Browsing News Entries
Posted on 02/27/2024 08:00 AM (CNA - Saint of the Day)
Feast date: Feb 27
Mother Maria Caridad Brader was born into a pious family in Kaltburn, Switzerland, in 1860. Maria was unusually intelligent and her mother, a widow, went through great pains to give her a good education.
Despite her mother's opinion, Maria entered a Franciscan convent in 1880. She made her final vows two years later and began teaching at the convent school.
At the end of the 19th century, it became permissible for cloistered nuns to work as missionaries. Maria volunteered to be one of the first of six sisters to work in Ecuador.
Maria served as a teacher and catechist in Ecuador.
In 1893, she was transferred to Colombia to attend to the sick and rejected.
In response to an urgent need for missionaries, Maria founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate in 1893 in Colombia. Maria served as the congregation's superior general until 1919 and again from 1928 to 1940.
Maria urged her sisters to combine contemplation and action with great care. Her congregation also emphasized good education for both the sisters and their students.
“Do not forget that the better educated, the greater the skills the educator possesses, the more she will be able to do for our holy religion and the glory of God,” Maria told her sisters. “The more intense and visible her external activity, the deeper and more fervent her interior life must be.”
Maria died in 1943 in Colombia and her grave immediately became a popular pilgrimage site.
She was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 2003.
Posted on 02/26/2024 11:09 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Feb 26, 2024 / 06:09 am (CNA).
The Holy See Press Office on Monday announced that Pope Francis’ audiences for the day had been suspended as a precautionary measure due to the Holy Father’s persisting flu symptoms.
The Monday morning telegram sent out by the Vatican noted that while the pope’s “mild flu symptoms persist,” he did not have a fever. The Holy See Press Office did not provide further details on the pope’s condition nor hint at whether he would continue with his activities for the week.
On Saturday the 87-year-old pontiff canceled his meeting with the transitional deacons of the Diocese of Rome, who will be ordained to the priesthood in April, due to “a mild flu-like condition.”
However on Sunday the pope appeared in good form when he delivered his weekly Angelus address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square from the window of the Apostolic Palace as scheduled.
Last November the pope was forced to cancel his public appearances due to similarly “mild” flu symptoms. He was later admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Isola Hospital to undergo precautionary testing for pulmonary complications, which came back negative.
In December the pope canceled his trip to Dubai for the COP28 climate conference, at the request of his doctors, due to a bronchial infection.
Posted on 02/26/2024 09:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saying Pope Francis was continuing to experience "mild flu-like symptoms," the Vatican announced he had canceled his appointments again Feb. 26.
The 87-year-old pope had led the recitation of the Angelus prayer as usual Feb. 25 and seemed to have no difficulty speaking or breathing, and he did not cough.
The previous day, though, he canceled a meeting with transitional deacons from the Diocese of Rome. The Vatican press office had put out a note Feb. 24 saying, "Due to a mild flu-like condition, as a precautionary measure, the pope canceled his audiences scheduled for today."
The press office provided no further information and did not indicate what those symptoms were.
The only information the press office added Feb. 26 was that the pope did not have a fever.
The cancellation came after Pope Francis and top officials of the Roman Curia took five days off for their Lenten spiritual reflections.
In November and January when the Vatican said the pope had "flu-like symptoms" they were respiratory difficulties, which Pope Francis described as bronchitis.
At a Jan. 12 meeting with Catholic communicators from France, the pope skipped reading his prepared text because, he told the group, "I have a bit of bronchitis, and I can't speak well."
In late November and early December, he also suffered from what he described as a very serious bronchial infection.
"Thank God it was not pneumonia," he told a group of health care managers. "I no longer have a fever, but I am still on antibiotics and things like that," he had said.
He had canceled his appointments Nov. 25 because of what the press office described as "flu-like symptoms" and went that afternoon to a Rome hospital for a CT scan of his chest. In the following days, he canceled some appointments and had aides read his prepared texts at other events.
That bout of respiratory difficulties also was what led him to cancel his plans to travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1-3 to address the U.N. Climate Change Conference.
Suffering from a respiratory infection, he also spent four days in March at Rome's Gemelli hospital.
He had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.
Pope Francis usually does not have any formal audiences on Tuesday; he was scheduled to hold his weekly general audience Feb. 28.
Posted on 02/26/2024 09:30 AM (USCCB News)
WASHINGTON - Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed solidarity with faith-driven ministries to migrants and noted the special need to protect religious liberty. His remarks commended the February 23 statement issued by the Catholic bishops of the State of Texas.
“It is hard to imagine what our country would look like without the good works that people of faith carry out in the public square. For this, we can thank our strong tradition of religious liberty, which allows us to live out our faith in full.
“As the tragic situation along our border with Mexico increasingly poses challenges for American communities and vulnerable persons alike, we must especially preserve the freedom of Catholics and other people of faith to assist their communities and meet migrants’ basic human needs. I join my brother bishops in the State of Texas in expressing solidarity with those seeking simply to fulfill the fundamental biblical call: ‘whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Posted on 02/25/2024 14:55 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Feb 25, 2024 / 09:55 am (CNA).
A day after canceling his audiences due to what the Vatican called a “mild flu-like condition,” Pope Francis appeared in good form during his weekly Angelus address Sunday, marking the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine with a call for peace while urging the faithful to “never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus.”
“How many victims, injuries, destruction, anguish, tears in a period that is becoming terribly long and of which the end is not yet in sight,” the pope said about the war, which began with Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, adding that the conflict has “unleash[ed] a global wave of fear and hatred.”
“While I renew my deepest affection for the tormented Ukrainian people and pray for everyone, in particular for the numerous innocent victims,” Pope Francis said, “I implore that that bit of humanity be found that allows us to create the conditions for a diplomatic solution in search of a just and lasting peace.”
The Vatican said Pope Francis canceled his audiences on Feb. 24 as a “precaution.” When the Vatican said that Francis had a “mild flu” in November, the pope underwent precautionary testing at a Rome hospital. The 87-year-old pope canceled a trip to Dubai in December after his doctors advised him not to travel because of a bronchial infection.
But on Sunday he was back in public view for the weekly Angelus. Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the second Sunday in Lent — Mark’s account of the Transfiguration — the pope described the apostles’ mountaintop experience with Jesus as a transformative moment where Christ “physically manifests himself there in all his light.”
The Transfiguration, he said, sums up all of Jesus’ works up until that point of his ministry while foreshadowing his passion.
“The preaching of the kingdom, the forgiveness of sins, the healings, and the performed signs were, indeed, sparks of a greater light, namely, of the light of Jesus,” the pope said from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace, overlooking nearly 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father stressed that it is an event that reminds all Christians that “God is light,” which allows us to “seek his face, that is full of mercy, fidelity, and hope.” In this way we can keep Christ fixed as a singular point of reference as “we journey through life.”
The pope declared: “Always keep the luminous face of Christ before our eyes,” adding: “Never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus.”
Pope Francis suggested that this encounter with the living God is done principally through “prayer, listening to the word, the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist.” But underscoring the sacramental dimension is also a deeply personal, human element.
It is a call for the faithful, the pope suggested, to seek God in one another, noting that it can serve as a “Lenten resolution” that enables us to become “seekers of the light of Jesus.”
“But it also helps to look people in the eyes,” he continued, “learning to see God’s light in everyone and cultivating the ability to marvel at this beauty that shines in each one, without exception: in those close to us and in those we do not know; in the happy gazes of those who are joyful and in the tears of those who are sorrowful; in the sad and dimmed eyes of those who are tried by life and of those who have lost their enthusiasm; and even in those whom we find it difficult to look in the face, preferring to turn away.”
🎥VIDEO | Pope Francis, during today's Angelus, proposes a good resolution for this Lent: "Becoming ‘seekers of light,’ seekers of the light of Jesus, both in prayer and in people," and he asks for the help of the Virgin Mary "to look at each other with trust and love." pic.twitter.com/FILxmFfGCg— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) February 25, 2024
Posted on 02/24/2024 12:46 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 24, 2024 / 07:46 am (CNA).
Pope Francis canceled his public appearances on Saturday due to a mild flu, the Vatican has said.
The Holy See Press Office released a short statement announcing the cancellation on Saturday morning without further details.
“Due to a mild flu-like condition, as a precautionary measure, the pope has canceled the audiences scheduled for today,” the Feb. 24 statement said.
The cancellation comes after Pope Francis concluded a five-day Lenten retreat at his Vatican residence in which all of his regular activities were suspended from the afternoon of Feb. 18 to Feb. 23.
The 87-year-old pope has slowed down his schedule with less international travel since he underwent abdominal surgery last June to repair an incisional hernia. Francis canceled a trip to Dubai in December after his doctors advised him not to travel because of a bronchial infection.
When the Vatican said that Pope Francis had a “mild flu” in November, the pope underwent precautionary testing at a Roman hospital.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope’s Angelus address on Sunday is still on the schedule and that the Vatican does not plan to release any further health updates on Saturday.
The pope had been scheduled to meet with deacons from the Diocese of Rome on Saturday morning in addition to his regularly scheduled meetings at the Vatican.
Posted on 02/23/2024 09:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The media and social networks can be crueler than wild beasts, the preacher of the papal household told top Vatican officials and Vatican employees.
"When they point out the distortions of society or of the church," he said, then "they deserve all the respect and esteem," Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa said Feb. 23, offering his first Lenten meditation of 2024 in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
But there should be no praise when "they attack someone out of bias, simply because he does not belong to their side" or when they are driven by "malice and with destructive, rather than constructive, intent," the Capuchin friar said.
The reflection came after Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia suspended their usual activities to participate in a week of personal spiritual reflection for the beginning of Lent Feb. 18-23. A number of chairs reserved for curial officials and Pope Francis were empty.
"Unfortunately, today there exists in society teeth that grind without mercy, more cruelly" than the teeth of wild beasts, Cardinal Cantalamessa said. "They are the teeth of the media and the so-called social networks."
"Unfortunate indeed is whoever ends up in this meat grinder today, be it a layperson or clergy!" he said.
"In this case, it is legitimate and necessary to assert one's reasons in the appropriate forums, and if this is not possible, or it is seen that it is of no use, all that remains for a believer is to join Christ scourged, crowned with thorns, spit upon," he said.
"It is a difficult and painful thing to say the least, especially if one's natural or religious family is involved," he said. "But the grace of God can make -- and often has made -- all of this an opportunity for purification and sanctification."
"It's about having faith that, in the end, as happened with Jesus, the truth will triumph over lies. And the triumph will be better served, perhaps, with silence than with the most aggressive self-defense," he said.
The papal preacher said he would dedicate each of his five Lenten reflections to five of the seven "I am" declarations Jesus revealed in the Gospel of John, starting with "I am the bread of life."
"How did he, Jesus, become the bread of life for us?" Cardinal Cantalamessa asked.
Jesus provided the answer in the Gospel of John (12:24) when he said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit," the cardinal said.
The image of grain falling to the ground and dying, he said, indicates not only Jesus' destiny, but also "that of every one of his true disciples."
On his way to Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote how he was willing to become "food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ's pure bread," the cardinal said, quoting the saint.
"This has something to say to us, too," the cardinal said. "Each of us has, in our environment, these teeth of wild beasts that grind us" given that -- quoting St. Augustine -- human beings are "vessels of clay that are damaged by the slightest nick."
"We must learn to make this situation a means of sanctification and not of hardening of the heart, hatred and complaint," Cardinal Cantalamessa said.
"There are many opportunities not to be wasted if we, too, want to be ground to become God's flour, and everyone must identify and sanctify what is offered to him in his place of service," he said.
"One opportunity is to accept being contradicted, to give up justifying oneself, and to always want to be right when this is not required by the importance of the matter," he said.
The other is "to put up with someone whose character, way of speaking or acting gets on our nerves, and to do so without ourselves becoming irritated internally, thinking, rather, that we too are perhaps such a person for someone," he said.
Bishop Zaidan Calls for Peace and Humanitarian Aid as War-Torn Ukraine Marks Two Years Since Russian Invasion
Posted on 02/23/2024 09:30 AM (USCCB News)
WASHINGTON - As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its third year, the need for humanitarian assistance has greatly increased to help the millions of Ukrainians impacted by violence and destruction. People are struggling to survive in the cold winter with little food, heat, or shelter, said Bishop A. Elias Zaidan of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon. As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, he urged the U.S. government to provide more aid immediately to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainians. Bishop Zaidan also expressed concern at Russia’s targeting of religious communities in Ukraine, destroying churches, arresting religious leaders, some of whom have been tortured and killed.
“The magnitude of the suffering in the Ukrainian conflict continues to sear the conscience of the faithful. According to a UN report, the number of civilians killed and injured since February 2022 exceeds 30,000. Schools, hospitals, apartments, and basic infrastructure supplying power have been hit by missiles. In the face of such destruction and death, people are repeatedly displaced, insecure as to where to find safety.
“The Catholic Church, including many Catholic welfare organizations are trying to meet these enormous needs both within Ukraine and in other countries impacted by this war which has raged on for two full years. The USCCB’s national collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe has been critical in providing much-needed aid to the region. Additionally, Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has greatly heightened global food security concerns, increasing food prices, and jeopardizing the health and lives of poor and vulnerable people dependent on food assistance for survival. I urge the U.S. government to do all that it can to provide much needed humanitarian assistance quickly.
“At the same time, there are reports of religious communities, particularly the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, being attacked by Russian forces in territories they have seized. Over 600 religious structures have been damaged, some occupied by Russian forces and turned into military bases. Clergy have been harassed, persecuted, kidnapped, and even killed.
“On January 8, Pope Francis spoke about Ukraine saying we cannot allow the persistence of a conflict that continues to metastasize to the detriment of millions of persons. He also underscored that it is necessary to put an end to the present tragedy through negotiations, in respect for international law. I join with our Holy Father in calling for an end to the violence in Ukraine and call on all the faithful and people of good will to join with the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in setting aside February 24 as a solemn day of prayer, fasting for the end of the war and for peace to come to this war-torn land.”
Posted on 02/22/2024 09:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like a giant Tinkertoy construction, a skeletal tower of scaffolding slowly inched its way up the twisting bronze columns of the baldachin over the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica.
Workers on the ground picked through piles of shiny metal platforms, poles, clamps and couplers to then hoist them up high with pulleys to their workmates above. They had begun erecting the scaffolding after Mass on Ash Wednesday Feb. 14 and it reached almost halfway by Feb. 21.
The 100-foot-tall baldachin was set to be completely covered by metal scaffolding before Easter to allow a team of 10 to 12 restorers to start cleaning, repairing and revitalizing the masterpiece designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1624 and completed around 1633.
The biggest problem facing the restorers "is getting there, that is, to be close enough" to the bronze and wood structures and many decorative details that need to be restored, Alberto Capitanucci told Catholic News Service.
Capitanucci, the head engineer of the Fabbrica di San Pietro -- the office responsible for upkeep of the basilica -- said the baldachin is a monumental architectural structure that is as high as a 10-story building.
But it is mostly empty space with its four fluted spiral bronze columns, each set upon a massive marble pedestal alongside the marble steps leading to the main altar over the tomb of St. Peter. The most delicate part of the structure is the canopy above, he said, which is made entirely of wood.
The wooden ceiling "is the size of a vessel, that is, it was designed to be the wooden planking of a boat," Capitanucci said.
Despite its enormous size, Bernini wanted the baldachin to resemble the light, open and airy cloth-covered canopy used in processions of the Blessed Sacrament. The term "baldachin" or "baudekin" comes from a special brocade fabric made in Baghdad and traditionally used for processional canopies.
The twisting pattern on the gilded columns makes them look lighter and draws the eye upward along decorations of snaking branches of olive and laurel, bees and lizards, until it reaches the top which resembles canopy brocade and tassels blowing in the wind, he said. The top of the baldachin is meant to look like "a billowing sail" of a boat.
The angels holding floral garlands and standing at the four corners are 13 feet high, he said, and four scroll-like ornaments, shaped like dolphin backs, go from the corners up to a globe that supports a cross, which is 40 feet tall. There are four pairs of cherubs holding up the keys of St. Peter, a papal tiara and the sword and book of St. Paul.
What looks small from below is, in reality, enormous in size, Capitanucci said, indicating that the bees on top are as long as a briefcase. Pope Urban VIII, who hired Bernini to design the baldachin, belonged to the Barberini family, whose coat of arms consists of three bees.
Capitanucci said they used drones to take over 6,000 photographs of the hard-to-reach canopy and its inner ceiling featuring the dove of the Holy Spirit surrounded by golden fire. The up-close images will help them plan how to proceed with the restoration, he said.
The entire structure will be covered in sheer cloth to shield workers from the public, he said, and still let in lots of natural light.
And, once the scaffolding is completely up, the wooden box now protecting the main altar will be removed so the altar can still be used for papal ceremonies for the rest of the year. The entire restoration should be completed by the end of December for the start of the Holy Year.
Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, director of communication for St. Peter's Basilica, told CNS the baldachin "is the linchpin of the basilica."
It draws attention to the main altar, which is "the heart, where the Eucharistic sacrifice takes place, the Eucharistic celebration that is the source and summit of Christian life," he said.
The current restoration project, funded by the Knights of Columbus, marks only the second restoration since the baldachin was built, he said, the last restoration being in the late 1700s.
When works of art are preserved well, he said, it keeps alive the belief that "beauty leads to God" and it reminds people "what human genius can create."
The baldachin also symbolizes that it is possible for all people to work together to create something spectacular, Father Fortunato said. Many other artists worked with Bernini to build the masterpiece, including his fiercest rival, Francesco Borromini.
"This makes us understand that teamwork, working together, always bears beautiful and good fruit," the Franciscan friar said.
Posted on 02/21/2024 22:43 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Feb 21, 2024 / 17:43 pm (CNA).
Two alleged abuse victims of mosaic artist Father Marko Rupnik spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday, detailing the tactics the former Jesuit allegedly used to manipulate them.
Italian Gloria Branciani and Slovenian-born Marjiam Kovač, former sisters of the now-dissolved Loyola Community in Slovenia, shared their stories at a crowded press conference in the Rome offices of the trade union for Italian journalists.
They were joined by their high-profile lawyer, Laura Sgrò, who has represented clients in the VatiLeaks scandal as well as the family of Emanuela Orlandi, an Italian girl who disappeared under mysterious circumstances decades ago.
Branciani, 59, reflected on how her introduction into the community was propelled by a desire to grow her spiritual life but wound up being subjected to spiritual, psychological, and physical abuse, which amounted to “the total loss of my identity.”
Detailing the dynamics of Rupnik’s alleged manipulation, Branciani recounted how this multifaceted abuse reflected a deeper and more intimate “abuse of conscience” and was a total violation of the deep intimacy of her spiritual life.
She alleged that Rupnik used her interest in art and culture “to put pressure on my personality,” which allowed him to affect a change in her “ideas, the way of thinking, the way of behaving, the way of dressing.”
“So with an imposition of his spiritual, theological, and artistic vision, he had an ever greater power over me, an exclusive power,” Branciani said.
In one example, she claimed that while in his art studio, which was also the place where their spiritual direction sessions were held, Rupnik, while painting, was “staring at parts of my body” and afterward performed a sexually suggestive gesture on Branciani, which Rupnik allegedly likened to an act of biblical divine revelation that expressed “the wisdom of the father.”
Rupnik has been at the center of a nearly six-year-long scandal centered on his alleged abuse of over 20 religious sisters spanning across three decades. After initially deciding in October 2022 not to pursue sanctions against Rupnik because the statute of limitation had expired, the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) reopened the case after Pope Francis lifted the statute of limitations in October 2023. That decision came on the heels of public outcry over the news that Rupnik had been incardinated in a diocese in Slovenia where he could continue his priestly ministry.
On Wednesday, Vatican News reported that the DDF’s investigation was underway and that “it will now be necessary to study the acquired documentation in order to identify which procedures can and should be implemented.”
Rupnik has not commented publicly about the allegations but his collaborator at the Aletti Center — an art and theology school founded by Rupnik in Rome — has said the allegations are unproven.
Marjiam Kovač spoke for only 10 minutes, describing how the ideals of religious life, along with the sisters’ “training and obedience and trust in the people who guided us,” were “exploited for abuses of various kinds, of conscience, of power, spiritual, psychic, physical, and often even sexual.”
According to Kovač, 20 sisters were abused out of a community of 40 women.
For Kovač, the press conference was an opportunity to break the “silence” that victims have faced, which she characterized as “a rubber wall, which bounces off every attempt to cure the unhealthy situation.”
“We are sorry because the institutions, instead of taking inspiration from our experience to review their way of acting, continue to close themselves in silence,” she said.
Following their remarks, Sgrò, their lawyer, said she hoped the example of the two women would encourage other victims to speak out to civil as well as Church authorities.
“And they must not limit themselves from going to ask the bishop or the Mother Superior for help. They must go and report to the state courts, to the state authorities. Go to the police … go to a lawyer, go to the prosecutor’s office, because he who has done that to Gloria must go to prison,” Sgrò said.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the organization Bishop Accountability, a Boston-based organization that has tracked clerical abuse in the Catholic Church for the past 20 years, moderated the press conference.
She praised the women’s courage for speaking out publicly against Rupnik, whom she characterized as “a powerful cleric who’s been protected at the highest levels of the Jesuits and the Vatican.”
At one point, Doyle held up a poster with the images of Rupnik alongside Marcial Maciel and former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, declaring that like them, Rupnik is “charismatic … famous, a friend of popes and others in high places … like them, he is a serial predator.”