Great expectations: Vatican abuse summit has key, realistic goals

By Carol Glatz (CNS)
VATICAN CITY – All eyes and ears will be on the Vatican during an unprecedented gathering set for Feb. 21-24 to discuss the protection of minors in the Catholic Church.
When Pope Francis announced the international meeting in September, it sparked an optimistic note that the global problem of abuse finally would be tackled with a concerted, coordinated, global effort.
The breadth of the potential impact seemed to be reflected in the list of those convoked to the meeting: the presidents of all the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, representatives of the leadership groups of men’s and women’s religious orders and the heads of major Vatican offices.
But the pope tried to dial down what he saw as “inflated expectations” for the meeting, telling reporters in January that “the problem of abuse will continue. It’s a human problem” that exists everywhere.
Many survivors and experts, too, have cautioned that it was unrealistic to assume such a brief meeting could deliver a panacea for abuse and its cover-up.
So, what should people expect from the four-day meeting? The following five points hit the highlights:
1. It will be first and foremost about raising awareness, including that the scandal of abuse is not a “Western” problem, but happens in every country.
To make that point clear, the organizing committee asked every participating bishop to sit down with a survivor of abuse before coming to Rome and hear that “Me, too,” from a person of his own country, culture and language.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who is moderating the meeting, said there would be between 160 and 180 participants. He told reporters Feb. 12 to expect the presidents of about 115 bishops’ conferences, a dozen heads of Eastern churches, prefects of Vatican congregations directly involved with Vatican norms regarding abuse and negligence, eight delegates from the men’s Union of Superiors General, 10 delegates from the women’s International Union of Superiors General, three members of the pope’s Council of Cardinals who are not presidents of their bishops’ conference and four members of the organizing committee.
Everyone invited will be expected to learn what his or her responsibilities are as a leader or a bishop and to know the church laws and procedures that already exist to protect the young.
2. Organizers hope that by listening to victims and leaders who have learned things the hard way, participants will be inspired to adopt a culture of accountability and transparency.
Hearing what abuse and negligence have done to people has the power to transform the listener, “to truly open the mind and heart,” Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told reporters Feb. 12.
Just to be sure those voices are heard, the meeting will also feature testimonies from survivors from countries where the reality of abuse is still largely ignored, said the priest, an abuse expert who is part of the meeting’s organizing committee.
He said the word “accountability” doesn’t even exist in many languages, which often means that culture might lack a clear or coherent understanding of this key concept.
For that reason, the summit will devote a day to discussing accountability and “what structures, procedures and methods are effective” and viable in the Catholic Church, he said.
Church leaders must know what the norms are, he said, but the meeting also will stress that the procedures themselves “will not magically solve a problem.”
For example, he said, it was “a source of delusion” for U.S. Catholics when the 2002 Dallas Charter did not fix everything.
In fact, the meeting will not be about producing any documents, but pushing people to take the needed steps toward greater transparency and accountability, Father Lombardi said.
Those steps already are spelled out, he said, in Pope Francis’ 2016 document, “As a Loving Mother,” on the accountability of bishops and religious superiors.
“It must be put into practice effectively,” he said, adding that he was “convinced and firmly hope that this meeting will give a push in that direction.”
3. There will be a kind of “parallel assembly” as large numbers of survivors and advocacy groups converge on Rome to call for greater accountability, action and reform.
A variety of events are planned, including an evening “Vigil for Justice” near the Vatican and a “March for Zero Tolerance” to St. Peter’s Square, but a major focus will be media outreach and getting the voice and recommendations of laypeople and victims – many who had gone unheard for years – listened to.
4. Pope Francis will be present throughout the meeting, which will include plenary sessions, working groups, prayer, a penitential liturgy and a closing Mass.
In letters to the bishops of Chile and the United States, Pope Francis has made clear what he thinks the church needs to do to respond to the abuse crisis.
Administrative solutions involving new policies and norms are not enough, he has said.
He told Chile’s bishops that abuse and its cover-up “are indicators that something is bad in the church body.”
Therefore, they must not only “address the concrete cases,” but also “discover the dynamics that made it possible for such attitudes and evils to occur.”
Those attitudes are driven by the temptation “to save ourselves, to save our reputation,” he told the Chilean bishops.
In his letter to the U.S. bishops, he warned against the tendency to play the victim, to scold, discredit, disparage others and point fingers.
5. Expect the meeting to be one critical step along a very long journey that began decades ago and must continue.
Further measures will be taken after the meeting, Father Zollner has said. For instance, a task force made up of child protection experts “will probably be instituted in the various continents” to help bishops create, strengthen and implement guidelines.
The different “teams” of the task force should be able to help “for years to come to measure the success of this exercise of realizing own’s own responsibility, even on the global level, in the face of public expectations,” he told the Vatican newspaper in January.
Even though the church is well aware of larger, related problems of abuses of power, conscience and abuse and violence against seminarians, religious women and other adults, the meeting will focus exclusively on protecting minors from abuse, Fathers Zollner and Lombardi said.
The idea is that the attitude and spirit needed to protect the most vulnerable of the church’s members are the same that will protect and promote respect for the integrity and dignity of everyone.
In fact, Father Lombardi said, “I see this as a test of the profundity of the reform” of the church called for by Pope Francis.
In other words, the pope wants people “to examine how we live out our mission, with what coherence and how we can convert our attitudes, both in regard to our attention and compassion for those who suffer, as well as our consistent witness to the dignity of children, of women, and so on.”

(Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Rome.)

Briefs nation and world

NATION
Catholic Charities USA leaders outline immediate, long-term goals
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Two top Catholic Charities USA leaders outlined some of the short-term and long-term goals for the organization and its affiliates throughout the country Feb. 3 during the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington. Catholic Charities is in the midst of a five-year strategic plan to more sharply identify areas where it believes it can make a difference, said Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services. One of those areas is refugee resettlement and immigration policy. Corbin said it has worked with Migration and Refugees Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to place 16,000 refugees across the country in collaboration with local Catholic Charities affiliates that have located sponsor families to help resettle those refugees. It also has partnered with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Corbin said, on issues surrounding the continued migration of Latin Americans to the United States. Affordable housing is another of Catholic Charities USA’s strategic priorities. “In your own town, you probably know there are housing issues,” Corbin said. “Catholic Charities as an institution is the largest nonpublic provider of housing after the government. We are there. We will continue to be there,” he said to applause. Catholic Charities’ commitment extends to shelters, domestic-violence shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing, he said.

House members introduce bipartisan measure to ban abortions at 20 weeks
WASHINGTON (CNS) – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, was joined by more than 100 other members of the House Jan. 24 in introducing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act of 2019, a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Smith, a Catholic, who is co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, is the lead sponsor of the bill, which cites research showing that unborn babies “can feel agonizing pain” at 20 weeks of development. “The majority of Americans — some 59 percent according to a recent poll — support legal protection for pain-capable unborn children,” Smith said in introducing the bill. He was referring to results of an annual poll of Americans’ views on abortion conducted by the Marist Poll at Marist College and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. The poll also showed that 75 percent of respondents want “substantial” restrictions on abortion access even as more than half of respondents describe themselves as “pro-choice.” The poll was conducted Jan. 8-10 and the results were released ahead of the Jan. 18 March for Life. “Today we know that unborn babies not only die but suffer excruciating pain during dismemberment abortion — a cruelty that rips arms and legs off a helpless child,” Smith said. “This tragic human rights abuse must end.”

Priest who was former national Renew leader and beloved pastor dies
TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) – Msgr. Robert D. Fuller, an Arizona priest who was a national leader of the Renew movement in the early 1980s and a beloved pastor in the Tucson Diocese, died Jan. 23. He was 88. “We are privileged from time to time to meet a living giant,” said retired Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, who worked with Msgr. Fuller for most of the last two decades. “I experienced that when I met Msgr. Fuller. He was an outstanding priest, a great preacher and a person of deep faith. He now enjoys the fulfillment of what he preached.” Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger will be the main concelebrant of a funeral Mass Feb. 1 for Msgr. Fuller at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, followed by interment at Holy Hope Cemetery. Ordained a priest for the Tucson Diocese April 25, 1956, his assignments included serving as director of the Bureau of Information, which later became the diocesan Communications Office. He was appointed editor and business manager of the Arizona Register, as the diocesan newspaper was called, on June 7, 1963, after serving as assistant editor in 1961-63. Msgr. Fuller left Tucson for five years, from 1981 to 1986, to work for Renew, which is based in Newark, New Jersey. Renew fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition at the parish level by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life.

Bishop tells Covington Catholic High School community he stands with them
COVINGTON, Ky. (CNS) – You could literally hear a pin drop as the faculty, staff and student body of Covington Catholic High School waited in the gym Jan. 23 for the arrival of Covington Bishop Roger J. Foys. The bishop was there to address the students about the events that took place Jan. 18, after the March for Life in Washington, where a student standing face-to-face with a Native American elder was captured on video and ignited a firestorm on social media — making headlines around the world. Bob Rowe, principal, opened with a prayer and introduced Bishop Foys, who said: “These last four days have been a living hell for many of you, for your parents, for your relatives, for your friends and it certainly has been for me.” He told the assembly they are “under all kinds of pressure from a lot of different people, for a lot of different reasons.” The bishop also told the assembly that the contingent of students who went to the March for Life represented the best of the church and the diocese by standing up for life. Bishop Foys said an independent third party is investigating the Jan. 18 events that followed the march and he asked everyone to stay off of social media with regard to those events until the matter is resolved. “Regardless of what you heard or what you’ve read or what you think, I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light,” he said.

VATICAN
Vatican underlines support of universal health care coverage
GENEVA (CNS) – The Vatican supports efforts to build stronger and sustainable essential health care services on the way toward achieving universal health coverage, a Vatican official said. The Catholic Church is part of this effort in providing primary care to people in need and always “with due recognition to the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva. Speaking to the executive board of the World Health Organization Jan. 28, the archbishop noted the organization’s call for a renewal of primary health care and the Sustainable Development Goals’ target of universal health coverage to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The Holy See affirms the call to mobilize all stakeholders to take joint action to build stronger and sustainable primary health care toward achieving universal health coverage,” he said in a brief address. In fact, over the course of 2018, “Catholic-inspired organizations provided health care at 5,287 hospitals and 15,397 dispensaries, 15,722 residential programs for the elderly and for persons living with debilitating chronic illnesses and other disabilities in all parts of the world,” he said.

Pope arrives in Abu Dhabi, praying for nearby Yemen
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The sun had set long before Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi Feb. 3, but Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince, and Egyptian Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, still went to the airport to welcome him. It had been a rare rainy day on the southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula, which, the pope told reporters traveling with him, was seen as a sign of blessing by the people of the United Arab Emirates. Since the pope arrived at almost 10 p.m. local time, the official welcoming ceremony was scheduled for the next day. But there was a brief greeting inside the President’s Airport. The pope then went to Al Mushrif Palace, the government’s guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Obituario. Obispo Howze. EPD

Bishop Howze

Por Terrance P. Dickson (CNS)
BILOXI – El obispo Joseph Lawson Howze, obispo fundador de la Diócesis de Biloxi y primer obispo negro de los Estados Unidos en el siglo XX, fue puesto a descansar el miércoles, 16 de enero. Falleció el 9 de enero a la edad de 95 años.
El arzobispo Thomas Rodi, de la Arquidiócesis de Mobile y ocho obispos, incluido el obispo Joseph Kopacz de la Diócesis de Jackson, presidieron este funeral junto con otros 50 sacerdotes y miembros de su familia. “Mientras estamos tristes por la muerte del obispo Joseph Lawson Howze, nos regocijamos en su vida”, dijo el obispo Louis F. Kihneman III de Biloxi. “Fue una vida bien vivida en servicio fiel a Dios todopoderoso y al pueblo de Misisipi, como obispo auxiliar de la Diócesis de Natchez-Jackson y como primer obispo de Biloxi de 1977 a 2001”.
El Obispo Kihneman dijo que el Obispo Howze estaba “muy orgulloso y que “siempre estuvo agradecido a la gente de la diócesis por su infalible generosidad de tiempo, talento y tesoro”. El obispo Kopacz comentó sobre el legado del obispo Howze como líder y evangelizador en la comunidad católica negra a nivel local y nacional.

(Dickson es editor de Gulf Pine Catholic, periódico de la Diócesis de Biloxi. Maureen Smith contribuyó con este reportaje).

Prayer involves recognizing self as God’s beloved child

By Carol Glatz
VATICAN (CNS) – Christians are not better than other people, but they do know that God is their father and they are called “to reflect a ray of his goodness in this world thirsting for goodness, waiting for good news,” Pope Francis said.
Leading his first general audience of 2019, the pope continued a series of talks he has been giving about the Lord’s Prayer. But he also welcomed artists from CirCuba, the national circus of Cuba, who were performing in Rome over the holidays.
One of the performers even had a very willing pope help him with his act by balancing a spinning ball on his finger. At the end of the audience Jan. 2, the pope praised the performers for their hard work and for the way they lift people’s spirits with their shows.
In his main audience talk, Pope Francis explained how the Gospel of Matthew presents the Lord’s Prayer as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which also includes the Eight Beatitudes.
Proclaiming the beatitudes, the pope said, Jesus affirms the blessedness and happiness of “a series of categories of people, who – in his time, but also in ours – are not particularly esteemed. Blessed are the poor, the meek, the merciful, the humble of heart. This is the revolution of the Gospel! Where the Gospel is, there is revolution because the Gospel does not leave things as they were.”
With the beatitudes, he said, Jesus is telling people that those “who carry in their hearts the mystery of a God who revealed his omnipotence in love and pardon” are those who come closest to understanding him.
The core of the Sermon on the Mount, he said, is: “You are sons and daughters of your Father who is in heaven,” which is why Jesus then teaches the crowd to pray the Our Father.
Summarizing his talk in Spanish, Pope Francis said, “God does not want to be appeased with long streams of adulation, as the pagans did to win the benevolence of the deity; it is enough to talk to him like a father who knows what we need before we even tell him.”
“The Christian is not someone who tries to be better than others, but one who knows he or she is a sinner,” the pope said. A Christian knows how to stand before God with awe, to call upon him as Father and try to reflect his goodness in the world.
Jesus urges his followers not to be like the hypocrites who pray just to be seen, the pope said. “How often have we seen the scandal of those people who go to church, spend the whole day there or go every day and then they live hating others or speaking badly of others – this is a scandal. It would be better not to go to church.”
“If you go to church, live like a child (of God) and like a brother or sister” to others, Pope Francis said.
In teaching the Our Father, Jesus was helping his followers learn the essence of prayer and the importance of not thinking that using more words makes for a better prayer, he said. “The pagans thought that by speaking, speaking, speaking, they were praying.”
Praying isn’t like being “a parrot,” who repeats an endless stream of words, the pope said. “No, praying comes from the heart, from inside.”
“It even could be a silent prayer,” he said. “Basically, it is enough to put yourself under God’s gaze, recognize his fatherly love – and that’s enough to be heard.”
“How beautiful it is to think that our God does not need sacrifices to win his favor. He needs nothing,” the pope said. “He asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with him to discover continually that we are his beloved children.”

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.”