Here’s a way to learn more about Mary, Queen of Heaven

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Charlotte, N.C., Mar 23, 2017 / 09:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new, epic narrative about the life of Mary, Queen of Heaven has just been released with the hope of drawing individuals closer to the Mother of God during the upcoming 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

“We wanted to tell the story of Fatima. But, what the story of Fatima is really is the story of a battle,” Rick Rotondi, Vice President of New Business at Saint Benedict Press, told CNA.

“That battle goes a long way back to the very beginning of the Bible, with enmity with the serpent. It’s a long story and that’s what we are trying to tell: the battle that Our Lady is engaged with in modern times,” he continued.

The new program is titled Queen of Heaven: Mary’s Battle for You and was released by Saint Benedict Press only a few weeks ago. The video series is broken down into eight different segments, in a document-style format and is hosted by Leonardo Defilippis, a Shakespearean actor and founder of St. Luke Productions.

Throughout the segments, over a dozen theological experts such as Tim Staples, Fr. Dominic Legge, Dr. Carrie Gress, and Fr. Chris Alar weigh in on the life of the Mother of God. The videos also take viewers around the country to places like the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the World Apostolate of Fatima Shrine, and the St. John Paul II National Shrine, where parts of the program were filmed.

The program was created for group study in parishes, where individuals can come together and learn more about the Queen of Heaven as a parish. However, individual study is possible through the use of DVDs.

“As you go through the program, you are learning about the richness of the Marian devotions and how to incorporate them in your life. That full experience is reserved for the parishes, but individuals will have access to the DVD content and a book,” Rotondi said.

Rotondi, who is also one of the script writers and developers for the program, noted that the whole series took about nine months to complete, and is a unique program unlike any other.

The release of the series at the beginning of March “was very deliberate,” Rotondi explained, saying that the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima was the driving force behind its debut.

“Seventy-five percent of the content is a study of Mary in the Bible and Mariology, the study of Marian doctrine, and even Our Lady of Lourdes and Guadalupe. Twenty-five percent is Fatima,” Rotondi stated.

Since its release only a few weeks ago, Saint Benedict Press has received positive feedback about the series, and they hope it continues to grow.

“It’s in a number of parishes currently, and we are getting very favorable responses,” Rotondi said.

Moving forward, the material for Queen of Heaven is also going to be available in a Spanish edition this summer, and DVDs will be released later this year. A book will also be published this May.

Rotondi believes that the goal behind this new series is “to have a deeper love of Our Lady,” and he hopes this program will be able to draw individuals closer to the Mother of God.

“Our Lady always brings us to her Son. I think a lot of people who will watch this love our Lord already, but may have not yet considered Our Lady in these ways,” Rotondi said.

“The greatness of Our Lord is also revealed fully when you realize what a beautiful Queen he has.”

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Pope Francis prays for victims of deadly London attack

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After four people died in an apparent terrorist attack in London yesterday, Pope Francis has voiced his sorry and solidarity for the victims and their families, entrusting them and the nation to God’s mercy.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” a March 23 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.

The Pope commended the souls of those who died “to the loving mercy of Almighty God,” and prayed for “divine strength and peace upon their grieving families,” while assuring of his prayer for the entire nation.

Francis’ letter comes the day after a deadly March 22 attack on London’s Parliament took the lives of four people.

During the attack, a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the fence surrounding the Parliament building. The assailant then attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife, stabbing one police officer before being shot by other officers on the grounds.

According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including the police officer who was stabbed and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.

Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

The incident marks the first mass-casualty terrorist attack in Britain since the 2005 bomb attack on London that claimed the lives of 52 people when four bombers blew themselves up in the city’s public transportation system.

March 22 also marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history.

The use of a vehicle as a weapon yesterday’s London attack is reminiscent of the methods used last year by terrorists in Nice and Berlin.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, issued a March 23 statement to the priests and parishes of his diocese saying yesterday’s attacks “have shocked us all.”

“The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city,” he said, and urged pastors to lead their people in prayer, particularly for the victims and their families.

He offered special prayers for victim Aysha Frade, who was killed by the car on Westminster Bridge and whose two young children attend the diocese’s St. Mary of the Angels Primary School.

He also offered special prayers for Frade’s husband and a group of French students who were injured in the attack, as well as police officer Keith Palmer, the officer who died, and his family.

“Let our voice be one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity and of calm,” the cardinal said.

“All who believe in God, Creator and Father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which we depend.”

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Priests in Peru encouraged to visit victims of floods, mudslides

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Piura, Peru, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the occasion of the worldwide “24 Hours for the Lord”, the Archdiocese of Piura encouraged priests to visit and bring aid to the victims of the natural disasters in northwestern Peru.

In a message released March 20, Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura recalled that the March 25 ’24 Hours for the Lord’ “is intended to facilitate during Lent access to the sacrament of Confession for the faithful, along with Eucharistic adoration, the recitation of the Holy Rosary and other kinds of liturgical activities.”

“Without changing the nature  of this initiative by the Holy Father, and after personally visiting in these weeks various districts and cities in our battered archdiocese, I thought we could celebrate it this year, besides in our churches, by visiting our brother victims in our parish communities who now more than ever need an encouraging voice to find again the reason for their hope.”

Heavy rains in Peru have triggered days of floods and mudslides in Peru, which have killed more than 70 people in the country. Hundreds of thousands have been affected by the natural disasters.

A third of the population affected by the natural disasters are in the Piura region.

The Archbishop of Piura suggested to the priests that “this Saturday, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in conjunction with pastoral workers, catechists, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, you organize with due prudence some activity to visit the Lord in our victim brothers.”

“I know that a lot of you are already taking action and I commend you and encourage you to continue,” he emphasized.

Archbishop Eguren encouraged “visiting the affected sectors of the parish to being them assistance with food, clothing, personal hygiene items, which have been collected  in your parish communities during these days.”

Another suggestion from the prelate was to “organize a Liturgy of the Word or recitation of the Holy Rosary to pray with our brothers, while the priest hears confessions, anoints the sick, and the ministers of Holy Communion distribute the Eucharist to the elderly, sick, and everyone who requests it.”

Other activities recommended by the archbishop are visiting the sick in healthcare facilities, inmates in prison and organizing events for the children of the affected families.

“These are just a few ideas and suggestions I’m sharing with you. I’m sure you have many more and probably better ones,” he said.

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Finding God in all things — even coffee

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 23, 2017 / 03:39 am (CNA).- Any Yelp-savvy person looking for a coffee shop in the midst of the University of Southern California’s surrounding urban streets may be lured by extensive positive reviews and a four-and-a-hal… […]

Dublin prepares for 2018 World Meeting of Families

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, Mar 23, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just a little more than a year away, the Archdiocese of Dublin released a video Wednesday inviting families from around the world to come together in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in August 2018.

“I’m very pleased to have been asked to host this meeting, and to invite you to join with us in preparing for this event, and hopefully also to come to Dublin, to celebrate with families from all around the world,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin says in the video.

The next World Meeting of Families will be held Aug. 22-26, 2018. As the promo video, released March 22, says, it will include – “God-willing – having Pope Francis join us for the Festival of Families and the final Mass.”

Pope Francis’ visit to Dublin in 2018 will be a significant moment for Ireland, since it has been almost 40 years since their last visit from a Pope, Ireland’s ambassador to the Holy See, Emma Madigan, told CNA in January.  

The Archdiocese of Dublin is currently using the website http://www.worldmeeting2018.ie/ to provide information about the event in English, as they work on launching a more comprehensive, multi-lingual site soon, which will also include ticket and registration information.

The theme of the 9th World Meeting of Families is “The Gospel of family, joy for the world.” As the video says, “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church. Our Catholic Church is a family of families.”

“Our Holy Father Pope Francis is encouraging families from all across the world to come to Ireland in 2018 to celebrate family life. And to reflect on the importance of family in our lives,” Cardinal Kevin Farrell says in the video.

Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, as well as a Dublin native, Cardinal Farrell is one of the persons responsible for organizing the event.

The last World Meeting of Families, which took place in Philadelphia in 2015, was attended by around 18,000 people for the congress and somewhere around 800,000-900,000 for the final Mass with Pope Francis.

The last World Meeting of Families was a huge success, according to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. “The spirit of the whole city was strikingly positive,” he told CNA Sept. 29, 22015 in an interview following the event.

Dublin is looking forward to a similar event in 2018.

“Every society, every person, understands a universal bond, a bond that connects us: family,” the promotional video states. “We look forward to welcoming people from every corner of the world to our shores for the 2018 World Meeting of Families.”

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Don’t lose your humanity in refugee debate, US bishops say

March 23, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Mar 22, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The intense debate over U.S. refugee and migrant policy is a chance to meet newcomers and understand others’ concerns, the country’s bishops have said, warning against fear and mistreatment of others.

“It is necessary to safeguard the United States in a manner that does not cause us to lose our humanity,” said the March 22 statement from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ administrative committee.

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life. They may be an immigrant or refugee family sacrificing so that their children might have a brighter future. As shepherds of a pilgrim Church, we will not tire in saying to families who have the courage to set out from their despair onto the road of hope: ‘We are with you.’”

Immigrant or refugee families may themselves be seeking security from extremist violence, the bishops said. Their statement, titled “Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times,” aimed to voice solidarity with those who have fled their homes because of violence, conflict or fear.

The statement comes at a time of significant debate over U.S. refugee and immigration policy under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on more restrictive policies.

His latest executive order on refugees calls for a 120-day ban on all refugee admissions and an entry ban on most foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries. The order caps refugee admissions at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017, a decline from 85,000 in fiscal year 2016.

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked the temporary refugee ban and the travel ban from taking effect. The Hawaii-based federal district court said the state of Hawaii’s lawsuit against the travel ban made a strong enough case that it unfairly discriminated against Muslims seeking entry into the U.S. and that the ban would significantly injure the state’s tourism industry and university system.

President Trump’s other executive orders have sought an increase in immigrant detention centers  and the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The U.S. bishops’ statement welcomed debate over policy, but criticized the “rhetoric of fear.”

“When we look at one another do we see with the heart of Jesus?” they asked. “Within our diverse backgrounds are found common dreams for our children.”

Catholics need to show solidarity for migrants and refugees, the bishops said. They should pray for an end to the root causes of violence that cause people to flee.

“Meet with members of your parish who are newcomers, listen to their story and share your own,” the statement said. “Hundreds of Catholic parishes across the country have programs for immigrants and refugees both to comfort them and help them know their rights.”

“It is also important to reach out in loving dialogue to those who may disagree with us. The more we come to understand each other’s concerns the better we can serve one another. Together, we are one body in Christ.”

The bishops urged Catholics to call their elected representatives and “ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”

They placed immigration debate in a Christian context.

“To live as a people of God is to live in the hope of the resurrection. To live in Christ is to draw upon the limitless love of Jesus to fortify us against the temptation of fear. Pray that our engagement in the debate over immigration and refugee issues may bring peace and comfort to those most affected by current and proposed national policy changes.”

They cited the Biblical command not to mistreat alien residents, in the Book of Leviticus: “you shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Another source for the bishops was Pope Francis’ comments that migration is “that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued.”

“For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland,” the Pope said.

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Catholic college’s new bridge too Catholic, neighbors complain

March 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 22, 2017 / 03:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A bridge featuring crosses on the property of Villanova, a Catholic university in a Philadelphia suburb, will be built despite complaints from some local taxpayers.

After an hour long debate, the Board of Commissioners of the township of Radnor voted 6-0 last month to approve the controversial pedestrian bridge that will connect Villanova University’s main campus with an expansion of the campus.

The crux of the debate was the two, 4-foot 7-inch crosses planned for the top of the bridge, which will be visible to travelers on Route 30 underneath. Some local taxpayers complained that the school was crossing the line of separation of church and state by placing the crosses over a public road.

“I think they are overstepping their sense of ecumenism to shove these crosses in our faces,” Sara Pilling, a longtime resident and opponent of the crosses, told The Inquirer Daily News before the meeting.

Others argued that taxpayer dollars should not fund a bridge that will feature displays of religion.

Villanova officials argued that the school was within its rights to place crosses on the bridge, which will be owned by the university and on university property.

“On every building on campus, there’s a cross,” Fr. Peter Donohue, university president, told the Inquirer.

“I understand people’s sensitivities, but it’s just something we’ve always done. It’s just part of who we are. We are a faith-based institution.”

Some locals believe that a compromise would be to turn the crosses so they face the pedestrians, or to incorporate them into the design of the bridge in a more subtle way.

“While we recognize the importance of Villanova to our community and the notoriety it brings to Radnor, are there less ostentatious ways to reflect a Catholic institution?” said Roberta Winters, president of the League of Women Voters of Radnor, in an interview with The Inquirer.

Commissioner Luke Clark told local media that the bridge has been in the works for a long time, and is a way to keep safe the hundreds of students who cross that road every day.

“The design looks great. The crosses are going to go up there. Is it right or wrong? I don’t know. But at the end of the day it is on their property. They are a religious institution and the law for the most part is in their favor,” said Clark.

Even after the board unanimously voted to approve the bridge, some concerned locals contacted the non-profit Freedom From Religion Foundation. The foundation wrote a “strongly worded letter” to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), contending that they were unconstitutionally funding Christian symbols on the bridge and asked them to removed either the crosses or their funding.

The department told local media that its $3.7 million contribution to the project was for the portion of the span over the right of way it controls.

PennDOT said it could not control what the university did with its own property and with its own funds, which are providing for the crosses and most of the bridge.

After the township vote Villanova’s assistant vice president of government relations and external affairs Chris Kovolski told The Inquirer: “We’re pleased that the conversation tonight resulted in an outcome that allows the university to move forward.”

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Prayers go out amid confusion, chaos following London attack

March 22, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

London, England, Mar 22, 2017 / 01:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Church and government leaders offered prayers in the aftermath of an attack in London on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the incident in Westminster this afternoon,” read a post on Twitter from the news page of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Details surrounding the March 22 attack in Westminster remained unclear some four hours after an attacker in a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. The assailant then reportedly crashed the car and attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife before being shot by armed police.   

According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including one police officer and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.

Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”

March 22 marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history.

While details surrounding the London attack remain uncertain, religious and national leaders offered condolences and prayers.

“Please join me in praying for the people of #London, especially those killed and injured today. St. George and St. Paul, pray for us,” said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln on Twitter.

“Terrible scene in London,” said U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan in a post on Twitter. “Praying for the victims of this apparent act of terror. We stand with our friends in Parliament and Great Britain.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also released a statement offering prayers.

“On behalf of the United States, I express my condolences to the victims and their families,” he said. “The American people send their thoughts and prayers to the people of the United Kingdom. We condemn these horrific acts of violence, and whether they were carried out by troubled individuals or by terrorists, the victims know no difference.”

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