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From bartender to priest: ‘God is very insistent!’

July 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Santander, Spain, Jul 18, 2018 / 05:17 pm (ACI Prensa).- How do you go from being a bartender who has not attended Mass for 15 years to becoming a priest?

For Fr. Juan de Cáceres, the answer is that God was persistent in pursing his heart and revealing his call.

Today, Fr. Juan is a priest of the Diocese of Santander in Spain. But he had been away from the sacraments for 15 years when he had a conversion that allowed him to hear God’s call in his life.

After finishing his undergraduate studies, Juan enrolled in law school. However, he was not a good student, and in 2006, at the age of 28, he decided to quit law school to open a trendy bar in Santander.

However, with the onset of the economic crisis in Spain, what had initially promised to be a successful business became the focus of his financial problems, compounded by the crisis of turning 30 and feeling a lack of direction in his life.

“I was really lost, drowning in debt and with the [economic] crisis, there were almost no customers. In addition, my friends quit going out like they used to. They began to get married and stopped dating. I found myself all alone,” he said in an interview with the El Diario Montañés news.

While Juan had stopped going to Mass 15 years ago, a friend invited him to some talks on prayer, which became the turning point that changed his life.

At first, he went to the talks to spend time with his friend. But something within him changed little-by-little: he began to go to Mass again, returned to confession, and re-enrolled in school.

His life started to come together again, until two years after that new beginning, he “felt the call” to the priesthood.

But his first reaction was “to say no.”

“I came up with all kinds of objections: my work, my debts, my life. I thought what I needed to do was to settle down, meet a woman who would make me very happy and have a family. But God is very insistent! And from then on, he would not let that thought out of my heart or mind,” he told El Diario Montañés.

When he decided to discern a vocation, he asked then-Bishop Vicente Jiménez of Santander if he could enter seminary in another city, because “had to keep his distance” from his past life. He entered a seminary in Pamplona, about 120 miles away.

“I was working at the bar up to the day before going to Pamplona, where I spent three fantastic years,” he recalled. During that time, Fr. Juan also worked with the Chinese Catholic community.

He was ordained a priest last January and was assigned to serve four parishes in Santander. He also teaches religion classes three days a week to teenagers.

The experience of being a bartender ended up having value for the priest, who noted that during those years, “I was sort of a confessor to everyone.”

He also helps foster vocations in the diocese because as he explains, “a lot of people have felt the same way I did, but they haven’t figured out how to follow up…I’m here to listen and guide.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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News Briefs

Study questions authenticity of bloodstains on Shroud of Turin

July 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2018 / 02:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A study on the Shroud of Turin based on bloodstain pattern analysis used to investigate crime scenes has sparked fresh debate on what is believed to be Christ’s burial cloth, saying the marks left by the blood flow are not authentic.

The study, “A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin,” was published July 10 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

In comments to CNA, the leading author, Dr. Matteo Borrini, said that after doing extensive experiments, the results show that bloodstains flowing from Christ’s wrists and a spot where he was stabbed in the side with a spear “are not the blood stains of a man who was crucified.”

The stains “are not realistic” in terms of the direction blood would flow from those type of wounds, he said, adding that he believes that “the stains were done artificially.”

Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, the director of research at the International Center of Sindonology in Turin, said Borrini’s methods, while sound, would require more time and “specific attention” to details in order to be “scientifically valid and authoritative.”

Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin noted that the study “does not affect the spiritual and religious meaning of the shroud as an icon of the Passion and death of the Lord,” adding that “no one can deny the evidence that contemplating the shroud is like reading the pages of the Gospel tells us about the Passion and death of the Son of God.”

Borrini, a forensic anthropologist teaching at the Faculty Science of the the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology at the John Moores University in Liverpool, is Catholic and is an expert in bloodstain pattern analysis.

Borrini collaborated in his research with Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemist and professor at the University of Pavia, who is also a member of the sceptic educational organization the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences.

Based on BPA (bloodstain pattern analysis) tactics used to analyze the shape and flow of bloodstains on objects, clothing or bodies involved in a crime scene, the study is the first to apply BPA techniques to the Shroud of Turin.

Among the most well-known artifacts believed to be connected with Christ’s Passion, the Shroud of Turin has been venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Christ, and has long been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.

Appearing on the 14-foot long, three-and-a-half foot wide cloth a faintly stained postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured. The image becomes clear in a haunting photo negative.

It has been venerated by thousands of pilgrims and numerous popes.

Borrini and Garlaschelli first presented their study at the 2014 meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

The study was then read by a panel of anonymous experts in the field, who commented on the research and offered suggestions. The two were then required to respond to the comments made as part of their formal article on the study, which was reviewed by the same anonymous panel before its publication last week.

As part of their research, Borrini and Garlaschelli conducted numerous experiments on both live human volunteers and mannequins using BPA methods, which use geometrical techniques to reconstruct the angle of the splatter from each drop of blood when it meets a surface.

This method “is only physical, and morphological,” Borrini said, explaining that it focuses on “the study of the pattern, the shape, of the bloodstain and the distribution of the bloodstains; the physical, geometric distribution.”

“We tried to recreate the flow of the blood and the dripping of the blood from a wound. In this case, the wound from the wrist created by the nails, or the blood from the wound on the side, the wound that was directly done by the spear that was used on the torso of Jesus Christ according to the Gospels. So we reproduced the blood flowing from these two different wounds,” he said.

To track the blood flow, they used a device created to represent arteries and veins which had been damaged by a nail during a crucifixion, and analyzed what direction the liquid, which represented blood, would go and what pattern it would make.

While some might argue that the speed of blood flow or a person’s health might impact the pattern of the stain, Borrini said that in this case, only the direction matters.

“If the blood were dripping slower or faster, this would not affect the direction,” he said. “The direction of the blood flow is affected by the position of the body and of course by gravity, because of course, any liquids or solids move according to gravity, so they have to follow the law of gravity.”

This “is why we realized there was an inconsistency in some of the stains, because some of the stains apparently did not follow gravity.” For example, Borrini said some of the results showed that the man whose image is imprinted on the shroud would have had to be standing vertical, rather than horizontal, for the blood flow patterns to make sense.

“For me the shroud is not authentic,” he said, but stressed that he is a Catholic who has taught at several pontifical universities, “and I maintain that we do not need the shroud in order to be Christians, to be Catholic.”

“I did this study, I reached this conclusion, and I feel absolutely in line with the thought of the Catholic Church, and I continue to be strong in my Catholic faith.”

“If someone thinks that I did this work because I am an atheist, it is absolutely untrue,” he said, explaining that the study was balanced, because while he is Catholic, Garlaschelli, his research partner, is an atheist.

However, despite Borrini’s insistence on the validity of his scientific research, the results of his study were met with criticism.

Di Lazzaro noted that studies with live human volunteers usually take place on people who are healthy and clean, he said, noting that blood might flow differently on someone who is dirty and who has been sweating, or who has been dehydrated.

“It is not possible to think of reproducing realistic conditions of the way blood drips on the body of a crucifix without considering all of these factors, which influence in a strong way how blood drips,” he said.

Archbishop Nosiglia said numerous studies have been done which either prove or disprove the authenticity of the shroud. However, regardless of the outcome, the archbishop said the guiding principle of any research ought to be “neutrality.”

“If one begins with a preconception and directs the research toward proving it, then it will easily be confirmed”, he said, adding that operating on the basis of a preconception “nullifies the neutrality proper to science with respect to personal convictions.”

“The shroud, which is an object of faith, helps faith itself because it opens the hearts of those who approach and contemplate it to be aware of what was the Passion of Jesus on the cross and therefore of the greatest love that he showed us by suffering terrible physical and moral violence for the salvation of the whole world.”

This, he said, is the reason that millions of people, both now and in the past, have to the shroud from all over the world to venerate it and to pray, in order to “draw hope for their everyday life.

 

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News Briefs

The modern miracle of Fatima

July 18, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Fatima, Portugal, Jul 18, 2018 / 03:00 am (CNA).- While men in the trenches of World War I faced chemical gasses and industrialized weaponry that wrought unprecedented human carnage, an Angel of Peace appeared with a message.

“Do not be afraid. … […]

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Christian doctor in England denied work because of his traditional gender beliefs

July 14, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Birmingham, England, Jul 14, 2018 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dr. David Mackereth, a Reformed Baptist who has worked for 26 years at the National Health Service, has said he was denied employment at the Department for Work and Pensions because he would not refer to transgender people using their preferred pronouns.

“I’m not attacking the transgender movement. But, I’m defending my right to freedom of speech, and freedom of belief,” Mackereth told The Sunday Telegraph July 8.

“I don’t believe I should be compelled to use a specific pronoun. I am not setting out to upset anyone. But, if upsetting someone can lead to doctors being sacked then, as a society we have to examine where we are going,” he reflected.

Mackereth, 55, is from Dudley, 10 miles west of Birmingham. He was training to take a job as a disability assessor, but maintained his belief that sex is genetic and biological, and is the basis of gender. Mackereth spent much of his time at the NHS working in Accident and Emergency departments.

His instructor had said reports on those claiming disability must refer to the patient by their gender identity, in accord with the Equality Act 2010, an anti-discrimination law in England, Wales, and Scotland which includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender reassignment among its protected classes.

“I said that I had a problem with this. I believe that gender is defined by biology and genetics. And that as a Christian the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female. I could have kept my mouth shut. But, it was the right time to raise it,” Mackereth said.

He maintained that he could not in good conscience conform with the policy, and his contract was terminated.

Mackereth said that “Firstly, we are not allowed to say what we believe. Secondly, as my case shows, we are not allowed to think what we believe. Finally, we are not allowed to defend what we believe.”

“By stating … that gender and sex are determined at birth – you can come under ferocious attack.”

Under the Equality Act 2010 “everyone who holds my views can be sacked on the spot,” he stated. “I’m not an isolated case.”

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News Briefs

The deep roots of Portugal’s Marian devotion

July 12, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Lisbon, Portugal, Jul 12, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima in 1917, Portugal had already acclaimed Mary as their reigning Queen for hundreds of years. After the coronation of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as “Queen of Portugal” by King João IV in 1646, no Portuguese monarch ever wore a crown again.

The history of exceptional Marian devotion near Fatima dates back even further.

Fourteen miles from the Fatima Shrine is the Batalha Monastery, where several dozen Dominican friars were commissioned in 1388 to pray a perpetual rosary in thanksgiving for the Virgin Mary’s protection of Portugal.

The gothic monastery in Batalha was built in dedication to Our Lady of Victory in gratitude for an answered prayer. In 1385 King Joao I made a vow to the Virgin Mary that he would build a great monastery if she would deliver him victory in a battle against the Spanish.

The Dominican community remained in the monastery until 1834, when all religious orders were driven out of Portugal. Today it continues to function as both the local parish and a tourist attraction.

In nearby Alcobaca, a Cistercian monastery has stood in honor of Mary for over 800 years. The king of Portugal endowed the monastery to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in 1153, shortly before the Cistercian founder’s death. The gothic church was completed in 1223.

Benedict XVI has described Saint Bernard of Clairvaux as “a Doctor of Mariology” because “he understood her essential role in the Church, presenting her as the perfect model of the monastic life and of every other form of the Christian life.”

An altarpiece in the Alcobaca Monastery, added in 1705, depicts the death of Saint Bernard under the protection of Mary. The walls in the monastery’s King’s Hall are decorated with 16th century blue and white rococo tile scenes depicting the history of the Cistercian order. An ornate oval baroque reliquary chapel containing 71 terracotta reliquary busts from floor to ceiling can be found in the sacristy. Napoleon’s troops plundered the monastery in 1811, shortly before the Cistercians, like Batalha’s Dominicans, were forced to leave Portugal.

Fewer than 10 miles from Alcobaca is the beachside town of Nazaré, named for a statue of the Virgin Mary brought from Nazareth by a monk in the 8th century, according to the local tradition.

Before Nazaré became a world-famous surfing destination with 80-foot waves, it was a popular medieval pilgrimage site. In 1182, a Portuguese knight was hunting a deer near the coast. When his horse nearly ran over one of Nazaré’s steep cliffs, he called out “Our Lady, Help Me!” and his horse stopped just at the cliff’s precipice next to the small grotto with the Nazareth statue.

In thanksgiving for his life, the knight had a small chapel built around the statue, which went on to receive so many visitors that a larger church dedicated to Our Lady of Nazaré was built near the cliffs by the King of Portugal in 1377 to house the statue and its pilgrims.

Despite the centuries-long tradition of Marian devotion in Portugal, when Our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917, Catholics were not thriving in the country.

When the monarchy was abolished in 1910, the revolutionaries attempted to root out Catholicism and its Marian queen along with it, seizing all of the Church’s property and assets. A popular illustration of the 1910 revolution includes an image of armed men marching out priests at gunpoint.

Anticlericalism peaked in the years leading up to the Fatima apparitions, causing the pope to speak out about the persecution of the Church under the First Portuguese Republic.

In 1911, Saint Pius X issued an encyclical, Iamdudum, decrying the secularization occuring in Portugal.

“We have seen, arising out of an obstinate determination to secularize every civil organization and to leave no trace of religion in the acts of common life, the deletion of the feast days of the Church from the number of public festivals, the abolition of religious oaths, the hasty establishment of the law of divorce and religious instruction banished from the public schools,” wrote the pope.

St. Pius X’s successor, Benedict XV, would go on to write a letter to his secretary of state for all the world’s bishops on May 5, 1917 asking for prayers to the Virgin Mary for peace amid the ongoing devastation of World War I throughout Europe. In this letter, the pope made permanent an additional title for Mary in the Litany of Loreto: “Regina pacis,” or “Queen of peace.”

When Mary appeared in Portugal as Our Lady of the Rosary nine days later, she instructed, “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” The Portuguese tradition of the perpetual rosary, dating back more than 500 years, would continue.

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New superior general elected by SSPX

July 11, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Sion, Switzerland, Jul 11, 2018 / 04:32 pm (CNA).- On Wednesday the general chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X, a canonically irregular priestly society, elected Fr. Davide Pagliarani as its superior general.

The July 11 election was made at the Seminary of St. Pius X in Ecône, about 10 miles southwest of Sion, Switzerland. The general chapter is being held through July 21.

Elected as general assistants were Bishop Alfonso Gallareta and Fr. Christian Bouchacourt.

The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.

Fr. Pagliarani, 47, succeeds Bishop Bernard Fellay as superior general of the SSPX. He has a mandate of 12 years in his office as superior general.

He was ordained a priest in 1996, and served at chapels in Italy and Singapore before he was appointed superior of the Italian district of the SSPX. He has been rector of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Seminary in Argentina since 2012.

After accepting his office, Fr. Pagliarani made a profession of faith and took the Anti-Modernist Oath.

The illicit episcopal consecrations made in 1988 resulted in the excommunication of the bishops involved. The excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the SSPX and the Vatican.

When he remitted the excommunications, Benedict noted that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The biggest obstacles for the SSPX’s reconciliation have been the statements on religious liberty in Vatican II’s declaration Dignitatis humanae as well as the declaration Nostra aetate, which it claims contradict previous Catholic teaching.

There were indications in recent years of movement towards regularization of the priestly society, which has some 590 priest-members.

In March 2017, Pope Francis gave diocesan bishops or other local ordinaries the authorization to grant priests of the SSPX the ability to celebrate licitly and validly the marriages of the faithful who follow the Society’s pastoral activity.

Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, spoke about interactions with the SSPX in an April 2016 interview with La Croix. The archbishop, whose commission is responsible for discussions with the SSPX, said that discussions over the last few years have led to “an important clarification” that the Second Vatican Council “can be adequately understood only in the context of the full Tradition of the Church and her constant Magisterium.”

And in September 2015, the Pope announced that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his apostolic letter Misericordia et misera, published Nov. 20, 2016.

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