WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will have an audience with Pope Francis Oct. 29, the day before the G20 Leaders’ Summit starts in Rome, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Oct. 14. “They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis and caring for the poor,” she said in a statement. Biden and Pope Francis previously met in 2016, when Biden was vice president, after they both spoke at a conference on adult stem-cell research at the Vatican. In recent weeks, there has been speculation that the two leaders would likely meet since Biden would be in Rome. In a recent interview with Catholic News Service, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, said he was helping the Holy See prepare for Biden’s first presidential visit to the Vatican, sometime during an Oct. 30-31 Rome summit of leading rich and developed nations. “It would be an anomaly if he did not meet the pope while in Rome,” especially since Biden is the first Catholic to be U.S. president in 58 years, the nuncio said.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) – In his welcoming remarks to open the diocesan eucharistic congress, Memphis Bishop David P. Talley told attendees that “we are all the living body of Christ, in that we are what we receive” – the Eucharist. Christ’s mission “is our mission, for we are members of his body,” he said. “Our work is with our parishes, our parishioners and all of those who have not heard the words of Jesus Christ,” emphasized the bishop, who was installed as the sixth bishop of Memphis in April 2019. Guided by the theme, “That All May Be One” from John 17:21, the Memphis Diocese celebrated its 50th anniversary with its first eucharistic congress, held at the city’s downtown Renasant Convention Center the evening of Oct. 8 and all day Oct. 9. The congress – and the anniversary celebration – was delayed a full year by the arrival of COVID-19, and the havoc it caused. Passion and a sense of purpose were evident nonetheless – and in great abundance. The diocese in western Tennessee was established June 20, 1970, and has a Catholic population of 70,000. The “Opening Mass for All” was celebrated Oct. 8 by retired Memphis Bishop J. Terry Steib, who was the diocese’s fourth bishop, and was its first African American shepherd. He headed the diocese for 23 years, retiring in 2016.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has signed a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope John Paul I, clearing the way for his beatification. The Italian pope served only 33 days as pontiff; he died in the papal apartments Sept. 28, 1978, at the age of 65, shocking the world and a church that had just mourned the death of St. Paul VI. The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision along with a number of other sainthood decrees Oct. 13. In the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul I, the approved miracle involved a young girl in Buenos Aires, Argentina, who developed a severe case of acute encephalitis and uncontrollable and life-threatening brain seizures, and eventually entered septic shock. After doctors told family members her death was “imminent,” the local priest encouraged the family, nurses and others to pray to the late pope for his intercession, according to the website of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. A panel of experts studying the cause determined there was no scientific explanation for her complete recovery in 2011 and that it could be attributed to the late pope’s intercession. The Vatican did not immediately announce a date for the beatification ceremony.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christian freedom means respecting other cultures and traditions rather than finding ways to impose “one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing,” Pope Francis said. “How many errors have been made in the history of evangelization by seeking to impose a single cultural model,” the pope said Oct. 13 during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall. “At times, even violence was not spared to make a single point of view prevail. In this way, the church has been deprived of the richness of many local expressions that the cultural traditions of entire peoples bring with them. But this is the exact opposite of Christian freedom,” he said. The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians by reflecting on the freedom from slavery to sin and death that comes from Christ’s death and resurrection. St. Paul’s assertion is that freedom, given to humanity through grace and love, is “the supreme and new law of Christian life,” which “opens us up to welcoming every people and culture, and at the same time opens every people and culture to a greater freedom,” Pope Francis said.
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines congratulated veteran journalist Maria Ressa on being the first Filipino to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulating Ressa Oct. 10, the bishops highlighted the importance of media freedom in the Catholic faith, reported ucanews.com. The Nobel Prize Committee announced Oct. 8 that Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov would share this year’s prize for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in his message to Ressa: “Recent popes have, on occasion, highlighted the important role that the press plays in gauging the health of a healthy democratic society. “For journalists, their work has become more and more difficult because of the level of disinformation and fake news that continue to spread through social communications. The vocation and mission, therefore, of members of the press (as envisioned by our popes) is to contribute not only for the search for truth but, more importantly, to help build a culture of dialogue,” said the message on behalf of the bishops.