Defend church from those who seek to destroy it

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As the Synod of Bishops finished its work, Pope Francis called on all Catholics to defend the church from those who are influenced by the “great accuser” seeking to destroy it.
After thanking the synod members, observers and experts following the vote on the final document Oct. 27, the pope said that although church members are sinful, “our mother (the church) is holy,” but “because of our sins, the great accuser always takes advantage.”
While in some parts of the world, Christians suffer persecution because of their faith in Jesus, there is “another type of persecution – continuous accusations – in order to dirty the church. The church cannot be dirtied. The children, yes, we are all dirty, but not the mother. Therefore, this is the time to defend the mother,” he said.
“It is a difficult moment,” he continued, “because through us, the great accuser wants to attack the mother. And no one touches the mother!”
Before concluding the synod’s final meeting, Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako of Bagdad, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch and synod president-delegate, said the synod “was a gift for us and for the whole church.”
Cardinal Sako also appealed to the pope, the synod members and young people to not forget about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
“If the Middle East is emptied of Christians, Christianity will be left without its roots,” he said. “We need your humanitarian and spiritual support as well as your solidarity, friendship and closeness until the storm passes.”
The patriarch also reiterated the support of the world’s bishops for Pope Francis. Citing an Arab saying, Cardinal Sako told the pope that “the fruitful tree is struck with stones.”
“Go forward with courage and trust,” he told the pope. “The barque of Peter is not like other ships. The barque of Peter, despite the waves, remains firm because Jesus is inside, and he will never leave it.”
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, also expressed the assembly’s “filial affection and profound adherence to your Petrine ministry.”
Addressing the young people who served as synod observers, Cardinal Baldisseri thanked them for “their presence, their contributions, their interventions and their suggestions. They have show us the freshness of their youth, their generosity, imagination and resourcefulness.”
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis also thanked the young men and women at the synod “who brought their music here to us in the hall.”
“Music is the diplomatic word for uproar,” he said to laughter and applause.
The synod, he said, “is not a parliament” but rather “a protected space for the Holy Spirit to act.”
The fruit of the synod, he added, is not just a final document for Catholics around the world, but a work of the Spirit that must first “do something in us, it must work in us.”
“We are the recipients of the (final) document. It is primarily for us. Yes, it will help many others, but we are the first recipients. The Holy Spirit did this among us. Do not forget this, please,” Pope Francis said.
“It is the Holy Spirit who gave us this document, for all us including myself, to reflect on what he wants to tell us.”

Santos arriesgan todo por amor a Jesús, dice el papa durante canonización

Por Cindy Wooden
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (CNS) – Llevando el cayado pastoral del papa Pablo VI y vistiendo la correa manchada en sangre del arzobispo Óscar Romero de San Salvador, el papa Francisco los reconoció formalmente a ellos, y a otros cinco más, como santos de la Iglesia Católica.
A los miles de peregrinos provenientes de los países de los nuevos santos — Italia, El Salvador, España y Alemania — se les unieron decenas de miles de fieles de otros países, el 14 de octubre en la plaza de San Pedro para celebrar el reconocimiento universal de la santidad de hombres y mujeres que ya ellos sabían que eran santos.
Carolina Escamilla, quien viajó desde El Salvador para la canonización, dijo sentirse “súper feliz” de estar en Roma. “Creo que no hay palabras para describir todo lo que sentimos después de tan esperado y tan deseado momento como la canonización ‘oficial’ porque el arzobispo Romero ya era santo cuando estaba vivo”.

A woman and young man hold a banner of St. Oscar Romero Oct. 13 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Pope Francis celebrated the canonization Mass for St. Oscar Romero and six other new saints in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 14 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/David Agren)

Todos los nuevos santos llevaron vidas marcadas por el dolor y la crítica, incluyendo desde dentro de la Iglesia, pero todos se dedicaron con amor apasionado a seguir a Jesús y a cuidar a los débiles y los pobres, dijo el papa Francisco durante su homilía.
Los nuevos santos son: Pablo VI, quien dirigió las últimas sesiones del Concilio Vaticano Segundo y su implementación; Romero, quien defendió a los pobres, pidió justicia y fue asesinado en 1980; Vincenzo Romano, sacerdote italiano que murió en 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, una religiosa española que desarrolló su ministerio en México y Bolivia, quien murió en 1943; Catherine Kasper, fundadora alemana de una orden religiosa en el siglo XIX; Francesco Spinelli, sacerdote y fundador de una orden religiosa en el siglo XIX, y Nunzio Sulprizio, laico que murió en Nápoles en 1836 a la edad de 19 años.
“Todos estos santos, en diferentes contextos, han puesto el Evangelio en práctica en sus vidas, sin tibieza, sin cálculos, con la pasión de arriesgarlo todo y renunciar a todo”, dijo el papa Francisco durante su homilía.
El papa, quien con frecuencia ha dicho que fue inspirado personalmente tanto por san Pablo VI como por san Óscar Romero, oró para que todo cristiano siga los ejemplos de los nuevos santos rechazando el apego al dinero, a la riqueza y al poder, y en cambio siguiendo a Jesús y compartiendo su amor con los demás.
Entre los que estaban en la plaza de San Pedro para la Misa estaba Rossi Bonilla, salvadoreña que ahora vive en Barcelona. “Estoy muy emocionada también porque hice mi primera comunión con Monseñor Romero cuando tenía ocho años”, le dijo a Catholic News Service.
El papa Francisco dijo durante su homilía que “Jesús es radical”. El papa dijo: “Él lo da todo y lo pide todo: da un amor total y pide un corazón sin reservas. También hoy se nos da como pan vivo; ¿podemos darle a cambio las migajas?”. Dijo que es ‘todo o nada’ porque “nuestro corazón es como un imán que se deja atraer por el amor, pero solo se adhiere por un lado y debe elegir entre amar a Dios o amar las riquezas del mundo; vivir para amar o vivir para sí”.
“¿Nos conformamos con cumplir algunos mandamientos o seguimos a Jesús como enamorados, realmente dispuestos a renunciar a algo por él?”, preguntó el papa a las personas reunidas en la plaza de San Pedro, incluidos los 267 miembros del Sínodo de los Obispos y los 34 jóvenes que son observadores de la reunión.
“Jesús nos invita hoy a regresar a las fuentes de la alegría, que son el encuentro con él, la valiente decisión de arriesgarnos a seguirlo, el placer de renunciar a algo para abrazar su camino” dijo el papa.
(Carol Glatz, Junno Arocho Esteves y Melissa Vida contribuyeron a este artículo.)

At Romero Mass: Saints risk all for love of Jesus

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.
Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints’ home countries – Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany – were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.
Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was “super happy” to be in Rome. “I don’t think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the ‘official’ canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive.”
Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism – including from within the church – but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.
The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.
“All these saints, in different contexts,” put the Gospel “into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind,” Pope Francis said in his homily.
The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints’ examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others.
And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside “structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world.”
Among those in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. “I’m really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old,” she told Catholic News Service.
“He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started,” Bonilla said. “The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!”
Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy – St. Paul VI’s hometown. Her local saint, she said, “brought great fresh air” to the church with the Second Vatican Council and “has something to say to us today,” particularly with his 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on human life and married love, especially its teaching about “the conception of life, the protection of life always.”
In his homily, Pope Francis said that “Jesus is radical.”
“He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart,” the pope said. “Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?”
Jesus, he said, “is not content with a ‘percentage of love.’ We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing” because “our heart is like a magnet – it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world’s treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself.”
“A leap forward in love,” he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape “complacency and self-indulgence.”
Without passionate love, he said, “we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled.”
(Contributing to this story were Carol Glatz, Junno Arocho Esteves and Melissa Vida.)

Facing facts, coming to terms with one’s past bring peace

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People need to make peace with their lives and anything they are running from, rather than lose themselves to escapism and playful distraction, Pope Francis said.
There is an “industry of distraction” in full force today, which paints the ideal world as being “a big playground where everybody has fun” and the ideal individual as one who “makes money in order to have fun, find satisfaction” in the many “vast and diverse avenues of pleasure,” he said Sept. 5 during his weekly general audience.
Such an attitude leads to “dissatisfaction with an existence anesthetized by fun, which isn’t rest, but alienation and escaping from reality,” he added. “People have never been able to rest like they can today and yet people have never felt as much emptiness as they do today.”

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope continued his series of audience talks about the Ten Commandments, focusing on keeping the Lord’s day holy.
It seems like an easy commandment to fulfill, he said, but it isn’t because people need to recognize there is a false kind of rest marked by avoidance and distraction, and authentic rest, which is being at peace with and giving thanks for the gift of life.
After God made the heavens and the earth, he rested, making the seventh day holy. This day reflects “God’s joy for all he created. It is a day of contemplation and blessing” and giving praise – not running away, the pope said.
“It is a time for looking at reality and saying, ‘How beautiful life is!’” he said. “To the idea of rest as escaping reality, the commandment responds with rest as blessing reality.”
In fact, the Eucharist, which lies at the heart of Sunday, means “thanksgiving,” he said; it is a day to thank the Lord for his mercy, his gifts and for the gift of life.
Sunday, he added, is a day to come to terms with one’s life, to find peace – realizing life is not easy, “but it is precious.”
So many people have so many options available for having fun, but they are not at peace with their lives, he said.
“Distancing themselves from the bitter wounds of their heart, people need to make peace with the thing they are running from. It is necessary to reconcile with one’s past, with the facts one is not facing, with the difficult parts of one’s own existence,” he said, asking everyone to reflect on whether they have come to terms with their own life.
Finding peace is a choice, he said. It is not changing one’s past, but is becoming reconciled with what has happened, “to accept and give value” to one’s life.

Do good to fight indifference, apathy, pope tells young people

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Being a Christian isn’t just about not doing evil, but it is a daily exercise in loving others through good works and deeds, Pope Francis said.
Many times, Christians can be tempted to “think they are saints” and justify themselves by saying, “I don’t harm anyone,” the pope told thousands of Italian young adults Aug. 12.
“How many people do not do evil, but also do not do good, and their lives flow into indifference, apathy and tepidity! This attitude is contrary to the Gospel and is also contrary to the character of you young people who, by your very nature, are dynamic, passionate and courageous,” he said.
According to the Vatican, an estimated 90,000 people were in St. Peter’s Square for the pope’s address and Angelus prayer after an outdoor Mass celebrated by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops’ conference.
Filling the square and the main street leading to St. Peter’s, the weary pilgrims braved the scorching summer temperatures of Rome and were cooled off by the cascading spray of water from Vatican fire department hoses.
After the Mass, the pope arrived in his popemobile and greeted the crowd, occasionally catching items that young people would throw toward the moving vehicle or stopping to bless babies and young children.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims as he arrives in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Aug. 12, after an outdoor Mass celebrated by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops’ conference. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

The Italian pilgrimage, which included an evening meeting in Rome with the pope Aug. 11, was part of the Italian church’s preparation for October’s Synod of Bishops on young people and vocational discernment.
In his talk before the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis reminded the young men and women to live their lives “in a coherent way, not with hypocrisy” by renouncing evil and doing good.
“To renounce evil means saying ‘no’ to temptation, to sin, to Satan,” the pope said. “More concretely, it means saying ‘no’ to a culture of death that manifests itself in escaping from reality toward a false happiness that expresses itself in lies, fraud, injustice and in contempt of others.”
Pope Francis invited the youths to repeat the words of St. Alberto Hurtado as a reminder of their baptismal call to action: “It is good to not do evil, but it is evil to not do good.”
He also urged them to be “protagonists of good” and to not be satisfied with simply not doing bad things.
“It isn’t enough to not hate, you need to forgive; it isn’t enough to not hold a grudge, you need to pray for your enemies; it isn’t enough to not be the cause of division, you need to bring peace where there is none; it isn’t enough to not speak ill of others, you need to interrupt when you hear someone bad-mouthing another,” the pope said.

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

Pope: Abuse victims’ outcry more powerful than efforts to silence them

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – “No effort must be spared” to prevent future cases of clerical sexual abuse and “to prevent the possibility of their being covered up,” Pope Francis said in a letter addressed “to the people of God.”
“I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons,” the pope wrote in the letter dated and released Aug. 20.
The letter was published less than a week after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on decades of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups in six dioceses. The report spoke of credible allegations against 301 priests in cases involving more than 1,000 children.
“The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced,” Pope Francis said. “But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence them.”
“The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain,” he said, “and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.”
In his letter, Pope Francis insisted all Catholics must be involved in the effort to accompany victims, to strengthen safeguarding measures and to end a culture where abuse is covered up.
While the letter called all Catholics to prayer and fasting, it does not change any current policies or offer specific new norms.
It did, however, insist that “clericalism” has been a key part of the problem and said the involvement of the laity will be crucial to addressing the crime and scandal.
Change, he said, will require “the active participation of all the members of God’s people.”
“Many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred,” he said, are groups where there has been an effort to “reduce the people of God to small elites.”
“Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to a split in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today,” Pope Francis said. “To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism.”
In his letter, Pope Francis acknowledged the church’s failure.
“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives,” he wrote.
“We showed no care for the little ones,” Pope Francis said. “We abandoned them.”
“Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” he said. “Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”
Recognizing the safeguarding policies that have been adopted in various parts of the world as well as pledges of “zero tolerance” for abusive clerics, Pope Francis also acknowledged that “we have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.”
As members of the church, he said, all Catholics should “beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.”
Pope Francis also asked Catholics to pray and to fast so that they would be able to hear “the hushed pain” of abuse survivors.
He called for “a fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combating all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.”
In Washington, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said by opening his letter with these words of St. Paul, “If one part suffers, all parts suffer with it’,” Pope Francis “shows that he is writing to all of us as a pastor, a pastor who knows how deeply sin destroys lives.”
In a statement issued late Aug. 20, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston responded in particular to these words from the pope: “Penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.”

Catholic death penalty opponents praise pope’s catechism revision

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Aug. 2 announcement that Pope Francis had ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church calling the death penalty “inadmissible” was praised by Catholic death penalty opponents in the U.S.
“I am overjoyed and deeply grateful to learn that Pope Francis closed the last remaining loophole in Catholic social teaching on the death penalty,” said Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, who is a longtime opponent of capital punishment.
Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network in Washington, an advocacy group seeking to end the death penalty, called the news “a capstone teaching moment for the Catholic Church.”
Both advocates, in separate statements, stressed the clarity of the pope’s announcement. Sister Prejean said the Catholic Church “has opposed capital punishment for many years, but the official language used to talk about the issue up to this point has always been equivocal” leaving room for some to say that “executions are morally permissible.”
The catechism’s “new language is very clear,” Sister Prejean said, with its description of the death penalty as “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” There are “absolutely no exceptions,” she added.
Vaillancourt Murphy said Catholic bishops in every state that have the death penalty have taken stands to see an end to this practice. She said the revision to the catechism “further clarifies any remaining ambiguity about the church’s teaching against the death penalty and strengthens the global resolve to bring an end to this practice.”
Both leaders pointed out that the Pope Francis’ action builds on work begun by St. John Paul II, who spoke of the dignity of guilty and innocent life and described executions as cruel and unnecessary.
“The moral ground zero of this issue in the Catholic context has been the question of self defense and the inviolable dignity of every human being,” said Sister Prejean, who pointed out that there is “nothing dignified about rendering a person defenseless, strapping them down to a gurney and killing them.”

Father Chris Ponnet, chaplain at the St. Camillus Center for Spiritual Care in Los Angeles, speaks during a rally protesting the death penalty in Anaheim, Calif., Feb. 25, 2017. Pope Francis has ordered a revision to the catechism to state that the death penalty is inadmissible and he committed the church to its abolition. (CNS photo/Andrew Cullen, Reuters)

“The moral tectonic plates have shifted,” she added, saying the “very nature of the act of executing a person can no longer be justified.”
But as thrilled as she was by the pope’s announcement, the author of “Dead Man Walking” – about her experience helping death-row inmates – also said the revision is “still just words on a page. Words must be followed by action. It’s time to abolish state-sponsored killing forever.”
Vaillancourt Murphy similarly stressed the reality of the death penalty in the United States, saying 31 states “still have it on the books.”
She also said more than 2,800 people are currently on death row in the United States and 14 executions are scheduled for the remainder of 2018, including three in August.
“These upcoming executions are a stark reminder that the death penalty is active in the United States, and it violates our commitment to the dignity of all life,” she said. “The death penalty is a failed practice that perpetuates the cycle of violence and disproportionately targets marginalized populations, especially people of color, those living in poverty and people suffering with mental illness.”
Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, also issued a statement in support of the pope’s revision.
“(It) reflects what we are seeing in our work with conservative Catholics who increasingly understand the death penalty is a failed and unnecessary policy that does not value life and does nothing to make our society safer,” she said. “We are grateful for the leadership of the Catholic Church, including Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis, in efforts to end the death penalty.”

Knights urged to join in novena for legal protection of human life

By Catholic News Service
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Motivated by the upcoming change on the Supreme Court, the Knights of Columbus is urging its members and all Catholics to join in a novena to pray for the protection of human life in the law.
The novena, which Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called for in mid-July, will be a nine-week prayer effort every Friday from Aug. 3 to Sept. 28.
When Cardinal Dolan announced the novena as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, he expressed concerns about lobbying by “pro-abortion groups” against confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support or oppose the confirmation of any presidential nominee,” he said, “we can and should raise grave concerns about a confirmation process which is being grossly distorted by efforts to subject judicial nominees to a litmus test of support for Roe v. Wade. And we must pray.”
Carl Anderson, the CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said: “We join our pastors in praying that the confirmation process will help lead to a court that upholds the right to life of every person, as it is the prerequisite for all other rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”
Materials for the “Call to Prayer” novena are available at https://bit.ly/2JBU1MH. Those who participate in the novena can sign up at www.usccb.org/pray to receive weekly notifications by text or email in addition to material about Roe v. Wade and its aftermath.
Those participating are asked to fast on Fridays and say an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intention.

The path to holiness isn’t for the lazy, pope tells altar servers

By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christ’s commandment to love God and neighbor is a path trodden by those who have the desire to become saints, Pope Francis told thousands of altar servers from around the world.
“Yes, it does take effort to keep doing good and to become saints,” the pope told the young people July 31. “You know that the path to holiness isn’t for the lazy, it requires effort.”
The pope presided over an evening meeting and prayer service with some 60,000 altar servers making an international pilgrimage to Rome. The majority of young men and women came from Germany, but there also were pilgrims from Italy, France, Austria, the United States and other countries.
After circling St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile, Pope Francis smiled brightly as Bishop Ladislav Nemet of Zrenjanin, Serbia, waved his arms and urged the young men and women to welcome the pope with cheers and applause. Bishop Nemet is president of Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium, the association of altar servers that hosted the meeting along with the German bishops’ conference.
Before the event, the Vatican fire department used hoses to spray water over the seats in the blistering Rome sun in an effort to cool them down. The firefighters stayed once the pilgrims were allowed into the square, creating cooling showers for the much-needed relief of the young people.
“You are very courageous to be here since 12 p.m. in this heat!” the pope told the young people before responding to questions posed by servers from Luxembourg, Portugal, Antigua and Barbuda, Germany and Serbia.
One server told Pope Francis that like many of his fellow altar servers, he was saddened “to see how few of our own age group come to Mass” or participate in parish life. “How can we – and our communities – reach out to these people and bring them back to Christ and to the family of the church?” he asked.
The pope said that even in their youth, altar servers can be apostles and draw others to Christ “if you are full of enthusiasm for him, if you have encountered him, if you have come to know him personally and been ‘won over’ by him.”
“There is no need for lots of words,” the pope said. “More important are your actions, your closeness, your desire to serve. Young people – and everyone else for that matter – need friends who can give a good example, who are ready to act without expecting anything in return.” When asked how altar servers can contribute to peace “in our families, in our countries and in the world,” the pope said that “making peace begins with little things” such as trying to reconcile after a quarrel or asking in every situation, “What would Jesus do in my place?” “If we can do this, if we really put it into practice, we will bring Christ’s peace to our everyday lives. Then we will be peacemakers and channels of God’s peace,” he said. A Serbian altar server asked, “How can we translate our service, in daily life, into concrete works of charity and in a path toward holiness?”
Pope Francis encouraged them to practice the works of mercy, which “are demanding yet within the reach of all.”
“It makes no difference whether it is a friend or a stranger, a countryman or a foreigner,” the pope said. “Believe me, by doing this, you can become real saints, men and women who transform the world by living the love of Christ.”
Before continuing with the prayer service, Bishop Nemet thanked the pope for his words. However, the pope wanted to make sure the altar servers were happy.
“Ask them if they feel encouraged after I answered their questions,” the pope told Bishop Nemet.
After the bishop relayed the pope’s question, the 60,000 young servers erupted in cheers and applause.
Recalling the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis said the Jesuit founder “discovered the heart and meaning of life itself” through seeking the glory of God and not his own glory.
“Let us imitate the saints,” the pope told the young people. “Let everything we do be for God’s glory and the salvation of our brothers and sisters.”

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju)

DiNardo: Church must address leaders’ ‘moral failures …’

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick “will rightly face” a Vatican canonical process regarding sexual abuse allegations against him, but the U.S. Catholic Church must take steps to respond to church leaders’ “moral failures of judgment,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The accusations against Archbishop McCarrick, a former cardinal and retired archbishop of Washington, “reveal a grievous moral failure within the church,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
“They cause bishops anger, sadness, and shame; I know they do in me,” he said in an Aug. 1 statement. “They compel bishops to ask, as I do, what more could have been done to protect the people of God. Both the abuses themselves, and the fact that they have remained undisclosed for decades, have caused great harm to people’s lives and represent grave moral failures of judgment on the part of church leaders.”
To determine a course of action for the USCCB to take, Cardinal DiNardo said he convened the bishops’ Executive Committee.
“This meeting was the first of many among bishops that will extend into our Administrative Committee meeting in September and our general assembly in November,” he explained. “All of these discussions will be oriented toward discerning the right course of action for the USCCB.”
Such work will “take some time,” but he laid out four points to be acted upon immediately:
– He encouraged each bishop in their diocese “to respond with compassion and justice to anyone who has been sexually abused or harassed by anyone in the church. We should do whatever we can to accompany them.”
– He urged anyone who has experienced sexual assault or harassment by anyone in the church to come forward. “Where the incident may rise to the level of a crime, please also contact local law enforcement.”
– The USCCB “will pursue the many questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick’s conduct to the full extent of its authority; and where that authority finds its limits, the conference will advocate with those who do have the authority. One way or the other, we are determined to find the truth in this matter.”
– “Finally, we bishops recognize that a spiritual conversion is needed as we seek to restore the right relationship among us and with the Lord. Our church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.”
Cardinal DiNardo said the failures of judgment by church leaders in the case of Archbishop McCarrick “raise serious questions.”
“Why weren’t these allegations of sins against chastity and human dignity disclosed when they were first brought to church officials?” he asked. “Why wasn’t this egregious situation addressed decades sooner and with justice? What must our seminaries do to protect the freedom to discern a priestly vocation without being subject to misuse of power?”
In conclusion, he asked all to “pray for God’s wisdom and strength for renewal as we follow St. Paul’s instruction: ‘Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.'”
On July 28, Pope Francis accepted the resignation from the College of Cardinals of then-Cardinal McCarrick and ordered him to maintain “a life of prayer and penance” until a canonical trial examines accusations that he sexually abused minors.
In late June, the 88-year-old prelate said he would no longer exercise any public ministry “in obedience” to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The cardinal has said he is innocent.
In the weeks that followed the announcement, another man came forward claiming he was abused as a child by Archbishop McCarrick, and several former seminarians have spoken out about being sexually harassed by the cardinal at a beach house he had. In other developments, two New Jersey dioceses where he served in the 1980s and 1990s said settlements had been reached some years before in a couple of cases of abuse claims made against him.
He was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1981, then headed the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, before being named to Washington in 2001.