

During the hangout, Lewis said he challenged Catholic YouTubers to do two things: first, to watch and subscribe to each other’s channels, because it helps build community. Secondly, he encouraged them to keep watching their favorite secular videos on YouTube, because it can help creators to hone a more professional style.  

“Don’t be afraid of the secular influences on your style,” Lewis said.

“We think of Audrey Assad (a Catholic singer/songwriter) as writing in the tradition of modern praise and worship writers. While that’s true, if you ask her what her musical and lyrical interests are, she’ll tell you about artists like Paul Simon: a secular artist of such quality, that anyone can learn from him,” Lewis said.

Daniel added that the community is important, because it will allow Catholics to push each other to be better. Creating great art is something that the Church used to lead the world in, but has fallen behind in recent years, especially when it comes to creating good video.

“To be frank, the time of bad Catholic video content needs to end,” he said.

And the need for good Catholic video has never been more urgent, as video streaming has exploded in recent years with the boom of smartphones, Lewis added.

“The explosion of streaming video, especially through our phones, means that people are open to the possibilities of what a video can show them. Like any media, streaming videos can be baptized and used to glorify God. Let’s not waste our time!” Lewis said.

“It’s tough because we are currently outnumbered on YouTube, but so were the Apostles, so we’re in good company,” he added. “Also, I really like this new bromance I’ve got with Daniel.”

Daniel said that the hangout was only the beginning, and the he plans on continuing to look for opportunities to provide resources to foster community and collaboration among Catholic YouTubers, ultimately to help further the message of the Gospel.  

“A good friend of mine once said, ‘conversion of the heart isn’t fostered by one video, but it can start one.’”

Lewis urged all Catholics to share videos and blogs that further the Gospel message. And, if they find a gap somewhere, to fill it.

“Online evangelization is not about getting famous, it’s about seeing a need and addressing it,” he said.

“If you find a video/post/blog that says what you need to say right now, like and share it! If you can’t find that video/post/blog, I guess it’s time for you to make it yourself!”

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