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Pope Francis to visit Canada in 'pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation' with Indigenous peoples

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis is considering an invitation to visit Canada in light of the Canadian bishops’ "pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples."

A communique from the Holy See Press Office on Oct. 27 said that the pope has “indicated his willingness to visit” Canada on a future undetermined date.

The Canadian bishops’ conference welcomed the Vatican announcement that “Pope Francis has accepted their invitation to visit Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.”

“We pray that Pope Francis’ visit to Canada will be a significant milestone in the journey toward reconciliation and healing,” Bishop Raymond Poisson, the president bishops’ conference, said Oct. 27.

Pope Francis is already set to meet with delegations of different Indigenous tribes from Canada at the Vatican Dec. 17-20.

The papal meetings with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit delegations were scheduled following the discovery of unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

Canada’s residential school system was set up by the Canadian federal government, beginning in the 1870s, as a means of forcibly assimilating Indigenous children and stripping them of familial and cultural ties. Catholics and members of other Christian denominations ran the schools. The last remaining federally-run residential school closed in 1996.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a Canadian body set up to investigate abuses in the schools, at least 4,100 children died from “disease or accident” at the residential schools.

One of the commission’s calls was for a formal papal apology for the Church’s role in the residential school system.

Pope Francis expressed sorrow at the discovery of Indigenous children’s graves in an Angelus address in June, but did not issue a formal apology.

“The sad discovery further increases our awareness of the pain and suffering of the past. May Canada’s political and religious authorities continue to work together with determination to shed light on this sad event and humbly commit themselves to a path of reconciliation and healing,” the pope said on June 6.

The Canadian bishops’ conference apologized for the Church’s role in the residential school system in September and said that it was working toward the possibility of papal visit to Canada “as part of this healing journey."

The potential visit by Pope Francis would be the first papal trip to Canada since St. John Paul II visited Toronto nearly 20 years ago for World Youth Day 2002.

John Paul II visited Canada three times during his pontificate, making a stop to visit Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories in 1987 and visiting Quebec, Newfoundland, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia during an 11-day trip in 1984.

Vatican providing third dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2021 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Vatican City is providing a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with priority given to the vulnerable and those over 60 years of age, a press release said Wednesday.

The city state's health and hygiene office started administering the third dose in the second half of October, according to a Vatican statement.

The Vatican has provided the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to its residents and employees since January, beginning with the elderly, health and safety personnel, and those in frequent contact with the public.

Pope Francis and Benedict XVI in early 2021. The second dose was administered in February.

Pope Francis and Benedict, both well over the age of 60, may be among the first group to receive a third dose of the vaccine, though Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni declined to confirm this deduction Wednesday.

On Oct. 1, the Vatican City State requiring all employees, officials, and visitors to the territory to show they have been vaccinated, have recovered from the coronavirus, or have tested negative for the disease within 48 hours.

Employees who do not comply will be considered absent from work and .

Vatican City State, the world's smallest independent nation-state, has a population of around 800 people. But together with the Holy See, the sovereign entity that predates it, it employs more than 4,000 people.

The Vatican also administered free doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to ; over 1,000 needy people were vaccinated during Holy Week.

Pope Francis blesses pro-life bells going to Ukraine and Ecuador

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2021 / 05:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed two large bells headed to Ukraine and Ecuador, where they will serve as a way for people to express their support for the lives of the unborn.

The “Voice of the Unborn” bells received the papal blessing before the general audience at the Vatican Oct. 27.

The bells are part of an initiative by the Polish Yes to Life foundation. Last year, Pope Francis blessed a bell which has now traveled to to be rung in support of the unborn.

“Today I blessed the bells that bear the name: ‘The voice of the unborn,’” Pope Francis said in a greeting to Polish pilgrims during his in the Paul VI Hall.

“They are destined for Ecuador and Ukraine. For these nations and for all they are a sign of commitment in favor of the defense of human life from conception to natural death,” he said.

“May their sound announce the ‘Gospel of life’ to the world, awaken the consciences of men, and be a reminder of the unborn,” he added. “I entrust to your prayer every conceived child whose life is sacred and inviolable.”

One bell will be given to the St. John Paul II Shrine in Lviv, Ukraine, and the other will go to the Diocese of Guayaquil in Ecuador. The bells will travel to various events in those cities so that people can ring them as an expression of their pro-life beliefs.

The bells, , were cast in the bell-making workshop of Jan Felczyński in the southeastern city of Przemyśl. They each weigh more than 2,000 pounds and are nearly four feet in diameter.

They are decorated with a DNA chain and an ultrasound of an unborn child. There is also an image of the stone tables on which God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. The bells bear the words of the fifth commandment -- “Thou shalt not kill” -- in Spanish and Ukrainian.

The words of Jeremiah 1:5 -- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you” -- are also written on the bells beneath the image of the ultrasound.

They also have a quote from St. Pope John Paul II's encyclical : “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!”

Order of Malta thanks Pope Francis for choosing to 'accelerate the process of reform'

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

As the Order of Malta continues its reform process, Pope Francis has empowered a special delegate to determine when and how the nearly 1000-year-old order's next Grand Master will be elected.

Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi this week granting him the ability to convene the full Council of State for the election of a new Grand Master and convoke the next Extraordinary General Chapter at a date of his choosing.

“In order to be able to continue this important work of renewal, as my special delegate you have all the powers necessary to decide any questions that may arise in the implementation of the mandate entrusted to you,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter to Cardinal Tomasi signed on Oct. 25.

“As my special delegate, you have the power to take upon yourself aspects of the ordinary government of the Order, even derogating, if necessary, from the current Constitutional Charter and the current , as well as to resolve all internal conflicts within the Order .”

Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Tomasi as his special delegate to oversee the reform of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in November last year after the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

Within a week of Tomasi’s appointment, the Order of Malta elected Fra' Marco Luzzago as the Lieutenant of the Grand Master to serve a one year term.

In his letter, Pope Francis extended Fra' Marco Luzzago’s term indefinitely until the election of a new Grand Master, a position that is traditionally held for life.

“It is important that the Extraordinary General Chapter be celebrated in conditions that will ensure the necessary renewal in the life of the Order,” the pope wrote.

Pope Francis thanked Tomasi for “the positive steps taken in the spiritual and moral renewal of the Order” in the past year since his appointment, especially with regard to the order’s professed members and updating its constitution.

His letter outlined five specific powers which the cardinal will have if any problems arise in planning the Extraordinary General Chapter.

Among them is the power to approve the Constitutional Charter and the and to to “proceed with the renewal of the Sovereign Council in accordance with the new regulatory texts.”

“I have no doubt that the entire Order, at every level, will willingly collaborate with you in a spirit of authentic obedience and respect,” he added near the end of the letter.

The Order of Malta welcomed the pope’s decision in a statement shared with CNA on Oct. 26.

“The Order of Malta is convinced that Pope Francis' decision will accelerate the process of reform of the Constitutional Charter and Code, enabling the Order to elect a Grand Master in the near future, and to continue its mission of service to the poor and the sick,” it said.

Founded in Jerusalem in the year 1048, the Sovereign Order of Malta today operates mainly in the field of medical and humanitarian assistance as a primary body of international law and a lay Catholic religious order.

The order has faced a slow-moving constitutional crisis since Pope Francis compelled the resignation of a previous Grand Master, Fra' Matthew Festing in 2017.

That decision came after Festing himself had compelled the resignation of Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager Boeselager in 2016, after it became known that an aid project of the order in Myanmar had distributed thousands of condoms. Boselager insisted that he had not known about the distribution of condoms, and that he had put a stop to it as soon as he became aware.

In 2017, Boeselager was reinstated as Grand Chancellor, and Becciu was appointed as the pope's personal delegate to oversee the order's reform, effectively supplanting the role of the order's Cardinal Patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who remains in post only nominally.

As part of its reform, the Order of Malta has considered changes to the office of Grand Master itself, and the role of the first degree of professed knights – those who make perpetual religious vows – in the governance of the order, as opposed to the second and third degrees, who do not.

Today the Order of Malta, with its 13,500 members, 80,000 volunteers, and its staff of 42,000 professionals, has a mission of witnessing the faith and serving the poor and the sick. The Order manages hospitals, medical centers, clinics, institutions for the elderly and disabled, centers for the terminally ill, volunteer corps, and has a relief agency, Malteser International.

Since 1834 the seat of the Government of the Sovereign Order of Malta has been in Rome, where it has guarantees of extraterritoriality.

The Order of Malta has bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 states, official relations with six other states, ambassadorial relations with the European Union and is a permanent observer to the United Nations and its specialized agencies.

Pope Francis’ advice for reigniting your spiritual life

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2021 / 03:57 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has given Catholics some recommendations for how to reignite their spiritual life after falling out of practice.

“If we lose the thread of the spiritual life, if a thousand problems and thoughts assail us, let us heed Paul’s advice,” he said at his general audience on Wednesday.

“Let us place ourselves in front of Christ Crucified, let us begin again from Him. Let us take the Crucifix in our hands, holding it close to our heart. Or we can even take some time in adoration before the Eucharist, where Jesus is Bread broken for us, Crucified, Risen, the power of God who pours out his love into our hearts,” he said.

Pope Francis’ in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall Oct. 27 emphasized that Christ’s death and resurrection is “the center of the salvation and faith.”

Speaking to a packed hall of pilgrims, the pope continued his on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

He explained that “today, there are many who still seek religious security rather than the living and true God, focusing on rituals and precepts instead of embracing God’s love with their whole being.”

“This is the temptation of the new fundamentalists, isn’t it?” he continued. “Of those who seem to be afraid to make progress, and who regress because they feel more secure: they seek the security of God and not the God of our security... This is why Paul asks the Galatians to return to what is essential – to return to God.”

He underlined that meeting the crucified Jesus in our prayers gives us life. The Holy Spirit flows forth from Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection to that “the action of the Holy Spirit in us” can change our hearts, not anything that we do.

The Holy Spirit nourishes our lives so we can continue to engage in our spiritual battle, he said, another important teaching in St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.

In his letter, “the apostle presents two opposing fronts: on the one side, the ‘works of the flesh,’ and on the other, the ‘fruit of the Spirit,’” Pope Francis said.

He noted that in Galatians 5, “Paul lists the works of the flesh which refer to the selfish use of sexuality, to magical practices connected with idolatry and to all that undermines interpersonal relationships such as ‘enmity, jealousy, dissension, divisions, factions, envy…’”

“The fruit of the Spirit, instead,” he explained, “is ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,’ as Paul says.”

This is how Christians are called to live, he stated, recommending the spiritual exercise of reading St. Paul’s list of fruits and meditating on whether our own life and behavior corresponds.

He said we should ask ourselves: “These fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: does my life bear these fruits?”

This teaching also has a message for the Church, he said, because sometimes people “who approach the Church get the impression that they are dealing with a dense mass of rules and regulations: but no, this is not the Church.”

“In reality, the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ cannot be grasped on the basis of so many commandments, or of a moral vision developed in many layers, which can make us forget the original fruitfulness of love nourished by prayer from which peace and joyful witness flow,” he stated.

The pope also criticized the practice by some priests and bishops of requiring people to deal with a lot of bureaucracy to access the sacraments.

“The life of the Spirit, expressed in the sacraments, cannot be suffocated by a bureaucracy that prevents access to the grace of the Spirit, the initiator of conversion of heart,” he said.

“We therefore have the huge responsibility of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen, enlivened by the breath of the Spirit of love,” he added. “For it is this Love alone that possesses the power to attract and change the human heart.”

Mobile heart clinic provides free visits to poor in St. Peter’s Square

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

A mobile health clinic stopped in St. Peter’s Square on Monday to provide nine hours of free heart and general check-ups for the poor and homeless who live near the Vatican.

The clinic is part of an initiative called which is traveling around Italy to raise awareness about the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

According to the Italian Society of Cardiology, with the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of heart attacks tripled in 2020 compared to 2019, and one in two heart patients did not show up for follow-up visits.

Doctors from Rome’s worked at the clinic throughout the day, seeing around 100 people, cardiologist Sandro Carta said.

He told EWTN News on Oct. 25 that “today was a special day, dedicated to those called ‘the least,’ those most in need, those who do not have easy access to primary care.”

“Many people were received in our mobile clinic, some with real cardiac problems who are not receiving adequate treatment,” he said. “We have invited them to come this week to our hospital, San Carlo, where they can receive the care they need.”

The doctor noted that the initiative fits with Pope Francis’ many appeals to help the poor and “corresponds with our spirit of work.”

“We work with this spirit every day at our hospital, and so, each of us wanted to dedicate this day to working completely free for these people,” he said.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who, as papal almoner, is in charge of the pope’s charity, presented the doctors with rosaries blessed by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis meets Knights of Columbus leader at Vatican

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis met with Patrick E. Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, on Monday.

The pope received the chief executive officer of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization on Oct. 25, along with supreme chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and former supreme knight Carl A. Anderson.

Photographs released by the Vatican showed Kelly, who on March 1, with a relic of Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, who was on Oct. 31, 2020.

Pope Francis held the golden reliquary and venerated it.

The photos also showed the pope touching an icon of St. Joseph, the subject of a 60-minute released by the Knights to mark the .

Kelly is the 14th Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, succeeding Anderson, who served in the role from 2000 to 2021.

Married with three daughters, Kelly served in the United States Navy for 24 years. He was also a senior adviser to the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the U.S. State Department.

Kelly was the first executive director of the in Washington, D.C., overseeing the facility’s renewal after the Knights purchased it in 2011.

As vice president for public policy for 11 years, he oversaw the Knights’ connections with the White House, U.S. Congress, and federal agencies.

He served as Deputy Supreme Knight from 2017 until Feb. 28 this year.

In September, Kelly the Holy See Mission to the United Nations in New York with his wife, Vanessa. He had served as a legal intern at the Holy See Mission in the summer of 2001.

Blessed Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 in New Haven, Connecticut. The organization, dedicated to the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism, has more than two million members in 16,000 councils worldwide.

In 2020, members performed more than 77 million reported service hours and gave over $187 million for charitable causes.

The Knights of Columbus present the pope with an annual donation to support his personal charities through the Vicarius Christi Fund. It donated more than in earnings between the fund's creation in 1981 and 2017.

Pope Francis praised the Knights’ charitable work in a February 2020 to the board of directors.

“Since its foundation, the Knights of Columbus has demonstrated its unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter,” he said.

“The establishment of the Vicarius Christi Fund is a testimony to this devotion, as well as to the desire of the Knights to share in the pope’s solicitude for all the Churches and in his universal mission of charity.”

“In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your order to serve all in need offers, especially to young people, an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society.”

This new blessed spent her short life loving the poor and marginalized

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Church’s newest blessed is Sandra Sabattini, a 22-year-old woman who devoted herself to helping the poor and disabled before she was killed by a passing car in 1984.

She was on Oct. 24 in the Cathedral of Rimini in northern Italy.

Originally planned for June 2020, the postponed beatification Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Sabattini’s holiness consisted of “opening herself up to sharing with the least, placing her whole young earthly existence at the service of God, made up of enthusiasm, simplicity, and great faith,” Semeraro during the Mass.

The young woman “gave those who needed it hospitality without judgment, because she wanted to communicate the love of the Lord,” he added.

The young medical student had just stepped out of a vehicle on her way to a meeting of the Pope John XXIII Community when she and a friend were hit by a car. She was rushed to a hospital where she spent three days in a coma before dying on May 2, 1984.

Three days before the accident, Sabattini had written in her diary: “It’s not mine, this life that is developing, that is beating by a regular breath that is not mine, that is enlivened by a peaceful day that is not mine. There is nothing in this world that is yours.”

“Realize, Sandra!” the entry continued. “It is all a gift on which the ‘Giver’ can intervene when and how he wants. Take care of the gift given to you, make it more beautiful and full for when the time comes.”

grew up on the Adriatic coast of Italy. She was baptized the day after her birth, on Aug. 20, 1961. When she was four years old, her family moved to the city of Rimini, to be in the parish run by her uncle, a Catholic priest.

She developed a love for the Lord while she was still a young child, and she often carried a single decade rosary in her small hand.

Recalling her when she was seven years old, one camp leader said: “Often I watched her when she entered the chapel alone, with a doll in one hand and a rosary in the other. She knelt in the last pew and bowed her little head. She stayed there a little, then she went out and happily rejoined the group.”

While she was still in elementary school, Sabattini was sometimes found in contemplation before the tabernacle, even in the middle of the night.

“She rose early, early in the morning, perhaps in the dark, to meditate alone before the Most Holy Sacrament, before others arrived in the church,” her uncle Fr. Giuseppe Bonini recalled.

“The first day of the year, from one to two at night, she stayed before Jesus in adoration. She loved to pray sitting on the ground, as a sign of humility and poverty.”

Besides doing well in school, Sabattini liked to paint, play the piano, and run track.

At the age of 12, she met Fr. Oreste Benzi and the group he founded, the , which emphasizes service to the poorest and weakest of society. Sabattini felt called to join in their activities to help people in need.

In 1974, she took part in a trip to the Dolomites, a mountain range in northeastern Italy, where teens accompanied people with disabilities. The time spent in nature and helping those with disabilities left a big impression on Sabattini, who told her mother after the trip: “We broke our backs, but those are people I will never abandon.”

During high school, she continued to volunteer with the John XXIII Community and assist the poor, including from her own savings.

She also lived for a period in one of the community’s group homes, where members welcomed the marginalized, including the disabled.

“I can’t oblige others to think like me, even if I think it is right,” she wrote in her journal at age 16. “I can only let them know my joy.”

At 17, she met Guido Rossi, and the two started dating the year after. For their first date, Sabattini brought Rossi to a cemetery, so they could visit the graves of people who had been forgotten.

They attended the John XXIII Community’s youth group together. Four years into their relationship, Sabattini wrote that dating was “something integral with vocation.”

“What I experience of availability and love towards others is what I also experience for Guido, they are two things interpenetrated, at the same level, although with some differences,” she wrote in her diary.

After she graduated from her scientific high school with excellent grades, Sabattini was torn between leaving immediately to be a missionary in Africa, or starting medical school.

But with the help of her spiritual director, Sabattini decided to enroll in med school at the University of Bologna. It was her dream to one day serve as part of medical missions in Africa.

In the summer of 1982, as a drug problem began to explode in Italy, the 21-year-old medical student began to volunteer at a community for drug addicts.

The year before, she had written in her journal: “Sandra, love everything you do. Love deeply the minutes you live, which you are allowed to live. Try to feel the joy of the present moment, whatever it is, to never miss the connection.”

Sabattini was with her boyfriend, Rossi, and another friend when she was fatally hit by a car on the morning of April 29, 1984.

At her funeral, Fr. Benzi said: “Sandra has done what God sent her for. The world is not divided into good and bad, but into who loves and who doesn’t love. And Sandra, we know, loved very much.”

Sabattini was declared venerable by Pope Francis on March 6, 2018, and a miracle received through her intercession was confirmed in October 2019, which paved the way for her beatification.

Speaking to Vatican News on the eve of the beatification, Rossi : “I am married and the Lord has given us the gift of two wonderful children. I felt a calling to the diaconate, which my wife, with great generosity, has indulged.”

Vatican cardinal visits Syria in 10th year of civil war

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

A Vatican cardinal is visiting Syria during the 10th year of the civil war that has devastated the country and led many Christians to flee.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the , will travel to Syria from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3, after the trip was postponed from April 2020.

According to a press release from the Congregation, the visit is taking place “in the desire to bring the closeness and solidarity of Pope Francis to the Catholic communities of Syria, tried by years of war and in need of a moment of discernment and pastoral examination.”

Sandri will spend a full eight days in the Middle Eastern country, with stops in Damascus, Tartous, Homs, Yabroud, Maaloula, and Aleppo.

His first meeting will be the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, where he will also concelebrate a Divine Liturgy with , the leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Other items on Sandri’s agenda in Damascus include meetings with priests, and visits to Catholic charities, hospitals, and an orphanage.

He will meet with diplomats and the male and female religious of Damascus and southern Syria at the Memorial of St. Paul.

The memorial is believed to mark the spot of St. Paul’s conversion, when he fell from his horse on the road to Damascus.

In Aleppo, Sandri will take part in an ecumenical prayer service and an inter-religious meeting.

Around 87% of Syrians are Muslim, with the Christian population estimated to be 10%, according to the CIA World Factbook, though that figure does not take into account the large number of Christians who fled the country during the ongoing war.

Aleppo was Syria’s largest city, and had the highest percentage of Christians, before the civil war, when there were an estimated 180,000 Christians. According to 2019 figures, that number fell to around 32,000.

The largest Catholic community in Syria is the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. There are also Latin, Assyrian, and Chaldean Catholics.

Other Christian communities include the Armenian, Syriac, and Eastern Orthodox churches.

The Congregation for Eastern Churches links the pope with the many different Eastern communities within the Catholic Church.

According to the congregation’s website, it communicates with the churches “for the sake of assisting their development, protecting their rights, and also maintaining the various Eastern Christian traditions whole and entire in the one Catholic Church, alongside the liturgical, disciplinary and spiritual patrimony of the Latin Rite.”

Pope Francis names Jeffrey Sachs to pontifical academy

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday appointed the economist Jeffrey Sachs to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

The Holy See press office on Oct. 25 that the pope had named Sachs as an “ordinary member” of the academy in 1994 by Pope John Paul II to promote the study and progress of the social sciences.

Sachs, the director of the at Columbia University in New York, has been a frequent visitor to the Vatican in recent years.

The 66-year-old was a featured speaker in at least six Vatican conferences in 2019-2020, lecturing on topics from education to ethics.

The president of the also took part in the Amazon synod in October 2019 and international virtual event in November 2020.

Sachs, who has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, has advocated for a reduction in fertility rates in developing countries through the dissemination of contraception, a view at odds with Catholic teaching.

“Success at reducing high fertility rates depends on keeping girls in school, ensuring that children survive, and providing access to modern family planning and contraceptives,” he in 2011.

CNA Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, about this statement in February 2020.

Sorondo responded that Sachs had made the comment in 2011. “Now he has changed,” the Argentine bishop said.

He explained that Sachs had featured with such frequency at Vatican conferences “because he integrates the magisterium of the Church and of Pope Francis into economics by putting the human person and the common good at the center.”

CNA asked Sachs in February 2020 how his advocacy for reducing fertility rates and contraception squared with Pope Francis’ sense of “integral human ecology,” and whether he believed it was right for people in the developed world to advocate lifestyle choices to those in the developing world.

Sachs replied that he strongly agreed with “Pope Francis’ support for ‘responsible parenthood’ as also enunciated by Pope St. Paul VI. This idea means that families, that is mothers and fathers together, should take a rational decision on having children based on their circumstances with focus of securing their flourishing.”

Sachs is a special advisor to the U.N. Secretary-General on the 17 (SDGs), adopted by U.N. member states in 2015 in a resolution called 2030 Agenda.

SDG target is to “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”

Sachs told CNA in 2020: “Access to abortion is a choice left to each nation. The Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 do not mention abortion or promote abortion.”

Sachs was born on Nov. 5, 1954, in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated in economics from Harvard University. He has taught at Harvard and was director of the at Columbia University.

Time magazine has twice him among the 100 most influential world leaders and the Economist magazine ranked him among the top three most influential living economists.

A specialist in monetary theory and international finance, Sachs is associated with the term “shock therapy,” used to describe his plans for post-communist Poland and Russia to move rapidly from a state-controlled to a free-market economy.

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who ran for president in 2016 and 2020, wrote the foreword to Sach’s 2017 book “Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable.”

Sachs has criticized the Biden administration’s contention that China is engaged in genocide against the Uighur people in the country’s northwestern Xinjiang region.

In April, Sachs : “There are credible charges of human rights abuses against Uighurs, but those do not per se constitute genocide.”

According to the of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, candidates for membership are proposed to the body’s president by at least two current members.

“The Council of the Academy presents to the Academy a list of candidates for each vacancy. The Assembly takes a secret vote to indicate the order of preference in which the candidates are to be proposed to the Supreme Pontiff,” it says.

“Academicians are appointed for a term of 10 years and can be reappointed directly by the Supreme Pontiff after consulting the President and the Council of the Academy. Academicians may also resign.”

Pope Francis appeals that migrants not be sent back to unsafe countries

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis made an appeal for migrants Sunday, calling on the international community to stop deporting migrants to unsafe countries.

“I express my closeness to the thousands of migrants, refugees and others in need of protection in Libya: I never forget you; I hear your cries and pray for you,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 24.

“We need to end the return of migrants to unsafe countries and prioritize rescuing lives at sea,” he said.

Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace, the pope asked the Catholic pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray in silence for migrants, many of whom he said had been subjected to “inhumane violence.”

“Once again I call on the international community to keep its promises to seek common, concrete and lasting solutions for the management of migratory flows in Libya and throughout the Mediterranean,” the pope said.

“And how those who are turned away suffer! There are real camps there,” he added.

Libya is a main transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek a better life in Europe.

An estimated 87,000 migrants have been intercepted by the Libyan authorities since 2016, according to a report from the United Nations, which found that about 7,000 of those migrants remain in detention centers in Libya.

Libyan authorities have recently crackdown on migrants, detaining more than 5,000 people in a few days, according to the Associated Press, which reported that the detention centers were “rife with abuses.”

In his appeal, the pope called in particular for “safe and reliable rescue and disembarkation equipment,” and alternatives to detention with decent living conditions.

Pope Francis underlined the importance of ensuring “access to asylum procedures” and establishing regular migration routes.

“Let us all feel responsible for these brothers and sisters of ours, who have been victims of this very serious situation for too many years,” he said.

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the Gospel account of Jesus restoring sight to Bartimaeus, a blind man begging by the roadside.

“His blindness was the tip of the iceberg; but there must have been wounds, humiliations, broken dreams, mistakes, remorse in his heart,” the pope said.

According to the Gospel of Mark, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus and said: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Pope Francis said: “Jesus hears, and immediately stops. God always listens to the cry of the poor … He realizes it is full of faith, a faith that is not afraid to insist, to knock on the door of God’s heart.”

The pope said that Bartimaeus asked “for everything from the One who can do everything.”

“He asks for mercy on his person, on his life. It is not a small request, but it is so beautiful because it is a cry for mercy, that is, compassion, God’s mercy, his tenderness.”

Pope Francis encouraged people to make the prayer of Bartimaeus their own by bringing their own “wounds, humiliations, broken dreams, mistakes, remorse” to God in prayer and repeating: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

“We must ask everything of Jesus, who can do everything. ... He cannot wait to pour out his grace and joy into our hearts; but unfortunately, it is we who keep our distance, through timidness, laziness or unbelief,” he said.

“May Bartimaeus, with his concrete, insistent and courageous faith, be an example for us. And may Our Lady, the prayerful Virgin, teach us to turn to God with all our heart, confident that He listens attentively to every prayer,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: Our response to injustice must be more than condemnation

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Denunciation is not enough when it comes to issues of injustice, the pope said this weekend.

“Our response to injustice and exploitation must be more than mere condemnation. First and foremost, it must be the active promotion of the good: denouncing evil and promoting the good," Pope Francis on Oct. 23.

“This means putting the Church's social doctrine into practice,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged Christians to “sow many small seeds that can bear fruit in an economy that is equitable and beneficial, humane and people-centered.”

He spoke in an audience with the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation’s annual convention, which was held at the Vatican Oct. 21-22.

The foundation is named after the ninth by St. John Paul II, which addressed the social teaching of the Church, particularly in regard to workers and the economy, and the relationship of the state to society.

“In every area today, we are more than ever obliged to bear witness to attention for others, to to go out of ourselves, to commit ourselves with gratuitousness to the development of a more just and equitable society, where selfishness and partisan interests do not prevail,” the pope said.

“And at the same time we are called to watch over respect for the human person, his freedom, the protection of his inviolable dignity. Here is the mission to implement the social doctrine of the Church.”

“In carrying on these values ​​and this lifestyle, we know we often go against the tide, but let us always remember: we are not alone. God has come close to us. Not in words, but with His presence: In Jesus, God became Incarnate," Francis said.

The theme of the foundation’s conference this year is “Solidarity, cooperation and responsibility: the antidotes to combat injustices, inequalities and exclusion.”

“These are important reflections, in a time in which uncertainty and instability mark the lives of so many people, and communities are aggravated by an economic system that continues to discard lives in the name of the god of money, fostering destructive attitudes towards the resources of the earth and fueling many forms of injustice,” the pope said.

“As Christians we are called to a love without borders and without limits. We are called to be a sign and witness that it is possible to pass beyond the walls of selfishness and personal and national interest, beyond the power of money which often decides the destiny of peoples, beyond ideological divisions that foster hatred; beyond all historical and cultural barriers and, above all, beyond indifference,” he said.

“It is therefore a great task to build a more united, just and equitable world. For believers, however, it is not simply a practical matter detached from doctrine. Indeed, it is the way to embody our faith, to praise the God who loves men and women, who loves life. Dear brothers and sisters, the good that you do for every person on earth brings joy to the heart of God in heaven,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis asks religious sisters to pray for him: 'It is not easy to be the pope'

Rome, Italy, Oct 23, 2021 / 08:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis paid a visit to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on Friday and asked the religious sisters to pray for him as they live out their mission of service to the young and the poor.

“Thank you for who you are and what you do. I am close to you with prayer and I bless you and all your sisters in the world,” Pope Francis told the Salesian sisters on Oct. 22.

“And I ask you to pray for me; it is not easy to be the pope!”

Pope Francis spent the morning at the General House of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, as they are commonly known. He encouraged the sisters to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, who “always points to Jesus.”

“Openness to the Holy Spirit enables you to persevere in your commitment to be generative communities in your service to the young and the poor,” Pope Francis said.

“These are missionary communities, going out to announce the Gospel to the peripheries with the passion of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.”

The religious congregation, founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello in 1872, has grown to become the largest congregation of women religious in the world with 11,000 sisters in 97 countries, according to their website.

Pope Francis encouraged the sisters to work to ensure that their community life is intergenerational, so that the elderly are never separated completely from the younger sisters.

“It is true that old people can sometimes become a little capricious -- we are like that -- and the flaws in old age are more visible, but it is also true that the elderly have that wisdom, that great wisdom of life: the wisdom of fidelity to grown old in one’s vocation,” the pope said.

“Yes, there will be homes for the elderly who cannot lead a normal life, they are bedridden, ... but go there all the time to visit the elderly, to spend time with them. They are the treasure of history,” he added.

Pope Francis shared a story from the life of St. Therese of Lisieux as recorded in her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul.”

The pope said: “I am so helped by that experience of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who accompanied an old nun, who could hardly walk.”

“The poor old woman, who was a bit neurotic, complained about everything, but she [St. Therese] looked at her with love,” he said.

“And it happened once, in the walk from the sanctuary to the refectory, that a noise was heard from outside ... there was a party nearby. And little Therese said: ‘I will never exchange this for that.’ She understood the greatness of her vocation.”

The Salesian sisters have held their 24th General Chapter in Rome from Sept. 11 to Oct. 24 focused on the theme: “Communities that generate life in the heart of the contemporary world"

Pope Francis told the congregation to go forward with enthusiasm, accompanied by the Virgin Mary, on the path that the Holy Spirit proposes with a watchful eye to recognize the needs of the world.

He asked the sisters to have “a heart open to welcome the promptings of God's grace … and a heart always in love with the Lord.”

5 ways Saint Pope John Paul II changed the Catholic Church forever

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

You probably know that St. Pope John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope in modern history with 27 years of pontificate, and he was the first non-Italian pontiff since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI in 1523. But did you know that he changed the Catholic Church forever during those 27 years?  Here are five reasons why:

The pope’s official biographer, George Weigel, who for decades chronicled the pope’s engagement with civic leaders, noted that the way Pope John Paul II influenced the political landscape was enormous. His political influence is seen best in the way his engagement with world leaders assisted the downfall of the U.S.S.R.

Just days before President Ronald Reagan called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, he met with the pope. According to historian and author Paul Kengor, Reagan went so far as to call Pope John Paul II his “best friend,” opining that no one knew his soul better than the Polish pontiff who had also suffered an assasination attempt and carried the burden of world leadership.

In the course of 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings held with heads of state, John Paul II influenced civic leaders around the world in this epic battle with a regime that would ultimately be responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million people. 

“He thought of himself as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, dealing with sovereign political actors who were as subject to the universal moral law as anybody else,” Weigel said. 

“He was willing to be a risk-taker, but he also appreciated that prudence is the greatest of political virtues. And I think he was quite respected by world political leaders because of his transparent integrity. His essential attitude toward these men and women was: How can I help you? What can I do to help?”

More than anything, John Paul II understood his role primarily as a spiritual leader.

According to Weigel, the pope’s primary impact on the world of affairs was his central role in creating the revolution of conscience that began in Poland and swept across Eastern Europe. This revolution of conscience inspired the nonviolent revolution of 1989 and the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, an astounding political achievement. 

One of John Paul II’s most enduring legacies is the huge number of saints he recognized. He celebrated 147 beatification ceremonies during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, as well as celebrating 51 canonizations for a total of 482 saints. That is more than the combined tally of his predecessors over the five centuries before.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is perhaps the most well-known contemporary of John Paul II who is now officially a saint, but the first saint of the new millennium and one especially dear to John Paul II was St. Faustina Kowalska, the fellow Polish native who received the message of Divine Mercy. 

“Sr. Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium,” he said in the homily of her canonization. “I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.” 

Pier Giorgio Frassati, whom Pope John Paul II beatified in 1990 and nicknamed the “man of the beatitudes,” is another popular saint elevated by the Polish Pope who loved to recognize the holiness of simple persons living the call to holiness with extraordinary fidelity. At the time of his death, the 24 year-old Italian was simply a student with no extraordinary accomplishments. But his love for Christ in the Eucharist and in the poor was elevated by John Paul II as heroic and worthy of imitation. 

It bears noting that Pope Francis would later surpass John Paul II when he proclaimed 800 Italian martyrs saints in a single day. 

John Paul II visited some 129 counties during his pontificate — more countries than any other pope had visited up to that point.

He also created World Youth Days in 1985, and presided over 19 of them as pope.

Weigel says John Paul II understood that the pope must be present to the people of the Church, wherever they are.

“He chose to do it by these extensive travels, which he insisted were not travels, they were pilgrimages,” Wegel said.

“This was the successor of Peter, on pilgrimage to various parts of the world, of the Church. And that's why these pilgrimages were always built around liturgical events, prayer, adoration of the Holy Eucharist, ecumenical and interreligious gatherings — all of this was part of a pilgrimage experience.”

In the latter half of the 20th century — a time of enormous social change and upheaval— John Paul II’s extensive travels and proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth were just what the world needed, Weigel said.

John Paul II was a scholar who promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992, reformed the Eastern and Western Codes of Canon Law during his pontificate, and authored 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, and 45 apostolic letters.

This is why Weigel says the Church has really only begun to unpack what he calls the “magisterium” of John Paul II, in the form of his writings and his intellectual influence.

For example, John Paul’s Theology of the Body remains enormously influential in the United States and throughout the world, though Weigel says even this has yet to be unpacked.

John Paul II’s legendary evangelical fervor took fire in Africa. 

He had a particular friendship with Beninese Cardinal Bernadin Gantin, and visited Africa many times. His visits would inspire a generation of JPII Catholics in Africa as well other parts of the globe.

“John Paul II was fascinated by Africa; he saw African Christianity as living, a kind of New Testament experience of the freshness of the Gospel, and he was very eager to support that, and lift it up,” Cardinal Gantin said.

“It was very interesting that during the two synods on marriage and the family in 2014 and 2015, some of the strongest defenses of the Church's classic understanding of marriage and family came from African bishops. Some of whom are first, second generation Christians, deeply formed in the image of John Paul II, whom they regard as a model bishop,” Gantin said.

“I think wherever you look around the world Church, the living parts of the Church are those that have accepted the Magisterium of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as the authentic interpretation of Vatican II. And the dying parts of the Church, the moribund parts of the Church are those parts that have ignored that Magisterium.”

John Paul II’s influence in Africa and around the globe transformed the world. It also forever transformed the Church.

That time a priest was reprimanded by a saint

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 14:28 pm (CNA).

When white smoke poured out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on October 16, 1978, Fr. Eamon Kelly, a seminarian studying in Rome at the time, couldn’t have known that he was witnessing the election of a future saint.

Nor did he know that more than a dozen years after that election, he would be reprimanded by that same future saint, John Paul II, during one of his Wednesday general audiences.

It was Holy Week of 1992, and Fr. Kelly, a priest with the Congregation of the Legion of Christ, was on his annual pilgrimage to Rome.

But this year was different.

His youth group had brought along eight Russian young people, the tension of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War just barely in the rearview mirror of history.

Fr. Kelly had done some strategizing to make sure the Russian youth got a good seat.

“We had our tickets and we went in early, and we did get positions up against the barrier of the corridor,” Fr. Kelly said. “So that was fantastic, we were going to see Pope John Paul II.”

His German students gave up all of the seats closest to the aisle, so that the Russian young people would get to shake the Pope’s hand as he walked through the Paul VI audience hall.

“I had the kids observe how he did it – he’d shake hands but by that he’d already moved on to talking to the next person, greeting them,” Fr. Kelly recalled.

“So I told them this pope knows Russian, and you need to greet him politely when he’s two or three people away; say some nice greeting in Russian.”

They did, and it worked: sure enough, the Pope’s ears perked up when he heard the Russian greetings. As soon as he got to the group, he stopped walking.

“He started talking to them in Russian, and there was a tremendous chemistry going on, and everybody was super excited. Our six rows of kids had assimilated into about two,” Fr. Kelly said.

Eventually the Pope asked, in Russian, how the group was able to make it to Rome. All the Russian students turned and pointed at Fr. Kelly.

He was a head taller than most of the students, so Fr. Kelly suddenly found himself in straight eye contact with John Paul II.

“There was so much joy and appreciation and gratitude in his eyes that these kids were there,” Fr. Kelly said.

“But then, his look turned like a storm with a critical question – ‘Why didn’t you tell me before they came?’” the Pope demanded of the priest.

“You know, like I could call up the Pope and tell him we’re coming,” Fr. Kelly recalled with a laugh.

“I tried to give an excuse, I said it was hanging by a thread that it was going to happen, I just fumbled my way through it. What are you going to do when the Pope is asking you for accountability?” Fr. Kelly said.

In hindsight, Fr. Kelly said he maybe could have called an office in the Vatican to alert them of the Russian students, but he didn’t realize that this visit would be so important for the Pope.

But Russia was dear to St. John Paul II’s heart, as he had played a critical role in the peaceful fall of communism and the Soviet Union. Just a few years prior, he had met for over an hour with President Mikhail Gorbachev, who later said the peaceful dissolution of the USSR would have been impossible without the Roman Pontiff.

Perhaps their meeting in 1989 had also softened Gorbachev’s heart prior to World Youth Day 1991, when the leader allowed some 20,000 Russian youth to attend the event in Poland for the first time ever. The conciliatory move was the whole reason the Russian students were now meeting John Paul II in Rome.

“He said to me, 'This is the first group of Russians I’ve ever greeted in the audience hall',” Fr. Kelly said.

It’s possible that it may have been the first youth group from Moscow to visit Rome ever, Fr. Kelly said.

“I don’t want to claim that title, because there may have been others, but it’s unlikely that anyone would have been able to come before the start of communism,” he said.

He said the Pope was visibly moved by the Russian students.

“He was happy, he was happy. He said if he would have known that they were there, he would have greeted them formally from the stage.”

And the Russian students?

“They were elated.”

Vatican steps in to help failing Catholic hospital in Rome

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican has stepped in to help a nearly bankrupt Catholic hospital in Rome run by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God.

The historic , which sits on Rome’s Tiber Island, has been in dire financial straits since 2013, with hundreds of millions of euros in debt pushing it to the brink of bankruptcy.

In June, the hospital was all but sold to the San Donato Group, one of the largest private hospital groups in Italy, which had signed an agreement with the hospital’s creditors.

Now, in a on Oct. 21, the Vatican thanked the leadership of the San Donato Group, while saying that Church authorities had started a “recovery plan” to keep the hospital under management by the Catholic religious order.

“A recovery plan has been launched that, in compliance with the regulations in force and in dialogue with the parties involved in various ways, will allow [the hospital] to continue to play the role that has characterized it so far in the field of Catholic healthcare,” the statement from the Holy See press office said.

It added that Church authorities would collaborate with other non-profit institutions “to resolve the economic and management crisis” at the hospital, officially known as the Ospedale San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli.

The Vatican statement pointed to Pope Francis’ comments on July 11, when he gave his from Gemelli Hospital, where he had undergone surgery a week prior.

“In the Church too it happens that at times some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it,” Pope Francis said.

He added: “But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: saving free institutions.”

In the Oct. 21 press release, the Vatican thanked the vice presidents and CEO of the San Donato Group for the agreed-upon intervention, “aimed at preventing a further worsening of the current crisis and finding a definitive solution.”

The Vatican did not elaborate on what the “intervention” consists of.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis created a offering financial support to Catholic hospitals.

The more than 400-year-old hospital in Rome is well known for its obstetrics ward, where an average of 3,200 births take place each year. This year, during one weekend in July, the hospital made headlines for having had a record 36 births in 30 hours.

The hospital on Tiber Island is one of a number of religious-run healthcare centers facing financial crisis in recent years.

One of the hospitals is the (IDI) in Rome, which has been plagued by problems for more than decade.

After years of systematic theft and fraud by hospital administrators, the structure was left with 800 million euros (around $930 million) in debt and declared bankrupt in 2012 by Italy.

In 2013, Benedict XVI appointed a Vatican commissioner to look into the hospital’s finances. In 2015, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State stepped in, arranging to purchase the hospital out of state-administered bankruptcy through a for-profit partnership with the religious order that owned and managed the hospital — an arrangement that also ended in .

In March this year, the Vatican the former commander general of Italy’s financial police force as president of the foundation overseeing the IDI.

Saverio Capolupo, 70, was named president of the board of directors of the Luigi Maria Monti Foundation.

Capolupo succeeded Fr. Giuseppe Pusceddu, superior of the Italian province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, who had been appointed interim president of the foundation in 2020.

Pope Francis says he wants to travel to Oceania and Africa

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said in an interview published Friday that he has several international trips in mind for 2022, as he picks up pace following a slower schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Télam, Argentina’s national news agency, Pope Francis that he would like to visit “the Congo and Hungary” next year, though he admitted the ideas have not yet reached the planning stages.

Pope Francis made a stop of in Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, on Sept. 12, for the final Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, before making a to Slovakia.

In March, he went to Iraq, his since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the Oct. 22 interview, the pope said that in 2022 he would like to make trips to Papua New Guinea and East Timor, which had been planned for late 2020 before they were canceled because of the pandemic.

For the rest of 2021, Pope Francis confirmed that a trip to Cyprus, which a local official would take place Dec. 2-3, is still on his program.

“The first weekend in December I am going to go to Greece and Cyprus,” the pope confirmed to Télam, noting that the final agenda of the trip was still being worked out.

The Vatican has not officially announced the trip. But in an broadcast on Sept. 1, the pope said he hoped to visit the eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, which has a population of around 875,000 people, including approximately 10,000 Catholics.

It is rumored that the trip could also include a stop on the Greek island of Lesbos, which Pope Francis in April 2016, bringing back to Rome with him.

Close to the coast of Turkey, Lesbos is affected by the European migrant crisis, and has several large refugee camps. In 2020, fires at the overcrowded Moria camp, causing many migrants to flee.

Francis had also indicated in the Sept. 1 interview with Spain’s COPE radio station that he hoped to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in early November.

But the Vatican, which had never officially confirmed the visit, earlier this month that the pope will not attend.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said on Oct. 8 that the Vatican’s delegation to COP26 will be led by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Pope Francis, who will turn 85 on Dec. 17 and underwent in July, has visited 54 countries during the eight and a half years of his pontificate.

He visited 11 countries in 2019 before his travels were halted in 2020 due to the pandemic. His four-day trip to Iraq in March 2021 was his first international trip after a pause of 15 months.

Vatican issues decree clarifying responsibilities for translation of Latin liturgical texts

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican issued a decree on Friday guiding bishops’ conferences on the proper protocol for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into vernacular languages.

Published on Oct. 22, the feast of St. John Paul II, the , called , clarifies changes already made by Pope Francis to the process of translating liturgical texts.

The decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship builds on a motu proprio Pope Francis issued in September 2017 shifting responsibility for the revision of liturgical texts toward bishops’ conferences.

The , , modified of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Vatican and national bishops’ conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.

The decree implementing this change to canon law comes four years after Pope Francis’ motu proprio was first published and a few months after the of Archbishop Arthur Roche as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, succeeding Cardinal Robert Sarah.

“Fundamentally the aim is to make collaboration between the Holy See and the bishops’ conferences easier and more fruitful,” the 71-year-old English archbishop said in an with Vatican News.

“The great task of translation, especially translating into their own languages what we find in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, falls to the bishops.”

Roche, who also published a on the new decree, underlined that the translation of liturgical texts is “a great responsibility” because “the revealed word can be proclaimed and the prayer of the Church can be expressed in a language which the people of God can understand.”

With the 2017 motu proprio, the text of Canon 838 changed to read: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognize adaptations approved by the episcopal conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”

The text of the following paragraph added that it was the responsibility of bishops’ conferences “to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.”

The new decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship presents the norms and procedures to be taken into account when publishing liturgical books.

It says that the Holy See remains responsible for reviewing the adaptations approved by bishops’ conferences and confirming the translations that are made.

“This reform of Pope Francis aims to underline the responsibility and competence of the bishops’ conferences, both in assessing and approving liturgical adaptations for the territory for which they are responsible, and in preparing and approving translations of liturgical texts,” Roche said.

“The bishops, as moderators, promoters, and custodians of liturgical life in their particular church, have a great sensitivity, due to their theological and cultural formation, which enables them to translate the texts of Revelation and the Liturgy into a language that responds to the nature of the People of God entrusted to them,” he said.

Pope Francis thanks God for ‘profound personal bond’ with Orthodox leader

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent a letter Friday to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I expressing gratitude for the “profound personal bond” between them.

“It is with gratitude to God that I reflect on our own profound personal bond, from the time of the inauguration of my papal ministry, when you honored me with your presence in Rome,” Pope Francis wrote in the on Oct. 22.

“Over time, this bond has become a fraternal friendship nurtured in many meetings not only in Rome, but also at the Phanar, in Jerusalem, Assisi, Cairo, Lesvos, Bari, and Budapest.”

Pope Francis sent the letter to the 81-year-old Orthodox leader to mark the 30th anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch.

Bartholomew I has served as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople -- considered the “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church -- since 1991.

The pope reflected on their shared dedication to working to safeguard creation, confronting the social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and fostering unity between Christians.

“I sincerely thank you for ceaselessly indicating the way of dialogue, in charity and in truth, as the only possible way for reconciliation between believers in Christ and for the reestablishment of their full communion,” Pope Francis said.

“With God’s help, this is the path along which we will most certainly continue to walk together, for the closeness and solidarity between our Churches are an indispensable contribution to universal brotherhood and social justice, of which humanity is so urgently in need.”

Bartholomew was recently in Rome, joining Pope Francis at an interreligious prayer for peace in front of the Colosseum and signing a at the Vatican asking countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

The Orthodox leader was also present in Budapest for the in September, including the closing Mass offered by Pope Francis.

The two leaders could soon meet again. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that Pope Francis may visit Greece, including a stop at the Greek island of Lesbos (also known as Lesvos), before the end of 2021.

The pope made his previous to Lesbos in 2016, in partnership with the Orthodox patriarch, to draw attention to the plight of migrants on the island.

“On the joyful occasion of the 30th anniversary of your election as Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, I express my fervent best wishes: Χρόνια πολλά! Ad multos annos,” Pope Francis wrote.

“I join you in thanksgiving to the Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon your life and ministry over these years, and pray that God, from whom all gifts come, will grant you health, spiritual joy and abundant grace to sustain every aspect of your lofty service.”

Pope Francis asks Catholics to be ‘more courageous’ in tackling crisis exposed by COVID-19

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged Catholics on Thursday to be “more courageous” in tackling the crisis exposed by COVID-19.

In a to participants in the 49th issued on Oct. 21, the pope underlined the importance of face-to-face meetings as the world struggles to emerge from the pandemic.

“This is all the more necessary in the context of the crisis generated by COVID, a crisis that is both health-related and social,” he wrote.

“In order to emerge from this crisis, Italian Catholics too must be more courageous. We cannot resign ourselves and sit back and watch, we cannot remain indifferent or apathetic without taking responsibility for others and for society. We are called to be the yeast that leavens the dough.”

The pope’s message — dated Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi — was addressed to Catholics gathering in Taranto, southern Italy, for an Oct. 21-24 meeting with the theme “The planet we hope for: Environment, work, future. Everything is connected.”

“The pandemic has shattered the illusion of our time that we can consider ourselves omnipotent, trampling on the land we inhabit and the environment we live in,” he said.

“To get back on our feet, we must convert to God and learn to make good use of his gifts, first and foremost creation. Let us not lack the courage for ecological conversion, but above all let us not lack the ardor of community conversion.”

The pope offered participants what he called three “road signs” as they walked “boldly along the road to hope.” He named them as “mindfulness of people at crossings,” “no parking,” and “the obligation to turn.”

Addressing the first sign, he said: “We encounter too many people who pass through our existences in conditions of despair: young people forced to leave their countries of origin to emigrate elsewhere, unemployed or exploited in an endless precariousness; women who have lost their jobs in the pandemic or who are forced to choose between motherhood or their profession; workers left at home without opportunities; poor people and migrants who are not welcomed and not integrated; elderly people abandoned to their loneliness; families who are victims of usury, gambling, and corruption; businesspeople in difficulty and subject to the abuse of the mafia; communities destroyed by fires…”

“But there are also so many sick people, adults and children, workers forced to do arduous or immoral work, often in conditions of precarious safety.”

“These are faces and stories that challenge us: we cannot remain indifferent. These brothers and sisters of ours are crucified and awaiting resurrection. May the imagination of the Spirit help us leave no stone unturned to ensure that their legitimate hopes are realized.”

Explaining the second sign, “no parking,” he said: “When we see dioceses, parishes, communities, associations, movements, ecclesial groups that are tired and discouraged, sometimes resigned in the face of complex situations, we see a Gospel that tends to fade away.”

“On the contrary, God’s love is never static or renunciatory, ‘love believes all things, hopes all things’ (): it drives us on and forbids us to stop.”

He went on: “Let us not stay in sacristies, let us not form elitist groups that isolate themselves and close themselves off. Hope is always on the move and also passes through Christian communities, daughters of the resurrection, who go out, announce, share, endure and fight to build the Kingdom of God.”

“How wonderful it would be if, in the areas most marked by pollution and degradation, Christians did not limit themselves to denouncing, but took on the responsibility of creating networks of redemption.”

Referring to his 2015 , he emphasized that half measures would “simply delay the inevitable disaster.”

Turning to the final sign, “the obligation to turn,” he said that the world’s poor and the Earth itself were crying out for change.

He quoted the Italian Bishop Antonio Bello (1935-1993), who he described as “a prophet in the land of Puglia,” the region at the southeastern tip of the Italian Peninsula.

He recalled that Bello often repeated that “We cannot limit ourselves to hope. We must organize hope!”

“A profound conversion awaits us, which touches the human ecology, the ecology of the heart, even before environmental ecology,” the pope commented.

“The turning point will only come if we know how to train consciences not to look for easy solutions to protect those who are already secure, but to propose lasting processes of change for the benefit of the younger generations.”

“Such a conversion, aimed at a social ecology, can nourish this time that has been called one ‘of ecological transition,’ where the choices to be made cannot only be the result of new technological discoveries, but also of renewed social models.”

He added: “The epochal change we are going through demands a turning point. Let us look, in this sense, to many signs of hope, to many people whom I wish to thank because, often in industrious obscurity, they are working to promote a different economic model that is fairer and more attentive to people.”

The pope also sent a short encouraging young people taking part in the four-day event.

He said: “You are the present, you are the planet’s today, never feel on the margins of projects or reflections. Your dreams must be the dreams of all, and you have much to teach us about the environment.”

Number of Catholics in Asia and Africa continues to rise

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The number of Catholics in Asia and Africa continued to grow in 2019, according to newly released statistics.

The world population grew by 81.3 million in 2019, while members of the Catholic Church increased by 15.4 million for a total of 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide.

The compare 2019, the last year for which data is available, with 2018 and therefore do not reflect the effects of the global coronavirus outbreak in 2020.

While news coverage in recent years has highlighted the fall in Catholic priests being ordained in Europe and the Americas, the overall number of priests rose slightly in 2019 — by 271 — mostly due to a rise in priestly vocations in Africa and Asia, which offset decreases elsewhere.

Permanent deacons also continued to rise from the year prior, with all five continents seeing their numbers grow, especially Europe and the Americas.

The number of men and women religious decreased in 2019. Women religious were down by more than 11,500. But lay missionaries increased by over 34,200, with the overwhelming majority of the new lay missionaries located in the Americas.

The Catholic population has stayed steady with population growth. At the end of 2019, Catholics made up 17.74% of the global population — up just .01% from 2018.

The number of Catholics in Africa grew by more than eight million in 2019, for a total of around 19% of the population, while in Asia, which has 4.5 billion people, Catholics make up just 3.31% of the population, at 149.1 million.

In a press conference on Oct. 21, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle drew attention to the relatively small number of Catholics in Asia, pointing out that around half of the continent’s Catholics are located in the Philippines.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples added that “these past years, we have seen in Asia, in terms of proportion, percentage, an increase in the number of baptisms, and also in entry to seminaries and religious life.”

“In terms of numbers, [it is] still small, but in terms of percentage proportion, [it] is large,” he said. “And we, of course, thank the Lord.”

Tagle, the former archbishop of Manila, during a press conference about World Mission Sunday, which will take place on Oct. 24.

He noted that in 2021, the Church in the Philippines is celebrating .

“Now we have many Filipinos serving as missionaries,” he said, pointing out that they are not only priests and religious, but also laity, some of whom have emigrated to other parts of the world for work and are helping to spread the Christian message.

Cardinal Tagle: Digital evangelization cannot replace personal encounter

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

While the COVID-19 pandemic led many Catholic dioceses and organizations to find creative ways to communicate the Gospel online, digital evangelization is not a replacement for personal encounter, the head of the Vatican’s missionary office has said.

“There are some facts of life that cannot be digitalized and cannot remain digitalized. We are corporeal beings. We need contact,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said at a Vatican press conference on Oct. 21.

“As we thank the digital media for its blessings, let us not forget that … there are other intelligences that need to be developed,” he said.

The cardinal stressed that in addition to their digital savvy, young people need to also develop relational and emotional intelligence.

“There is a calling for us in the Church, to develop the other types of intelligences,” he added.

Tagle noted the limitations of some social media platforms. He used Twitter as an example, pointing out that with its character limit, “you don’t have an appreciation anymore of the complexity of context.”

He said that “a certain comportment of mind and heart” and intelligence is needed to generate trust again at a time when there is “a lot of distrust” in the world.

The Filipino cardinal spoke at a press conference for , which will be celebrated in Catholic dioceses across the world this weekend on Oct. 24.

“We need living witnesses. Those who, through their … witness of life through their quality of relationships, through their compassion for the poor, would give a living announcement of the Gospel,” Tagle said.

He shared an experience he had when visiting a refugee camp. During his visit, Tagle said that he was approached by the head of the camp, who asked him why Christians were doing so much to help refugees.

“And I felt like he was not only curious, he wanted to really know the secret of our sacrifice, of our love and compassion,” the cardinal said.

“The Holy Spirit used him to open the door, so I said: ‘Our Master Jesus Christ taught us to love everyone.’”

“And you know what he said? ‘I want to get to know your Master, Jesus Christ.’”

Tagle, the former archbishop of Manila, has served as the of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples since December 2019. He is also the president of Caritas International and the Catholic Biblical Federation.

At the height of lockdown restrictions last year, Tagle said that the requests for Bible formation online through the Catholic Biblical Federation increased.

He expressed gratitude that the internet could be used as a tool to “sustain some sort of relationships” at that time when visits to family and parish activities were restricted.

World Mission Day -- also known as World Mission Sunday -- was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926. It is usually observed on the third Sunday of October.

This year’s theme is: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

Pope Francis released his for World Mission Day 2021 on Jan. 29. In it, the pope Catholics not to succumb to the temptation of justifying indifference on the basis of COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking at the press conference, Tagle said: “A deep experience of Jesus leads to a state of mission.”

“It is not a mission that is just functional or pragmatic. It is an expression of joy and gratitude to the one who has done marvels for us and for the poor,” he added.

Each year on World Mission Sunday, a worldwide collection is taken in support of the , an umbrella group of Catholic missionary societies under the jurisdiction of the pope.

They include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Holy Childhood Association, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.

“We have to share the Lord. We have to share the Lord that we have experienced. Yes, we have our personal experience of the Lord, but it is not for us to keep, to own. It is given to us as a gift to be shared with others,” Tagle said.

“The more we share the gift of Jesus, the deeper our faith grows. If we keep the faith to ourselves, the faith will become weak. And if we keep the faith only among a small group, it might become an elite group.”

The cardinal pointed to the example of many missionaries who were “inspired by their experience of the Lord to go out, to go out of themselves, to get out of their fears, to reach all the nations whether geographical or existential spaces” to bear witness as an act of gratitude to the Lord.

“So we are reminded this Sunday, this World Mission Sunday, that spirituality and encounter with the Lord is always missionary,” he said.

“And mission is always also spiritually grounded in an experience of Jesus, an experience that moves us out of ourselves, to share Jesus to all the nations.”

Benedict XVI is ‘full of zest for life,’ says Archbishop Gänswein

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2021 / 04:40 am (CNA).

Archbishop Georg Gänswein has said that Benedict XVI is “full of zest for life” after the pope emeritus expressed the hope that he would join his friends in heaven in a condolence message.

Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, to Germany’s Bild newspaper on Oct. 20 after media reports suggested that the 94-year-old retired pope had a “longing for death,” CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“The art of dying well, that is, ars moriendi, is part of the Christian life. Pope Benedict has been doing that for many years,” Gänswein said.

“Yet he is absolutely full of zest for life. He is stable in his physical weakness, crystal clear in his head, and blessed with his typical Bavarian humor.”

In a dated Oct. 2 and released by Wilhering Abbey in Austria, the retired German pope that the death of the Austrian Cistercian priest Fr. Gerhard Winkler had touched him profoundly.

“The news of the passing of Prof. Dr. Gerhard Winkler O.Cist., which you have conveyed to me, has affected me deeply. Among all colleagues and friends, he was the closest to me. His cheerfulness and deep faith always attracted me,” wrote Benedict XVI, who was pope from 2005 to 2013.

“Now he has arrived in the next world, where I am sure many friends are already waiting for him. I hope that I can join them soon.”

Gänswein said that the letter was “lovingly intended” and came from the heart, but did not mean that Benedict XVI “no longer has any desire to live.”

“On the contrary,” the German archbishop said.

Benedict XVI’s older brother, Georg, in July 2020 at the age of 96. The pope emeritus made a four-day to Germany to say goodbye to his brother shortly before his death.

Pope Francis officially recognizes Amazon region ecclesial conference

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has approved the establishment of an ecclesial conference for the Amazon region, the Vatican announced Wednesday.

The Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon was by bishops in Latin America in 2020 at the recommendation of the 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian Region.

The new body, which has the task of expressing “the Amazonian face” of the Church, goes by the acronym CEAMA, based on its Spanish title, Conferencia Eclesial de la Amazonía.

“Well disposed to favor such an initiative … Pope Francis instructed the Congregation for Bishops to follow and accompany the process closely, lending whatever help was needed to give the body an adequate form,” the Holy See press office on Oct. 20.

The pope canonically erected the ecclesial conference as a “public ecclesiastical juridical person” during a meeting on Oct. 9 with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In giving it official recognition, Pope Francis established its purpose as “promoting common pastoral action by the dioceses of the Amazon and encouraging greater inculturation of the faith in this territory.”

The creation of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon followed a proposal in the of the Amazon synod for “a permanent and representative bishops’ organism that promotes synodality in the Amazon region.”

The synod members said in the October 2019 document that having this organism would help “to express the Amazonian face of this Church and continues the task of finding new paths for the evangelizing mission, especially incorporating the proposal of integral ecology, thus strengthening the physiognomy of the Church in the Amazon.”

The document described the conference as “a nexus for developing Church and socio-environmental networks and initiatives at the continental and international levels.”

Pope Francis responded to the proposal in his own comments at the end of the Amazon synod in 2019, suggesting that the idea of a smaller regional conference could be applied in the Amazon.

The new ecclesial conference will be a functionally autonomous group connected with the Latin American Episcopal Council ().

At a virtual meeting in June 2020, the 87-year-old Cardinal Cláudio Hummes was elected president of the ecclesial conference.

Hummes serves as the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (), which describes itself as an advocacy organization for the rights and dignity of indigenous people in the Amazon.

Bishop David Martínez De Aguirre Guinea, 51, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado, Peru, was elected vice president.

The executive committee will likely include the presidents of bishops’ conferences, as well as representatives of CELAM, REPAM, , the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (), and indigenous peoples.

The official statutes of the new ecclesial conference are still under study and will be sent to Pope Francis for approval at a later date.

Pope Francis wants seminarians to read this letter from a clerical abuse survivor

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has shared a letter written by a clerical sexual abuse survivor with candidates preparing for the Catholic priesthood.

“For years I was mistreated by a priest who I should have called ‘little brother,’ and I was his ‘little sister,’” the letter writer said. “If we want to live the truth, we cannot close our eyes!”

Addressing priests, the abuse survivor wrote: “Please realize that you have received a huge gift. The gift of being an ‘alter Christus,’ of being the incarnation of Christ here in the world. People, and especially children, do not see a person in you, but Christ Jesus, in whom they trust without limits.”

“It is something HUGE and STRONG, but also very FRAGILE and VULNERABLE. PLEASE BE A GOOD PRIEST!” she said.

The , with the survivor's name removed, was published on the website of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) on Oct. 18.

In a brief introduction to the letter, PCPM president Cardinal Seán O’Malley said that “in this time of renewal and pastoral conversion, when the Church faces the scandal and wounds of sexual abuse inflicted on so many of God’s children everywhere, our Holy Father has received a courageous witness offered to all priests by a survivor.”

By sharing this testimony from a victim of abuse, he continued, Pope Francis “wants to welcome the voice of all wounded people and show all priests who announce the Gospel the way that leads to authentic service of God for the benefit of all the vulnerable.”

The abuse victim wrote that she was sharing her story because she would like to see “loving truth” win out.

She said that she spoke in the name of victims, “of children who have been deeply hurt, who have had their childhood, purity, and respect stolen from them... who were betrayed and had their boundless trust taken advantage of... the children whose hearts beat, who breathe, live, but were killed once (twice, more times)... their souls made into little bloody pieces.”

“I am here because the Church is my Mother and it hurts me so much when she is hurt, when she is dirty,” the survivor said.

She wrote that adults who experienced this kind of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church as children can never erase it. They may try to forget and live a full life, but the scars remain.

The author of the letter described some of her experiences after being sexually abused by a priest. She said that she has dissociative identity disorder, severe complex post-traumatic disorder, depression, and anxiety. She added that she has difficulty sleeping and when she does, she has nightmares.

She also said that she has out-of-body experiences in which she loses awareness of the reality around her, that her body remembers experiencing the abuse, and that she is afraid to be near priests.

“I haven’t been able to go to Holy Mass lately. It hurts me a lot... Church, that sacred space, was my second home... and he took it away from me. I have a great desire to feel safe in church, to be able to not be afraid, but my body, emotions react in a completely different way,” she wrote.

She asked priests and seminarians “to protect the Church, the body of Christ.”

“God has called you to be his instrument among men. You have a GREAT RESPONSIBILITY! A responsibility that is not a burden, but a GIFT! Please treat it according to the example of Jesus... with HUMILITY and LOVE!” she urged.

The woman said that problems cannot be swept under the carpet and left to smell and rot. Hiding these facts makes one a cooperator, she underlined.

“Living in the truth is living according to Jesus, seeing things through his eyes,” she said. “And he did not close his eyes before sin, before sin and the sinner, but lived the TRUTH with LOVE... With the loving truth, he revealed the sin and the sinner.”

Vatican launches prayer website ‘to accompany’ Synod on Synodality

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 05:03 am (CNA).

The Vatican on Tuesday launched a website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the success of the two-year process culminating in the 2023 synod on synodality.

At , Catholics can find information in English, Spanish, and other languages about how to support the synod through prayer.

“This website, together with the app Click To Pray, aims to accompany the synodal way for prayer,” the website says on its “About us” page.

“In order to ‘walk together’ and listen to the Holy Spirit we need to pray. There can be no synodal way without personal and community prayer. Prayer prepares our hearts to listen carefully to others and helps us to discern the action of the Holy Spirit throughout the world.”

One way the Vatican has suggested that Catholics and their communities can pray for the synod is by reciting a prayer to the Holy Spirit, a simplified version of the

The “Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus,” according to the “Pray for the Synod” website, was prayed at the beginning of every session during the Second Vatican Council.

The prayer was revised “so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily,” the website states.

The synodal process, by Pope Francis earlier this month, is a two-year, worldwide undertaking during which Catholics will be encouraged to submit feedback to their local dioceses.

A synod is a meeting of bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.

The Vatican has also unveiled version 2.0 of the Click To Pray app, in 2019.

The app connects Catholics to a global network to share prayer intentions via their smartphones — and will be another way to pray with others during the synodal process.

Speaking at a presentation on Oct. 19, Msgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz, an official of the Vatican communications dicastery, said: “The novelties of the new platform propose a greater interaction with various networks and ecclesial communities, a new possibility for accompanying each other in a personalized way in our spiritual life.”

The Click To Pray network also has a and is present on , , , and .

Using media and technology to live stream Masses and other prayers during the coronavirus pandemic showed us it can be a tool for unity, Ruiz added. “It’s a good and opportune instrument for this communion, because it offers a space of community and support in and for prayer.”

“It’s a great joy to be able to present on this day not only the new version of Click To Pray, but its dynamic opening to the process that the Church has begun to follow with the synod,” he said.

Bettina Raed, the international coordinator of Click To Pray, said on Oct. 19 that “Click To Pray is a community of prayer which helps us pray for the challenges of the world.”

“Click To Pray accompanies users in their personal and community prayer proposing a daily rhythm of prayer in three moments of the day: morning, afternoon, and evening,” she said.

Raed is also the regional director in Argentina and Uruguay of the , which is a sponsor of the app and prayer website for the synod, together with the .

“The proposals are simple, concrete, and well adapted to daily life, in a way that people can pray for the necessities of the world in the middle of their everyday activities,” she said.

She added: “To help pray for the intentions of the Holy Father does not mean to only pray for his monthly intentions, but for all of the requests for which the Holy Father asks us to pray, and which are presented in his profile of prayer.”

Pope Francis thanks child for impromptu ‘lesson’ at general audience

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 03:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis thanked a child on Wednesday for giving an impromptu “lesson” at his general audience.

Speaking in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 20, the pope paid tribute to the boy who walked up to him at the beginning of the audience.

“In these days we are talking about the freedom of faith, listening to the Letter to the Galatians,” he . “But I was reminded of what Jesus was saying about the spontaneity and freedom of children, when this child had the freedom to approach and move as if he were at home... And Jesus tells us: ‘You too, if you do not behave like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

“The courage to approach the Lord, to be open to the Lord, not to be afraid of the Lord: I thank this child for the lesson he has given us all. And may the Lord help him in his limitation, in his growth because he has given this testimony that came from his heart. Children do not have an automatic translator from the heart to life: the heart takes the lead.”

The unexpected encounter took place early in the audience as clergy read out in various languages, a passage in which the Apostle urges Christians not to abuse their freedom but instead to “become slaves to one another” through love.

As the verses were read in German, the boy, who was wearing a black tracksuit, spectacles, and a face mask, approached Pope Francis, who smiled and clasped his hand.

Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, the regent of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, who sits to the pope’s right at general audiences, rose and gave his seat to the boy.

The child sat briefly, then stood and pointed at the pope’s zucchetto. He led the priest giving the Portuguese reading over to the pope to show him the white papal skullcap. Eventually, the boy walked back down from the platform proudly wearing his own zucchetto.

The pope’s address, dedicated to the theme “Freedom is realized in love,” was the 12th in his on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

In his catechesis, Pope Francis explained that in his letter, St. Paul revealed “the great novelty of faith.”

“It is truly a great novelty, because it does not merely renew a few aspects of life, but rather it leads us into that ‘new life’ that we have received with baptism,” he said.

“There the greatest gift, that of being children of God, has been poured out upon us. Reborn in Christ, we have passed from a religiosity made up of precepts — we have moved on from a religiosity made up of precepts — to a living faith, which has its center in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters, that is, in love. We have passed from the slavery of fear and sin to the freedom of God’s children.”

He noted that Paul defined freedom as an opportunity to serve others, rather than to follow selfish impulses.

“Yet again, we find ourselves faced with the paradox of the Gospel: we are freed by serving, not in doing whatever we want. We are free in serving, and freedom comes from there; we find ourselves fully to the extent to which we give ourselves,” he said, describing this insight as “pure Gospel.”

He contrasted Paul’s vision with the idea of liberty as “doing what you want and what you like.”

“This type of freedom, without a goal and without points of reference, would be an empty freedom, a freedom of the circus: it is not good,” he said.

“And indeed, it leaves emptiness within: how often, after following instinct alone, do we realize that we are left with a great emptiness inside and that we have used badly the treasure of our freedom, the beauty of being able to choose true goodness for ourselves and for others?”

He observed that St. Paul always connected freedom with seeking the good of our neighbor, describing this as a “rule for unmasking any type of selfish freedom.”

“Freedom guided by love is the only one that sets others and ourselves free, that knows how to listen without imposing, that knows how to love without coercing, that builds and does not destroy, that does not exploit others for its own convenience and does good without seeking its own benefit,” he said.

“In short, if freedom is not at the service — this is the test — if freedom is not in the service of good, it runs the risk of being barren and not bearing fruit. If freedom is not in the service of good, it does not bear fruit.”

“On the other hand, freedom inspired by love leads towards the poor, recognizing the face of Christ in their faces.”

Concluding his address, the pope said: “We know ... that one of the most widespread modern conceptions of freedom is this: ‘My freedom ends where yours begins.’ But here the relationship is missing! It is an individualistic vision.”

“On the other hand, those who have received the gift of freedom brought about by Jesus cannot think that freedom consists in keeping away from others, as if they were a nuisance; the human being cannot be regarded as cooped up alone, but always part of a community. The social dimension is fundamental for Christians, and it enables them to look to the common good and not to private interest.”

He went on: “Especially in this historic moment, we need to rediscover the communitarian, not individualistic, dimension of freedom. The pandemic has taught us that we need each other, but it is not enough to know this; we need to choose it in a tangible way, to decide on that path, every day.”

“Let us say and believe that others are not an obstacle to my freedom, but rather they are the possibility to fully realize it. Because our freedom is born from God’s love and grows in charity.”

A precis of the pope’s catechesis was then read out in seven languages. After each summary, he greeted members of the respective language group.

Addressing Polish speakers, he noted that Oct. 22 is the feast day of St. John Paul II, who led the Church from 1978 to 2005. He quoted from a given by the Polish pope during a 1997 visit to his homeland.

Pope Francis : “To his protection, I entrust you, your families, and the entire Polish nation. Always remember what he said to you: ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … Be vigilant, so that nothing may separate you from this love: no false slogan, no mistaken ideology, no yielding to the temptation of compromise with what is not from God or with the quest of self-advantage. Reject everything that destroys and weakens communion with Christ. Be faithful to God’s commandments and to the commitments of your baptism.’ I bless you from my heart!”

In his remarks to English-speaking pilgrims, the pope made special mention of visitors from the United States.

He said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you!”

The audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the Apostolic Blessing.

The Vatican strengthens ties with the world’s oldest Christian nation

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 02:00 am (CNA).

The signing of a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation between Armenia and the Holy See on Oct. 11 was the culmination of a week in which contacts between the world’s oldest Christian nation and the Vatican intensified both on a religious and pastoral level.

The signing of the memorandum occurred during the Armenian President Armen Sarkissian’s visit to the Vatican, which included a meeting with Pope Francis and a bilateral meeting with the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Armenian religious leaders also took part in meetings at the Vatican. Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenia’s national church), had an audience on Oct. 16 with Pope Francis, who visited Armenia in 2016.

The Catholicos brought with him Arman Tatoyan, the Human Rights Defender of Armenia and author of reports denouncing the loss of Christian heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave within Azerbaijan with an Armenian majority that asserted its independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The First Nagorno-Karabakh War, waged from 1988 to 1994, claimed an estimated 20,000 lives.

The territory, known as Artsakh in Armenian, was at the center of a last year that led to a painful ceasefire agreement for Armenia. As a result, several Armenian monasteries found themselves isolated.

Armenian scholars have denounced what they describe as a “cultural genocide” in the region, highlighting what they say is a decades-long, systematic campaign of destruction of Christian heritage.

Azerbaijan, meanwhile, insists that the region belonged to the ancient state of Caucasian Albania before it became Armenian. Officials also point to the destruction of Islamic buildings during recent conflicts.

The Vatican’s “Armenian week” focused on both the protection of Christian heritage and the fate of prisoners of war, which remains uncertain.

An agreement signed by President Sarkissian with the Pontifical Council for Culture is part of an important diplomatic effort.

For Sarkissian, relations between Armenia and the Holy See are “good, but they could be better.” By “better,” he means that there could be a joint cultural commitment, perhaps with exchanges of artworks between the Vatican Museums and Armenian institutions.

Speaking to a small group of reporters on Oct. 12, Sarkissian noted that Armenia and the Vatican are both “small states with a large nation.”

The nation of Armenia, the first to proclaim itself Christian in 301 AD, has links all over the world due to a diaspora driven by the genocide of 1915 (still not recognized as such by countries including Turkey). The Medz Yeghern (“Great Evil Crime”), as it is known in Armenia, remains an open wound.

The “nation” of the Vatican comprises Catholics worldwide. And the Armenian president, a physicist by training and coiner of the concept of thinks precisely in terms of cooperation between small states placed on the sidelines of history.

The president developed these themes in his meeting with Pope Francis, and later with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Piero Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

In addition to the threat to Christian heritage, there is also concern for Armenian soldiers who remain prisoners of war in Azerbaijani prisons.

“We don’t even have the numbers of how many are imprisoned, and we can’t even see the faces of the prisoners,” Sarkissian said.

The president did not divulge the details of his conversation with the pope, which remains confidential. But he underlined that the Holy See, and in particular Pope Francis, has a soft power that should not be underestimated.

The president said that the memorandum of understanding would “allow joint research to be carried out on issues of historical interest.”

“We hope it will contribute to further intensifying cooperation between Armenia and the Holy See in the fields of culture, science, archeology, and other sectors, as well as the partnership between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church of Rome,” he commented.

In his meeting with Pope Francis, Karekin II touched on similar topics.

The head of the Church to which around 92% of Armenia’s three million-strong population belong told CNA that the recent conflict saw “military attacks, but also attacks that targeted civilians, using modern and prohibited weapons.”

The — the Armenian Apostolic Church’s equivalent of the Vatican — recently created a department to ensure the preservation of Christian heritage.

"With this office, we want to disseminate information with the international public and ensure that these things no longer happen,” said Karekin II.

“But we also want to disprove some of the Azerbaijani narratives, which argue that those churches belong to the region’s Albanian-Caucasian heritage.”

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has thus moved from a military to a more cultural level. This is demonstrated by the Armenian authorities’ commitment to the issue.

In September, Armenia made a against Azerbaijan at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. In addition, Tatoyan has written a report highlighting the situation of prisoners of war, which he personally to the pope last week.

It is no coincidence that Karekin II brought Tatoyan with him. His presence served to give depth and substance to the Armenian denunciations. At the same time, the president’s visit was aimed at raising diplomatic relations to a yet higher level.

Vatican regulates the role of postulator in saints’ causes

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2021 / 07:05 am (CNA).

The Vatican has introduced formal regulations for postulators — those who help guide the process behind the declaration of a saint in the Catholic Church.

The norms are part of the reform of the administration of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which began in 2016.

The , set out in 86 points, are designed to clarify the tasks and procedures, and to prevent conflicts of interest.

Pope Francis approved the rules at the end of August, and the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, signed the document on Oct. 11.

In an with Vatican News last week, Semeraro said that “the figure of the postulator and the office he holds continue to be important and, at the same time, delicate.”

“The new regulation just promulgated is a sign of this, the need for which has been felt for some time,” he explained. “If they take their task seriously and with an ecclesial spirit, postulators can do much for the good of the causes and of the Church.”

A postulator is the person who represents and guides a diocese or religious congregation through the beatification process, especially during its second phase, which happens in Rome.

The first phase in a cause happens in a diocese or religious congregation — usually in the place where the man or woman being considered for canonization was born or lived for an extensive period.

Postulators can be clergy, religious men or women, or lay people. According to the norms, the role can be filled by “any faithful Catholic of proven integrity, who has adequate knowledge of theology, canon law, and history, as well as the practice of the dicastery.”

Other requisites are a diploma from the and being under the age of 80.

To prevent a conflict of interest, the regulations now state that cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and other officials and consultors connected with the congregation, cannot also be postulators.

The norms also dictate that a postulator may have no more than 30 open cases at one time, though an exception is made for the postulator of a religious congregation.

The rules clarify that a postulator is not a salaried employee of the Vatican, but can receive a “just compensation” for his or her work. Some postulators, such as those of religious congregations, may also choose to fulfill the role without receiving payment.

Postulators cannot be treasurers or administrators of funds donated to sainthood causes, the regulations state.

The document also says that the information gathered about the sainthood cause under investigation, which is bound together into a book called the “positio,” will remain confidential until 50 years after the inquiry concludes.

Pope Francis: Catholic healthcare is called to bear witness to human dignity

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

On the feast of the patron saint of doctors, Pope Francis said that Catholic healthcare is called to bear witness to human dignity amid a throwaway culture.

“There are no lives that are unworthy or to be discarded because they do not respond to the criterion of utility or to the demands of profit,” Pope Francis on Oct. 18.

“We are experiencing a true throwaway culture; this is a bit like the air we breathe and we must react against this throwaway culture.”

In an audience with medical professionals on the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians, the pope said that every healthcare facility, especially those with a Christian foundation, should be a place where it is possible to say: “Here you can experience the healing effects of human dignity.”

Pope Francis met with the foundation that supports the of Rome, a medical school hospital affiliated with the Catholic personal prelature .

Blessed Álvaro del Portillo, the successor of Opus Dei’s founder St. Josemaría Escrivá, helped to establish the medical university in 1993.

“It is nice to meet you in person on the very day we celebrate St. Luke, whom the Apostle Paul calls ‘the beloved physician,’” Pope Francis said.

“Putting the patient before the disease is essential in every field of medicine; it is fundamental for a treatment that is truly comprehensive, truly human,” he said.

“Blessed Álvaro del Portillo encouraged you to do this: to place yourselves every day at the service of the human person in his or her entirety. I thank you for this, it is very pleasing to God.”

Pope Francis praised a vision of medicine in which “the centrality of the person” forms the basis of patient care, teaching, and research.

This vision, he said, “does not put ideas, techniques, and projects in first place, but the actual person, the patient, to be cared for by understanding his or her story and establishing friendly relationships that heal the heart.”

“Love for the person, especially in his or her condition of fragility, in which the image of Jesus Crucified shines through, is specific to a Christian reality and must never be lost,” the pope said.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household announced on Oct. 18 that Pope Francis would celebrate a Mass on Nov. 5 at the Rome campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart marking the 60th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine’s inauguration.

In his address on Monday, Pope Francis said that the pandemic had revealed the importance of connecting and collaborating to solve common problems in medicine.

“Charity requires a gift: knowledge must be shared, competence must be shared, science must be shared,” he said.

He added that countries with fewer resources should be helped with vaccines, for example, but not only with the motivation of satisfying wealthy nations’ urgency to be safer faster.

“Remedies must be distributed with dignity, not as pitiful handouts,” he said.

“Medicine is an art, an art that involves head and heart, which combines knowledge and compassion, professionalism and piety, competence and empathy,” Pope Francis commented.

Pope Francis names USCCB evangelization chair as new bishop of Crookston diocese

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday named the chair of the US bishops’ evangelization committee as the new bishop of Crookston, Minnesota.

The pope Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, the 53-year-old auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to the post that had remained vacant since Bishop Michael Hoeppner on April 13.

Hoeppner, who had led since 2007, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under , Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

Cozzens : “I am humbled and honored to be asked by the Holy Father to be the next Shepherd of the Diocese of Crookston. I look forward to getting to know the priests, deacons, consecrated religious and many faithful laity of the diocese.”

“I pray that together we can grow to be Christ’s faithful disciples who make present his love in Northwestern Minnesota.”

Andrew Harmon Cozzens was born in Denver, Colorado, on Aug. 3, 1968, the youngest of three children. He gained a bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy at the Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he encountered the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

According to an , he then traveled around the United States serving young people with , founded in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1981.

He joined the , a fraternity of diocesan priests and seminarians in the archdiocese, and led college Bible studies for the Catholic movement .

He was accepted into the Saint Paul Seminary and ordained a priest of the archdiocese on May 31, 1997.

He served as parish vicar of the Cathedral of Saint Paul from 1997 to 2000 and Faribault Catholic Community (now Divine Mercy) from 2000 to 2002.

After doctoral studies in Rome, he worked at the Saint Paul Seminary from 2006 to 2013.

Pope Francis named him as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese on Oct. 11, 2013. His episcopal ordination took place on Dec. 9 that year at Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

His appointment came shortly after a whistleblower accused Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis of misconduct and cover-up. Nienstedt ultimately resigned in 2015.

Cozzens CNA in 2019 that he felt God had called him to be a bishop so that he could play a part in the healing process.

He was chairman of the of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2019, succeeding Bishop Robert Barron, founder of the global media ministry Word on Fire.

In June this year, Cozzens presented a plan for a “Eucharistic revival” to his fellow bishops.

He CNA that the initiative aimed to launch a “three-year period of revival” nationwide, with special attention to the local level, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.”

The Diocese of Crookston covers 17,210 square miles in the State of Minnesota, serving 34,875 Catholics out of a total population of 227,689 people.

Bishop Richard Edmund Pates has led the diocese as apostolic administrator since Hoeppner’s resignation.

Hoeppner was accused of pressuring an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failing to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglecting to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

A report on the investigation of Hoeppner was sent to Rome in October 2019, and in February 2020, Crookston diocese announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

“I apologize to you, as I have apologized to our Holy Father, for my failures in governing as bishop,” Hoeppner in an April 13 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Crookston.

In an Oct. 18 statement, Pates said: “The Diocese of Crookston extends a heartfelt welcome to our new shepherd, Bishop Andrew Cozzens.”

“He brings an engaging pastoral spirit, extensive experience, positive energy and will soon have the smell of the sheep of Northwest Minnesota on his person. May his days among us be especially blessed.”

The will take place on Dec. 6.

Did you know Mother Teresa experienced visions of Jesus?

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 09:42 am (CNA).

Even her friend of more than 30 years, Father Sebastian Vazhakala, did not know Mother Teresa had conversations with and visions of Jesus before forming the Missionaries of Charity.

It wasn't until after her death, for the vast majority of people, that this part of Mother Teresa's spiritual life was uncovered. “It was a big discovery,” Missionary of Charity priest, Fr. Vazhakala told CNA.  

When Mother Teresa's cause for canonization was opened, just two years after her death in 1997, documents were found in the archives of the Jesuits in Calcutta, with the spiritual director and another of Mother Teresa's close priest friends, and in the office of the bishop, containing her accounts of the communications.

Fr. Vazhakala, who co-founded the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity alongside Mother Teresa, said he has a document handwritten by Mother Teresa where she discusses what Jesus spoke to her directly during the time of the locutions and visions.

During a period lasting from Sept. 10, 1946 to Dec. 3, 1947, Mother Teresa had ongoing communication with Jesus through words and visions, Fr. Vazhakala said. This all happened while she was a missionary sister in the Irish order of the Sisters of Loreto, teaching at St. Mary's school in Calcutta.

Mother Teresa wrote that one day at Holy Communion, she heard Jesus say, “I want Indian nuns, victims of my love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so united to me as to radiate my love on souls.”

It was through these communications of the Eucharistic Jesus that Mother Teresa received her directions for forming her congregation of the Missionaries of Charity.

“She was so united with Jesus,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “that she was able to radiate not her love, but Jesus’ love through her, and with a human expression.”

Jesus told her what sort of nuns he wanted her order to be filled with: “'I want free nuns covered with the poverty of the Cross. I want obedient nuns covered with the obedience of the Cross. I want full-of-love nuns covered with the charity of the Cross,'” Fr. Vazhakala related.

According to the Missionary, Jesus asked her, “Would you refuse to do this for me?” “In fact, Jesus told her in 1947,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “'I cannot go alone to the poor people, you carry me with you into them.'”

After this period of joy and consolation, around 1949, Mother Teresa started to experience a “terrible darkness and dryness” in her spiritual life, said Fr. Vazhakala. “And in the beginning she thought it was because of her own sinfulness, unworthiness, her own weakness.”

Mother Teresa's spiritual director at the time helped her to understand that this spiritual dryness was just another way that Jesus wanted her to share in the poverty of the poor of Calcutta.

This period lasted nearly 50 years, until her death, and she found it very painful. But, Fr. Vazhakala shared that she said, “If my darkness and dryness can be a light to some soul let me be the first one to do that. If my life, if my suffering, is going to help souls to be saved, then I will prefer from the creation of the world to the end of time to suffer and die.”

People around the world know about Mother Teresa's visible acts of charity toward the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, but “the interior life of Mother is not known to people,” said Fr. Vazhakala.

Mother Teresa's motto, and the motto of her congregation, was the words of Jesus, “I thirst.” And that they could quench the thirst of Jesus by bringing souls to him. “And in every breathing, each sigh, each act of mind, shall be an act of love divine. That was her daily prayer. That was what was motivating her and all the sacrifices, even until that age of 87, and without resting,” he said.

Mother Teresa never rested from her work during her life on earth, and she continues to “work” for souls from heaven. “When I die and go home to God, I can bring more souls to God,” she said at one point, Fr. Vazhakala noted.

She said, “I'm not going to sleep in heaven, but I'm going to work harder in another form.”

Pope Francis: To seek status over service is a spiritual illness

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 06:03 am (CNA).

Do good from a spirit of service, not from a desire for personal glory, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

In his message before the Angelus prayer Oct. 17, Pope Francis said there is a worldly mentality which tempts even Catholics “to experience everything, including relationships, in order to feed our ambition, to climb the ladder to success, to reach important positions.”

“The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation,” he said from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

This is also something that happens in the Catholic Church, he said: “How many times, we Christians – who should be servants – try to climb up, to get ahead.”

This is why we need to constantly evaluate our heart’s real intentions, he said, and to ask ourselves: “Why am I carrying out this work, this responsibility? To offer service or rather to be recognized, praised and to receive compliments?”

Pope Francis spoke about the desire for recognition during a reflection on the day's Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which two disciples, James and John, ask Jesus if they can one day sit at his right and left in glory.

“Jesus patiently offers them a great teaching: true glory is not obtained by rising over others, but by experiencing the same baptism that He would receive just a little later in Jerusalem, that is, the cross,” Francis stated.

With these words, “Jesus contrasts this worldly logic with his own,” the pope added: “instead of exalting yourself over others, get off your pedestal to serve them; instead of rising above others, be immersed in others’ lives.”

He explained that it is through our Christian baptism that we are immersed in Jesus and receive the grace that directs us to follow Christ in service to others.

“The word ‘baptism’ means ‘immersion:’ through his Passion, Jesus immersed himself into death, offering his life to save us. Therefore, his glory, the glory of God, is love that becomes service, not power that seeks to dominate,” he said.

Pope Francis emphasized that “God is love and love is humble, it does not exalt itself, but descends like the rain that falls to the earth and brings life.”

“It is a grace, a fire that the Spirit has kindled in us that needs to be nurtured,” he added. “Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, the immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, more in service, servants.”

“And let us pray to the Madonna: she – even though she was the greatest – did not seek to rise up, but was the humble servant of the Lord, and is completely immersed in our service to help us encounter Jesus,” he concluded.

After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis voiced his support for from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “One million children praying the rosary.”

The worldwide rosary campaign is held annually on Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke.

More than 100,000 children from 44 countries, including the United States, Spain, Kenya, India, Colombia, and the Philippines, have already registered to take part in the initiative, according to an online map published by ACN.

“I encourage this prayer campaign that has been entrusted to the intercession of Saint Joseph in a particular way this year,” Pope Francis said. “Thanks to all the boys and girls participating in it.”

The pope also drew attention to the of Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 fellow martyrs, which took place in Córdoba, Spain on Oct. 16.

Medina and the 126 companions – among them priests, religious, and lay people – were killed in hatred of the faith during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

Francis prayed that their fidelity would “grant us all, especially persecuted Christians in various parts of the world, the strength to witness to the Gospel courageously.”

Pope Francis also said he is near to the families of the victims of recent violent attacks in Norway, Afghanistan, and England.

One of the victims was Catholic and pro-life British lawmaker Sir David Amess, who died Oct. 15 after suffering multiple stab wounds at a Methodist church in southeast England.

Amess, 69, was a Member of Parliament since 1983 and a member of the Conservative party. He was holding a meeting with his constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church when the attack took place.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the killing, and is being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act after early investigations uncovered a potential link to Islamic extremism, the BBC reported Oct. 17.

“I beg you to please abandon the path of violence that is always a losing cause and is a defeat for everyone. Let us recall that violence begets violence,” Pope Francis said.

PHOTOS: Pope Francis ordains Msgr. Guido Marini a bishop in St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 05:21 am (CNA).

On Sunday, Pope Francis consecrated two new bishops for the Catholic Church in St. Peter’s Basilica: Bishop Guido Marini of Tortona, Italy, and Bishop Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.

During the Mass, Pope Francis reminded the bishops-elect to always be close to God, their brother bishops, priests, and the People of God.

Two of the most important things a Catholic bishop must do are pray and announce the Gospel, the pope said in impromptu comments during the homily Oct. 17.

“The first task of the bishop is to pray,” he said, “and not like a parrot, to pray with the heart, to pray.”

Do not make excuses about not having time to pray, he added. “Remove the other things, because praying is the bishop’s first duty.”

Pope Francis also advised the bishops-elect to go out of their way to make time for their priests: “If you learn that a priest has called you, call him the same day or the day after. And with this he will know that he has a father.”

“May the Lord make you grow on this path of closeness, in this way you will better imitate the Lord, because he has always been close and is always close to us, and with his closeness, which is a compassionate and tender closeness, he carries us forward,” Francis concluded his homily. “And may Our Lady watch over you.”

During the consecration, the bishops-elect promised to preach the gospel with faithfulness and perseverance, to protect the deposit of faith, to care for Catholics as a father, to be welcoming and merciful to the poor, to obey the pope, to pray tirelessly, and “to go in search of the lost sheep to bring them back to the fold of Christ.”

Marini and Ferrada then prostrated themselves on the ground while the Litany of Saints was sung.

Afterward, Pope Francis laid his hands on each of the men as they knelt in front of him. Other bishops also laid their hands on the heads of the bishops-elect.

An open Book of the Gospels was held over their heads while Pope Francis said the prayer of consecration.

The new bishops each received the miter and crosier, as well as a ring with the image of a shepherd carrying a lamb, which they will wear on the third finger of their right hands.

Bishop Guido Marini, 56, was the Vatican’s head master of ceremonies for papal liturgies for 14 years. On Aug. 29, Pope Francis named him to lead the Diocese of Tortona, which is in northern Italy not far from Marini’s hometown of Genoa.

Bishop Andrés Gabriel Ferrada, 52, is from Chile’s capital city, Santiago. He was named the titular archbishop of Tiburnia in honor of his new position as secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.

Pope Francis: Catholic social teaching has useful principles for popular movements to follow

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2021 / 09:44 am (CNA).

Speaking over a video call on Saturday, Pope Francis told members of popular movements that Catholic social teaching has useful principles that can help people of any faith to improve the world.

“The social teaching of the Church does not have all the answers, but it does have some principles that along this journey can help to concretize the answers, principles useful to Christians and non-Christians alike,” the pope said Oct. 16.

He said the principles compiled in the , a manual of the Catholic Church’s social teaching, are “tested, human, Christian.”

“I recommend that you read it, you and all social, trade union, religious, political and business leaders,” he said.

Pope Francis delivered his message during the fourth World Meeting of Popular Movements, which took place in an online format Oct. 16. The last international meeting, which Pope Francis also attended, took place in Bolivia in July 2015.

According to the U.S. regional website, “popular movements are grassroots organizations and social movements established around the world by people whose inalienable rights to decent work, decent housing, and fertile land and food are undermined, threatened or denied outright.”

Pope Francis compared popular movements to the Good Samaritan, and said that these two things reminded him of the protests which happened because of the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020, by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Protests against police brutality were organized across the U.S. and in other parts of the world in the wake of Floyd’s unjust death.

“It is clear that this type of reaction against social, racial or macho injustice can be manipulated or exploited by political machinations or whatever, but the main thing is that, in that protest against this death, there was the Collective Samaritan who is no fool!” Pope Francis said.

“This movement did not pass by on the other side of the road when it saw the injury to human dignity caused by an abuse of power. The popular movements are not only social poets but also collective Samaritans.”

Francis encouraged the groups to also transmit to future generations “the same thing that inflames your hearts.”

“In this you have a dual task or responsibility,” he said. “Like the Good Samaritan, to tend attentively to all those who are stricken along the way, and at the same time, to ensure that many more join in: the poor and the oppressed of the earth deserve it, and our common home demands it of us.”

He emphasized several principles which can be found in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, “such as the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity, participation, and the common good.”

“These are all ways in which the Good News of the Gospel takes concrete form on a social and cultural level,” he said, noting that “the pope must not stop mentioning this teaching, even if it often annoys people, because what is at stake is not the pope but the Gospel.”

Francis said we need to rely on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity to carry out the mission of the Gospel in a concrete way.

“These are balanced and well-established principles in the Social Teaching of the Church. With these two principles I believe we can take the next step from dream to action. Because it is time for action,” he underlined.

He noted that he does not have all the answers to the question, “what must we do?” But he pointed to a universal basic income and a shortened workday as two possible solutions to the unfair distribution of resources and labor.

“I believe these measures are necessary, but of course not sufficient. They do not solve the root problem, nor do they guarantee access to land, housing and work in the quantity and quality that landless farmers, families without secure shelter and precarious workers deserve. Nor will they solve the enormous environmental challenges we face. But I wanted to mention them because they are possible measures and would point us in the right direction,” he stated.

He said in the service of popular movements he sees the Lord making himself present.

“Jesus told us that salvation consists in taking care of the hungry, the sick, prisoners, foreigners; in short, in recognizing Him and serving Him in all suffering humanity,” he continued. “That is why I wish to say to you: ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied’ (Mt 5: 6), ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’ (Mt 5: 9).”

Among those who took part in the Oct. 16 video conference with Pope Francis was a group of refugees stuck in Libya, some of whom are survivors of torture and prison camps.

According to a video and information sent by one migrant to Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, the refugees have staged a peaceful protest outside of the U.N. agencies’ headquarters in Tripoli, Libya, for over 16 days asking to be evacuated to a safe country.

In the , the migrant says they will participate in the World Meeting of Popular Movements “because our struggle is the struggle of everyone… of justice and fraternity.”

Pope Francis said “in my experience, when people, men and women, have suffered injustice, inequality, abuse of power, deprivations, and xenophobia in their own flesh – in my experience, I can see that they understand much better what others are experiencing and are able to help them realistically to open up paths of hope.”

“How important it is that your voice be heard, represented in all the places where decisions are made. Offer your voice in a collaborative spirit; speak with moral certainty of what must be done,” he stated.

Pope Francis to meet 500 poor in Assisi on Nov. 12

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2021 / 07:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will visit Assisi, Italy on Nov. 12, where he will spend time with a group of 500 poor people from across Europe, the Vatican announced Friday.

The encounter will take place as part of the Catholic Church’s celebration of the 5th annual World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on Sunday, Nov. 14.

According to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which is organizing the meeting, Pope Francis will make a private visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis.

The pope will then meet a group of 500 poor people, praying with them and listening to their experiences.

The theme of this year’s World Day of the Poor is “The poor you will always have with you,” the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 14:7 after a woman anointed him with precious ointment.

Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor in his , issued in 2016 at the end of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The idea came about, he explained, during the .

“At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” the pope wrote in his first World Day of the Poor in 2017.

The Day is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the Feast of Christ the King.

In his for this year’s celebration, released in June, Pope Francis appealed for a new global approach to poverty.

He also said democracy is threatened when the poor are marginalized and treated as if they are to blame for their condition.

“This is a challenge that governments and world institutions need to take up with a farsighted social model capable of countering the new forms of poverty that are now sweeping the world and will decisively affect coming decades,” he wrote.

“If the poor are marginalized, as if they were to blame for their condition, then the very concept of democracy is jeopardized and every social policy will prove bankrupt.”

The pope also lamented what he said was an increasing tendency to dismiss the poor against the background of the coronavirus crisis.

“There seems to be a growing notion that the poor are not only responsible for their condition, but that they represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups,” he commented.

“A market that ignores ethical principles, or picks and chooses from among them, creates inhumane conditions for people already in precarious situations,” he said. “We are now seeing the creation of new traps of poverty and exclusion, set by unscrupulous economic and financial actors lacking in a humanitarian sense and in social responsibility.”

What is the seal of confession? A Q&A with Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

The release this month of a watershed on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France has sparked another debate over the secrecy of confession.

The Catholic Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is obliged, under the severest legal penalties, to keep absolute secrecy concerning everything learned in the context of sacramental confession.

French law has long recognized the Church’s strict rules about the confidentiality of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but the government is contemplating amending the law for confessors, as it has done with lawyers and other secular professionals, who are required to report child sexual abuse if they learn of it.

In comments to the National Catholic Register on Wednesday, the spokeswoman for France’s bishops’ conference, Karine Dalle, that the country’s Catholic leaders do not intend to compromise on the Church’s teaching that the confessional seal is sacrosanct.

To learn more about the seal of confession, ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian partner agency, spoke to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary.

MP: The nature of the Sacrament of Reconciliation consists in the personal encounter of the sinner with the Merciful Father. The object of the sacrament is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God and with the Church, and the restoration of filial dignity by virtue of the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ.

The Church’s teaching on confession is briefly presented in paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which collects the teachings in Vatican II’s [constitution] and canon of the Code of Canon Law.

It is essential to emphasize that the Sacrament of Reconciliation, being an act of worship, cannot and must not be confused with a psychological session or a form of counseling. As a sacramental act, this sacrament must be protected in the name of religious freedom and any interference must be considered illegitimate and harmful to the rights of conscience.

Everything said in confession from the moment in which this act of worship begins with the sign of the cross to the moment in which it ends, either with absolution or with absolution denied, is under absolutely inviolable seal. All information referred to in confession is “sealed” because it is given to God alone, so it is not usable by the priest confessor (cf. canons 983-984 CIC; 733-734 CCEO).

Even in the specific case in which, for example, during confession a minor reveals that he has been abused, the conversation must, by its nature, always and in every situation, remain sealed. This does not prevent the confessor from strongly recommending that the minor himself report the abuse to his parents, educators, and the police.

In the case that someone confesses to having committed abuse, if the confessor has no doubt about the penitent disposition of the person asking for absolution it cannot be denied or postponed (cf. canon 980). There is certainly a duty to make amends for a perpetrated injustice and to sincerely commit to preventing the abuse from happening again, resorting, if necessary, to competent help, but these serious duties linked to the path of conversion do not involve self-denunciation. The confessor must in any case invite the penitent to a deeper reflection and to evaluate the consequences of his actions, especially when another person has been suspected or unjustly condemned.

Comparing the sacramental seal to the professional secrecy which, for example, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, etc. are required to keep, must be absolutely avoided.

Apart from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there is no [professional] secret that cannot yield to requirements to the contrary established by law or by a judge, by ethical codes or by the interested party who authorizes its disclosure.

The secret of confession, on the other hand, is not an obligation imposed from outside, but an intrinsic requirement of the sacrament, and as such cannot be dissolved even by the penitent himself (cf. canon 1550, §2, n.2 CIC; canon 1231, §2, n.2 CCEO).

The penitent does not speak to the human confessor, but to God, so that to take possession of what belongs to God would be sacrilege. The safeguard of the sacrament, instituted by Christ to be a sure haven of salvation for all sinners, is accepted.

If the faithful lose confidence in the seal, reception of the sacrament of confession could nosedive, causing very serious damage to souls and to the whole work of evangelization.

It is essential to insist that the seal of confession cannot be compared to professional secrecy, in order to prevent secular legislation from applying the justifiable exceptions of professional secrecy to the inviolable secrecy of confession.

Pope Francis defends conscientious objection to abortion, euthanasia in healthcare

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Conscientious objection to abortion and euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s fidelity to the medical profession, Pope Francis told a group of Italian pharmacists on Thursday.

“On an individual level, the pharmacist, each of you, uses medicinal substances which can however turn into poisons. Here it is a question of exercising constant vigilance, so that the objective is always the patient’s life in its entirety,” the pope on Oct. 14.

“You are always at the service of human life,” he told the group of pharmacists. “And this may in some cases involve conscientious objection, which is not infidelity, but on the contrary, fidelity to your profession, if validly motivated.”

The pope addressed participants in a congress organized by the during a meeting in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

He noted that today it is fashionable to think that “removing conscientious objection” is a good idea, but, he said, protection of one’s conscience is the ethical right of every health professional, and can never be negotiated.

Conscientious objection “is precisely the fundamental responsibility of health professionals,” he added, “and it is also a denunciation of the injustices committed against innocent and defenseless human life.”

Turning to abortion, the pope said that life issues were a delicate subject that required competence and integrity.

“You know that I am very clear about this: [abortion] is a murder and it is not permissible to become accomplices,” Francis said, explaining that it is a duty to be close to women in difficult situations so that they are not left to think that abortion will solve their problems.

“Because in reality, it is not the solution,” he said. “Then life, after 10, 20, 30 years, passes you the bill.”

The long-term repercussions of an abortion, he said, are often heard by Catholic priests in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“You have to stay in a confessional to understand the very hard price of this,” he said.

Pope Francis said that Italy’s national public health system was important “as an essential element to guarantee the common good and social growth of a country.”

He urged pharmacists not to let the “throwaway culture” affect their work, treating the elderly the same way they would care for younger patients.

The pope also compared the work of a hospital pharmacist to the hidden service of the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable.

“The daily routine and the hidden service have no visibility, little, so to speak, little visibility,” he said. “Precisely for this reason, if they are accompanied by prayer and love, they generate the ‘holiness of everyday life.’”

“Because without prayer and without love -- you know well -- this routine becomes dry. But with love, done with love and with prayer, it leads you to ‘next door’ holiness: anonymous saints who are everywhere because they do what they have to do well.”

Italy’s high court overturns arrest warrant against Vatican broker Gianluigi Torzi

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.

According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”

The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the .

Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.

The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.

An Italian magistrate an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.

The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.

In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”

The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.

In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.

Pope Francis approves beatification of Colombian sister filled with ‘ardent apostolic zeal’

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a miracle obtained through the intercession of Venerable María Berenice Duque Hencker, a Colombian nun described as an entrepreneurial figure with “great mettle.”

Mother María Berenice, as she was known, was the founder of the in Medellín, Colombia. She died in 1993 at the age of 94, and her congregation continues to be active in Colombia and Venezuela.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, described her as having an “ardent apostolic zeal.”

Urosa ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, in May that the nun, who was born in 1898, “felt the vocation to religious life very young, and responded in 1917 to the Lord’s call, entering the Congregation of the Dominicans of the Presentation.”

“There she grew in her intense love for God, which inspired her with an ardent apostolic zeal to serve and evangelize her neighbor, which she concretized in the various activities that were progressively assigned to her,” the cardinal wrote in a letter.

In 1943, she founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation, and afterward, she began another congregation, the Missionary Sisters, to welcome young Afro-Colombian women called to consecrated life.

“She was a woman of living and firm Christian faith, of intense Marian piety and great mettle, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, with many initiatives to announce the name and love of God to those most in need,” Urosa said.

He added that the mother superior accepted and implemented the decrees of the Second Vatican Council in her congregation, and led her sisters “with prudence, gentleness, and tact.”

The cardinal stressed that “her intense love for God and her union with Christ crucified gave her the necessary strength to undertake many difficult deeds, especially among the poorest.”

In her 70s, she became seriously ill for several years, but “the Lord gave her a special strength to join the passion of Christ in the pain of illness and the weakness that it brings,” Cardinal Urosa said.

The miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in May, and on Oct. 13, Pope Francis gave his authorization for her to be beatified.

Pope Francis also signed off on the of the diocesan priest Fr. Pedro Ortiz de Zárate and the Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Antonio Solinas, who were killed in Argentina in 1683.

Other Servants of God whose sainthood causes have been advanced are the Spanish priest Fr. Diego Hernández González (1915-1976); the Italian priest and Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor Fr. Giuseppe Spoletini (1870-1951); the Italian foundress of the Fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Sr. Maddalena di Gesù (1898-1989); and Italian foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Mary of Leuca, Sr. Elizabetta Martinez (1905-1991).

Pope Francis: The Gospel opens every culture to greater freedom in Christ

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke Wednesday about the universal nature of the Catholic Church, which embraces all cultures because Christ died for all people.

“This is the meaning of calling ourselves Catholics, of speaking of the Catholic Church: it is not a sociological denomination to distinguish us from other Christians. Catholic is an adjective that means ‘universal,’” Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 13.

“The Church contains within herself, in her very nature, an openness to all peoples and cultures of all times, because Christ was born, died, and rose for everyone,” he said.

The word “Catholic” comes from the Greek word “katholikos” (καθολικός), which means “universal.” The term was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in the second century that “wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, chapter five, verse 13: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”

Pope Francis said: “In the call to freedom we discover the true meaning of the inculturation of the Gospel ... being able to announce the Good News of Christ the Savior while respecting the good and the true that exist in cultures.”

“It is not easy. There are many temptations to seek to impose one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing. How many errors have been made in the history of evangelization by seeking to impose a single cultural model.”

The pope pointed to examples from Church history in which missionaries who immersed themselves deeply in other cultures were criticized by their contemporaries. He mentioned the 16th-century Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who spent nearly three decades in China, and another Jesuit missionary, Fr. Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), who learned Sanskrit and Tamil while ministering in India.

“The liberation obtained through baptism enables us to acquire the full dignity of children of God, so that, while we remain firmly anchored in our cultural roots, at the same time we open ourselves to the universalism of faith that enters into every culture, recognizes the kernels of truth present, and develops them, bringing to fullness the good contained in them,” Pope Francis said.

“To accept that we have been set free by Christ -- his passion, his death, his resurrection -- is to accept and bring fullness even to the different traditions of every people. True fullness.”

In his 11th address in his on Galatians, the pope underlined that “uniformity as a rule of life is not Christian.”

“Unity yes, uniformity no,” he said.

Pope Francis said that culture by its very nature is always in “continual transformation.”

“Think about how we are called to proclaim the Gospel in this historical moment of great cultural change, where increasingly advanced technology seems to have the upper hand,” he said.

“If we were to speak of faith as we did in previous centuries, we would run the risk of no longer being understood by the new generations. The freedom of Christian faith -- Christian freedom -- does not indicate a static vision of life and culture, but rather a dynamic vision, a dynamic vision too of tradition. Tradition grows but always with the same nature.”

“Let us not claim, therefore, to possess freedom. We have received a gift to cherish. Rather, it is freedom that asks each one of us to be constantly on the move, oriented towards its fullness. It is the condition of pilgrims; it is the state of wayfarers, in continual exodus: liberated from slavery so as to walk towards the fullness of freedom.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis greeted American visitors on pilgrimage in Rome.

“I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. In this month of October, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, may we grow in the Christian freedom that we received at baptism. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you,” the pope said.

John Paul I, ‘the smiling pope,’ to be beatified after miracle approved by Pope Francis

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 04:41 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has recognized a miracle obtained through the intercession of his predecessor Venerable John Paul I, who will now be declared “blessed.”

Often called “the smiling pope,” John Paul I died unexpectedly on Sept. 28, 1978, after just 33 days in office. A priority of his short pontificate was carrying forward the work of the Second Vatican Council.

But even before he was elected pope, Albino Luciani was known for his humility, his emphasis on spiritual poverty, and his dedication to teaching the faith in an understandable manner.

Pope Francis gave his approval on Oct. 13 for the cause of beatification of John Paul I to move forward, along with the causes of on the path to sainthood.

John Paul I was by Pope Francis in 2017.

According to a this week from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, John Paul I may be beatified before Easter.

Though beatification ceremonies usually take place in the country most associated with the life of the new blessed, John Paul I is likely to be beatified at the Vatican by Pope Francis because he served as a pope.

The miracle attributed to John Paul I’s intercession is the 2011 healing of a girl in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from a severe form of encephalopathy, a disease affecting the brain.

Last year, Pope Francis instituted a to promote John Paul I’s thought and teachings.

In an in L’Osservatore Romano on April 28, 2020, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that “Pope John Paul I was and remains a reference point in the history of the universal Church, the importance of which -- as St. John Paul II pointed out -- is inversely proportional to the duration of his very short pontificate.”

In 2008, on the 30th anniversary of John Paul I’s death, Benedict XVI on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, when the apostle wrote: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”

Benedict that this biblical text called to mind John Paul I, who chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo, “Humilitas.”

John Paul I’s simplicity, according to Benedict, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of Church and secular authors.”

Pope Francis encourages Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 11:23 am (CNA).

As the Soviet Union was disintegrating 30 years ago, St. John Paul II appointed apostolic administrators for the pastoral care of Latin Rite Catholics in Moscow and Siberia.

Pope Francis has marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of these Apostolic Administrations with a message encouraging Latin Rite Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel.

“My wish is that this commemoration will stimulate the entire Catholic community in the Russian Federation to be an evangelical seed which, with joy and humility, offers a clear vision of the Kingdom of God,” the pope wrote in the message published Oct. 10.

“I wish you to be a community of men and women, children and adults, young people and the elderly, priests and lay people, consecrated persons, and people in search of a vocation, striving for communion with all, in order to bear witness with simplicity and generosity, in family life and in every area of daily life, to the gift of grace received. This is so pleasing to God and contributes to the common good of the whole of society.”

Three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Catholics constitute a very small religious minority in Russia. The majority of the population is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis asked Catholics in Russia to share in solidarity and take steps toward unity with Eastern Orthodox Christians.

“In the context of the Eastern Christian tradition in which you live, it is important to continue walking together with all your Christian brothers and sisters, without getting tired of asking the Lord's help to deepen mutual knowledge and advance, step by step, on the path of unity,” the pope said.

“By praying for all and by serving those with whom we share the same humanity, which Jesus has united to himself in an inseparable way, we will rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters in a common pilgrimage towards the goal of communion, which God indicates to us in every Eucharistic celebration.”

The pope’s message, signed Sept. 16, was released Oct. 10, the Sunday following Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s visit to the Vatican.

The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Volokolamsk participated in an interreligious gathering Oct. 4 at the Vatican to issue a joint appeal calling for “net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

Hilarion, who serves as the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said in an interview after his private audience with the pope on Oct. 6 that he thinks that another meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will take place, but that a potential papal trip to Russia would be “impossible at the moment.”

The Russian metropolitan told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that although Christians in Russia no longer face the impediments to preaching that existed in the USSR for 70 years, many baptized Christians in Russia today still do not really know the Gospel.

“In the university I was telling you about, there were probably 90% baptized, but only one out of four who had read the Gospel. They are not pagans, they consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but if they have not read the Gospel it means that it is a nominal rather than a real Orthodoxy,” Hilarion said.

“I think this is the main task, for everyone: to make people see Christ."

Pope Francis names master of ceremonies for Vatican papal liturgies

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 05:16 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday appointed Msgr. Diego Giovanni Ravelli the Vatican’s next lead master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, replacing Msgr. Guido Marini, who held the post for 14 years.

Ravelli was also named head of the pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir.

A 56-year-old priest from northern Italy, Ravelli is one of several papal masters of ceremonies at the Vatican. He also served in the office of papal almoner for 15 years before being promoted to manager of the office in 2013.

He replaces Msgr. Guido Marini, who on Aug. 29 was promoted to bishop of Tortona, a diocese in northern Italy close to Genoa. The bishop-elect had been in charge of papal liturgies since his appointment as master of ceremonies by Benedict XVI in 2007.

Marini, 56, will be ordained a bishop by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 17.

Papal masters of ceremonies are responsible for organizing and overseeing all liturgical celebrations of the pope. The lead MC is usually at the side of the pope during liturgies both in Rome and abroad.

Ravelli was ordained a priest of the Association of Priests of Jesus Crucified, part of the Opera Don Folci association, in 1991; he then served in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni, which is just south-east of Rome.

In 2010, he received a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. His dissertation, published in 2012, was a historical-liturgical study on the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter celebrated in the Vatican. The study includes an analysis of the Lectionarium and the Sacramentarium of the Mass.

Ravelli was also an assistant master of ceremonies prior to his 2006 appointment as a full master of ceremonies.

Ravelli was rumored to be a possible replacement for Msgr. Guido Marini in 2017, before Pope Francis confirmed Marini in the position for another four years.

Also on Oct. 11, Pope Francis named Fr. Cristiano Antonietti, who works in the Secretariat of State as secretary of the nuntiature, as a master of ceremonies to fill the place left by Ravelli.

How to pray the rosary more deeply

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 09:04 am (CNA).

It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only” place the Rosary in our hearts?

We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.

This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies” or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.

All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.  

But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.

There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.

And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.

There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.  

It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I long for your kingdom, my true homeland.

In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can't get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don't have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.

With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:

Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we're going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment” with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week.  Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.

We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn't be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment” is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.

Saint Ignatius recommends what's called the “third form of prayer,” which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one's own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.

The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love. 

One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they're going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That's how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.

Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It's about seeing images. It's useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that's warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John's eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.

The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don't think a lot, love a lot!” An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.

Pope Francis greets Colombian nun freed 4 years after kidnapping by Islamists in Mali

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 07:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis greeted a Colombian nun on Sunday, shortly after she was freed four years after being kidnapped by Islamists in Mali.

The pope Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti before a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica a worldwide synodal process.

Sr. Gloria, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, was kidnapped in southern Mali in 2017.

The Malian presidency that she was released on Oct. 9 after “four years and eight months of combined efforts of several intelligence services.”

It posted photographs on social media of her meeting with interim president Col. Assimi Goïta, accompanied by Cardinal Jean Zerbo of Bamako.

“We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible,” the cardinal AFP.

Armed men kidnapped Sr. Gloria in Karangasso, about 90 miles south of the town of San, near the border with Burkina Faso, on Feb. 7, 2017.

The men forced her to hand over the keys to the community’s ambulance. The vehicle was later found abandoned. Three other sisters were present at their house but escaped.

The kidnappers were going to take the youngest nun, but Sr. Gloria reportedly to take her place.

The Colombian nun had served in Mali for 12 years before her abduction.

Her community administers a large health center in the country, as well as a home for some 30 orphans.

Earlier this year, she was allowed to give proof that she was alive with a handwritten note in which she asked people to pray for her.

In the 11-line message sent to her brother Edgar Narváez Argoti via the Red Cross, she wrote: “I send everyone my warmest greetings. May the good Lord bless you and grant you health. I have been a prisoner for four years and now I am with a new group.”

She identified the group who held her as , an Islamist organization in West Africa and the Maghreb.

In her message, she asked: “May they all pray a great deal for me. May God bless them all. I am hopeful that God will help me to regain my freedom.”

Mali is currently under the leadership of Goïta, who led two coups in a span of nine months, first the country’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020 and, in May this year, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.

Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Goïta as transitional president of Mali until the country holds elections.

The move attracted , with Catholic leaders in the country calling it a “seizure of power outside the legal process.”

Mali is struggling with an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger, with a rise in kidnappings.

Agenzia Fides in September 2020 that Sr. Gloria’s mother died at the age of 87 while awaiting her daughter’s release.

Pope Francis at the Angelus: ‘Is your faith tired and do you want to reinvigorate it?’

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered advice on Sunday to Catholics who feel that their faith is “tired” and wish to reinvigorate it.

In his Angelus on Oct. 10, the pope outlined a three-step process for personal renewal.

“Is your faith, my faith, tired, and do you want to reinvigorate it? Look for God’s gaze: sit in adoration, allow yourself to be forgiven in Confession, stand before the Crucified One. In short, let yourself be loved by him,” he said.

“This is the beginning of faith: letting ourselves be loved by Him, who is Father.”

The pope offered the advice while reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, , in which Jesus urges a rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

Giving his address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the pope said that everyone could see themselves in the rich young man because he wasn’t named in the Gospel.

He said: “The man begins with a question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Notice the verbs he uses: ‘must do,’ ‘inherit.’ Here is his religiosity: a duty, a doing so as to obtain; ‘I do something to get what I need.’”

“But this is a commercial relationship with God, a quid pro quo. Faith, on the other hand, is not a cold, mechanical ritual, a ‘must-do-obtain.’ It is a question of freedom and love.”

The pope, who earlier celebrated a Mass the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality, asked his listeners to consider if their faith was primarily a matter of duty or a “bargaining chip.”

“The first thing to do is to free ourselves of a commercial and mechanical faith, which insinuates the false image of an accounting and controlling God, not a father,” he said.

He continued: “Jesus, in the second step, helps this man by offering him the true face of God. Indeed, the text says, ‘Jesus looking upon him loved him’: this is God!”

“This is where faith is born and reborn: not from a duty, not from something that is to be done or paid for, but from a look of love to be welcomed. In this way, Christian life becomes beautiful, if it is based not on our abilities and our plans, but on God’s gaze.”

The pope said that in the third and final step, Jesus invited the young man to give generously of himself to others.

“It is perhaps what we are missing too. Often, we do the bare minimum, whereas Jesus invites us to do the maximum possible,” he commented.

“How many times are we satisfied with doing our duties -- the , a few prayers, and so on -- whereas God, who gives us life, asks us for the impetus of life!”

The pope noted that in the Gospel reading, Jesus began by listing the Commandments and ended with a “positive proposal.”

He said: “Faith cannot be limited to ‘do not,’ because Christian life is a ‘yes,’ a ‘yes’ of love.”

Concluding his meditation, he said: “A faith without giving, without works of charity, in the end makes us sad: just like that man whose ‘face fell’ and returned home ‘sorrowful,’ even though he had been looked upon with love by Jesus in person.”

“Today we can ask ourselves: At what point is my faith? Do I experience it as something mechanical, like a relationship of duty or interest with God? Do I remember to nourish it by letting myself be looked at and loved by Jesus? ... And, attracted by him, do I respond freely, with generosity, with my whole heart?”

After praying the , Pope Francis welcomed two beatifications taking place this weekend.

He said: “Yesterday, in Naples, , a 16th-century wife and mother of a family, was . A widow, she founded in Naples the Hospital for the Incurables and the Capuchin Poor Clares.”

“A woman of great faith and intense prayer life, she did all she could for the needs of the poor and the suffering.”

He added: “Today, in Tropea, Calabria, , founder of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart, who died in 1969, was .”

“A zealous pastor and tireless proclaimer of the Gospel, he was an exemplary witness of a priesthood lived in charity and contemplation.”

After asking for a round of applause for the new blesseds, the pope noted that Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day, marked by the Vatican with a by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The pope acknowledged those suffering from mental health issues, as well as suicide victims, including young people.

“Let us pray for them and their families, that they will not be left alone or discriminated against, but welcomed and supported,” he said.

As he greeted pilgrims in the square below, he pointed out a large image of Mother Maria Bernardetta of the Immaculate, a professed sister of the , held by visitors from her birthplace of Montella, southern Italy.

She spent time in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and was a of the future Pope Francis from 1979 until her death in 2001. The Vatican the opening of her cause in 2019.

“Let us pray for her prompt canonization,” the pope said, concluding his Angelus address.

Pope Francis launches 2-year synodal path with call to ‘encounter, listen, and discern’

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis formally launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality on Sunday with a call to “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.”

Preaching at a at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10, the pope said that Catholics taking part in the synodal path should strive to “become experts in the art of encounter.”

“Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another,” he said.

“Time to devote to prayer and adoration -- this prayer that we neglect so much: to adore, to make room for adoration -- listening to what the Spirit wants to say to the Church.”

“Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations, and ministries.”

The Mass, attended by around 3,000 people, was the second of two weekend events officially opening the two-year global consultation process.

The first was a on Oct. 9 featuring speeches from the pope, Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s relator general, and others.

The Vatican in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

In his , the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, , in which Jesus challenges the rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

He said that the Gospels often showed Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people and listening to their deepest concerns.

“Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves -- all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity -- whether we, the Christian community, embody this ‘style’ of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity,” he urged.

“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?”

“Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together. Let us look at Jesus, who encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life.”

The pope built his homily around three verbs -- “encounter, listen, and discern” -- that he hoped would mark the synodal path.

He noted that when Jesus encountered the young man, he was fully present to him and did not “keep looking at his watch to get the meeting over.”

“Everything changes once we are capable of genuine encounters with Him and with one another, without formalism or pretense, but simply as we are,” he observed.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ meeting with the rich man showed that listening was an essential feature of true encounters.

He said: “Let us ask frankly during this synodal process: Are we good at listening? How good is the ‘hearing’ of our heart?”

“Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even though they have had difficulties in life, and to be part of the life of the community without being hindered, rejected, or judged?”

He continued: “Participating in a synod means placing ourselves on the same path as the Word made flesh. It means following in his footsteps, listening to his word along with the words of others. It means discovering with amazement that the Holy Spirit always surprises us, to suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking.”

The pope acknowledged that learning to listen was “a slow and perhaps tiring exercise” for bishops, priests, religious, and laity.

“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties. Certainties often close us off. Let us listen to one another,” he encouraged Catholics.

The pope said that encounter and listening should lead to discernment.

“We see this in today’s Gospel,” he explained. “Jesus senses that the person before him is a good and religious man, obedient to the commandments, but he wants to lead him beyond the mere observance of precepts.”

“Through dialogue, he helps him to discern. Jesus encourages that man to look within, in the light of the love that the Lord himself had shown by his gaze, and to discern in that light what his heart truly treasures.”

“And in this way to discover that he cannot attain happiness by filling his life with more religious observances, but by emptying himself, selling whatever takes up space in his heart, in order to make room for God.”

The pope described the synod as “a journey of spiritual discernment” guided by God’s word.

“That word summons us to discernment and it brings light to that process. It guides the synod, preventing it from becoming a Church ‘convention,’ a study group or a political congress, because it is not a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us.”

Pope Francis ended his homily by wishing participants in the synodal path a good journey together.

He said: “May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening, and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.”

Pope Francis and Nancy Pelosi meet at the Vatican

Vatican City, Oct 9, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday.

At the time of publication, the Vatican had released no information about what the pope and Pelosi discussed, in line with its usual custom for papal meetings with non-heads of state.

But it noted the audience in its for Oct. 9, saying that the House Speaker was accompanied by her husband, the businessman Paul Pelosi, and entourage.

Photographs released by the Vatican showed that Pelosi also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

The first Italian-American Speaker of the House was in Rome to give the at the opening session of the . She also the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The day before her audience with the pope, the 81-year-old the environment, migration, and human rights during a visit to the Vatican.

The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced the visit on Oct. 8 in a on its Twitter account.

Pelosi was accompanied to the Vatican on Friday by Patrick Connell, the of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

On the same day, the White House that former U.S. senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana is President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five, has clashed repeatedly with the archbishop of her home diocese over her support for abortion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone launched a last month aimed at inspiring “a conversion of heart” among politicians supporting abortion.

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the San Francisco archbishop said.

“I am therefore inviting all Catholics to join in a massive and visible campaign of prayer and fasting for Speaker Pelosi: commit to praying one rosary a week and fasting on Fridays for her conversion of heart.”

Cordileone urged Catholics and people of goodwill to sign up for the campaign.

A rose will be sent to the Speaker “as a symbol of your prayer and fasting for her,” he explained.

In May, Pelosi said that she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops which addressed Communion for pro-abortion politicians. She claimed that the Vatican had instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone the Vatican was in fact promoting “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction” to the letter, he noted, “raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter.”

In July, Cordileone Pelosi after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

“Let me repeat: no one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it,” he said.

Pelosi had a 15-minute audience with Benedict XVI in 2009.

The Vatican that the German pope “took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”

Pope Francis is to receive Joe Biden on Oct. 29, in the U.S. president’s first official visit to the Vatican since his inauguration, according to sources at the Apostolic Palace.

Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, is due to attend the in Rome on Oct. 30–31.

In a after the papal audience, Pelosi described the meeting as a “spiritual, personal and official honor.”

She said: “His Holiness’ leadership is a source of joy and hope for Catholics and for all people, challenging each of us to be good stewards of God’s creation, to act on climate, to embrace the refugee, the immigrant and the poor, and to recognize the dignity and divinity in everyone.”

“His Holiness’ is a powerful challenge to the global community to act decisively on the climate crisis with special attention to the most vulnerable communities. I expressed the gratitude of those working on climate action in the Congress for the immense moral clarity and urgency that His Holiness continues to bring to the climate crisis, and how we continue to cherish his to the Joint Session of Congress in 2015.”

She continued: “His Holiness commands our attention to honor the Gospel of Matthew by serving lifting up those who have been left out or left behind, especially in the time of COVID.”

“In San Francisco, we take special pride in Pope Francis, who shares the namesake of our city and whose song of St. Francis is our anthem. ‘Lord, make me a channel of thy peace. Where there is darkness, may we bring light. Where there is hatred, may we bring love. Where there is despair, may we bring hope.’”

Pope Francis: Path to 2023 synod on synodality faces 3 ‘risks’

Vatican City, Oct 9, 2021 / 03:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged Catholics on Saturday to be conscious of three “risks” as they embark on the path to the 2023 synod on synodality.

Speaking at an event marking the opening of the two-year process leading to the synod on Oct. 9, the pope said that proceedings could be impeded by “formalism,” “intellectualism,” and “the temptation of complacency.”

Addressing the first risk, he : “If we want to speak of a synodal Church, we cannot remain satisfied with appearances alone; we need content, means, and structures that can facilitate dialogue and interaction within the People of God, especially between priests and laity.”

“Why do I emphasize this? Because sometimes there is some elitism in the presbyteral order that makes it detached from the laity; and the priest ultimately becomes the ‘master of the house’ and not the shepherd of a whole Church that is moving forward.”

“This requires changing certain overly vertical, distorted and partial visions of the Church, the priestly ministry, the role of the laity, ecclesial responsibilities, roles of governance and so forth.”

Turning to the second risk, he cautioned that the synod “could turn into a kind of study group,” losing itself in abstraction.

He said that the process would then consist of “the usual people saying the usual things, without great depth or spiritual insight, and ending up along familiar and unfruitful ideological and partisan divides, far removed from the reality of the holy People of God and the concrete life of communities around the world.”

The final risk, he said, was to adopt an attitude that “We have always done it this way.”

“Those who think this way, perhaps without even realizing it, make the mistake of not taking seriously the times in which we are living,” he commented.

“The danger, in the end, is to apply old solutions to new problems. A patch of that ends up creating a worse tear.”

“It is important that the synodal process be exactly this: a process of becoming, a process that involves the local Churches, in different phases and from the bottom up, in an exciting and engaging effort that can forge a style of communion and participation directed to mission.”

The pope was speaking at a “moment of reflection” for the opening of the synodal path at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.

The event was the first of two major weekend events, to be followed by a papal Mass on Sunday formally opening the two-year global consultation process.

The Vatican in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

In September, the Vatican a and encouraging dioceses to consult all the baptized, including those no longer participating in Church life.

In his address, the pope acknowledged the challenge of involving everyone in the process.

But he said: “Without real participation by the People of God, talk about communion risks remaining a devout wish.”

“In this regard, we have taken some steps forward, but a certain difficulty remains and we must acknowledge the frustration and impatience felt by many pastoral workers, members of diocesan and parish consultative bodies and women, who frequently remain on the fringes.”

“Enabling everyone to participate is an essential ecclesial duty!”

The began with the enthronement and proclamation of the Word of God, featuring a reading from .

The pope spoke after meditations by , from Burkina Faso, and , from Spain.

After the papal address, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s , described the synodal process as a “moment of discernment.”

He : “Let us pray for true communion. Communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, opens us to the communion of the Church.”

“Communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, will prevent us from turning the synod into a political debate where each one fights for his own agenda.”

“This is why our path will lead to a phase in which our pope will draw conclusions based on the final document of the Synod of Bishops, which will be the fruit of all this process of listening and discernment.”

Speakers that followed included Sr. Donna Ciangio, of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, who has served as of Newark archdiocese, in northeastern New Jersey, since 2018.

Speaking via , she explained that the archdiocese has asked parish pastoral counselors to conduct listening sessions as part of the synodal process.

“We feel this is a great opportunity for them to listen to all in the parish, as well as those on the margins, and also Catholics who have left the faith,” she said.

“My hope for the listening sessions for the synod is that we will listen deeply to what the Holy Spirit is asking of the Church for the 21st century.”

She continued: “Many people will be energized by thoughtful and honest conversations. They will talk about the spiritual aspects of the faith that formed their lives, and they will discuss the aspects of the Church that need renewal and change.”

“My hope is that our bishops will listen carefully to what people discern as needed change for the Church of our time, so that the mission of Christ continues with strength and courage.”

The event also heard from Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, the of the Congregation for the Clergy, who described how he grew up in South Korea in a family without religious faith.

“I went to middle school and high school in a Catholic school, which bore the name of our martyr Andrew Kim Taegon. He was the first Korean priest and gave his life for others. His testimony attracted me a lot,” he .

“I was baptized on Christmas Eve 1966. I was 16 years old. I was the first Christian in my family.”

He explained that after his priestly ordination and appointment as a bishop, he decided to hold a diocesan synod.

“It was a great grace, because it made us experience the beauty of walking together. And it was also an antidote to clericalism,” he noted.

The was delivered by Cardinal Mario Grech, the of the Synod of Bishops.

The Maltese cardinal explained that the synod’s preparatory document and handbook were not intended to “pre-establish the conditions of the path or dictate the way, obliging the Church to follow a path established in advance.”

They were instead “signs,” rather than “a road,” indicating the direction of the synodal process.

He raised questions about how the assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023 should be conducted. He asked whether voting was always the best way to establish consensus among participants.

He said: “Is it so impossible to imagine, for example, to resort to voting on the final document and its individual items only when consensus is not certain?”

“Is it not enough to foresee reasoned objections to the text, perhaps signed by a suitable number of members of the assembly, resolved with an additional discussion, and have recourse to the vote as a last resort?”

“I limit myself to these few questions, not to give a solution, but to point out a problem on which we must carefully reflect.”

He also suggested that the assembly might decide not to submit its final document immediately to the pope, but to send it instead to dioceses around the world.

“In this case, the final document would reach the Bishop of Rome, who has always been recognized by all as the one who issues the decrees established by councils and synods, already accompanied by the consensus of all the Churches,” he said.

Pope Francis ended his address with a prayer to the Holy Spirit.

He said: “Come, Holy Spirit! You inspire new tongues and place words of life on our lips: keep us from becoming a ‘museum Church,’ beautiful but mute, with much past and little future.”

“Come among us, so that in this synodal experience we will not lose our enthusiasm, dilute the power of prophecy, or descend into useless and unproductive discussions.”

“Come, Spirit of love, open our hearts to hear your voice! Come, Spirit of holiness, renew the holy faithful People of God! Come, Creator Spirit, renew the face of the earth!”