Beatified teen showed that heaven is ‘attainable goal,’

By Junno Arocho Esteves
ASSISI, Italy (CNS) – Thousands sang and applauded as Italian teen Carlo Acutis was beatified in a town dear to him and to many Christians around the world: Assisi.
During the Oct. 10 beatification Mass, Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, read Pope Francis’ apostolic letter proclaiming Acutis’ “blessed,” the step before canonization.
“With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servant of God, Carlo Acutis, layman, who, with the enthusiasm of youth, cultivated a friendship with our Lord Jesus, placing the Eucharist and the witness of charity at the center of his life, henceforth shall be called blessed,” the pope decreed.
After the reading of the apostolic letter, the newly beatified teen’s parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, processed toward the altar carrying a reliquary containing their son’s heart.
The reliquary was engraved with one of the teen’s well-known quotes: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”
Pilgrims flocked both to the Basilica of St. Francis for the beatification Mass as well as to the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major, where the newly beatified teen’s remains were on display for veneration.
Men and women, boys and girls passed by the tomb quietly, some stopping to pray the “Our Father.” A young toddler blew a kiss goodbye to the young blessed as she passed by.

Known as the site where a young St. Francis renounced his father’s inheritance and embraced poverty, the shrine – like the city of Assisi and St. Francis himself – held a special place in Acutis’ heart.
The teen loved St. Francis “very much,” his mother, Antonia Salzano, told Catholic News Service Oct. 9. St. Francis “was a very Eucharistic soul who used to attend Mass twice a day,” and her son sought to imitate that same Eucharistic devotion throughout his brief life.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi reflected on the link between the two saintly figures, and proclaimed that by “providential design, (St.) Francis and (Blessed) Carlo are now inseparable.”
“Carlo’s life – always united to Jesus – his love for the Eucharist, his devotion to the Holy Virgin, his making friends with the poor, brought him closer to the spirituality of the Poor One,” St. Francis, Archbishop Sorrentino said at the end of Mass. “Both invite us to live according to the Gospel.”
The liturgy was held inside the Basilica of St. Francis, but measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 meant that most of those attending sat outside on seats set three-feet apart, watching on big screens.
Many young men and women came to Assisi for the beatification. For many of them, the fact that a normal teen could be beatified was a source of hope and inspiration.
“With his life, Carlo made me see that despite the small or even great difficulties – like his illness – that we could live a full and happy life if we keep our eyes looking up toward heaven,” said 19-year-old Rosanna, who was among those attending the beatification.
In his homily, Cardinal Vallini said that Acutis’ beatification “in the land of Francis of Assisi is good news, a strong proclamation that a young man of our time, one like many, was conquered by Christ and became a beacon of light for those who want to know him and follow his example.”
Reflecting on the teen’s life, Cardinal Vallini said that like most young people his age, Carlo was a “normal, simple, spontaneous, friendly” teenager who used modern forms of communication to transmit the “values and beauty of the Gospel.”
For him, “the internet was not just a means of escape, but a space for dialogue, knowledge, sharing and mutual respect that was to be used responsibly, without becoming slaves to it and rejecting digital bullying,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Vallini said that Blessed Acutis was a model of virtue for young men and women today, reminding them not to seek “gratification only in ephemeral successes but in the perennial values that Jesus proposes in the Gospel.”
“He gave witness that faith does not distance us from life but immerses us more deeply in it and showed us the concrete way to live the joy of the Gospel,” the cardinal said. “It is up to us to follow it, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo, so that our lives may also shine with light and hope.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Pope Francis’ teaching in new encyclical called ‘profound and beautiful’

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In his new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” Pope Francis reminds the faithful that “God’s plan for humanity has implications for every aspect of our lives,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
These aspects range “from how we treat one another in our personal relationships, to how we organize and operate our societies and economies,” said edArchbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles in a statement Oct. 4, the day the encyclical was released by the Vatican.
He called the pope’s teaching “profound and beautiful,” and said that “like ‘Laudato Si’’ before it, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ is an important contribution to the church’s rich tradition of social doctrine.”
“In analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“For the church, the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love,” he said, “seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.”
The archbishop prayed Catholics and all people of goodwill “will reflect on our Holy Father’s words here and enter into a new commitment to seek the unity of the human family.”
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said “Fratelli Tutti” is “destined to be a defining document and body of teaching for the pontificate of Pope Francis.” He called it a powerful document in which the pope “again reminds us why he is considered a preeminent moral teacher – and in an extraordinarily critical and fraught moment in human history.”
“The pope begins by identifying the challenges that result from the fragmentation and division afflicting humanity on personal, national and international levels,” the cardinal said.
“These include violence and the prospect of war and civil unrest, racism, the degradation of the environment, the ‘discarding’ of the poor and vulnerable, the crises prompted by the migration of desperate peoples, economies that benefit privileged groups,” Cardinal Cupich said, “and a stridency and coarseness that mark our public discourse and private communications and disable possibilities for real human connection.”
He noted that Pope Francis also offers “a penetrating reflection” on the parable of the good Samaritan, “which engages every one of us and the global community in a self-examination of conscience: ‘Each day we have to decide whether to be good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders.’”
The pontiff “occupies the remainder of the encyclical by reimagining a new and hopeful way of living together, one that is ultimately rooted in love and respect for the dignity of all people,” Cardinal Cupich said.
“This new and hopeful vision involves an openness to and interest in those who are different, leading to the enrichment that comes in the exchange of gifts …, a better kind of politics …, and a culture of dialogue and friendship,” the cardinal added.
“The vision he describes is in sharp contrast to a prevalent way of doing political business: revenge for past losses, the use of force, and a view of economic profit as paramount,” the cardinal said.
Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said he believes the pope’s new encyclical “has come to us at precisely the right time.”
“COVID-19 obviously has not yet ended. Many have spoken about ‘a new normal’ when the virus will have abated,” he said in a statement. “Rather I think that we should make this tragic pandemic an opportunity to think about ‘a new different’ in terms of what we value, who we value and that we are all in this together.

The front page of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, pictures Pope Francis with his latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” at the Vatican Oct. 4, 2020. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

“Pope Francis repeatedly speaks to the renewal of ‘common good’ language and ‘common good’ actions,” Archbishop Gregory said.
The pope provokes us to pursue a shared life and to seeing ‘the other’ as brother and sister, both as human beings and all as fellow creatures in ‘our common home,’” he added. “He invites us to build a ‘culture of encounter’ with pride in expressing how we are Catholics and also how we are enriched by dialogue with all people of goodwill.”
In the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bishop Paul J. Bradley Oct. 6 applauded the pope for his new encyclical, saying: “In these tumultuous and challenging times of great social unrest, we very much need to embrace Pope Francis’ beautiful teachings detailed in ‘Fratelli Tutti.’”
“The Holy Father points to fraternity, dialogue and social friendship as the way to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with a resounding ‘no’ to war and global indifference,” he said.
While the pope “details many of the world’s downfalls” – including war, economic uncertainty, climate change, immigration, violent conflict, nuclear weapons and inequality – “his message of hope is one that resonates with me and hopefully inspires all of us,” Bishop Bradley added.
He encouraged all Catholics to read the encyclical and prayed “we may all take these teachings to heart, allowing, with renewed hope, God’s grace to strengthen us to put these teachings to practice in our lives.”
The leadership of the four branches of the Maryknoll family – the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll Lay Missioners and Maryknoll Affiliates – issued a statement Oct. 6 welcoming this “historic encyclical on peace and dialogue that offers a vision for healing the world from deep social and economic divisions in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“As missioners dedicated to sharing the Gospel through love and hope by serving those most in need around the world, we can attest to the pressing challenges facing the world,” they said. “These are challenges that the Holy Father says can only be met when we come together in love as sisters and brothers, with care like that shown by the good Samaritan.”
They added, “Our lived experience as Maryknoll missioners affirms the pope’s teaching of the parable as a lesson not solely about charity, but also a transformative encounter of mercy.”

Editor’s Note: Printed copies of the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” in English can be ordered from: Printed copies in Spanish can be ordered from:

Nueva encíclica del papa Francisco, descrita como profunda y hermosa

Por Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — En su nueva encíclica, “Fratelli Tutti, sobre la fraternidad y la amistad social”, el papa Francisco recuerda a los fieles que “el plan de Dios para la humanidad tiene implicaciones para todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas”, expresó el presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos.
Estos aspectos van “desde cómo nos tratamos unos a otros en nuestras relaciones personales, hasta cómo organizamos y operamos nuestras sociedades y economías”, explicó el arzobispo José H. Gómez de Los Ángeles en un comunicado el 4 de octubre, día en que el Vaticano publicó la encíclica.

El papa Francisco firma su nueva encíclica, “Fratelli Tutti, sobre la fraternidad y la amistad social” después de celebrar la misa en la Basílica de San Francisco en Asís, Italia, el 3 de octubre de 2020. (Foto CNS/Vatican Media)

El arzobispo Gómez llamó la enseñanza del papa “profunda y hermosa” y dijo que “como ‘Laudato Si’ antes de ella, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ es una contribución importante a la rica tradición de doctrina social de la iglesia”.
“Al analizar las condiciones del mundo de hoy, el Santo Padre nos brinda una visión poderosa y urgente para la renovación moral de la política y las instituciones políticas y económicas desde el nivel local al nivel global, llamándonos a construir un futuro común que realmente sirva para el bien de la persona humana”, señaló el arzobispo Gómez.
“Para la iglesia, el papa nos está desafiando a superar el individualismo en nuestra cultura y a servir a nuestro prójimo con amor”, dijo, “viendo a Jesucristo en cada persona, y buscando una sociedad de justicia y misericordia, compasión y preocupación mutua”.
El cardenal Blase J. Cupich de Chicago expuso que “Fratelli Tutti” está “destinado a ser un documento determinante y un cuerpo de enseñanza para el pontificado del papa Francisco”. Lo llamó un documento poderoso en el que el papa “nos recuerda una vez más por qué se le considera un maestro moral prominente, en un momento extraordinariamente crítico y tenso de la historia humana”.
“El papa comienza identificando los desafíos que resultan de la fragmentación y división que aflige a la humanidad a nivel personal, nacional, e internacional”, indicó el cardenal.
“Estos incluyen la violencia y la perspectiva de guerra y disturbios civiles, el racismo, la degradación del medio ambiente, el ‘descarte’ de los pobres y vulnerables, las crisis provocadas por la migración de pueblos desesperados, economías que benefician a grupos privilegiados”, explicó el cardenal Cupich, agregando, “además de una discordancia y torpeza que marcan nuestro discurso público y comunicaciones privadas y deshabilitan las posibilidades de conexión humana real”.
El pontífice “ocupa el resto de la encíclica re imaginando una nueva y esperanzadora forma de vivir juntos, una que se establece en el amor y respeto por la dignidad de todas las personas”, declaró el cardenal Cupich.
“Esta nueva y esperanzadora visión implica una apertura e interés por aquellas personas que son diferentes, conduciendo al enriquecimiento que viene en el intercambio de regalos …, una mejor política …, y una cultura de diálogo y de amistad, “añadió el cardenal.
“La visión que describe presenta un marcado contraste con la forma predominante de hacer negocios políticos: venganza por pérdidas pasadas, el uso de la fuerza, y una visión de ganancia económica como aspecto primordial”, expuso el cardenal.
El arzobispo de Washington, Wilton D. Gregory, dijo que cree que la nueva encíclica del papa “ha llegado a nosotros precisamente en el momento adecuado”.
“El COVID-19 obviamente aún no ha terminado. Muchos han hablado de ‘una nueva normalidad’ cuando el virus haya sido abatido”, expresó en un comunicado. “Más bien creo que deberíamos hacer de esta trágica pandemia una oportunidad para pensar en ‘una nueva diferencia’ en términos de lo que valoramos, a quién valoramos, y que todos estamos juntos en esto”.
“El papa Francisco habla repetidamente de la renovación del lenguaje del ‘bien común’ y las acciones del ‘bien común'”, explicó el arzobispo Gregory.
El papa nos incita a seguir una vida compartida y a ver al ‘otro’ como hermano y hermana, como seres humanos y todos como semejantes en ‘nuestra casa común'”, añadió. “Nos invita a construir una ‘cultura de encuentro’ con orgullo de expresar que somos católicos y también cómo nos enriquece el diálogo con todas las personas de buena voluntad”.
En la Diócesis de Kalamazoo, Michigan, el obispo Paul J. Bradley el 6 de octubre aplaudió al papa por su nueva encíclica, diciendo: “En estos tiempos tumultuosos y desafiantes de gran malestar social, necesitamos abrazar las hermosas enseñanzas detalladas por el papa Francisco en ‘Fratelli Tutti'”.
“El Santo Padre apunta a la fraternidad, al diálogo, y la amistad social como el camino para construir un mundo mejor, más justo y pacífico, con un rotundo ‘no’ a la guerra y la indiferencia global”, declaró.
Si bien el papa “detalla muchas de las caídas del mundo”, incluidas la guerra, la incertidumbre económica, el cambio climático, la inmigración, los conflictos violentos, las armas nucleares, y la desigualdad, “su mensaje de esperanza es uno que resuena en mí y esperemos que nos inspire a todos”, agregó el obispo Bradley.
El obispo Bradley animó a todos los católicos a leer la encíclica y rezó para que “todos tomemos en serio estas enseñanzas, permitiendo, con renovada esperanza, que la gracia de Dios nos fortalezca para poner estas enseñanzas en práctica en nuestras vidas”.
El liderazgo de las cuatro ramas de la familia Maryknoll — las Hermanas Maryknoll, los Padres y Hermanos Maryknoll, los Misioneros Laicos Maryknoll y los Afiliados Maryknoll — emitieron un comunicado el 6 de octubre dando la bienvenida a esta “encíclica histórica sobre la paz y el diálogo que ofrece una visión de sanación al mundo de las profundas divisiones sociales y económicas en el momento de la pandemia del COVID-19”.
“Como misioneros dedicados a compartir el Evangelio a través del amor y la esperanza al servir a los más necesitados en todo el mundo, podemos dar fe de los desafíos urgentes que enfrenta el mundo”, indicaron. “Estos son desafíos que el Santo Padre dice que solo se pueden enfrentar cuando nos unimos en el amor como hermanas y hermanos, con un cuidado como el del buen samaritano”.
Agregaron: “Nuestra experiencia vivida como misioneros de Maryknoll afirma la enseñanza del papa de la parábola como una lección no solo sobre la caridad, sino también como un encuentro transformador de misericordia”.
El 8 de octubre, la Oficina Maryknoll para Asuntos Globales publicó una guía de estudio de seis páginas para “Fratelli Tutti”, que ofrece puntos clave y citas de cada capítulo de la encíclica, junto con preguntas de reflexión y dos oraciones del papa Francisco. Esta guía se puede descargar en
“La visión esperanzadora de unidad global que ofrece el papa Francisco en ‘Fratelli Tutti’ es fundamental para nuestro tiempo, en el que nos enfrentamos a grandes desafíos y divisiones sociales”, expuso Susan Gunn, directora de la Oficina Maryknoll para Asuntos Globales.
“Estamos entusiasmados de compartir esta guía, que esperamos que permita a las personas y a grupos pequeños aprender las enseñanzas del papa Francisco y utilizarlas para construir paz y solidaridad en sus relaciones, la comunidad, y el mundo”, comentó.

Pope to U.N.: Respect for each human life is essential for peace, equality

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked members of the United Nations how they think they can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and build a more peaceful, more just world when many of their countries spend billions on military weapons and when their treatment of the unborn, of refugees and of women shows so little respect for human life.
“We must ask ourselves if the principal threats to peace and security – poverty, epidemics, terrorism and so many others – can be effectively countered when the arms race, including nuclear weapons, continues to squander precious resources that could better be used to benefit the integral development of peoples and protect the natural environment,” the pope said in his video address, which was broadcast Sept. 25.
On the fifth anniversary of his visit to the U.N. in New York, Pope Francis returned to themes he has repeated since the COVID-19 pandemic began: Humanity faces a choice between trying to go back to an often unjust “normal” or taking the opportunity to rethink economic and political policies, putting the good of all people and the environment ahead of concern for maintaining the lifestyles of wealthy individuals and nations.
He drew particular attention to the pandemic’s impact on children, “including unaccompanied young migrants and refugees,” as well as to reports that “violence against children, including the horrible scourge of child abuse and pornography, has also dramatically increased.”
With millions of children still out of school, he said, there is a risk of “an increase in child labor, exploitation, abuse and malnutrition.”

Pope Francis delivers a prerecorded address to the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly; the recording from the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace was aired Sept. 25, 2020. (CNS screenshot/Chaz Muth)

“Sad to say, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called ‘essential services’ provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic,” he said. “It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.”
Pope Francis insisted that addressing the pandemic and building a more just and equitable world involves looking at every aspect of national and international life.
The pandemic “can represent a concrete opportunity for conversion, for transformation, for rethinking our way of life and our economic and social systems, which are widening the gap between rich and poor based on an unjust distribution of resources,” he said. Or “the pandemic can be the occasion for a ‘defensive retreat’ into greater individualism and elitism.”
The latter path, he said, “emphasizes self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism and isolation; it excludes the poor, the vulnerable and those dwelling on the peripheries of life. That path would certainly be detrimental to the whole community, causing self-inflicted wounds on everyone. It must not prevail.”
When companies, including those being assisted by government handouts during the pandemic, focus more on profits than on job creation, they contribute to the “throwaway culture,” which treats people as less important than wealth, he said.
“At the origin of this throwaway culture is a gross lack of respect for human dignity, the promotion of ideologies with reductive understandings of the human person, a denial of the universality of fundamental human rights, and a craving for absolute power and control that is widespread in today’s society,” he said. “Let us name this for what it is: an attack against humanity itself.”
The pope called on countries to work together to fulfill the ideals upon which the U.N. was founded 75 years ago, particular in peacemaking, defending human rights and caring for the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged.
“It is in fact painful to see the number of fundamental human rights that in our day continue to be violated with impunity,” he said, speaking of a “frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom and hope for the future.”
“Religious believers continue to endure every kind of persecution, including genocide, because of their beliefs,” he said. “We Christians, too, are victims of this: how many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering, forced at times to flee from their ancestral lands, cut off from their rich history and culture.”
But the pope also drew special attention to situation of refugees, migrants and the internally displaced fleeing conflict, persecution and extreme poverty.
In an apparent reference to the situation in the Mediterranean, he denounced how “thousands are intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention camps, where they meet with torture and abuse. Many of these become victims of human trafficking, sexual slavery or forced labor, exploited in degrading jobs and denied a just wage. This is intolerable, yet intentionally ignored by many!”
Nations have entered into regional and international agreements to assist migrants and refugees, but often are lacking the political support at home to make them a reality or the countries just “shirk their responsibilities and commitments,” he said.
“The pandemic has shown us that we cannot live without one another, or worse still, (be) pitted against one another,” Pope Francis insisted. “The United Nations was established to bring nations together, to be a bridge between peoples. Let us make good use of this institution in order to transform the challenge that lies before us into an opportunity to build together, once more, the future we all desire.”

God listens to everybody – sinner, saint, victim, killer

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Everyone lives a life that is often inconsistent or a “contradiction” because people can be both a sinner and a saint, a victim and a tormentor, Pope Francis said.
No matter what one’s situation is, people can put themselves back in God’s hands through prayer, he said June 24 during his weekly general audience.
“Prayer gives us nobility; it is able to protect one’s relationship with God, who is the true companion along humanity’s journey, amidst thousands of hardships in life, good or bad, but always with prayer,” he said.
The audience, livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, was the pope’s last general audience talk until Aug. 5, according to Vatican News. His Sunday Angelus address was to continue throughout July, however.
With the start of summer vacation for many, the pope said he hoped people could have a peaceful moment of rest despite the ongoing restrictions “connected to the threat of infection from the coronavirus.” 
May it be a time of “enjoyment of the beauty of creation and a strengthening of ties with mankind and with God,” he said in greetings to Polish-speaking viewers and listeners.
In his main talk, the pope continued his series on prayer and reflected on the role prayer played in the life of David – a young shepherd whom God called to become king of Israel.
David learned early in life that a shepherd takes care of his flock, protects them from danger and provides for them, the pope said.
Jesus, too, is called “the good shepherd” because he offers his life for his flock, guiding them, knowing each one by name, he said.
When David was later confronted for his terrible sins, he realized he had become a “bad shepherd,” someone who was “sick with power, a poacher who kills and loots,” the pope said.

Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican June 24, 2020. During the audience, the pope said people can put themselves back in God’s hands through prayer. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

He no longer acted like a humble servant but had robbed another man of the only thing he loved when he took the man’s wife as his own.
David wanted to be a good shepherd, but sometimes he failed and sometimes he succeeded, the pope said.
“Saint and sinner, persecuted and persecutor, victim and even executioner,” David was full of contradictions – being all of these things in his life, he said.
But the one thing that stayed constant was his prayerful dialogue with God. “David the saint, prays, David the sinner, prays,” always lifting his voice to God either in joy or deep despair, the pope said.
This is what David can teach the faithful today, he said: to always speak with God, no matter the circumstances or one’s state of being, because everyone’s life is often marked by contradiction and inconsistencies. 
People should tell God about their joy, sins, sorrows and love – everything, the pope said, because God is always there, and he listens.
Prayer returns people to God “because the nobility of prayer leaves us in God’s hands,” he said.
The pope also noted the day’s feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist. 
He asked that people learn from this saint, how to be courageous witnesses of the Gospel, above and beyond any individual differences, “preserving harmony and friendship that are the basis for the credibility of any proclamation of faith.”

Catechesis is about a relationship, not just information

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Teaching the faith is a work of evangelization meant to lead people to a deeper relationship with Jesus and not just impart information, said the updated “Directory for Catechesis.”
The directory, released by the Vatican June 25, lists the goals and essential elements of catechesis and is meant to guide the drafting of national catechisms and catechetical directories that take into account specifics of the local culture and the needs of Catholics at different ages and stages of life.
Previous versions of the directory were approved in 1971 by St. Paul VI and in 1997 by St. John Paul II.
The directory was released in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French; the English and other translations were still being prepared as of June 25.
The updated content, according to the foreword, responds specifically to Pope Francis’ 2013 exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), and to the 2012 meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

This is the cover of the updated “Directory for Catechesis.” The English version directory of the directory is still being translated, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is taking pre-orders. (CNS photo/USCCB) See VATICAN-CATECHETICAL-DIRECTORY and BARRON-CATECHETICAL-DIRECTORY June 25, 2020.

Like the previous versions, the directory insists on catechetical programs that teach the basics of Christian faith: God’s love for each person; salvation in Jesus Christ; belief in the Trinity; and “the definitive call to gather scattered humanity into the church,” bringing people into communion with God and fostering unity among them.
While the 1997 directory insisted parishes provide suitable catechesis for members with physical or developmental disabilities, the updated directory expands the discussion to preparation for the sacraments.
“Persons with disabilities are called to the fullness of sacramental life, even in the presence of serious ailments,” it said. “The sacraments are the gifts of God and the liturgy, before being understood rationally, is meant to be lived. Therefore, no one can refuse the sacraments to persons with disabilities.”
The revised directory also includes expanded sections on catechesis tailored for migrants and refugees, for immigrants and for people who are incarcerated.
Because the faith is lived in human communities, it said, catechesis must take into account the challenges and problems of the societies in which Catholics live and should draw on Catholic social teaching, which applies Gospel values to social, political and economic questions.
“Catechesis participates in the church’s challenge to oppose processes centered on injustice, exclusion of the poor and the primacy of money in order to be a prophetic sign” of promoting a full and dignified life for all people, it said.
The new directory also significantly expands the 1997 directory’s entries on ecumenism, relations with Judaism and relations with other religions.
“Especially in contexts where the divisions among Christians are more visible,” it said, catechesis should “take care to affirm that the divisions are a serious wound that contradict the will of the Lord and that Catholics are called to participate actively in the ecumenical movement, especially with their prayers.”
Technology, social media, online learning and biomedical questions – referenced only in passing in the 1997 directory – are treated in more depth, but always recalling that simply because something is technically possible does not mean it is ethically acceptable.
In other modern issues, the directory said that “a widespread position about what today is presented under the title ‘gender’ calls into question the revealed fact: ‘Male and female he created them.'”
The position, it said, holds that a person’s gender “is no longer an originating fact which the person must accept and fill with meaning, but rather a social construct which one determines autonomously, totally unconnected to biological sex. The person denies his or her nature and decides to create it for him- or herself.”
“The church is well aware of the complexity” some people face regarding their sexual identity, the directory said. “It does not judge people but calls for them to be accompanied always and in every situation. However, it is aware that, from the perspective of faith, sexuality is not only a physical fact, but a personal reality, a value entrusted to the responsibility of the person.”
“Sexual identity and lived experience must be a response to the original call of God,” it said.
The 1997 directory had a paragraph on “environmental catechesis,” which referred to the fact that people living in a rural or urban environment may have different experiences of nature, of poverty and of faith.
The new directory has a section on “catechesis and ecological commitment,” emphasizing how faith in God the creator implies a responsibility to care for all that God created.
“A catechesis sensitive to safeguarding creation will promote a culture of attention both to the environment and to the people who inhabit it,” the directory said.
In 2013, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI shifted responsibility for catechesis from the Congregation for Clergy to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.
In the updated directory, the link between catechesis and the new evangelization is clear and it calls for a “missionary transformation” of catechism programs.
“Evangelization occupies the primary place in the life of the church and in the everyday teaching of Pope Francis. It could not be otherwise,” Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the pontifical council told reporters June 25.
“Evangelization is the task that the Risen Lord has entrusted his church,” he said. “To ignore this premise would be tantamount to making the Christian community one of just many meritorious associations, strong in its 2,000 years of history, but not the church of Christ.”
Among its guiding principles, the directory listed the church’s “firm trust in the Holy Spirit, who is present and acts in the church, in the world and in the hearts of men and women.” That affirmation, it said, should bring joy, serenity and a sense of responsibility to all who are called to teach the faith.
The directory also insists that while faith is born of a personal encounter with Jesus, that encounter takes place through and grows within the community of the church, that every baptized Catholic is responsible for sharing the faith and that belief always must give rise to witness through acts of charity.
And while church teaching does not change from continent to continent, the way it is proposed and explained will be most effective only if it considers the language, culture, age and experience of those listening, it said.
“The Gospel is not addressed to an abstract person, but to each real, concrete, historic person who is living in a particular situation and marked by psychological, social, cultural and religious dynamics,” the directory said.
Effective catechesis also must be adapted to each person’s age and state of life, it said. “Faith is not a linear process” and each stage of growth can bring new and different challenges and raise new questions about how best to live one’s Christian vocation.
And, it said, if faith is a gift that is passed on through and grows in a community, it is especially true of the family, which deserves the assistance and support of the church in carrying out its role as the first and primary teacher of faith.

Pope clears way to sainthood for three, advances causes of others

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of two women and 11 men, including a miracle attributed to Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
In a meeting May 27 with Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the pope also authorized decrees recognizing miracles attributed to Blessed Cesar de Bus, founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, and Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.
The pope’s recognition of the miracles ascribed to Blesseds de Foucauld, de Bus and Mantovani clear the way for their canonization.
Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858, Blessed de Foucauld lost his faith during his adolescence. However, during a trip to Morocco, he saw how Muslims expressed their faith, so he returned to the church.
His rediscovery of his Christian faith prompted him to join Trappist monasteries for seven years in France and Syria, before choosing to live a life of prayer and adoration alone.
After his ordination to the priesthood in 1901, he chose to live among the poor and finally settled in Tamanrasset, Algeria, until 1916, when he was killed by a band of marauders.
Although he lived several centuries before Blessed de Foucauld, Blessed de Bus was born in France and, like his compatriot, also lived his early adulthood away from his faith.
After returning to the church, he entered the priesthood and was ordained in 1582. Ten years later, he founded the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a religious congregation dedicated to education, pastoral ministry and catechesis. He died in Avignon, France, in 1607.
From the age of 15, Blessed Mantovani, born in 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy, played an active role in her parish. Her spiritual director, Father Giuseppe Nascimbeni, encouraged her to teach catechism and visit the sick.
In 1892, Blessed Mantovani co-founded the Little Sisters of the Holy Family with Father Nascimbeni and became the congregation’s first superior general. During her time leading the congregation, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and needy as well as assisting the sick and the elderly.
After her death in 1934, the Little Sisters of the Holy Family spread throughout Europe, Africa and South America.
The other decrees approved by Pope Francis May 27 recognized:
– The miracle needed for the beatification of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. He was born in 1852 and died in 1890.
– The miracle needed for the beatification of Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, foundress of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and of the Association of the Living Rosary. She was born in 1799 and died in 1862.
– The martyrdom of Cistercian Friar Simon Cardon and five companions, who were killed in 1799 by French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars.
– The martyrdom of Franciscan Father Cosma Spessotto, who was killed by assassins in San Juan Nonualco, El Salvador, in 1980, several months after St. Oscar Romero was killed.
– The heroic virtues of French Bishop Melchior-Marie-Joseph de Marion-Bresillac, founder of the Society of African Missions. He was born in 1813 in Castelnaudary, France, and died in 1859 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


WASHINGTON (CNS) – Dos encuestas separadas muestran que los estadounidenses confían más en su fe para ayudar a perseverar durante la pandemia de coronavirus. El Centro de Investigación Pew, en una encuesta publicada el 30 de abril, mostró que casi un cuarto de todos los estadounidenses dice que su fe se ha fortalecido durante la pandemia, mientras que solo el 2% dijo que se había debilitado.
NUEVA ORLEANS (CNS) – Citando las crecientes preocupaciones sobre el impacto financiero de resoluciones extrajudiciales por abuso sexual del clero y la pandemia de coronavirus, la Arquidiócesis de Nueva Orleans solicitó el Capítulo 11 la reorganización de las finanzas de sus oficinas administrativas el 1 de mayo en el Tribunal de Bancarrota de los Estados Unidos para el Distrito Este de Luisiana.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Con las colecciones del ofertorio de la misa dominical prácticamente inexistentes durante la pandemia de coronavirus, las diócesis ayudan a las parroquias a encontrar ingresos, incluidos los fondos PPP, en fuentes de ingresos para ayudar a evitar que una crisis se convierta en una segunda crisis, en medio de la pandemia. La última indicación es que alrededor de 8,000 de las 17,000 parroquias de los Estados Unidos han solicitado préstamos con éxito.

COVID-19 coronavirus in USA, 100 dollar money bill with face mask. Coronavirus affects global stock market. World economy hit by corona virus outbreak and pandemic fears. Crisis and finance concept.

CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – El Papa Francisco en sus misas matutinas ha estado rezando por:
• Periodistas y miembros de los medios de comunicación que, a pesar de los riesgos, trabajan incansablemente para informar al público de la pandemia en curso.
• Los sacerdotes y los médicos que dieron su vida cuidando el bienestar espiritual y físico de los demás durante la pandemia de coronavirus son como Jesús, el buen pastor, que dio su vida por su rebaño.
• Familias de todo el mundo que han sido restringidas a sus hogares debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, el Papa Francisco incluyó la mención de víctimas de violencia doméstica.
• Los trabajadores, especialmente a aquellos pagados injusta o virtualmente esclavizados en la fiesta de San José el Trabajador, celebrada también como el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores y como el Día del Trabajo en muchos países.
CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNS) – Caritas Honduras ha pedido transparencia en la distribución de la asistencia COVID-19, que, de acuerdo con un creciente aumento de las acusaciones, se ha utilizado con fines políticos en el país empobrecido y plagado de corrupción. El padre German Calix, director de Caritas Honduras, dijo a Catholic News Service que el brazo caritativo de la iglesia quería una investigación para “probar o refutar” las acusaciones de suministros médicos que se compran a precios inflados y de funcionarios locales, responsables de proporcionar alimentos a las personas en cuarentena, que solo ofrecen asistencia a los afiliados al partido político en el poder.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – La vendedora callejera Marisol Maradiaga, que vive en la calle después de no poder seguir pagando el alquiler, juega con sus hijos en el 23 de abril de 2020, durante la pandemia de COVID-19. (Foto del CNS/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters)

SAO PAULO (CNS) – La conferencia de los obispos brasileños elogió un fallo de la Corte Suprema de que las mujeres infectadas con el virus Zika no podían abortar. “No corresponde a ninguna autoridad pública reconocer selectivamente el derecho a la vida, asegurándolo a algunos y negándolo a otros”, dijeron los obispos.
LIMA, Perú (CNS) – Los líderes católicos advierten que a medida que la pandemia de coronavirus se extienda a la cuenca del Amazonas, la región podría enfrentar una “tragedia humanitaria y ambiental”. Las personas indígenas que sufren violencia por sus esfuerzos para defender sus tierras contra mineros, madereros y acaparadores de tierras también corren un gran riesgo debido a COVID-19, según un comunicado de la Red de Iglesias Pan-Amazonas, REPAM. “El dolor y el lamento de la gente y la tierra se unen en un solo grito”, escribieron en la declaración, fechada el 18 de mayo.

A nurse adjusts an oxygen tank next to a tent for COVID-19 patients in the parking lot of a hospital in Lima, Peru, April 16, 2020. As coronavirus cases surge in Peru’s two largest LIMA, Perú – Una enfermera ajusta un tanque de oxígeno junto a una carpa para pacientes con COVID-19 en el estacionamiento de un hospital el 16 de abril de 2020. A medida que aumentan los casos de coronavirus en las dos ciudades amazónicas más grandes de Perú, Iquitos y Pucallpa, los líderes católicos estan luchando por encontrar formas de proporcionar a los enfermos la necesidad de salud más básica, oxígeno vital. (Foto del CNS/Sebastián Castaneda, Reuters).

The Pope’s Corner: Baptism is first step on path of humility

By Carol Glatz
ROME (CNS) – In asking to be baptized, Jesus exemplifies the Christian calling to follow along the path of humility and meekness rather than strutting about and being a showoff, Pope Francis said.
Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 12, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the pope said that Christ’s humble act shows “the attitude of simplicity, respect, moderation and concealment required of the Lord’s disciples today.”
“How many – it’s sad to say – of the Lord’s disciples show off about being disciples of the Lord. A person who shows off isn’t a good disciple. A good disciple is humble, meek, one who does good without letting himself or herself be seen,” Pope Francis said during his midday Angelus address.
The pope began the day celebrating Mass and baptizing 32 babies –17 boys and 15 girls – in the Sistine Chapel. In his brief homily before baptizing the infants, the pope told parents that the sacrament is a treasure that gives children “the strength of the Spirit.”

Pope Francis baptizes one of 32 babies as he celebrates Mass on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 12, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“That is why it’s so important to baptize children, so that they grow with the strength of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“This is the message that I would like to give you today. You have brought your children here today so that they may have the Holy Spirit within them. Take care that they grow with the light, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, through catechesis, through helping them, through teaching them, through the examples that you will give them at home,” he said.
As the sounds of fussy children filled the frescoed chapel, the pope repeated his usual advice to mothers of infants, encouraging them to make their children comfortable, and to not worry if they start to cry in the chapel.
“Don’t get upset; let the children cry and scream. But, if your child cries and complains, perhaps it’s because they feel too hot,” he said. “Take something off them, or if they are hungry, breastfeed them; here, yes, always in peace.”
Later, before praying the Angelus with pilgrims, Pope Francis said that the feast of the Lord’s baptism “reminds us of our own baptism,” and he asked the pilgrims to find out the date they were baptized.
“Celebrate the date of your baptism every year in your heart. Do it. It is also a duty of justice to the Lord who has been so good to us,” the pope said.

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Pope lifts secrecy obligation for those who report having been abused

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has abolished the obligation of secrecy for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse.
“The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case,” the pope ordered in a new “Instruction On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings,” published Dec. 17.
In an accompanying note, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the change regarding the “pontifical secret” has nothing to do with the seal of the sacrament of confession.
“The absolute obligation to observe the sacramental seal,” he said, “is an obligation imposed on the priest by reason of the position he holds in administering the sacrament of confession and not even the penitent can free him of it.”

Pope Francis and prelates from around the world attend a penitential liturgy during a meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican in this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo. In a decision published Dec. 17 the pope abolished the obligation of secrecy for abuse victims during Vatican trials and processes. (CNS photo/Evandro Inetti, pool)

The instruction was published by the Vatican along with changes to the already-updated “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” (“Safeguarding the Sanctity of the Sacraments”), the 2001 document issued by St. John Paul II outlining procedures for the investigation and trial of any member of the clergy accused of sexually abusing a child or vulnerable adult or accused of acquiring, possessing or distributing child pornography.
In the first of the amendments, Pope Francis changed the definition of child pornography. Previously the subject was a person under the age of 14. The new description of the crime says, “The acquisition, possession or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of 18, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology.”
In describing the procedural norms for how the tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to be composed and conducted, Pope Francis has removed the requirement that the legal representative of the accused be a priest. The law now reads: “The role of advocate or procurator is carried out by a member of the faithful possessing a doctorate in canon law, who is approved by the presiding judge of the college.”
But the abolition of the pontifical secret over the entire Vatican process is the greatest change made. And, not only are victims and witnesses free to discuss the case, the amended law specifies that the still-in-effect obligation of Vatican officials to maintain confidentiality “shall not prevent the fulfillment of the obligations laid down in all places by civil laws, including any reporting obligations, and the execution of enforceable requests of civil judicial authorities.”
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Vatican’s chief abuse investigator, told America Magazine the new law makes clear that “anybody who discloses misconduct or a crime and anybody who is impacted by the misconduct or the crime, and the witnesses, should never be subject to a vow or a promise of silence on the fact that they have reported.”
The new law, he said, explicitly states people’s “moral duty” to cooperate with civil authorities in reporting and investigating the crime of abuse. “Moreover, there is an obligation not to bind people who disclose misconduct or crimes by any promise or vow of silence,” he explained.
In a separate interview with Vatican News, Archbishop Scicluna described as an “epochal change” the pope’s decision to drop the “pontifical secret” – the highest level of confidentiality. “That means, of course, the question of transparency now is being implemented at the highest level,” he said.
The new rules do not mean that documents from Vatican abuse investigations and trials will be made public, he said, but “they are available for authorities, or people who are interested parties, and authorities who have a statutory jurisdiction over the matter.”
In the past, when a government or court asked the Vatican for information on a case, the response usually was that the material was covered by “pontifical secret.” Now, Archbishop Scicluna said, once “all the formalities of international law” are fulfilled, communication with other authorities “and the sharing of information and documentation are facilitated.”
In September 2017, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors asked Pope Francis to reconsider Vatican norms maintaining the imposition of “pontifical secret” in the church’s judicial handling of clerical sex abuse and other grave crimes.
The secret ensures cases are dealt with in strict confidentiality. Vatican experts have said it was designed to protect the dignity of everyone involved, including the victim, the accused, their families and their communities.
But when Pope Francis called the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to the Vatican for a summit on the abuse crisis in February, victims and experts alike urged a revision of the policy.
Linda Ghisoni, a canon lawyer and undersecretary for laity at the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, told the summit removing the pontifical secret from abuse cases would reverse a situation or the impression of a situation where secrecy “is used to hide problems rather than protect the values at stake,” including the confidentiality of the victims and the right of an accused to a fair trial.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, told the summit that removing the pontifical secret would promote transparency in a scandal where the lack of transparency has meant “the rights of victims were effectively trampled underfoot and left to the whims of individuals.”
In his commentary, Bishop Arrieta noted that already in May with the publication of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) on procedures for handling allegations of abuse or of the cover-up of abuse, Pope Francis already banned imposing confidentiality agreements on victims.
The bishop also took pains to note that the abolition of absolute secrecy – the “pontifical secret,” which is invoked with an oath – was not the same thing as removing all obligations for confidentiality.
The “secrecy of the office” still applies to Vatican officials and others involved in an investigation or trial of a cleric accused of abuse or of a bishop or religious superior accused of cover-up. Except for sharing information with civil authorities, the basic professional secrecy serves, as the new law says, to protect “the good name, image and privacy of all persons involved.”