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Updated: 25 min 27 sec ago

Quebec bishop gets Vatican OK for nun to officiate at wedding

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:17am

By Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- When no priests were available, the bishop of the Quebec Diocese of Rouyn-Noranda sought and received Vatican permission for a local nun to officiate at a recent wedding.

While the story has been portrayed around the world as a sign that Pope Francis is changing the role of women in the church, Bishop Dorylas Moreau said the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law.

It allows an exception for a layperson to be permitted to officiate at a wedding when a bishop, priest or deacon is unavailable. That layperson can be a man or a woman.

"It is an exceptional situation, not something habitual," Bishop Moreau said in French.

The bishop said he has only 16 priests for 35 parishes in a diocese that covers nearly 9,300 square miles of rugged territory. The diocese has more than 75 nuns, but no deacons, although three are currently in formation.

This priest shortage, especially acute in the summer, led the bishop to make a request through the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for permission to have Sister Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence conduct the wedding. Approval was received in May.

On July 22, Sister Thiffault conducted the wedding of a couple identified only as David and Cindy at a Catholic parish in Lorrainville, Quebec, about 300 miles northwest of Ottawa. The church was not far from the parish in Moffett, where Sister Thiffault is a pastoral worker.

She had known David since he was a high school student through her role as a catechist.

The couple was unavailable for an interview.

"It was a new experience for me," Sister Thiffault said in French. She described the experience as "precious" for her, for the couple and for the people in the parish.

"It was good for the diocese," she said. "It was also an experiment for the Catholic Church."

Sister Thiffault called her involvement a "work of evangelization," because she met with the couple several times to help prepare them for marriage.

If another need arises, she would be happy to officiate again, she said.

"I imagine the authorization will not be given only for one marriage," she said. "If I can help, I will accept."

- - -

Gyapong is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.

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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.

Quebec bishop gets Vatican OK for nun to officiate at wedding

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:17am

By Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- When no priests were available, the bishop of the Quebec Diocese of Rouyn-Noranda sought and received Vatican permission for a local nun to officiate at a recent wedding.

While the story has been portrayed around the world as a sign that Pope Francis is changing the role of women in the church, Bishop Dorylas Moreau said the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law.

It allows an exception for a layperson to be permitted to officiate at a wedding when a bishop, priest or deacon is unavailable. That layperson can be a man or a woman.

"It is an exceptional situation, not something habitual," Bishop Moreau said in French.

The bishop said he has only 16 priests for 35 parishes in a diocese that covers nearly 9,300 square miles of rugged territory. The diocese has more than 75 nuns, but no deacons, although three are currently in formation.

This priest shortage, especially acute in the summer, led the bishop to make a request through the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for permission to have Sister Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence conduct the wedding. Approval was received in May.

On July 22, Sister Thiffault conducted the wedding of a couple identified only as David and Cindy at a Catholic parish in Lorrainville, Quebec, about 300 miles northwest of Ottawa. The church was not far from the parish in Moffett, where Sister Thiffault is a pastoral worker.

She had known David since he was a high school student through her role as a catechist.

The couple was unavailable for an interview.

"It was a new experience for me," Sister Thiffault said in French. She described the experience as "precious" for her, for the couple and for the people in the parish.

"It was good for the diocese," she said. "It was also an experiment for the Catholic Church."

Sister Thiffault called her involvement a "work of evangelization," because she met with the couple several times to help prepare them for marriage.

If another need arises, she would be happy to officiate again, she said.

"I imagine the authorization will not be given only for one marriage," she said. "If I can help, I will accept."

- - -

Gyapong is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.

- - -

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.

Christians are oriented toward light, hope, pope says at audience

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 9:55am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The ancient practice of orienting church buildings East to West -- with the entrance facing West and the altar toward the East -- was symbolic of the connection that exists between light and hope, Pope Francis said.

"What does it mean to be a Christian? It means looking toward the light, continuing to make a profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in the night and darkness," Pope Francis said Aug. 2 at his weekly general audience.

With temperatures moving toward a forecasted 100 degrees, the pope resumed his audiences indoors after a month's hiatus. He also resumed his series of audience talks about Christian hope.

He began by explaining how in ancient times the physical setting of a church building held symbolic importance for believers because the sun sets in the West, "where the light dies," but rises in the East, where "the dawn reminds us of Christ, the sun risen from on high."

In fact, he said, using the "language of the cosmos," it was customary to have those about to be baptized proclaim their renunciation of Satan facing West and their profession of faith in God facing East.

Pope Francis did not touch on the debate about whether priests should celebrate Mass facing East, with their backs to the people, but focused on light as a symbol of Christian hope.

"Christians are not exempt from the darkness, either external or even internal," he said. "They do not live outside the world, but because of the grace of Christ received though baptism, they are men and women who are 'oriented': they do not believe in the darkness, but in the light of day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but long for resurrection; they are not crushed by evil because they always trust in the infinite possibilities of goodness."

Receiving the light of Christ at baptism, he said, Christians are called to be true "Christophers" or Christ-bearers, "especially to those who are going through situations of mourning, desperation, darkness and hatred."

Christians who truly bear the light of Christ's hope, he said, can be identified by the light in their eyes and by their serenity "even on the most complicated days."

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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.

Christians are oriented toward light, hope, pope says at audience

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 9:55am

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The ancient practice of orienting church buildings East to West -- with the entrance facing West and the altar toward the East -- was symbolic of the connection that exists between light and hope, Pope Francis said.

"What does it mean to be a Christian? It means looking toward the light, continuing to make a profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in the night and darkness," Pope Francis said Aug. 2 at his weekly general audience.

With temperatures moving toward a forecasted 100 degrees, the pope resumed his audiences indoors after a month's hiatus. He also resumed his series of audience talks about Christian hope.

He began by explaining how in ancient times the physical setting of a church building held symbolic importance for believers because the sun sets in the West, "where the light dies," but rises in the East, where "the dawn reminds us of Christ, the sun risen from on high."

In fact, he said, using the "language of the cosmos," it was customary to have those about to be baptized proclaim their renunciation of Satan facing West and their profession of faith in God facing East.

Pope Francis did not touch on the debate about whether priests should celebrate Mass facing East, with their backs to the people, but focused on light as a symbol of Christian hope.

"Christians are not exempt from the darkness, either external or even internal," he said. "They do not live outside the world, but because of the grace of Christ received though baptism, they are men and women who are 'oriented': they do not believe in the darkness, but in the light of day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but long for resurrection; they are not crushed by evil because they always trust in the infinite possibilities of goodness."

Receiving the light of Christ at baptism, he said, Christians are called to be true "Christophers" or Christ-bearers, "especially to those who are going through situations of mourning, desperation, darkness and hatred."

Christians who truly bear the light of Christ's hope, he said, can be identified by the light in their eyes and by their serenity "even on the most complicated days."

- - -

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.

Gomez: Our Lady of Guadalupe a key guide, protector for our times

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 4:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Kate Capato, Visual Grace

By Valerie Schmalz

NAPA, Calif. (CNS) -- It is in the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to a poor Indian convert that we can see God's plan and care for America today, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a July 27 address that tackled the "de-Christianization" of U.S. culture.

"At Guadalupe, the mother of God came to be the mother of the Americas," Archbishop Gomez said on the opening day of the Napa Institute Conference.

The way forward in this time of cultural crisis is to turn to Mary, Archbishop Gomez said.

"We need to consecrate our Christian lives and the church's mission to the Virgin," Archbishop Gomez said. "I think this is the answer to the challenges we face right now in our culture. The way forward for our church -- right now, in this moment -- is to 'return' to Guadalupe.

"We need to follow the path that the Virgin sets before us -- the path of building a new civilization of love and truth in the Americas," Archbishop Gomez told the approximately 500 people gathered for the four-day conference in Northern California's wine country.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was given to us by the Lord, and she was given to us in all times, not just the times of St. Juan Diego, the peasant to whom she appeared and on whose "tilma," or cloak, the winter roses she caused to bloom left her image, said Archbishop Gomez.

"What Our Lady said to St. Juan Diego, she now says to us: 'You are my ambassador, most worthy of my trust,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

Archbishop Gomez said American culture has become an alien landscape for Christians. "In the last decade, it is like we all woke up to discover that American society is being progressively 'de-Christianized,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

Founded as a Christian nation, America has in many ways never lived up to those values, with slavery, "the tragic mistreatment of native populations, ongoing injustices like racism and the million or more abortions performed each year," Archbishop Gomez said in his talk titled "The Marian Heart of America: Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our 'Post-Christian' Society."

Still, Archbishop Gomez told those gathered, "the promise of America -- what still distinguishes this country from all the rest -- is our commitment to promoting human dignity and freedom under the Creator. At the heart, this is a Christian commitment."

And that is changing, he said. "We face an aggressive, organized agenda by elite groups who want to eliminate the influence of Christianity from our society," Archbishop Gomez said.

"My friends, we do not have the luxury to choose the times we live in. These are hard times. There is no denying it. But the saints remind us that all times in the church are dangerous times," the Los Angeles archbishop said.

"For me, the question is not really -- how are we going to shape our times?" the archbishop of the nation's largest archdiocese said. "The better question is: How does God want us to shape our times? What is the path that Jesus Christ would have us follow in this moment in our nation's history?"

Archbishop Gomez said that path began in Guadalupe in 1531.

"The apparition at Guadalupe was not a random occurrence. There are no coincidences in the providence of God. Our Lady did not appear only for the Mexican people," said Archbishop Gomez. Mary told St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, "I am truly your compassionate mother; your mother and the mother to all who dwell in this land and to all other nations and peoples."

Within a few years after Mary's appearance, millions were baptized in Mexico and throughout the Americas.

"A great wave of holiness swept through the continents -- raising up saints and heroes of the faith in every country," Archbishop Gomez said, noting St. Junipero Serra set sail for the New World aboard a ship called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. He arrived at Veracruz and he immediately started walking -- 300 miles to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where he spent the night in prayer and consecrated his American mission to Mary.

"Guadalupe is the true 'founding event' in American history. And that means it is the true founding event in the history of our country -- and in the history of all the other countries in North and South America. We are all children of Guadalupe," Archbishop Gomez said.

The Guadalupe story is "the 'spiritual dawn' of the church's mission in the Americas," Archbishop Gomez said. "In God's plan, this is one continent. It is meant to begin a new civilization, a new world of faith. This is what Guadalupe is all about."

"The great St. Pope John Paul II called the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- 'the Marian heart of America,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

"The nations of the Americas all trace their faith to the coming of the Virgin at Guadalupe. We share a common story of origins. And we are joined in a common destiny," Archbishop Gomez said. "Guadalupe is a vision of the world as God wants it to be. The 'shrine' that Our Lady wants us to build in the Americas is a new civilization -- a culture that celebrates life and welcomes life."

- - -

Schmalz is assistant editor of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

- - -

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.

Gomez: Our Lady of Guadalupe a key guide, protector for our times

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 4:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Kate Capato, Visual Grace

By Valerie Schmalz

NAPA, Calif. (CNS) -- It is in the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to a poor Indian convert that we can see God's plan and care for America today, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a July 27 address that tackled the "de-Christianization" of U.S. culture.

"At Guadalupe, the mother of God came to be the mother of the Americas," Archbishop Gomez said on the opening day of the Napa Institute Conference.

The way forward in this time of cultural crisis is to turn to Mary, Archbishop Gomez said.

"We need to consecrate our Christian lives and the church's mission to the Virgin," Archbishop Gomez said. "I think this is the answer to the challenges we face right now in our culture. The way forward for our church -- right now, in this moment -- is to 'return' to Guadalupe.

"We need to follow the path that the Virgin sets before us -- the path of building a new civilization of love and truth in the Americas," Archbishop Gomez told the approximately 500 people gathered for the four-day conference in Northern California's wine country.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was given to us by the Lord, and she was given to us in all times, not just the times of St. Juan Diego, the peasant to whom she appeared and on whose "tilma," or cloak, the winter roses she caused to bloom left her image, said Archbishop Gomez.

"What Our Lady said to St. Juan Diego, she now says to us: 'You are my ambassador, most worthy of my trust,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

Archbishop Gomez said American culture has become an alien landscape for Christians. "In the last decade, it is like we all woke up to discover that American society is being progressively 'de-Christianized,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

Founded as a Christian nation, America has in many ways never lived up to those values, with slavery, "the tragic mistreatment of native populations, ongoing injustices like racism and the million or more abortions performed each year," Archbishop Gomez said in his talk titled "The Marian Heart of America: Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our 'Post-Christian' Society."

Still, Archbishop Gomez told those gathered, "the promise of America -- what still distinguishes this country from all the rest -- is our commitment to promoting human dignity and freedom under the Creator. At the heart, this is a Christian commitment."

And that is changing, he said. "We face an aggressive, organized agenda by elite groups who want to eliminate the influence of Christianity from our society," Archbishop Gomez said.

"My friends, we do not have the luxury to choose the times we live in. These are hard times. There is no denying it. But the saints remind us that all times in the church are dangerous times," the Los Angeles archbishop said.

"For me, the question is not really -- how are we going to shape our times?" the archbishop of the nation's largest archdiocese said. "The better question is: How does God want us to shape our times? What is the path that Jesus Christ would have us follow in this moment in our nation's history?"

Archbishop Gomez said that path began in Guadalupe in 1531.

"The apparition at Guadalupe was not a random occurrence. There are no coincidences in the providence of God. Our Lady did not appear only for the Mexican people," said Archbishop Gomez. Mary told St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, "I am truly your compassionate mother; your mother and the mother to all who dwell in this land and to all other nations and peoples."

Within a few years after Mary's appearance, millions were baptized in Mexico and throughout the Americas.

"A great wave of holiness swept through the continents -- raising up saints and heroes of the faith in every country," Archbishop Gomez said, noting St. Junipero Serra set sail for the New World aboard a ship called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. He arrived at Veracruz and he immediately started walking -- 300 miles to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where he spent the night in prayer and consecrated his American mission to Mary.

"Guadalupe is the true 'founding event' in American history. And that means it is the true founding event in the history of our country -- and in the history of all the other countries in North and South America. We are all children of Guadalupe," Archbishop Gomez said.

The Guadalupe story is "the 'spiritual dawn' of the church's mission in the Americas," Archbishop Gomez said. "In God's plan, this is one continent. It is meant to begin a new civilization, a new world of faith. This is what Guadalupe is all about."

"The great St. Pope John Paul II called the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- 'the Marian heart of America,'" Archbishop Gomez said.

"The nations of the Americas all trace their faith to the coming of the Virgin at Guadalupe. We share a common story of origins. And we are joined in a common destiny," Archbishop Gomez said. "Guadalupe is a vision of the world as God wants it to be. The 'shrine' that Our Lady wants us to build in the Americas is a new civilization -- a culture that celebrates life and welcomes life."

- - -

Schmalz is assistant editor of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

- - -

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.

Pope taps Little Brother of Jesus as rector of Rome's seminary

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 12:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the Little Brothers of Jesus

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis chose one of the Little Brothers of Jesus to be rector of the Diocese of Rome's main seminary, members of the order founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld were stunned.

"The explicit request of Pope Francis" that Father Gabriele Faraghini, 51, be released for service as the seminary rector "was, for our little fraternity, a bolt out of the blue, a novelty that literally floored everyone," said a note posted on the brothers' website. But the order's general chapter confirmed the nomination, which was announced July 31.

Most of the brothers live in small communities with a home life revolving around eucharistic adoration and prayer. Many of them, the priests included, are manual laborers, who strive simply to be a presence of friendship and solidarity with their co-workers and neighbors. Service in diocesan institutions and offices is not a normal part of their ministry, although it is not explicitly excluded.

Father Faraghini studied at the Rome diocesan seminary and was ordained for the Diocese of Rome in 1992, although he already had begun exploring the teachings of Blessed Charles and life with the Little Brothers of Jesus, according to the order's announcement of his appointment. Superiors at the seminary had encouraged him to continue toward ordination while discerning his "call within the call" to priesthood and religious life.

He spent five years in parish ministry in Rome before beginning his formal formation with the Little Brothers in Foligno, Italy. He did his novitiate in Nazareth before returning to Italy and making his profession as a member of the order.

As a Little Brother, he served at Italian parishes in Limiti and in Foligno and, at the recent general chapter of the order, presented a report on what it means to be a Little Brother of Jesus in a parish.

Quoting part of the report, the order's website focused on Father Faraghini's reflection on "presence," on "just being there."

"To imitate Jesus in his daily life in Nazareth is to be in a place and share the life of those who are there," he wrote.

The ministry of Blessed Charles, who lived among the Tuareg in the Sahara desert of Algeria, was simply to make friends with the local people, he continued. "Humanly speaking, it was a waste of time and pastorally, according to our criteria of evaluation, a failure. After all, even Jesus was not a great pastor, if we consider the results: his 12 pupils betrayed him before the cross, the crowd that sang 'Hosanna' wanted him condemned to death. But if we look on the side of love, Jesus was the shepherd who gave his life for the sheep."

The Little Brothers' website announcement said Father Faraghini "is not an extraordinary priest, but is one who always tries to do his best. He doesn't love social networks because he prefers one-on-one encounters with people, whether great or small, close to or far from the church."

"He is a not a big fan of 'pastoral plans' because Charles de Foucauld held that 'you must let yourself be guided by the circumstances and the help of God.' Pope Francis knows all of this," the order said, "but he didn't bat an eye, saying that a priest must know how to live in brotherhood, pray and love people. The rest will follow."

- - -

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.

Pope taps Little Brother of Jesus as rector of Rome's seminary

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 12:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of the Little Brothers of Jesus

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis chose one of the Little Brothers of Jesus to be rector of the Diocese of Rome's main seminary, members of the order founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld were stunned.

"The explicit request of Pope Francis" that Father Gabriele Faraghini, 51, be released for service as the seminary rector "was, for our little fraternity, a bolt out of the blue, a novelty that literally floored everyone," said a note posted on the brothers' website. But the order's general chapter confirmed the nomination, which was announced July 31.

Most of the brothers live in small communities with a home life revolving around eucharistic adoration and prayer. Many of them, the priests included, are manual laborers, who strive simply to be a presence of friendship and solidarity with their co-workers and neighbors. Service in diocesan institutions and offices is not a normal part of their ministry, although it is not explicitly excluded.

Father Faraghini studied at the Rome diocesan seminary and was ordained for the Diocese of Rome in 1992, although he already had begun exploring the teachings of Blessed Charles and life with the Little Brothers of Jesus, according to the order's announcement of his appointment. Superiors at the seminary had encouraged him to continue toward ordination while discerning his "call within the call" to priesthood and religious life.

He spent five years in parish ministry in Rome before beginning his formal formation with the Little Brothers in Foligno, Italy. He did his novitiate in Nazareth before returning to Italy and making his profession as a member of the order.

As a Little Brother, he served at Italian parishes in Limiti and in Foligno and, at the recent general chapter of the order, presented a report on what it means to be a Little Brother of Jesus in a parish.

Quoting part of the report, the order's website focused on Father Faraghini's reflection on "presence," on "just being there."

"To imitate Jesus in his daily life in Nazareth is to be in a place and share the life of those who are there," he wrote.

The ministry of Blessed Charles, who lived among the Tuareg in the Sahara desert of Algeria, was simply to make friends with the local people, he continued. "Humanly speaking, it was a waste of time and pastorally, according to our criteria of evaluation, a failure. After all, even Jesus was not a great pastor, if we consider the results: his 12 pupils betrayed him before the cross, the crowd that sang 'Hosanna' wanted him condemned to death. But if we look on the side of love, Jesus was the shepherd who gave his life for the sheep."

The Little Brothers' website announcement said Father Faraghini "is not an extraordinary priest, but is one who always tries to do his best. He doesn't love social networks because he prefers one-on-one encounters with people, whether great or small, close to or far from the church."

"He is a not a big fan of 'pastoral plans' because Charles de Foucauld held that 'you must let yourself be guided by the circumstances and the help of God.' Pope Francis knows all of this," the order said, "but he didn't bat an eye, saying that a priest must know how to live in brotherhood, pray and love people. The rest will follow."

- - -

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.

Ottawa archbishop surprised by negative reaction to robotic spider on cathedral

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 11:28am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters

By Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The archbishop of Ottawa expressed regret that several Catholics were shocked at the sight of a giant robotic spider perched on Notre Dame Cathedral.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was surprised by the negative reaction to an artistic initiative after critics called the spider's placement "sacrilegious," "demonic," and "disrespectful" of a sacred space.

"My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some ... might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church," said the archbishop in an email interview with Canadian Catholic News.

"I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them."

The spider, named Kumo, is one of two giant robots created by a street theater company of artists, technicians and performers based in Nantes, France. The company, La Machine, was in Ottawa July 27-30 as part of celebrations marking Canada's 150th birthday.

The spectacle of robots, music and other special effects drew tens of thousands to Ottawa's downtown.

The show opened July 27 in the evening, with Kumo "waking up" to organ music from inside the cathedral. As the spider, suspended from cranes, climbed off its perch between the towers, "snow" fell from above as part of the event's special effects.

"I don't understand how allowing a mechanical spider to stand on the cathedral is anything but disturbing, disappointing and even shameful," wrote Diane Bartlett on the archbishop's Facebook wall.

Others defended the archbishop's decision.

"While the viewer may find the juxtaposition jarring, I gather it's supposed to be," wrote Kris Dmytrenko. "But sacrilegious? C'mon, give your archbishop a break. This civic engagement with art recalls the Vatican's Courtyard of the Gentiles project. Culture is a bridge."

The decision to participate in the show was motivated by a desire to engage with the wider Ottawa community, said Archbishop Prendergast.

"We make use of the city to obtain permits for our events, and they are most cooperative," he said. "The Good Friday Way of the Cross lets us have access to public venues (Supreme Court, Parliament Hill, the plaza in front of the National Gallery), and the police offer a security escort.

"We try to be good citizens, good neighbors and cooperative," he said.

"To the extent that we did see symbolism, it was that, afterward, Our Lady would continue to reign, something I mentioned in a tweet right after the Thursday performance, as people I respect began to make their objections known."

Organizers approached the cathedral staff last year. They wanted to position Kumo on the cathedral because it is across the street from the National Art Gallery, which features a large spider sculpture called Maman in its entrance courtyard, Archbishop Prendergast said. The idea was to make it seem as if Kumo was approaching Maman.

"Cathedral staff were shown other cathedrals and public buildings in Europe that had been involved," the archbishop said. "It seemed innocent enough.

"I guess we thought people would see this as a sign the church is involved in Ottawa's celebrations," he said. "Many people, both Catholic and others, English and Francophone, remarked how pleased they were that Notre Dame was involved in our celebration of Canada 150."

- - -

Gyapong is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.

- - -

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.

Ottawa archbishop surprised by negative reaction to robotic spider on cathedral

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 11:28am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chris Wattie, Reuters

By Deborah Gyapong

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The archbishop of Ottawa expressed regret that several Catholics were shocked at the sight of a giant robotic spider perched on Notre Dame Cathedral.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was surprised by the negative reaction to an artistic initiative after critics called the spider's placement "sacrilegious," "demonic," and "disrespectful" of a sacred space.

"My cathedral staff and I anticipated that some ... might object, but thought it would be minimal, as nothing demeaning was intended in the spider being near the church," said the archbishop in an email interview with Canadian Catholic News.

"I regret that we had not sufficiently understood that others would see this event so differently. I say to those who were shocked that I understand that this would have been upsetting for them and that I regret that a well-intentioned effort to cooperate in a celebration was anything but that for them."

The spider, named Kumo, is one of two giant robots created by a street theater company of artists, technicians and performers based in Nantes, France. The company, La Machine, was in Ottawa July 27-30 as part of celebrations marking Canada's 150th birthday.

The spectacle of robots, music and other special effects drew tens of thousands to Ottawa's downtown.

The show opened July 27 in the evening, with Kumo "waking up" to organ music from inside the cathedral. As the spider, suspended from cranes, climbed off its perch between the towers, "snow" fell from above as part of the event's special effects.

"I don't understand how allowing a mechanical spider to stand on the cathedral is anything but disturbing, disappointing and even shameful," wrote Diane Bartlett on the archbishop's Facebook wall.

Others defended the archbishop's decision.

"While the viewer may find the juxtaposition jarring, I gather it's supposed to be," wrote Kris Dmytrenko. "But sacrilegious? C'mon, give your archbishop a break. This civic engagement with art recalls the Vatican's Courtyard of the Gentiles project. Culture is a bridge."

The decision to participate in the show was motivated by a desire to engage with the wider Ottawa community, said Archbishop Prendergast.

"We make use of the city to obtain permits for our events, and they are most cooperative," he said. "The Good Friday Way of the Cross lets us have access to public venues (Supreme Court, Parliament Hill, the plaza in front of the National Gallery), and the police offer a security escort.

"We try to be good citizens, good neighbors and cooperative," he said.

"To the extent that we did see symbolism, it was that, afterward, Our Lady would continue to reign, something I mentioned in a tweet right after the Thursday performance, as people I respect began to make their objections known."

Organizers approached the cathedral staff last year. They wanted to position Kumo on the cathedral because it is across the street from the National Art Gallery, which features a large spider sculpture called Mama in its entrance courtyard, Archbishop Prendergast said. The idea was to make it seem as if Kumo was approaching Mama.

"Cathedral staff were shown other cathedrals and public buildings in Europe that had been involved," the archbishop said. "It seemed innocent enough.

"I guess we thought people would see this as a sign the church is involved in Ottawa's celebrations," he said. "Many people, both Catholic and others, English and Francophone, remarked how pleased they were that Notre Dame was involved in our celebration of Canada 150."

- - -

Gyapong is Ottawa correspondent for Canadian Catholic News.

- - -

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.

Sandwiches for homeless changing lives of recipients, parishioners alike

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 5:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Montoya

By Jose Montoya

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While driving to work with his son, Eric Von Gay Sr. noticed a homeless man walk out of his tent to look for food in the grass. That's when Eric Gay Jr. got the idea to "keep what Father Bill started."

His thought about helping the less fortunate was in response to a luncheon Father Bill Carloni hosted for underserved people a couple weeks earlier at Holy Name Catholic Church in Washington, where the priest is administrator.

Eric Jr. believed his idea would be a perfect way to get the community at Holy Name involved with doing something bigger than themselves.

Since then, Eric Sr. and his wife, Gale Gay, committed themselves to giving food to the homeless after church.

"In this day and age with all that's going on, I think people need to see that there are people out there that are trying to help them," said Gale, who spoke to Catholic News Service while giving out lunches. "A positive image that we give to them might give them a vision to what they could do for somebody else."

Before the school year ended in June, Father Carloni got some of the kids involved with the bagged lunch program.

"When school was in, we would give them (sandwiches) to Father Bill and he would have the kids ' walk out with them and give them to the homeless," Eric Sr. said.

Overall it is a group effort to help those in need, he added.

Holy Name is not only changing the lives of those in need, but its parishioners as well.

"It's like a fellowship," Eric Sr. said. "There would be like 20 people down here putting together 50, 60, 70 lunches together."

Every other Sunday, parishioners gather after the 11 a.m. Mass and fill bags with a sandwich, chips and water. After the bags are prepared, the group walks around the Atlas neighborhood near the church and gives the food to homeless people.

For Eric Sr., "it's a great feeling." From the smiling faces to the conversations, he loves interacting with and giving to those in need.

He has served as the parish council president for 10 years and is a member of the 11 a.m. choir. In addition to giving meals to the homeless on the streets, he volunteers his time at the church's food pantry.

The pantry at Holy Name started as a couple cabinets of food in 2014. The pantry gave out around 10 to 15 bags of groceries per week when they first started. Since then, it has transitioned to a room filled with food in addition to two refrigerators and freezers.

"Now we serve people twice a week," said pantry volunteer Teresa King-Smith.

The pantry is open on the second and fourth Tuesdays and Thursdays of each month. People can come to the pantry on Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

King began volunteering at Assumption Catholic Church in 2008. In fall 2014, she left Assumption and came to Holy Name.

The food pantry consistently gives out 75 to 100 bags per week.

"Our group is steady because most of them are low-income to under low-income," King told CNS. "We have people come all year long."

It's not just the food people come for. Many of them come for prayers from Father Carloni or one of the volunteers. King said she enjoys when people ask for a hug and prayer.

The priest's church is lively and full of music that has the congregation clapping to the beat. During the rite of Peace, Father Carloni walks around the entire church and shakes each person's hand.

Holy Name's churchgoers are diverse in age and race, and Father Carloni said he enjoys seeing the change in the parish community -- which reflects the changes in the neighborhood around Holy Name.

"This is a neighborhood that is transforming very quickly," Father Carloni said.

To learn more about the community near Holy Name, Father Carloni asked the District of Columbia government to conduct a study on the area's demographics.

It showed the neighborhood has a high percentage of young adults, that the cost of housing has risen and the amount of people living in poverty has remained similar to what it has been.

"Of all the changes that have happened, the amount of people that are under the poverty line has only gone down 1 percent," Father Carloni said.

This means that those who cannot afford to move out of the neighborhood to find a lower cost of living became more prone to being at the poverty level.

Because of the large number of those in poverty near the church, Holy Name has continued to find ways to help those in its community.

Between the bagged lunch and the food pantry, Holy Name puts a big effort into helping out those in need. The church doesn't just help those without homes.

"Some of these people have homes, it's just that they don't have enough as far as financial stability," Gale Gay said.

Cheryl McLaughlin, director of religious education and parish secretary at Holy Name, has seen the effects of homelessness in the Trinidad neighborhood, which sits just north of the church and is where many of the church members live.

"I have the privilege of living in the Trinidad neighborhood so I get to see a lot of what goes on in the neighborhood," McLaughlin said. "We have a lot of homeless people."

To help those in need, Holy Name provides much more than food, she said.

"We also have shampoos and soaps and toothbrushes and toothpastes and razors and combs," McLaughlin said. "Simple things that the average person takes for granted, we provide those for anybody that comes to the door and have a need."

Throughout the year, Gale and her husband offer advice to those they reach out to who need to get on a better financial footing.

"It's not only about being homeless, but about people that just feel like they don't have a way out, don't have a way to succeed," Gale said. "(We're) trying to give them that vision that they do."

In the end, it's about being there for others.

"You don't have to be a rich person or a poor person to give back to your community," Eric Sr. said. "You just have to have commitment to your community and a commitment to the Lord."

- - -

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.

Sandwiches for homeless changing lives of recipients, parishioners alike

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 5:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Montoya

By Jose Montoya

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While driving to work with his son, Eric Von Gay Sr. noticed a homeless man walk out of his tent to look for food in the grass. That's when Eric Gay Jr. got the idea to "keep what Father Bill started."

His thought about helping the less fortunate was in response to a luncheon Father Bill Carloni hosted for underserved people a couple weeks earlier at Holy Name Catholic Church in Washington, where the priest is administrator.

Eric Jr. believed his idea would be a perfect way to get the community at Holy Name involved with doing something bigger than themselves.

Since then, Eric Sr. and his wife, Gale Gay, committed themselves to giving food to the homeless after church.

"In this day and age with all that's going on, I think people need to see that there are people out there that are trying to help them," said Gale, who spoke to Catholic News Service while giving out lunches. "A positive image that we give to them might give them a vision to what they could do for somebody else."

Before the school year ended in June, Father Carloni got some of the kids involved with the bagged lunch program.

"When school was in, we would give them (sandwiches) to Father Bill and he would have the kids ' walk out with them and give them to the homeless," Eric Sr. said.

Overall it is a group effort to help those in need, he added.

Holy Name is not only changing the lives of those in need, but its parishioners as well.

"It's like a fellowship," Eric Sr. said. "There would be like 20 people down here putting together 50, 60, 70 lunches together."

Every other Sunday, parishioners gather after the 11 a.m. Mass and fill bags with a sandwich, chips and water. After the bags are prepared, the group walks around the Atlas neighborhood near the church and gives the food to homeless people.

For Eric Sr., "it's a great feeling." From the smiling faces to the conversations, he loves interacting with and giving to those in need.

He has served as the parish council president for 10 years and is a member of the 11 a.m. choir. In addition to giving meals to the homeless on the streets, he volunteers his time at the church's food pantry.

The pantry at Holy Name started as a couple cabinets of food in 2014. The pantry gave out around 10 to 15 bags of groceries per week when they first started. Since then, it has transitioned to a room filled with food in addition to two refrigerators and freezers.

"Now we serve people twice a week," said pantry volunteer Teresa King-Smith.

The pantry is open on the second and fourth Tuesdays and Thursdays of each month. People can come to the pantry on Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

King began volunteering at Assumption Catholic Church in 2008. In fall 2014, she left Assumption and came to Holy Name.

The food pantry consistently gives out 75 to 100 bags per week.

"Our group is steady because most of them are low-income to under low-income," King told CNS. "We have people come all year long."

It's not just the food people come for. Many of them come for prayers from Father Carloni or one of the volunteers. King said she enjoys when people ask for a hug and prayer.

The priest's church is lively and full of music that has the congregation clapping to the beat. During the rite of Peace, Father Carloni walks around the entire church and shakes each person's hand.

Holy Name's churchgoers are diverse in age and race, and Father Carloni said he enjoys seeing the change in the parish community -- which reflects the changes in the neighborhood around Holy Name.

"This is a neighborhood that is transforming very quickly," Father Carloni said.

To learn more about the community near Holy Name, Father Carloni asked the District of Columbia government to conduct a study on the area's demographics.

It showed the neighborhood has a high percentage of young adults, that the cost of housing has risen and the amount of people living in poverty has remained similar to what it has been.

"Of all the changes that have happened, the amount of people that are under the poverty line has only gone down 1 percent," Father Carloni said.

This means that those who cannot afford to move out of the neighborhood to find a lower cost of living became more prone to being at the poverty level.

Because of the large number of those in poverty near the church, Holy Name has continued to find ways to help those in its community.

Between the bagged lunch and the food pantry, Holy Name puts a big effort into helping out those in need. The church doesn't just help those without homes.

"Some of these people have homes, it's just that they don't have enough as far as financial stability," Gale Gay said.

Cheryl McLaughlin, director of religious education and parish secretary at Holy Name, has seen the effects of homelessness in the Trinidad neighborhood, which sits just north of the church and is where many of the church members live.

"I have the privilege of living in the Trinidad neighborhood so I get to see a lot of what goes on in the neighborhood," McLaughlin said. "We have a lot of homeless people."

To help those in need, Holy Name provides much more than food, she said.

"We also have shampoos and soaps and toothbrushes and toothpastes and razors and combs," McLaughlin said. "Simple things that the average person takes for granted, we provide those for anybody that comes to the door and have a need."

Throughout the year, Gale and her husband offer advice to those they reach out to who need to get on a better financial footing.

"It's not only about being homeless, but about people that just feel like they don't have a way out, don't have a way to succeed," Gale said. "(We're) trying to give them that vision that they do."

In the end, it's about being there for others.

"You don't have to be a rich person or a poor person to give back to your community," Eric Sr. said. "You just have to have commitment to your community and a commitment to the Lord."

- - -

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.

Catholic says 'exuberant' charismatic movement brought her back to church

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 4:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register

By Andy Telli

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Chris Shafer grew up as a "nominal Catholic," and she wasn't even sure she still believed in God in the mid-1970s when she moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where her husband, Doug, was stationed in the U.S. Air Force.

"I found that fascinating that anybody believed in God. He was like Santa Claus you believed in childhood," said Shafer, a parishioner at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Nashville. "This was no longer relevant."

But that began to change after talking with friends from her husband's unit who had become involved in the charismatic movement through their Episcopal church. She decided, "For this God story to survive all these thousands of years, there had to be something more than I knew about God."

Shafer found a Catholic Charismatic Renewal prayer group and decided to attend one of their prayer meetings. "I went home thinking, 'I walked in not even believing in God, but now I'm on fire,'" she said. "I sang all the way home."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal marks the 50th anniversary of its founding this year.

In 1967, a group of students and professors at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh were on a retreat when they felt engulfed by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Their experience ignited the renewal, which has touched the lives of Catholics around the world.

Shafer's been going to prayer meetings for 40 years, including the Glory of Zion prayer group at St. Ignatius, since it was formed in 1980. "Everything I learned about God I learned at charismatic prayer meetings," Shafer told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

The movement calls people to experience the same excitement and deep relationship with God that the first Christians experienced at Pentecost.

A charismatic gathering in some ways can resemble a Pentecostal service, with an exuberant style of worship including dancing and waving of arms, people praying over others for healing, people speaking in tongues, and others prophesying about God's love for his people and inviting people to be open to that love.

"It is definitely exuberant," Shafer said. "You do what the Lord's calling you to."

"We try to present to people first and foremost the idea of God's love and forgiveness," said Teresa Seibert, another charter member of the Glory of Zion prayer group. 

Although she is a cradle Catholic who grew up with the more traditional style of Catholic worship, Seibert wasn't fazed by the charismatic style.

"It didn't scare me," Seibert said. "The first experience of it was a real calming affect for me. I more or less saw this is what I've been looking for."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is really more about listening to the Holy Spirit, said Father Michael Baltrus, who first got involved in the movement in the 1970s and was a member of the Glory of Zion prayer group before he left for the seminary.

"It helped me listen to God," he said, which is "one of the best aspects" of the charismatic movement.

"You become more sensitive to what God is saying, what the Spirit is doing," said Father Baltrus, the new pastor at St Catherine Church in McMinnville and St. Gregory Church in Smithville. Listening to the Spirit "actually sets me free in my worship. That applies to the traditional form of worship and to people that are used to expressing themselves very much."

When people let down their defenses and open themselves to the will of the Spirit, Shafer said, they can let the Lord "break into our lives. That's what he wants."

That surrender to God's will helps people develop a personal relationship with God, Shafer said, "which we don't talk about much in the Catholic Church," Shafer said. "It was in the renewal I learned there was a God interested in my life ... who held my hand when I was in trouble."

Doug Shafer saw his wife changing after she started going to charismatic prayer group meetings. "After a while, I could see a difference with Chris, in her attitude and how she acted. She was happier and more focused on things," he said. "I decided I'd start going with her."

For him, the experience was an awakening about God. "After I found God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit ... I changed."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is about "surrendering to the Spirit and what God wants for you," he said. "Everyone can see themselves in Peter. ... When he surrendered and repented the Holy Spirit came upon him and he could do all these things."

Through the Charismatic Renewal, Doug Shafer entered the Catholic Church in 1982. And years later, it led him into another role as a deacon. He was ordained in 1999.

"The charismatic renewal opened me up to the church first ... and it opened me up to service for the church and everybody in it," he said.

- - -

Telli is managing editor of the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

- - -

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.

Catholic says 'exuberant' charismatic movement brought her back to church

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 4:42pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register

By Andy Telli

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Chris Shafer grew up as a "nominal Catholic," and she wasn't even sure she still believed in God in the mid-1970s when she moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where her husband, Doug, was stationed in the U.S. Air Force.

"I found that fascinating that anybody believed in God. He was like Santa Claus you believed in childhood," said Shafer, a parishioner at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Nashville. "This was no longer relevant."

But that began to change after talking with friends from her husband's unit who had become involved in the charismatic movement through their Episcopal church. She decided, "For this God story to survive all these thousands of years, there had to be something more than I knew about God."

Shafer found a Catholic Charismatic Renewal prayer group and decided to attend one of their prayer meetings. "I went home thinking, 'I walked in not even believing in God, but now I'm on fire,'" she said. "I sang all the way home."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal marks the 50th anniversary of its founding this year.

In 1967, a group of students and professors at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh were on a retreat when they felt engulfed by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Their experience ignited the renewal, which has touched the lives of Catholics around the world.

Shafer's been going to prayer meetings for 40 years, including the Glory of Zion prayer group at St. Ignatius, since it was formed in 1980. "Everything I learned about God I learned at charismatic prayer meetings," Shafer told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

The movement calls people to experience the same excitement and deep relationship with God that the first Christians experienced at Pentecost.

A charismatic gathering in some ways can resemble a Pentecostal service, with an exuberant style of worship including dancing and waving of arms, people praying over others for healing, people speaking in tongues, and others prophesying about God's love for his people and inviting people to be open to that love.

"It is definitely exuberant," Shafer said. "You do what the Lord's calling you to."

"We try to present to people first and foremost the idea of God's love and forgiveness," said Teresa Seibert, another charter member of the Glory of Zion prayer group. 

Although she is a cradle Catholic who grew up with the more traditional style of Catholic worship, Seibert wasn't fazed by the charismatic style.

"It didn't scare me," Seibert said. "The first experience of it was a real calming affect for me. I more or less saw this is what I've been looking for."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is really more about listening to the Holy Spirit, said Father Michael Baltrus, who first got involved in the movement in the 1970s and was a member of the Glory of Zion prayer group before he left for the seminary.

"It helped me listen to God," he said, which is "one of the best aspects" of the charismatic movement.

"You become more sensitive to what God is saying, what the Spirit is doing," said Father Baltrus, the new pastor at St Catherine Church in McMinnville and St. Gregory Church in Smithville. Listening to the Spirit "actually sets me free in my worship. That applies to the traditional form of worship and to people that are used to expressing themselves very much."

When people let down their defenses and open themselves to the will of the Spirit, Shafer said, they can let the Lord "break into our lives. That's what he wants."

That surrender to God's will helps people develop a personal relationship with God, Shafer said, "which we don't talk about much in the Catholic Church," Shafer said. "It was in the renewal I learned there was a God interested in my life ... who held my hand when I was in trouble."

Doug Shafer saw his wife changing after she started going to charismatic prayer group meetings. "After a while, I could see a difference with Chris, in her attitude and how she acted. She was happier and more focused on things," he said. "I decided I'd start going with her."

For him, the experience was an awakening about God. "After I found God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit ... I changed."

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is about "surrendering to the Spirit and what God wants for you," he said. "Everyone can see themselves in Peter. ... When he surrendered and repented the Holy Spirit came upon him and he could do all these things."

Through the Charismatic Renewal, Doug Shafer entered the Catholic Church in 1982. And years later, it led him into another role as a deacon. He was ordained in 1999.

"The charismatic renewal opened me up to the church first ... and it opened me up to service for the church and everybody in it," he said.

- - -

Telli is managing editor of the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.

- - -

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.

Cardinal says Venezuela must take blame for 10 election-related deaths

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 1:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Garcia Rawlins, Reuters

By Cody Weddle

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) -- Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino said the nation's government must take the blame for at least 10 deaths related to a controversial election.

"This is the responsibility of the president of the republic, the high command, and the ministers," Cardinal Urosa told the Caracas newspaper El Nacional July 31. "They will have to explain this to God" and the courts.

Some Venezuelans went to the polls July 30 to elect members of a Constituent Assembly, a 545-member body charged with drafting a new constitution for the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered on the vote May 1, but political opposition and church leaders have questioned the process, which they say overrepresented pro-government sectors, ensuring a government victory. They have warned that the new constitution could establish a one-party state. The opposition boycotted the vote and instead called on its supporters to take to the streets in protest.

"The bishops are unanimous in their rejection of this new assembly, and we are asking the government to reconsider," Cardinal Urosa told Venezuela news station Globovision the day before the vote.

On July 27, the bishops reiterated their rejection of the constituent assembly election in a seven-point communique and urged the country's armed forces to avoid more deaths in the streets.

"The primary role of the armed forces is to maintain peace and order so that all parties can act rationally and each side can build bridges to overcome the chaos we are living," the statement said.

For four months, Venezuelans have endured continuous anti-government protests that often ended in clashes with authorities. The conflicts have resulted in at least 125 dead and wounded nearly 2,000 since protests began in April.

Maduro has said the new constitution will bring peace while offering few details on how the document may be structured. Of the more than 500 delegates selected, only a handful are top government leaders, believed to be those who will lead and make decisions in the new body. Of the others elected, most are widely unknown rank-and-file Socialist Party members.

The bishops have warned that the initiative will only deepen a political and economic crisis in the country.

A three-year economic recession has resulted in shortages of basic foods and medicines.

"Let us not increase the suffering and anguish of so many people who want to live in peace," said the July 27 statement.

The newly elected constituent assembly was to be sworn in in early August.

- - -

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.

Cardinal says Venezuela must take blame for 10 election-related deaths

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 1:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Garcia Rawlins, Reuters

By Cody Weddle

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) -- Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino said the nation's government must take the blame for at least 10 deaths related to a controversial election.

"This is the responsibility of the president of the republic, the high command, and the ministers," Cardinal Urosa told the Caracas newspaper El Nacional July 31. "They will have to explain this to God" and the courts.

Some Venezuelans went to the polls July 30 to elect members of a Constituent Assembly, a 545-member body charged with drafting a new constitution for the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered on the vote May 1, but political opposition and church leaders have questioned the process, which they say overrepresented pro-government sectors, ensuring a government victory. They have warned that the new constitution could establish a one-party state. The opposition boycotted the vote and instead called on its supporters to take to the streets in protest.

"The bishops are unanimous in their rejection of this new assembly, and we are asking the government to reconsider," Cardinal Urosa told Venezuela news station Globovision the day before the vote.

On July 27, the bishops reiterated their rejection of the constituent assembly election in a seven-point communique and urged the country's armed forces to avoid more deaths in the streets.

"The primary role of the armed forces is to maintain peace and order so that all parties can act rationally and each side can build bridges to overcome the chaos we are living," the statement said.

For four months, Venezuelans have endured continuous anti-government protests that often ended in clashes with authorities. The conflicts have resulted in at least 125 dead and wounded nearly 2,000 since protests began in April.

Maduro has said the new constitution will bring peace while offering few details on how the document may be structured. Of the more than 500 delegates selected, only a handful are top government leaders, believed to be those who will lead and make decisions in the new body. Of the others elected, most are widely unknown rank-and-file Socialist Party members.

The bishops have warned that the initiative will only deepen a political and economic crisis in the country.

A three-year economic recession has resulted in shortages of basic foods and medicines.

"Let us not increase the suffering and anguish of so many people who want to live in peace," said the July 27 statement.

The newly elected constituent assembly was to be sworn in in early August.

- - -

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.

After repeal fails, 'task remains' to reform health care, says bishop

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 11:12am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Aaron P. Bernstein, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After the Senate Republicans failed to get enough votes to pass a "skinny" repeal to remove parts of the Affordable Care Act in the early hours of July 28, the U.S. Catholic Church's lead spokesman on the issue said the "task of reforming the health care system still remains."

The nation's system under the Affordable Care Act "is not financially sustainable" and "lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

It also "is inaccessible to many immigrants," he said in a statement.

"Inaction will result in harm for too many people," Bishop Dewane added.

The failed repeal bill was a pared-down version of earlier bills. It would have repealed both the individual mandate that says all Americans must buy health insurance or pay a penalty and the requirement all large employers offer health insurance to their workers. It would have expanded health savings accounts, delayed a tax on medical devices and increased funding for community health centers by taking defunding Planned Parenthood by $400 million.

The vote was 51 against, and 49 in favor. All the Democrats voted "no." Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, joined two other GOP senators in rejecting the measure, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had pushed the latest version forward in hopes it would be passed and lead to a conference with the House, which May 4 passed the American Health Care Act to replace the ACA, to hammer out a compromise measure.

The Senate vote is over, but the need to reform health care remains, said Bishop Dewane, who urged the two political parties to get past their divisions and work for "the common good."

"A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable," he said.

He laid out four action items he said are essential to any bill to be considered in the future:

-- "Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans."

-- "Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins."

-- "Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means."

-- "Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections."

"The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these,'" Bishop Dewane said. "Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness."

In response to the Senate's July 28 vote, Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, said her organization is "pleased and relieved that we will now have an opportunity to work together in a bipartisan way to improve the ACA."

In a July 28 statement, she said the CHA "looks forward to working with all the members of Congress and the administration in the process moving forward and will continue our efforts to protect and improve the Medicaid program."

Jim Sedlak, executive director of the American Life League, was disappointed in the final vote. He said in a July 28 statement that he hopes the House and the Senate would "put politics aside and pass a simple bill to take all taxpayer money away from Planned Parenthood. "

Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization, personally delivered a letter to U.S. senators July 24 signed by 7,150 U.S. women religious urging the senators to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act and any proposals that would repeal the Affordable Care Act or cut Medicaid.

After the Senate failed to repeal its health care reform legislation July 28, Sister Campbell said she was relieved for the sake of all the people she knew "who were terrified that their health care would be taken away."

"The road ahead is not likely to be straight or easy, but we must work together to improve health care for our people," she said.

On July 26, when senators rejected a repeal-only proposal of the Affordable Care Act, Students for Life said the senators who voted against it blocked defunding of Planned Parenthood and removing taxpayer funding for abortion. "There is still a long way to go in this process and pro-lifers everywhere are going to work even harder to make sure our voices are heard," the group said.


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Pope leads prayers for victims of 'perverse plague' of trafficking

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 9:55am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marcel van Dorst - MaRicMedia, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Human trafficking is "brutal, savage and criminal," Pope Francis said, but often it seems like people see it as a sad, but normal fact of life.

"I want to call everyone to make a commitment to seeing that this perverse plague, a modern form of slavery, is effectively countered," the pope said July 30, the U.N.'s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis asked them to join him in praying a "Hail Mary" so that Jesus' mother would "support the victims of trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers."

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on the parables from the day's Gospel reading: the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price.

Both parables involve "searching and sacrifice," the pope said. Neither the person who found the treasure in the field nor the merchant who found the pearl would have made their discoveries if they were not looking for something, and both of them sell all they have to purchase their treasure.

The point of the parables, he said, is that "the kingdom of God is offered to all -- it is a gift, a grace -- but it is not given on a silver platter. It requires dynamism; it involves seeking, walking, getting busy."

Jesus is the hidden treasure, the pope said, and once people discover him they are called to put following him before all else.

"It's not a matter of despising all else, but of subordinating it to Jesus, giving him first place," the pope said. "A disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential, but one who has found much more, has found the full joy that only the Lord can give."

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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.

Pope leads prayers for victims of 'perverse plague' of trafficking

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 9:55am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Marcel van Dorst - MaRicMedia, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Human trafficking is "brutal, savage and criminal," Pope Francis said, but often it seems like people see it as a sad, but normal fact of life.

"I want to call everyone to make a commitment to seeing that this perverse plague, a modern form of slavery, is effectively countered," the pope said July 30, the U.N.'s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis asked them to join him in praying a "Hail Mary" so that Jesus' mother would "support the victims of trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers."

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on the parables from the day's Gospel reading: the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price.

Both parables involve "searching and sacrifice," the pope said. Neither the person who found the treasure in the field nor the merchant who found the pearl would have made their discoveries if they were not looking for something, and both of them sell all they have to purchase their treasure.

The point of the parables, he said, is that "the kingdom of God is offered to all -- it is a gift, a grace -- but it is not given on a silver platter. It requires dynamism; it involves seeking, walking, getting busy."

Jesus is the hidden treasure, the pope said, and once people discover him they are called to put following him before all else.

"It's not a matter of despising all else, but of subordinating it to Jesus, giving him first place," the pope said. "A disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential, but one who has found much more, has found the full joy that only the Lord can give."

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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.

British baby Charlie Gard dies in hospice care

Fri, 07/28/2017 - 5:50pm

IMAGE: CNS/family handout, courtesy Featureworld

By Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Charlie Gard, the British baby whose legal battle caught the attention of the world, died July 28, just over a week before his first birthday, his family announced.

Connie Yates, the baby's mother, issued a brief statement saying: "Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie."

Charlie, who would have turned 1 year old Aug. 4, had been transferred to a hospice for palliative care after Yates and his father, Chris Gard, said July 24 they had decided to drop their legal battle to pursue treatment overseas.

The couple wanted to take Charlie home to die, but a High Court judge decided it was in the child's best interest to spend his final hours in the care of a hospice. He suffered from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

The situation had caught the world's attention, including the attention of Pope Francis. The day the parents dropped their legal battle, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the pope was "praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering."

After news of Charlie's death, Pope Francis tweeted: "I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him."

Charlie's parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son.

They raised 1.3 million pounds (US$1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope.

At a news conference July 25 in Rome, Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican children's hospital, Bambino Gesu, said the hospital had partnered U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, to study Charlie's case. In July, the hospital agreed with Hirano that the child's illness had proceeded too far for treatment, which might or might not have worked six months earlier.

But "the plug was not pulled without having tried to respond to a legitimate request by the parents and without having examined fully the condition of the child and the opportunities offered by researchers on an international level," the hospital said in a statement.

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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.

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