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Updated: 58 min 33 sec ago

St. Frances Cabrini is modern model for handling migration, pope says

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 11:56am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- St. Frances Cabrini, the missionary to Italian immigrants in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, "teaches us the path to handling the epochal phenomenon of migration by joining charity and justice," Pope Francis said.

The nun, who died Dec. 22, 1917, in Chicago, "understood that modernity would be marked by these enormous migrations and by human beings who were uprooted, in a crisis of identity, often desperate and lacking the resources needed" to make a new life in a new land, the pope said.

Pope Francis wrote about the nun, the first U.S. citizen to become a saint, in the preface to a new Italian biography of her. Lucetta Scaraffia, a historian and frequent contributor to the Vatican newspaper, wrote the book, "Tra Terra e Cielo" ("Between Earth and Heaven").

L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, published the pope's preface Nov. 8.

St. Frances Cabrini wanted to be a missionary in China, but Pope Leo XIII asked her to go instead to the United States to care for Italian immigrants. "Frances obeyed," Pope Francis wrote, "and a world was thrown open before her: that of hundreds of thousands of human beings who sought work and bread far from their homelands, risking long voyages that were often dangerous in lands that were unknown and hostile."

Sister Cabrini set up "large, beautiful and lasting" schools, hospitals, orphanages and centers for welcoming and assisting refugees, the pope said. When the large wave of Italian immigration ended, she and her sisters focused on whatever group of newcomers needed their help most.

But she "knew that it wasn't enough to help them materially, teach them the language of their new country and cure them when they were sick," the pope wrote; she also knew that their self-respect and identity needed support and that the roots of both were found often in their faith.

"Insertion into a new country meant accepting its rules and laws" and being treated with dignity, the pope said. "These objectives are still valid today" and include "the recognition of and respect for one's religious roots and those of others."

The very concrete, but all-encompassing outreach of St. Frances Cabrini, he said, is why it was "precisely a woman who became the patron of migrants."

She demonstrated what Pope Francis called "feminine qualities -- warmth, welcome, concreteness in meeting the needs of others, gracious care of the weak -- along with a holistic vision of the changes that were taking place in the world."

"She was a woman who knew how to unite great charity with a prophetic spirit that understood modernity in its less positive aspects, those aspects that involved the earth's poor whom intellectuals and politicians did not want to see," he said.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

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Stop taking smartphone snapshots during Mass, pope says

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 9:06am

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Mass is not a show, but a beautiful, transformative encounter with the true loving presence of Christ, Pope Francis said.

That is why people need to focus their hearts on God, not focus their smartphones for pictures during Mass, he said.

When the priest celebrating Mass says, "Let us lift up our hearts," he is not saying, "lift up our cellphones and take a picture. No. It's an awful thing" to do, the pope said Nov. 8 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"It makes me so sad when I celebrate (Mass) in the square or in the basilica and I see so many cellphones in the air. And not just by the lay faithful, some priests and bishops, too," he said.

"Please, Mass is not a show. It is going to encounter the Passion, the resurrection of the Lord," he said to applause.

The pope's remarks were part of a new series of audience talks on the Mass. The series, he said, should help people understand the true value and significance of the liturgy as an essential part of growing closer to God.

A major theme highlighted by the Second Vatican Council was that the liturgical formation of the lay faithful is "indispensable for a true renewal," Pope Francis said. "And this is precisely the aim of this catechetical series that we begin today -- to grow in understanding the great gift God gave us in the Eucharist."

"The Second Vatican Council was strongly driven by the desire to lead Christians to an understanding of the grandeur of the faith and the beauty of the encounter with Christ," he said. That is why, "with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an appropriate renewal of the liturgy" was necessary.

The Eucharist is a wonderful way Jesus Christ makes himself truly present in people's lives, the pope said.

To take part in the Mass is to relive the Lord's passion and redemptive death, where, on the altar, he is present and offers himself for the salvation of the world, Pope Francis said.

"The Lord is there with us and present," he said. "But so many times we go, we look around, we chitchat with each other while the priest celebrates the Eucharist."

If the president or any other famous or important person were to show up, he said, it would be a given "that we all would be near him, we would want to greet him. But think about it, when you go to Mass, the Lord is there and you, you are distracted, (your mind) wanders. Yet, it is the Lord!"

People should reflect on this, he said, and if they complain, "'Oh father, Mass is boring.' What are you saying? The Lord is boring? 'No, not the Mass, but the priest.' Ah, well, may the priest be converted," but just never forget that the Lord is always there.

Catholics need to learn or rediscover many of the basics about the Mass and how the sacraments allow people to "see and touch" Christ's body and wounds so as to be able to recognize him, just as the apostle St. Thomas did.

He said the series would include answering the following questions:

-- Why make the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass? Why is it important to teach children how to make the sign of the cross properly and what does it mean?

-- What are the Mass readings for and why are they included in the Mass?

-- What does is mean for people to participate in the Lord's sacrifice and come to his table?

-- What are people seeking? Is it the overflowing fount of living water for eternal life?

-- Do people understand the importance of praise and thanksgiving with the Eucharist and that receiving it "makes us one body in Christ"?

 

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Nation's leaders urged to 'engage in real debate' on curbing gun violence

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 1:35pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The nation's leaders "must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer," said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee.

Such debate is essential because "violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation, and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

His Nov. 7 statement was issued in response to "recent and horrific attacks" in the country, referring to the mass shooting Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead and 20 others wounded, and the Oct. 1 the mass shooting in Las Vegas during an outdoor concert that left 58 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

"For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence," Bishop Dewane said.

The Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs gun massacres "remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons -- particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed -- too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others," he said.

Bishop Dewane said the USCCB continues to urge a total ban on assault weapons, "which we supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004."

Other efforts the bishops support include measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases; limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines; and a federal law to criminalize gun trafficking.

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Pope, global leaders discuss concern for climate change, migration

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:18am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis met with Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, and former Irish President Mary Robinson to discuss shared concerns about peace, human rights and climate change.

"Pope Francis has shown great moral leadership on the crucial issues of our time. His assertion of the values of peace and human dignity resonates with people of all faiths and those of none," Annan said in a written statement released after the Nov. 6 meeting in the pope's residence.

Annan and Robinson made the private visit Nov. 6 together with Lakhdar Brahimi and Ricardo Lagos as members of "The Elders," an independent group of global leaders who use their experience and influence to support peace and human rights.

The four representatives met with the pope "to express their appreciation and support for his work on global peace, refugees and migration, and climate change," according to The Elders' website.

The organization is "proud to stand in solidarity with him today and in the future as we work for justice and universal human rights," Annan, chair of The Elders, said in his statement.

Annan told Vatican Radio it was important for them to visit the pope because they hold a number of interests and values in common, and they wanted to "discuss how we can work together, how we can pool our efforts on some of these issues."

Robinson, who is also a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights and a U.N. envoy on climate change, told Vatican Radio that they spoke about climate change and other issues where "the pope has given leadership. We felt there was a great deal of common ground between us."

Other issues they discussed, Annan told the radio, were migration, nuclear weapons, the mediation of conflicts and "the importance of giving women a voice and respecting their role."

"I hope this will be the first of many meetings," he said.

They expressed their appreciation for what the pope has been doing, Robinson said, and how he, like The Elders, is "trying to be a voice for the voiceless" and the marginalized.

"I think he could be a future 'Elder,'" Annan told the radio, to which Robinson remarked, "I think he's a Super Elder."

Former South African President Nelson Mandela formally launched The Elders 10 years ago after British entrepreneur Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel presented their idea of taking the traditional practice of looking to one's village elders for guidance and conflict resolution and applying it to today's "global village."

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Salvation is free, not a 'pay to save' deal with God, pope says

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:10am

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When it comes to salvation, God does not seek any form of compensation and offers it freely to those in need of his love, Pope Francis said.

A Christian who complains of not receiving a reward for going to Mass every Sunday and fulfilling certain obligations "doesn't understand the gratuity of salvation," the pope said Nov. 7 in his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"He thinks salvation is the fruit of 'I pay and you save me. I pay with this, with this, with this.' No, salvation is free and if you do not enter in this dynamic of gratuity, you don't understand anything," he said.

The pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke, in which Jesus recounts the parable of the banquet of a rich man who, after having his invitation spurned by his guests, invites "the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame" to enjoy his feast.

Those who rejected the rich man's invitation, the pope said, were "consumed by their own interests" and did not understand the generosity of the invitation.

"If the gratuitousness of God's invitation isn't understood, nothing is understood. God's initiative is always free. But what must you pay to go to this banquet?" the pope asked. "The entry ticket is to be sick, to be poor, to be a sinner. These things allow you to enter, this is the entry ticket: to be needy in both body and soul. It's for those in need of care, healing, in need of love," he said.

God asks for nothing in return but "love and faithfulness," the pope said. "Salvation isn't bought; you simply enter the banquet."

Pope Francis said those who decline to accept the invitation are consumed by other things that provide a certain sense of security, but they "have lost something much greater and more beautiful: they have lost the ability to feel loved."

"When you lose the ability to feel loved, there is no hope, you have lost everything," he said. "This calls to mind what is written on the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno: 'Abandon all hope,' you have lost everything."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Pope offers prayers for victims of Texas shooting

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 8:17am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sergio Flores, Reuters

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Calling the mass shooting in a Texas Baptist church Nov. 5 an "act of senseless violence," Pope Francis asked the local Catholic archbishop to convey his condolences to the families of the victims and to the injured.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, also sent assurances of the pope's prayers in a message to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio. The Vatican released the text of the message Nov. 7.

The shooting during Sunday services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, left at least 26 people dead and at least 20 others injured.

"Deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs," Cardinal Parolin wrote, "the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the wounded, to the members of the congregation, and to the entire local community."

Pope Francis also prayed that the Lord would "console all who mourn" and "grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."

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'Victims' charter' is next step in fighting trafficking, academy says

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:27am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After 7-year-old Rani Hong was stolen from her mother in a small village in India and sold into slavery, her captors kept her in a cage to teach her to submit completely to her "master."

"This is what the industry of human trafficking does," she said; it is an industry of buying and selling human beings for forced labor, prostitution, exploitation and even harvesting organs. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking grosses $150 billion a year and is rapidly growing, with profits beginning to match those made in the illegal drug and arms trades.

Human beings are highly lucrative, Hong said, because a drug sold on the street can only be used once, while a person can be used and sold over and over again. One human rights group estimates traffickers can make $100,000 a year for each woman working as a sex slave, representing a return on investment of up to 1,000 percent.

Hong and others spoke to reporters at the Vatican Nov. 6 during a conference on ways to better assist victims of trafficking in terms of legal assistance, compensation and resettlement. The Nov. 4-6 gathering was organized by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and Global Alliance for Legal Aid, a U.S.-based association of jurists providing legal aid to the poor in developing countries.

Hong eventually found freedom, she said, but it came only after she became so sick and weak that her owner sold her to an international adoption agency. She ended up with her adoptive mother in Canada and then the United States. While her adoptive mother helped her, the trauma of her past hindered her future -- leading her to not easily trust or communicate with people, she said.

Today, along with her husband, who, as a child ended up shipwrecked on a remote island for two years after escaping forced inscription in Vietnam, she leads the nonprofit Tronie Foundation to serve survivors and help them join the fight against trafficking.

The success stories and tragedies of victims and survivors offer the next clue in an effective fight against traffickers and in helping those who get caught in their snares, said Margaret Archer, president of the pontifical academy.

In the process of criminalizing, tracking down and penalizing traffickers over the years, "victims got almost left out except as numbers" and their true needs overlooked, Archer said.

The three-day meeting at the Vatican, she said, was meant to come up with a "victims' charter," that is, very concrete proposals gleaned from victims and their advocates to act as a sort of framework for prevention, healing and resettlement.

This is why survivors were part of the conference, Archer wrote in the conference booklet, to "pinpoint what we did that deterred their progress toward the life they sought and what we did -- besides providing bed and board -- that was experienced by them as life-enhancing."

When it comes to rescuing and helping resettle victims of trafficking, she said, "there's a lot of rhetoric about empowerment, giving voice ... which don't really get (survivors) very far in paying the rent, buying the food, finding schools for the children." One idea, she said, is mobilize the power of Catholic parishes around the world in helping those who have been trafficked.

Hong said no country is immune to human trafficking and educating the public is critical for bringing awareness and stemming demand for forced labor.

"Slavery was never abolished. It's found new forms in new places" and everyone can play a part in stopping this crime, said John McEldowney, a professor of law at the University of Warwick, England.

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Teach students role of justice in migration, pope says

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 9:08am

IMAGE: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic universities need to study the root causes of forced migration and ways to counter the discrimination and xenophobic reactions it provokes in so many traditionally Christian nations, Pope Francis said.

"I would also like to invite Catholic universities to teach their students, some of whom will become leaders in politics, business and culture, a careful reading of the phenomenon of migration from the point of view of justice, global co-responsibility and communion in cultural diversity," he said.

The pope made his remarks during an audience Nov. 4 with members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, who were attending a world congress in Rome Nov. 1-4 titled, "Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibility and Responses of Universities."

Pope Francis praised the organization's efforts in the fields of research, formation and promoting social justice.

He called for more study "on the remote causes of forced migrations with the aim of finding practical solutions" because people have a right to not be forced to leave their homes.

"It is also important to reflect on the basic negative -- sometimes even discriminatory and xenophobic -- reactions that the welcoming of migrants is provoking in countries with a long-standing Christian tradition" in order to develop programs and ways to better form consciences, he said.

Pope Francis also called on Catholic universities to develop programs that would allow refugees living in camps and holding centers to take distance-learning courses and to grant them scholarships.

Efforts also are needed, he said, to recognize the academic degrees and qualifications migrants and refugees have earned in their homelands so that their new countries may better benefit from their knowledge.

Catholic universities, as leaders in promoting the social good, must do more, he said, for example, by encouraging students to volunteer to assist refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

USCCB president decries massive shooting at Baptist church in Texas town

Sun, 11/05/2017 - 6:07pm

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Catholic Church stands "in unity" with the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the larger community after a shooting during Sunday services took the lives of at least 25 people and injured several more.

A 14-year-old girl, Annabelle Pomeroy, was among the dead. Her father, Frank Pomeroy, is pastor of the church but he was not at the service.

"We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy -- as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

With San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, "I extend my prayers and the prayers of my brother bishops for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs."

Law enforcement officials told CNN that a lone gunman entered the church at about 11:30 a.m. Central time while 50 people were attending Sunday services. Almost everyone in the congregation was shot. Sutherland Springs is 30 to 40 miles southeast of San Antonio.

Police pursued the suspect as he fled the church and he was reported dead, but it was not clear if police killed him or he took his own life. The shooter was described as a white male in his 20s. His motive was not immediately known.

"We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, his loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families," Cardinal DiNardo said. "This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at churches while people were worshipping and at prayer, he continued.

"We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. "A culture of life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who himself is peace, send us his spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture his peace among us all," the cardinal said.

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