The Church of St. Rita

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USCCB president suggests Sept. 28 as day of prayer for upcoming synod

(St. Louis Review) Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has joined Pope Francis and the office for the Synod of Bishops in encouraging a universal day of prayer Sept. 28 for the upcoming synod […]

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Pope Francis' message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees: “A Church without frontiers, mother to all”

Vatican City, 23 September 2014 (VIS) – The full text of the Holy Father's Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015 is published below:

“Dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus is 'the evangeliser par excellence and the Gospel in person'. His solicitude, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalised, invites all of us to care for the frailest and to recognise his suffering countenance, especially in the victims of new forms of poverty and slavery. The Lord says: 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me'. The mission of the Church, herself a pilgrim in the world and the Mother of all, is thus to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned; among these are certainly migrants and refugees, who are trying to escape difficult living conditions and dangers of every kind. For this reason, the theme for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: Church without frontiers, Mother to all.

“The Church opens her arms to welcome all people, without distinction or limits, in order to proclaim that 'God is love'. After his death and resurrection, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of being his witnesses and proclaiming the Gospel of joy and mercy. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples left the Upper Room with courage and enthusiasm; the strength of the Holy Spirit overcame their doubts and uncertainties and enabled all to understand the disciples’ preaching in their own language. From the beginning, the Church has been a mother with a heart open to the whole world, and has been without borders. This mission has continued for two thousand years. But even in the first centuries, the missionary proclamation spoke of the universal motherhood of the Church, which was then developed in the writings of the Fathers and taken up by the Second Vatican Council. The Council Fathers spoke of Ecclesia Mater to explain the Church’s nature. She begets sons and daughters and 'takes them in and embraces them with her love and in her heart'.

“The Church without frontiers, Mother to all, spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable. When living out this motherhood effectively, the Christian community nourishes, guides and indicates the way, accompanying all with patience, and drawing close to them through prayer and works of mercy.

“Today this takes on a particular significance. In fact, in an age of such vast movements of migration, large numbers of people are leaving their homelands, with a suitcase full of fears and desires, to undertake a hopeful and dangerous trip in search of more humane living conditions. Often, however, such migration gives rise to suspicion and hostility, even in ecclesial communities,prior to any knowledge of the migrants’ lives or their stories of persecution and destitution. In such cases, suspicion and prejudice conflict with the biblical commandment of welcoming with respect and solidarity the stranger in need.

On the other hand, we sense in our conscience the call to touch human misery, and to put into practice the commandment of love that Jesus left us when he identified himself with the stranger, with the one who suffers, with all the innocent victims of violence and exploitation. Because of the weakness of our nature, however, 'we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length'.

“The courage born of faith, hope and love enables us to reduce the distances that separate us from human misery. Jesus Christ is always waiting to be recognised in migrants and refugees, in displaced persons and in exiles, and through them he calls us to share our resources, and occasionally to give up something of our acquired riches. Pope Paul VI spoke of this when he said that 'the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others'.

“The multicultural character of society today, for that matter, encourages the Church to take on new commitments of solidarity, communion and evangelisation. Migration movements, in fact, call us to deepen and strengthen the values needed to guarantee peaceful coexistence between persons and cultures. Achieving mere tolerance that respects diversity and ways of sharing between different backgrounds and cultures is not sufficient. This is precisely where the Church contributes to overcoming frontiers and encouraging the 'moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalisation … towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world'.

“Migration movements, however,are on such a scale that only a systematic and active cooperation between States and international organisations can be capable of regulating and managing such movements effectively. For migration affects everyone, not only because of the extent of the phenomenon, but also because of 'the social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community'.

“At the international level, frequent debates take place regarding the appropriateness, methods and required norms to deal with the phenomenon of migration. There are agencies and organizations on the international, national and local level which work strenuously to serve those seeking a better life through migration. Notwithstanding their generous and laudable efforts, a more decisive and constructive action is required, one which relies on a universal network of cooperation, based on safeguarding the dignity and centrality of every human person. This will lead to greater effectiveness in the fight against the shameful and criminal trafficking of human beings, the violation of fundamental rights, and all forms of violence, oppression and enslavement. Working together, however, requires reciprocity,joint-action, openness and trust, in the knowledge that 'no country can singlehandedly face the difficulties associated with this phenomenon, which is now so widespread that it affects every continent in the twofold movement of immigration and emigration'.

“It is necessary to respond to the globalisation of migration with the globalisation of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane. At the same time, greater efforts are needed to guarantee the easing of conditions, often brought about by war or famine,which compel whole peoples to leave their native countries.

“Solidarity with migrants and refugees must be accompanied by the courage and creativity necessary to develop, on a world-wide level, a more just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic progress.

“Dear migrants and refugees! You have a special place in the heart of the Church, and you help her to enlarge her heart and to manifest her motherhood towards the entire human family. Do not lose your faith and hope! Let us think of the Holy Family during the flight in Egypt: Just as the maternal heart of the Blessed Virgin and the kind heart of Saint Joseph kept alive the confidence that God would never abandon them, so in you may the same hope in the Lord never be wanting. I entrust you to their protection and I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing”.

The challenge of migration: indifference must not prevail

Vatican City, 23 September 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office this morning, in which Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, along with Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, secretary of the same dicastery, presented the Holy Father's message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be held on Sunday 18 January 2015 on the theme, “A Church without frontiers, Mother to all”.

Cardinal Veglio explained that the Message is dated 3 September, the date of the centenary of the election of Pope Benedict XV, and highlighted the importance Pope Francis has attached to establishing an annual day for increasing awareness of the phenomenon of migration. He also emphasised that the Church has faced ever new and challenging situations during her millennial history, and that migration poses fresh challenges not only on account of its magnitude but also for the various social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it gives rise to.

“The biblical commandment to love one's neighbour, to open the door to him as though welcoming God, may come into conflict with certain problematic situations, for instance when immigrants are linked to irregular or delinquent behaviour”. Cardinal Veglio posed the question, “How should the Church respond?”, when faced with such a complex situation, and went on to outline the three recommendations offered by the Pope. These are: the renouncement of oneself, collaboration between the different entities and institutions that work for immigrants, and the humanisation of conditions for immigrants, intensifying efforts to promote a gradual reduction in the root causes of immigration, that cause entire peoples to abandon their homelands.

Archbishop Kalathiparambil went on to consider the theme of multiculturalism in contemporary society, which is in constant evolution. He raised key issues related to forced immigration, explaining that this takes the form of fleeing for salvation, often involving dangerous or life-threatening journeys which may nonetheless offer the only option for reaching a country where protection and the possibility of a dignified life can be found. The prelate highlighted that since many people in these conditions cannot meet the stringent requirements for international travel as they often do not possess, and have no means of obtaining valid documents, they become “vulnerable and defenceless, in search of protection, and easy prey to smugglers and traffickers”.

He remarked that “to respond effectively to the recognition of the need for protection, to restore human dignity to refugees and treat the causes of forced mobility”, States are required to cooperate in a spirit of international solidarity, and added that the Church must make efforts to ensure that “the dignity and the centrality of the human person is protected, promoting solidarity and dialogue between peoples”. He concluded by emphasising that today's challenge is to resist becoming “used to the human tragedy experienced by forcibly displaced persons, and not to allow indifference, 'the weakness of our human nature', to prevail or to give rise to the temptation to be Christians who keep a safe distance from the wounds of the Lord”.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Muller meets the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X

Vatican City, 23 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office has issued a statement to confirm that this morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a cordial meeting took place at the premises of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith between Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. The meeting was also attended by Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., secretary of the same Congregation, Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P., adjunct secretary and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, along with two assistants from the Society of St. Pius X, Rev. Niklaus Pfluger and Rev. Alain-Marc Nély.

During the meeting, various problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was decided to proceed gradually and over a reasonable period of time in order to overcome difficulties and with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation.

The Holy See at the 58th Conference of the IAEA: nuclear disarmament is a realistic objective

Vatican City, 20 September 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, under secretary for Relations with States, attended the 58th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), held in Vienna yesterday. He began his address by emphasising that the Holy See commends and supports all the activities of the IAEA, which contribute to “authentic human development and foster peace and prosperity throughout the world”, and remarked that, in relation to the Agency's significant achievements, “the Holy See believes that improved public awareness and recognition ... would come about through a greater use of the modern means of communication and a deeper cooperation with civic and political authorities”. Moreover, he added, “we believe that these activities … are compatible with Pope Francis' call for fraternity, articulated in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace”.

He went on to stress that the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons is “paramount for all humankind. Yet the attainment of this objective cannot be the final word with regard to peace: special emphasis must be given to worldwide nuclear disarmament. This must be a goal for all states, especially for those who possess nuclear weapons or who want to develop or acquire them. Furthermore it is a goal which ought not to be considered unrealistic. The reality of peace unquestionably requires a change of course which can be accomplished by decision-making which is clear and firm, and by a willingness to seek and achieve nuclear disarmament. As in years past, the Holy See urges governments and scientific experts engaged in the field of military defence to work strenuously towards such disarmament”. He commented that this year is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and the seventy-fifth of the Second World War, conflicts whose terrible consequences we still experience to this day.

Archbishop Camilleri turned his attention to the great worldwide interest in ensuring the enhancement and improvement of nuclear safety since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plants in March 2011. “This is the path that must be pursued: doing everything humanly possible to prevent accidents at nuclear facilities and minimising any consequences should an accident occur”. He concluded by confirming that the Holy See delegation “wishes to encourage and support the efforts and innovative approaches tht concern the management and safe disposal of radioactive waste”, and reiterated the great importance attached by the Holy See to the successful cooperation of the IAEA with other United Nations organisations such as the WHO and the FAO.

Pope Francis at Mass: Christian life simple, radical

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Tuesday morning. In remarks following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the simplicity of the Christian life and the Gospel’s call to radical simplicity in life and action.

Christ’s words had a “new” sound to them, as did the authority with which he spoke them – and this was why people followed him in such large numbers. Christ’s words had “the power of salvation” in them. Even so, there were those, who followed him “for the sake of convenience” only, without too much purity of heart, or perhaps with the desire to be “a little better” only. Pope Francis said that little has changed in two thousand years. Even today, many listen to Jesus as did the nine lepers of the Gospel who, “happy” with their newfound health, “forgot” the Lord, who had restored it to them:

“Jesus continued to talk to people and loved the people and He loved the crowd, to the point that He says, ‘these who follow me, that immense crowd, are my mother and my brothers – that’s who they are’. He explains: ‘those who listen to the Word of God, put it into practice’. These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus: to listen to the word of God,  and to put it into practice. This is the Christian life – nothing more. Simple, simple. Maybe we’ve made it a little difficult, with many explanations that no one understands, but the Christian life is thus: listening to the Word of God and practicing it.”

That is why – as described in the passage from the Gospel of Luke (8:19-21) that was read at Mass – Jesus replies to those who reported that her relatives were looking for him by saying, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” The point is not to hear casually, but to bend our ears – really to listen to the word of God, which we find in the Gospel – the pages of which need to be heard, and heeded, rather than merely read by rote “Listening to the Word of God,” said the Holy Father, “means reading it and then asking, ‘What does this say to me? How does this speak to my heart? What is God saying to me, with this word?” This, said Pope Francis, is a life-changing line of questioning:

“Every time we do this – each time we  open the Gospel and read a passage and ask ourselves: ‘Is God speaking to me with this? Is He saying something to me?’ – and if He is saying something, what is it that He is saying? This is [what it means] to listen to the Word of God: to listen with your ears and hear with your heart. Open your heart to the Word of God. The enemies of Jesus heard the word of Jesus, but were there in order to try to find a mistake, to make Him slip, so that He would lose His authority. They never asked themselves, though: ‘What is God saying to me in this Word?’ God not only speaks to all: yes, he does speak to all of us – but He also speaks to to every one of us – to each of us. The Gospel was written for each of us.”

The Holy Father went on to say that putting into practice what we have heard is “is not easy” and that “it is easier to live a mellow life without worrying about the exigencies of the Word of God.” He went on to remind the gathered faithful that the Commandments and the Beatitudes are sure guides for anyone who would really attempt to understand the requirements the Gopsel places on us and act accordingly – always counting on Jesus’ help. “[The Lord],” Pope Francis concluded, “ “is merciful and forgives all,” and waits for everyone, “because He is patient.”:

“Jesus receives everyone, even those who go to hear the Word of God and then betray Him. Think of Judas. ‘Friend,’ He says, in that moment where Judas betrays him. The Lord is always sowing His word, and asks [us] only [to have] an open heart [with which] to listen and willingness to put it into practice. For this reason, then prayer today, which is that of the Psalm [119:35]: ‘Lead me Lord in the path of thy commandments,’ that is, the path of your Word, that I may learn with your guidance to put it into practice.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to meet, preside Mass for grandparents, elderly

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations has confirmed that Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square this Sunday, 28 September at 10:30 a.m. for grandparents and the elderly. The Pontifical Council for the Family says more than fifty elderly priests from parishes around the world will concelebrate the liturgy with the Holy Father.  The main concelebrants will include the oldest priest of the Rome diocese, and one elderly priest each from the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Argentina.

More than 40 thousand seniors and grandparents from more than 20 countries – many from Italy, Spain, Argentina and the United States  - will participate in the morning’s liturgy.  The Mass will be preceded from 8:30 to 9:30 by the event, "The blessing of a long life,” in preparation for their meeting with Pope Francis.  The hour-long event will feature testimonials from seniors and reflections on five episodes from the Bible.  An elderly priest is expected to make a presentation - using only ten verbs – alluding to the profound meaning of aging and old age.

Tying together these testimonials will be the popular Italian children’s fairytale elf: Gipo.

The five biblical passages were chosen because they raise issues of concern to the world’s elderly today.  The figure of Sara: the alleged uselessness / sterility of the elderly; the figures of Naomi and Ruth: the abandonment of a mother-in-law by her daughter-in-law, and the story of Eleazar: the responsibility each elder has towards the younger generation and for the transmission of the faith. The last Scripture passages come from the New Testament: the stories of Zechariah / Elizabeth and Simeon / Anna will present to today’s seniors a twofold reflection on aging together in fulfilment of God’s will, and on the zealous expression of gratitude for a lifetime dedicated to the Lord.

Among those attending Sunday’s events: an elderly couple of Iraqi refugees from Qaraqosh (of the Diocese of Mosul) who will greet the Pope, bringing with them the voice of the many elderly people who are suffering in conflict zones.

Pope Francis will be welcomed with a live performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican astronomer: Just a matter of time until life found in universe

(CNS) Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, has no doubt that life exists elsewhere in the universe and that when humanity discovers it, the news will come as no big surprise. He suggested that […]

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Chinese authorities demolish two churches on same day

(UCAN) Two Catholic churches in two neighboring provinces in China were demolished this week while a third in Zhejiang province had its cross removed. On Monday, Jinxi Catholic Church in Hunan province was forcibly destroyed. When the priest tried to […]

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Tear gas, water canons used on protesting Sri Lankan Catholics

(UCAN) Police in Sri Lanka used water canons and tear gas on Sunday to disperse a group of about 3,000 Catholics who were demanding the return of a statue that had been confiscated by police earlier in the day. The […]

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