Synodality must become ‘paradigm’ for dioceses, pope tells bishops

By Justin McLellan
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s synodal path, the church-wide listening and dialogue process currently approaching its second assembly in October, must become a model for all Catholic dioceses and parishes, Pope Francis said.
Opening the general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference in the Vatican synod hall May 20, the pope spent an hour and a half answering questions posed to him by some 200 bishops on global issues, from migration to rising antisemitism, as well as problems within the church such as falling vocation rates and the merging of dioceses, according to reports by Italian Catholic media.
Bishop Antonio De Luca of Teggiano-Policastro in central Italy told Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, that Pope Francis “asked us to encourage the synodal way so that it may become a paradigm in dioceses and parishes.”
During the closed-door meeting, the pope said pastors must approach the current era of change in society not with sadness but with a renewed energy since the Lord does not abandon his church, Avvenire reported.
The assembly’s primary focus was on the synodal path, particularly its upcoming “prophetic phase” in preparation for the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October.
Bishop Mario Toso of Faenza-Modigliana in northern Italy said the recent “ad limina” by Italian bishops offered Pope Francis material for reflection regarding the merging of dioceses, a consideration frequently brought up by the bishops in their meeting with the pope. “It is not necessarily the case that this should be the way forward in the future,” he said.

Pope Francis speaks to Italian bishops in the Vatican synod hall during the general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference May 20, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope also addressed the issue of seminary restructuring, advocating for regional or interdiocesan seminaries where the number of seminarians is too low to allow for individual diocesan seminaries and to ensure better formation and community life for future priests. 
Vatican News reported that Pope Francis responded to bishops who asked about the lack of consecrated religious in their communities by highlighting the example of the church in Latin America, where religious sisters and laypeople are deeply engaged in organizing community life.
The bishops said declining vocations and aging clergy were also concerns raised during the meeting. Pope Francis encouraged them not to view these challenges catastrophically but to approach them with hope and creativity, highlighting the importance of supporting and accompanying priests who need encouragement and assistance in navigating contemporary cultural changes.
The pope gave each of the bishops a copy of his book, “Holy, not Worldly,” which collects his reflections on spiritual worldliness and the need for a humble and service-oriented church.

City named for body of Christ, Alabama shrine and Kentucky’s Trappist monastery on southern route of Eucharistic Pilgrimage

By Maria Wiering
(OSV News) – The Gulf Coast, Deep South and the Blue Ridge Mountains set the backdrop for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s St. Juan Diego Route, which launches from the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and goes through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana.
Beginning on Pentecost May 19, the Juan Diego Route is one of four National Pilgrimage Routes that will converge in Indianapolis ahead of the July 17-21 National Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage and the congress are part of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that launched in 2022.

The interior of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala., is pictured in a 2016 file photo. (OSV News photo/Jeffrey Bruno)

The 1,900-mile route will be traveled by six perpetual pilgrims accompanied by chaplains from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, who will carry the Eucharist in a monstrance. While Catholics may join the pilgrims for legs of their journey, they are especially encouraged to join the route’s public events, which include Masses, all-night adoration and confessions, processions, talks, blessings, service events, picnics and social gatherings.
The route itself is named for St. Juan Diego, whom Mary appeared to in 1531 near present-day Mexico City and famously filled his tilma with roses and an image of herself that is still visible today. The following is a list of selected highlights from the pilgrimage’s Southern route. Find information for the full Diego Route at https://tinyurl.com/JuanDiegoRoute.
– Our Lady of San Juan del Valle, San Juan, Texas: After launching May 19 from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Brownsville at a Mass celebrated by Bishop E. Daniel Flores of Brownsville. the pilgrimage journeys from that U.S.-Mexico border city westward to San Juan and its national shrine, the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle, for Mass May 22. The shrine honors Our Lady of San Juan, a devotion to Mary that emerged in the 1600s in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico, after a miraculous healing associated with an image of Mary.
– Corpus Christi Cathedral, Corpus Christi, Texas: The pilgrimage continues along Texas’ Gulf Coast, reaching Corpus Christi Cathedral May 26, for Mass and a mile-long procession. According to legend, the city was named for the “body of Christ” in 1519 when a Spanish explorer discovered its lush bay on the feast of Corpus Christi. From there, the pilgrims will continue through the Diocese of VIctoria and Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
– Blessed Carlo Acutis Chapel, Beaumont, Texas: On June 2, the pilgrims stop at Christ Central Camp and its Blessed Carlo Actis Chapel in the Diocese of Beaumont for talks, testimony and Eucharistic adoration with Bishop David L. Toups of Beaumont. Blessed Carlo, the namesake for the diocesan summer camp’s chapel, died in 2006 at age 15. He was known for his deep love of the Eucharist, and the U.S. bishops named the teenager an intercessor for the National Eucharistic Revival.

– St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans: The pilgrims continue east into Louisiana and through the dioceses of Lake Charles, Lafayette, Houma-Thibodaux and Baton Rouge, into the Archdiocese of New Orleans. They stop June 9 at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France for Mass with Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and a procession in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Catholics have worshipped on the cathedral site since 1727, with the current church erected in 1794 and reconstructed in the mid-1800s. The cathedral’s namesake, St. Louis IX of France, was known to have ordered his day around Mass and prayer.
– Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Alabama: The pilgrimage continues through the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, where pilgrims will attend a blessing of the sea in Long Beach June 12. Passing through Alabama’s Archdiocese of Mobile into the Diocese of Birmingham, the pilgrims will spend June 20 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, with Mass, confession, talks, a shrine tour, prayer with sisters from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and a Eucharistic procession from the grotto to the main church. Under the leadership of Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network, and her sisters, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and adjacent monastery were completed in 1999. The shrine chapel contains an 8-foot-tall monastrance for perpetual adoration.
– Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky. The pilgrimage continues through the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the dioceses of Knoxville, Nashville and Owensboro, Tennessee, before entering the Archdiocese of Louisville. On July 4, the pilgrims will process to the Abbey of Gethsemani, for prayer, Mass and lunch. Founded by Trappist monks from France in 1848, the monastery was also home to American monk, mystic and writer Thomas Merton. Trappist monks – formally called Cistercians of the Strict Observance – are contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict and generally maintain silence throughout their day. After leaving the abbey, the pilgrims continue into the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana, converging with pilgrims with the other three routes ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress.

(Maria Wiering is senior writer for OSV News.)

Briefs

NATION
INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – A special track just for priests has been added to the schedule of the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21, with speakers including two bishops and prominent theologians. The 90-minute “impact session” titled “Abide: The Priest Experience” will be offered on days two, three and four of the five-day congress. Day Two features speakers theologian Scott Hahn, founder and president of the St. Paul Center, and Father Brian Welter, executive director of the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska. Day Three features Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chairman of the board of the National Eucharistic Congress Inc.; Dan Cellucci, CEO of Catholic Leadership Institute; Tim Glemkowski, CEO of National Eucharistic Congress Inc.; Jason Simon, president of The Evangelical Catholic; and Jonathan Reyes, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and senior advisor for the Knights of Columbus. Cellucci returns on Day Four, along with Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas. Meanwhile, the congress will also include a luncheon series for permanent deacons featuring Deacon Dominic Cerrato, Deacon James Keating, Deacon Omar Gutiérrez and Deacon Joseph Michalak. The congress is the pinnacle of the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year initiative of the U.S. bishops to deepen understanding and love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
ABBEVILLE, Louisiana (OSV News) – A first Communion Mass at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, was disrupted May 11 after a teenager attempted to enter the church with a rifle. Parishioners prevented the young man from entering the parish where 60 children were preparing to receive their first Communion. Police took the suspect into custody, and moments of chaos were caught on the church’s live stream as they swept the premises to see if other threats were present. Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of Lafayette commented on the incident, saying, “we are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided at the First Communion Mass for the children of St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville. The quick response of the Abbeville Police Department and alert parishioners is a great example of caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.”
VATICAN
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pilgrims passing through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica during the Holy Year 2025, going to confession, receiving Communion and praying for the intentions of the pope can receive an indulgence, but so can inmates in prison and those who work to defend human life or assist migrants and refugees. Fasting “at least for one day of the week from futile distractions” such as social media also can be a path toward a jubilee indulgence, according to norms published by the Vatican May 13. Pope Francis said he will open the Holy Year at the Vatican Dec. 24 this year and close it Jan. 6, 2026, the feast of Epiphany. But he also asked bishops around the world to celebrate the Jubilee in their dioceses from Dec. 29 this year to Dec. 28, 2025. The norms for receiving an indulgence during the Holy Year were signed by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the new head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court dealing with matters of conscience and with the granting of indulgences. The basic conditions, he wrote, are that a person is “moved by a spirit of charity,” is “purified through the sacrament of penance and refreshed by Holy Communion” and prays for the pope. Along with a pilgrimage, a work of mercy or an act of penance, a Catholic “will be able to obtain from the treasury of the Church a plenary indulgence, with remission and forgiveness of all their sins, which can be applied in suffrage to the souls in Purgatory.”

This is a model of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris made out of LEGO blocks. (OSV News photo/courtesy The LEGO Group)

WORLD
BILLUND, Denmark (OSV News) – As workers complete the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after a devastating April 2019 fire, LEGO fans can assemble their own model of the iconic medieval structure, thanks to a soon-to-be-released kit from the Danish toy manufacturer. On May 7, the LEGO group announced it is accepting pre-orders for LEGO Architecture Notre-Dame de Paris, which will be released June 1. The company also will issue a LEGO Art Mona Lisa kit Oct. 1, with both products forming a tribute to Paris’ best-known artistic treasures, according to LEGO. The Notre Dame model – which retails for $229.99 – consists of 4,383 pieces and measures 13 inches high and 8.5 inches wide, with a depth of 16 inches. “We wanted LEGO fans to retrace the architectural journey and evolution of this landmark during its construction, to encourage a deeper appreciation for its real-life counterpart,” said LEGO senior designer Rok Žgalin Kobe.
PARIS (OSV News) – Called a “consoling angel,” the sister of King Louis XVI decided to stay on the side of her family even when death was imminent for doing so in the midst of horrors of the French Revolution. On the 230th anniversary of her death under the guillotine on May 10, 1794, “Madame Elisabeth” is one step closer to beatification as the historical commission for her sainthood cause wrapped up its work May 2. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause was reopened in 2017. Since then Father Xavier Snoëk, the postulator, has spared no effort to raise awareness of the noble lady. Father Snoëk called her “an original and very modern young woman … pious and exuberant at the same time.” Elisabeth never married and chose “a life of commitment to the service of others, rooted in faith.” She was 25 when the French Revolution broke out full scale in 1789. She could have gone into exile, but she decided to stay with her brother Louis XVI. In August 1792, the whole royal family was imprisoned in the notorious Le Temple prison. Elisabeth “put all her energy into trying to support family members,” Father Scnoëk said, explaining why she was called a “consoling angel.” “She recited a daily prayer of abandonment to God, and at the moment of her death on the guillotine,” he added.
TBILISI, Georgia (OSV News) – A Catholic aid worker in the nation of Georgia told OSV News that a proposed law targeting nongovernmental organizations and media would severely undermine care for children and the poor in that country. “I cannot imagine how (we will) advocate for the rights of the children, the rights of the people,” said Tamar Sharashidze, children and youth protection and development program manager for Caritas Georgia. The agency – part of Caritas Internationalis, the universal Catholic Church’s global federation of more than 160 humanitarian organizations – is a locally registered NGO that serves as the country’s largest social service provider. But that reach is now threatened by a renewed push to enact Georgia’s proposed “Transparency of Foreign Influence” legislation. The Russian-style law would label as “foreign agents” entities receiving more than 20% of their funds from outside donors, threatening both Caritas Georgia’s mission and the country’s hopes to become a member of the European Union. Sharashidze is one of thousands regularly protesting the bill, donning a mask and glasses to evade being tear-gassed by police. “This proposed law would limit the capacity of civil society and media organizations to operate freely, and it could limit freedom of expression and unfairly stigmatize organizations that deliver benefits to citizens of Georgia,” she said. “And the voice of the people is more and more loud. And we have hope that we will win.”

In memoriam: Father Pat O’Shaughnessy

BILOXI – Father Patrick “Pat” O’Shaughnessy, age 80, of Hattiesburg, and a former resident of Long Beach, passed away peacefully on April 19, 2024.
Father Pat was born on Feb. 11, 1944 in Limerick, Ireland. He was a naturally gifted athlete. In his youth he played rugby. He then went on to compete in many marathons and his greatest achievement was completing an IronMan Triathlon in Hawaii on Oct. 14, 1989, with a time of 12 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds. He loved all sports but had a deep passion for golf. He got a hole in one in Ballybunion.
Father Pat ministered in many different areas across Mississippi. Since his retirement, he was glad to be a part of Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Patrick and Margaret O’Shaughnessy; his brother, Jim O’Shaughnessy; his sister-in-law, Emma O’Shaughnessy; and an infant sister.
He is survived by numerous cousins in Ireland.
He will be mourned by Bishop Kihneman, all the Priests in Mississippi, many other Priests, and his previous parishioners who will miss him dearly and many other friends both in the United States and Ireland.
Father Pat was a native of Limerick, Ireland and completed his ecclesiastical studies at St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, County Tipperary. He was ordained to priestly ministry on June 8, 1968 at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles and arrived in the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson on Aug. 27, 1968.
His first assignment was as an associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Pascagoula, associate pastor of St. Michael Parish, Vicksburg, and St. John Parish in Oxford while he was continuing his graduate studies at the University of Mississippi, and then he was assigned to St. Alphonsus Parish in Ocean Springs.
He served as pastor of St. Michael Parish, Biloxi, Sacred Heart Parish, Hattiesburg, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hattiesburg, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Lumberton and St. Joseph Mission, Poplarville, and he retired to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Long Beach in 2009.
Father Pat was a gifted homilist that could get his point across in just a few words. His love for the outdoors was evident with his love of golf and bicycling. Father Pat also had a gift with children and caring for those with needs. He worked with the St. Vincent de Paul Society offering spiritual guidance to those in need. His impact on the Diocese of Biloxi will be remembered and celebrated for many years to come.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, April 29, 2024, at St. Fabian Catholic Church in Hattiesburg. A second Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in Father Pat’s homeland in Ireland on Friday, May 3, 2024. He is interred in Loughill Graveyard, Newcastle, County Limerick, Ireland.

Pope praises role of archives, libraries, in tech-oriented world

By Justin McLellan
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The troves of knowledge stored in archives and libraries must be made available and accessible to all people, especially as they increasingly depend on technological means for their knowledge, Pope Francis said.
Scholars overseeing archives and managing libraries must have “a great openness to discussion and dialogue,” Pope Francis told professors and students from the Vatican’s archival and library sciences schools May 13. He encouraged them to develop “a readiness to welcome,” especially the marginalized and those suffering “material, cultural and spiritual poverties.”
The pope encouraged the members of the two schools – the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatic and Archival Studies and the Vatican School of Library Studies – to avoid becoming complacent in distributing knowledge, particularly given the “decisive and epochal cultural challenges” of modern day, noting the problems of contemporary scholarship “related to globalization, to the risk of a flattening and devaluation of knowledge.”

Pope Francis greets teachers and students from the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatic and Archival Studies and the Vatican School of Library Studies during a meeting at the Vatican May 13, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

He highlighted humanity’s “increasing complex relationship with technology,” the challenges of engaging with and studying traditional cultures, making sources of information accessible to all and the responsibility of scholars to “defend all from the toxic, unhealthy and violent things that can lurk in the world of social media and technological knowledge.”
Pope Francis also urged the scholars to avoid “self-referentiality” and to share their ideas and experiences with other academic institutions.
Marking the 140th anniversary of the archival school and the 90th anniversary of the school of library sciences, the pope said that such anniversaries are not meant “just to honor old glories” but to “look forward to the future, to have the courage to rethink yourselves in the face of demands from the cultural and professional world.”
The pope praised the “decisive characteristic” of the two schools: their “eminently practical” and “concrete” approach to problems and studies, which he said enables them to come into contact with past knowledge and transmit it to future generations.
“Confronting the realty of things is worth more than ideology,” he said. “Ideologies always kill.”

Movie review: Wildcat

By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (OSV News) – A blending of historical facts and Southern gothic fiction proves unstable in the biographical and literary drama “Wildcat” (Oscilloscope). As a result, director and co-writer Ethan Hawke achieves only mixed results as he seeks to introduce viewers to the life and works of Catholic author Flannery O’Connor.
Given the high rank she enjoys among 20th-century American writers, especially on the basis of her masterful short stories, O’Connor’s career is certainly deserving of attention. Nor does the primary fault for the unsatisfying nature of “Wildcat” lie with Hawke’s daughter Maya’s portrayal of the scribe, whose intriguing persona the actress succeeds in capturing.
Instead the original aesthetic sin detectable here is one of strategy. In crafting their screenplay, the elder Hawke and his script collaborator Shelby Gaines ill-advisedly attempt to interweave scenes from O’Connor’s real experiences with dramatizations of the tales she penned. The reality-based elements mostly work, the fictitious ones, by contrast, fall flat.

Maya Hawke portrays Flannery O’Connor in the movie “Wildcat.” The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association. (OSV News photo/Oscilloscope)

Thus audiences will likely be engaged by the movie’s recounting of O’Connor’s struggle to publish her first novel as well as the narrative of her battle with lupus, the disease to which she would succumb in 1964, aged only 39. The illness made O’Connor dependent on her mother, Regina (Laura Linney), with whom she enjoyed a close yet conflicted relationship.
Like many others, Regina seems to have been somewhat bewildered by her daughter’s vibrant but eccentric creative vision. A studious reader of both scripture and the “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas Aquinas, O’Connor was at once fascinated and repelled by the do-it-yourself approach to Christianity she observed in the then-overwhelmingly Protestant South.
Drawing on O’Connor’s “A Prayer Journal,” published in 2013, Hawke manages to convey the seriousness with which she regarded her heartfelt beliefs. In fact, one of the picture’s most compelling exchanges takes place between a gravely ailing O’Connor and local clergyman Father Flynn (Liam Neeson).
Sequences adapted from O’Connor’s writings, on the other hand, are generally ineffectual. In some cases, this is because they are too heavily narrated, leaving them stranded between page and screen.
Still, for all its flaws, “Wildcat” does have some educational value, especially for those unfamiliar with O’Connor’s spiritual striving, physical suffering and impressive legacy. Given that problematic elements are relatively few, moreover, it’s possibly an acceptable choice for mature adolescents.
The film contains scenes of sensuality, several uses of profanity and a few milder oaths. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Calendar of events

SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT
FLOWOOD – St. Paul, 40 Hours of Adoration. Event begins May 31 with Mass at 5 p.m. Father will lead procession at 5:30 p.m. to the Family Life Center where Adoration will be set up for the weekend. The 40 hours will end on Sunday, June 2 at the 10:30 a.m. Mass with a procession into the Church. Sign up at https://spaulcc.flocknote.com/signup/167757. You will receive a confirmation email with a code to enter the Family Life Center. Open to all parishes. Details: church office (601) 992-9547.
PRAYER – Locus Benedictus, Would you be willing to commit to one day per week to pray the Rosary for priests and religious? Details: email your day of choice to contactlocusbenedictus@gmail.com or call (662) 299-1232.
NEW ORLEANS – Directed Retreat with the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center at the Cenacle on Lake Pontchartrain, June 28-July 3. Cost $500 – includes lodging, meals and personal spiritual director. To register call (504) 861-3254. Details: for more information call Melinda at (601) 597-7178.

PARISH, FAMILY & SCHOOL EVENTS
CLARKSDALE – St. Elizabeth, Vacation Bible School, June 10 – 14 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Details: Register at https://vbspro.events/p/stelizabeth2024.
CLEVELAND – Our Lady of Victories, Vacation Bible School – Scuba: diving into friendship with God, June 23-26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Open to all children entering Pre-K3 through fifth grade. Dinner provided. Deadline to register is June 16. Details: register at https://vbspro.events/p/f77396 or call Catherine at (662) 822-5025.
COLUMBUS – Annunciation School, Sportsmania Camp, June 10-14 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. in the school gym. Basketball, soccer, football and other fun activities for upcoming second through sixth grades. Cost: $135 per child. Details: register by emailing pfarrell@annunciationcatholicschool.org. $50 non-refundable deposit is due for registration.
Annunciation School, Dinosaurs to Luaus: Good Times! from June 24-28; Around the World from July 15-19. Camps from 8:30-11:30 a.m. for students entering kindergarten through sixth grade. Enjoy these hands-on camps focused on music, theatre and physical arts. Cost: $135 per child. All supplies and snacks included. Details: email Ms. Staggers at music@annunciationcatholicschool.org.
FLOWOOD – St. Paul, Bingo Night, Saturday, June 15 after 4:30 p.m. Mass. Play begins at 6 p.m. Enjoy a hotdog dinner celebrating Father’s Day. Details: church office (601) 992-9547.
St. Paul, Birthday Blast Vacation Bible School, July 15 – 19 from 6-8 p.m. for PreK-4 thorugh sixth grade. Details: register at https://bit.ly/3UJOtX2
GLUCKSTADT – St. Joseph, Vacation Bible School – Scuba: diving into friendship with God, June 24-28 from 6-8 p.m. in the parish hall, with dinner and games beginning at 5:15 p.m. Open to all children entering K through sixth grade. Cost $15 per child/$30 max per family. Pick up registration card by the SCUBA display in the church foyer. Details: Karen at kworrellcre@hotmail.com or (601) 672-5817.
HERNANDO – Holy Spirit, Yee Haw Vacation Bible School, June 3-6 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wanted: Children after God’s Own Heart. Registration sheeting in the Narthex. Details: church office (662) 429-7851.
JACKSON – Christ the King, 50th Ordination Celebration for Father Joe Dyer, Friday, August 16, with Mass at 11 a.m. and reception following in the Multi-Purpose Building. Please send RSVP by July 1. Details: ctkcatholicchurch@comcast.net or call (601) 948-8867.
JACKSON – Catholic Charities, Bishop’s Ball, Saturday, July 13 at the Old Capitol Inn. Cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m. with auction and dinner at 7 p.m. Cost: $150. Details: tickets and more information at https://event.gives/bishopsball24.
MADISON – St. Francis, Come to the Table: Vacation Bible School, June 17-20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for all 4-year-olds through fifth graders. Register at https://bit.ly/4508VaP. Details: email mc.george@stfrancismadison.org.
MERIDIAN – St. Patrick, Vacation Bible School, June 24 –28 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for Kindergarten through fifth grades. Register online: vbspro.events/p/f7700f or pick up a form in the church office. Details: church office (601) 693-1321.
MERIDIAN – St. Joseph, Knights of Peter Claver Council 208 will be selling fish fry, grilled chicken, and BBQ as plates on June 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plates include beans, coleslaw and bread for $12. Slabs are $25 and must be preordered to guarantee availability. Details: David at (601) 938-5757.
OLIVE BRANCH – Queen of Peace, Yard Sale, Saturday, June 1. Please bring your donations and leave them in the classrooms labeled “Yard Sale Donations.” Details: church office (662) 895-5007.
PEARL – St. Jude, Garage Sale, Friday, May 31 from 6-8 p.m. for $5 entry fee; and Saturday, June 1 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. with no entry fee. Details: church office (601) 939-3181.
TUPELO – St. James, Featured speaker: Hosffman Ospino, Saturday, July 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Shelton Hall. Come be a part of engaging conversations to learn how we can foster more positive interchanges and relaitonships among our diverse family cultures. Details: church office (662) 842-4881.
St. James, Vacation Bible School, July 15-18 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. for ages 4-years through sixth grade. Theme: “The Chronicles of Narnia – God’s Surely Alive!” Register before June 8 for a shirt. Details: register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6WHPDQQ or for more information email rhondaswita13@gmail.com.

In ’60 Minutes’ interview, pope clarifies same-sex blessings, speaks out against war, says clergy abuse can ‘not be tolerated’

By Gina Christian

(OSV News) – In the latest comment from the Vatican on “Fiducia Supplicans,” the controversial declaration issued by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in December 2023 that includes guidelines on the blessing of same-sex couples, Pope Francis clarified that he didn’t allow blessings of “the union” but of “each person.”

“What I allowed was not to bless the union,” the pope said, correcting the question of CBS journalist and interviewer Norah O’Donnell, who stated within her question that the pope had “decided to allow Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples.”

“That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way,” said Pope Francis, according to the English translation provided in voiceover by CBS. “But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone. To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the church. But to bless each person, why not? The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!”

The Spanish-language video, however, reveals that instead of “given right,” Pope Francis said “natural law,” which, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life.”

“Fiducia Supplicans,” which sparked international uproar within the church, was just one of the many topics touched on in the wide-ranging interview that covered the pope’s thoughts on war, a “globalization of indifference,” conservativism in the church, antisemitism and U.S. policy toward migrants.

The pope spoke with O’Donnell April 24 at his residence, Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae). A roughly 13-minute portion of the interview aired May 19 on “60 Minutes,” the long-running newsmagazine of the CBS Television Network, with the balance of the session to be broadcast in a one-hour primetime special May 20 on the network and on the Paramount+ streaming platform.

The pair were seated beneath a large image of Our Lady Undoer of Knots, a Marian devotion from 18th-century Germany that is a favorite of Pope Francis, who learned of it some 40 years ago from a nun he had met while he was completing his doctoral thesis in that nation.

As a follow-up to the topic of same-sex blessings, O’Donnell reminded Pope Francis of his previous remarks that “homosexuality is not a crime,” qualifying of “unjust” laws criminalizing the condition of same-sex attraction, which the church recognizes as “objectively disordered” while calling for such persons to exercise chastity and self-mastery, and to be treated with respect and compassion.

Homosexuality “is a human fact,” Pope Francis told O’Donnell.

She asked him how he would respond to “conservative bishops in the United States that oppose your new efforts to revisit teachings and traditions.”

In his reply, Pope Francis defined a conservative as the “suicidal attitude” of “one who clings to something and does not want to see beyond that.”

“One thing is to take tradition into account, to consider situations from the past, but quite another is to be closed up inside a dogmatic box,” he said.

Throughout the interview, Pope Francis underscored his soft-spoken but energetic responses — delivered in his native Spanish through an interpreter — with emphatic gestures, shifting occasionally in his chair and appearing to be in good health, despite a bout with bronchitis earlier this year that saw him taken to the hospital for tests.

Asked by O’Donnell if the Catholic Church had “done enough” to reform and repent of clerical sexual abuse, Pope Francis said “it must continue to do more” since “the tragedy of the abuses is enormous.”

He also stressed the need to “not only … not permit it but to put in place the conditions so that it does not happen.”

“It cannot be tolerated,” Pope Francis said. “When there is a case of a religious man or woman who abuses, the full force of the law falls upon them. In this there has been a great deal of progress.”

O’Donnell, in the May 19 excerpt, did not ask Pope Francis about Father Marko Rupnik, the Slovenian-born priest who was expelled from the Society of Jesus in June 2023, and who has gained international recognition both for his liturgical art and for the numerous accusations of sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse leveled against him in the course of his career.

O’Donnell did ask Pope Francis about the children of Gaza ahead of the Catholic Church’s inaugural World Children’s Day May 25-26, an observance instituted by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education.

When O’Donnell, citing the United Nations, said that more than a million in Gaza, mostly children, would face famine on World Children’s Day, Pope Francis replied, “Not just in Gaza. Think of Ukraine.”

He said that many of the Ukrainian children who come to the Vatican “don’t know how to smile … they have forgotten how to smile. And that is very painful.”

As a follow-up question, O’Donnell asked if the pope had a message for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“Please, warring countries, all of them, stop. Stop the war,” replied Pope Francis. “You must find a way of negotiating for peace. Strive for peace. A negotiated peace is always better than an endless war.”

O’Donnell asked the pope how to address international division over the Israel-Hamas war, which has sparked “big protests on college campuses and growing antisemitism.”

“All ideology is bad, and antisemitism is an ideology, and it is bad,” said Pope Francis. “Any ‘anti’ is always bad. You can criticize one government or another, the government of Israel, the Palestinian government. You can criticize all you want, but not ‘anti’ a people. Neither anti-Palestinian, nor antisemitic. No.”

Asked by O’Donnell if he could help negotiate peace, the pope sighed and replied, “What I can do is pray. I pray a lot for peace. And also, to suggest, ‘Please, stop. Negotiate.'”

O’Donnell also asked Pope Francis for his thoughts on the state of Texas’ efforts to shutter Annunciation House, a Catholic nonprofit sheltering migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“That is madness. Sheer madness. To close the border and leave them there, that is madness,” he said. “The migrant has to be received. Thereafter you see how you are going to deal with him. Maybe you have to send him back, I don’t know, but each case ought to be considered humanely.”

Recalling the pope’s July 2013 visit to Lampedusa — the Italian island to which thousands of migrants have fled, with thousands more perishing while crossing the Mediterranean — O’Donnell asked Pope Francis to speak about “the globalization of indifference.”

“People wash their hands!” he answered. “There are so many Pontius Pilates on the loose out there … who see what is happening, the wars, the injustice, the crimes … (They say), ‘That’s OK, that’s OK’ and wash their hands. … That is what happens when the heart hardens … and becomes indifferent.

“Please, we have to get our hearts to feel again,” Pope Francis implored. “We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such human dramas. The globalization of indifference is a very ugly disease. Very ugly.”

No reference was made to another hot button topic: women in the clergy, except in a post-interview narration in which O’Donnell said that although the pope had appointed more women to positions of church power than his predecessors, “he told us he opposes allowing women to be ordained as priests or deacons.”

In a particularly poignant moment in the interview, O’Donnell asked the pope about the church’s rejection of surrogacy, saying she knows women who are cancer survivors for whom the practice has become “the only hope” for having a child.

Pope Francis reaffirmed church teaching on the point, saying that surrogacy has sometimes “become a business, and that is very bad.”

He also said that for infertile women, “the other hope is adoption,” and stressed that “in each case the situation should be carefully and clearly considered, consulting medically and then morally as well.”

The pope commended O’Donnell for her sensitivity toward people that “in some cases (surrogacy) is the only chance,” saying with a warm smile, “It shows that you feel these things very deeply. Thank you.”

O’Donnell, in turn, said the pope has inspired hope among many “because you have been more open and accepting perhaps than any other previous leaders of the church.”

Reiterating a cry he issued at World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Pope Francis said that the church is open to “everyone, everyone, everyone.”

“The Gospel is for everyone,” he emphasized. “If the church places a customs officer at the door, that is no longer the church of Christ.”

The May 19 segment concluded with O’Donnell asking the pope what gave him hope.

“Everything,” Pope Francis said. “You see tragedies, but you also see so many beautiful things … heroic mothers, heroic men, men who have hopes and dreams, women who look to the future. That gives me a lot of hope. People want to live. People forge ahead. And people are fundamentally good. We are all fundamentally good. Yes, there are some rogues and sinners, but the heart itself is good.”

(Gina Christian is a multimedia reporter for OSV News. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @GinaJesseReina.)

Ascension shows that no one is left behind en route to heaven, pope says

By Justin McLellan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Jesus’ ascension shows that, despite the difficulties in peoples’ lives, they are all made for heaven, Pope Francis said.

Reflecting May 12 on the Gospel reading from St. Mark, which recounts how Jesus “was taken up into heaven,” the pope said that Jesus’ ascension into heaven does not represent a detachment from humanity but rather precedes its ultimate destination: heaven.

Pope Francis compared Jesus’ resurrection to the point when, during a difficult climb, one turns a corner and sees the destination in the distance, giving the body the energy and encouragement needed to reach the peak.

Pope Francis gives his blessing after praying the “Regina Coeli” in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 12, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“We, the church, are precisely that body that Jesus, having ascended to heaven, pulls along with him,” he said. “It is he who awakens us and communicates to us, with his word and with the grace of the sacraments, the beauty of the homeland toward which we are headed.”

Members of the church, who are members Jesus’s body, he said, “ascend with joy together with him, our leader, knowing that the step of one is a step for all, and that no one must be lost or left behind because we are but one body.”

Pope Francis said that to take steps toward Jesus one must perform “the works of love: to give life, bring hope, steer away from any form of wickedness and meanness, respond to evil with good, be close to those who suffer.”

“The more we do this, the more we let ourselves be transformed by the Spirit,” he said, ” the more we follow his example, as in the mountains, we feel in the air around us become light and clean, the horizon broad and the destination near, words and gestures become good, the mind and heart expand and breathe.”

The pope encouraged Christians to reflect on whether they have a strong desire for God and eternal life, or if they are “a bit dulled and anchored to passing things or money or success or pleasure.”

“Does my desire for heaven isolate me, does it seal me off, or does it lead me to love my brothers and sisters with a big and selfless heart, to feel that they are my companions on the journey toward paradise?” he asked.