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.”

Pope marks 50 years as a priest by presenting writings of his spiritual director

By Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS) – As part of the celebrations for his 50th anniversary of priesthood, Pope Francis chose to personally present a multi-volume collection of writings by his longtime spiritual director, the late Jesuit Father Miguel Angel Fiorito.
In addition to presenting the Spanish-language collection, “Escritos” (“Writings”), at a conference at the Jesuit headquarters Dec. 13, Pope Francis wrote an introduction to it, saying the publication is “a consolation for those of us who, for many years, were nourished by his teachings. These writings will be a great good for the whole church.”

Pope Francis enjoys a light moment during the presentation of a collection of writings by his former spiritual director Dec. 13, 2019, at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome. The pope is joined by: Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica; Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, superior of the order; and Jesuit Father Jose Luis Narvaja, the pope’s nephew and editor of the collection. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

But he started the celebrations much earlier in the day, inviting cardinals living in Rome to join him in the chapel of his residence for morning Mass. The Vatican did not release the text of a homily or photographs, but the Vatican newspaper printed the greetings of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.
“On this happy occasion of your 50th anniversary of priesthood, in the name of all my brother cardinals, I wish you all the best with the deepest thanks for your generous daily service to the holy church of God,” the cardinal said.
At the evening book presentation, Pope Francis said he had suggested having one of Father Fiorito’s “disciples” as the main speaker. The editor of La Civilta Cattolica, which published the books, asked the pope who he had in mind. “‘Me,’ I said. And here we are.”
Presenting the book at the Jesuit headquarters, he said, “is a way for me to express my gratitude for all that the Society of Jesus has given me and has done for me,” and it is a way to encourage all the men and women around the world who offer spiritual direction to others following the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The collection was curated by Argentine Jesuit Father Jose Luis Narvaja, the pope’s nephew, whom the pope described as another of Father Fiorito’s disciples in a “school” of thought where general principles were held in common, but “the disciples could develop it, following the spirit – not just the letter – of the master with freedom and creativity.”
The collection, the pope wrote in the introduction, is a “distillation” of “spiritual mercy: teaching for those who do not know, good counsel for those who need it, correction for those who err, consolation for those who are sad and help in being patient for those in desolation.”
Spiritual mercy, he continued, is summed up in teaching people discernment in the tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a process of “curing spiritual blindness, a sad illness that prevents us from recognizing God’s time, the time of his coming.”
While Father Fioriti gave hundreds of conferences and talks, he wrote only two books. Pope Francis said that “around 1985” he was asked to write the prologue to Father Fiorito’s book on discernment and spiritual warfare. He described discernment has “having the courage to see divine footprints in our human tracks.”
Father Fiorito, who became his spiritual director in 1961, the pope wrote, “had a special nose for sniffing out the evil spirit; he could identify his action, recognize his tics, unmask him because of his bad fruits and the bad aftertaste and trail of desolation he left in his passing.”
Father Fiorito “was fundamentally a man of dialogue and listening,” the pope said. “He taught many to pray – to dialogue in friendship with God – and to discern ‘the signs of the times,’ dialoguing with other people and with the reality of every culture. His school of spirituality is a school of dialogue and listening, open to listening to and dialoguing with anyone ‘with a good spirit,’ testing everything and retaining only that which is good.”
Introducing the collection in La Civilta Cattolica, Father Narvaja wrote that the “theological and pastoral nucleus” of Father Fiorito’s teaching can clearly be seen in the teaching and actions of Pope Francis.

A world without nuclear weapons is possible, pope says in Japan

By Cindy Wooden
HIROSHIMA, Japan (CNS) – Saying it is “perverse” to think the threat of nuclear weapons makes the world safer, Pope Francis urged a renewed commitment to disarmament and to the international treaties designed to limit or eliminate nuclear weapons.
Pope Francis began his first full day in Japan Nov. 24 with a somber visit in the pouring rain to Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, a memorial to the tens of thousands who died when the United States dropped a bomb on the city in 1945. In the evening, he visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, honoring the tens of thousands killed by an atomic bomb there, too.
“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home,” Pope Francis told several hundred people gathered with him in Hiroshima.
“The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago.” he said. “We will be judged on this.”

Pope Francis prays as he visits the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth,” the pope said. “How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war? How can we speak about peace even as we justify illegitimate actions by speeches filled with discrimination and hate?”
A policy of nuclear deterrence – counting on mutually assured destruction – to keep the peace makes no sense, the pope said. “How can we propose peace if we constantly invoke the threat of nuclear war as a legitimate recourse for the resolution of conflicts?”
The pope spoke in Hiroshima after listening to the horrifying stories of two survivors of the blast: Yoshiko Kajimoto, who was 14 in 1945; and Kojí Hosokawa, who was 17. Almost everyone they knew then is gone.
Kajimoto was working in a factory when the bomb was dropped. She was buried under timber and tiles, but eventually managed to get free. “When I went outside, all the surrounding buildings were destroyed,” she told the pope. “It was as dark as evening and smelled like rotten fish.
Helping evacuate the injured, she saw “people walking side by side like ghosts, people whose whole body was so burnt that I could not tell the difference between men and women, their hair standing on end, their faces swollen to double size, their lips hanging loose, with both hands held out with burnt skin hanging from them.”
“No one in this world can imagine such a scene of hell,” she said.
Hosokawa, was not able to attend the ceremony with the pope, but his testimony was read: “I think everyone should realize that the atomic bombs were dropped, not on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but on all humanity.”
“War,” he wrote, “makes people crazy, and the ultimate craziness is the atomic bomb that negated human existence.”
The pope began the day honoring victims of the Nagasaki bombing, laying a wreath of flowers at a memorial to the 27,000 people killed instantly the day the bomb was dropped and the tens of thousands who died over the next five months from burns and radiation sickness, the pope prayed silently. Then he lit a peace candle.
The Atomic Hypocenter Park is near the ruins of the city’s Catholic cathedral, which was the largest church in east Asia until the bomb destroyed it. The ruins, including a damaged wooden statue of Mary, are reminders, the pope said, of “the unspeakable horror suffered in the flesh by the victims of the bombing and their families.”
Thinking that developing, stockpiling and modernizing nuclear weapons is a deterrent to war provides only a “false sense of security,” the pope said. What is more, it feeds fear and mistrust, which hinder dialogue.
“Convinced as I am that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary,” the pope said, “I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security.”
Pope Francis warned of the risk that the international arms control framework is being dismantled. The Vatican has expressed increasing concern about U.S. President Donald Trump’s continuing delay in beginning talks with Russia on extending or renewing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and for allowing the U.S.-Russian treaty on intermediate-range weapons to expire.
“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere,” the pope said in Nagasaki.
The use of nuclear weapons is not the only threat the arms pose, he said, pointing to the billions of dollars spent each year on maintaining nuclear stockpiles and developing new weapons when millions of people are starving and dying in poverty.

Music, art are a gateway to discover God’s greatness

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Liturgical musicians have the unique calling to interpret God’s will and love through song and praise, Pope Francis said.
“Every Christian, in fact, is an interpreter of the will of God in his or her own life, and by his or her life sings a joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God,” the pope said Nov. 9 during a meeting with participants at a Vatican conference on interpreting sacred music.
The conference, titled “Church, Music, Interpreters: A Necessary Dialogue,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music and the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.
Reflecting on the conference theme, the pope said most people think of interpreters as a kind of translator who conveys what “he or she has received in such a way that another person can understand it.”
Although good interpreters in the field of music essentially “translate” what a composer has written, they also should feel “great humility before a work of art that is not their property,” and to “bring out the beauty of the music.”

Organist Johann Vexo of Paris rehearses April 25, 2019, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Liturgical musicians have the unique calling to interpret God’s will and love through song and praise, Pope Francis said Nov. 9 during a meeting with participants at a Vatican conference on interpreting sacred music. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Within the context of the liturgy, he added, music is a way for Christians “to serve others through the works they perform.”
“Every interpreter is called to develop a distinctive sensibility and genius in the service of art which refreshes the human spirit and in service to the community,” the pope said. “This is especially the case if the interpreter carries out a liturgical ministry.”
Pope Francis thanked the participants for their commitment and – citing the words of his predecessor St. Paul VI – said that music ministers have the great task of “grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colors and forms, thus making them accessible.”
“The artist, the interpreter and – in the case of music – the listener, all have the same desire,” the pope said: “To understand what beauty, music and art allow us to know of God’s grandeur. Now perhaps more than ever, men and women have need of this. Interpreting that reality is essential for today’s world.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Arzobispo Gómez, primer Latino, presidente de USCCB

Por Dennis Sadowski
BALTIMORE (CNS) – El arzobispo José H. Gómez de Los Ángeles fue elegido para un mandato de tres años como presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos (USCCB) durante la asamblea general de otoño de los obispos en Baltimore.
El nativo de México fue elegido el 12 de noviembre con 176 votos de una lista de 10 nominados.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, right, speaks alongside an unidentified clergyman during a meeting in Rome with U.S. Encuentro representatives Sept. 13, 2019. Encuentro representatives were in Rome to present findings from the Fifth National Encuentro to Pope Francis and Vatican officials. (CNS photo/USCCB)

El arzobispo Gómez, de 67 años, es el primer latino en ser elegido presidente. Se ha desempeñado como vicepresidente de la conferencia durante los últimos tres años, trabajando junto al cardenal Daniel N. DiNardo de Galveston-Houston, el presidente saliente. Su mandato como presidente comienza cuando termina la asamblea.
El prelado de Los Ángeles ha sido uno de los principales defensores de los derechos de los inmigrantes, y a menudo ha expresado su apoyo a los recién llegados a medida que enfrentan las crecientes restricciones implementadas por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional y otras agencias federales.