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Vatican City, Feb 27, 2017 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis recognized on Monday the heroic virtue of eight persons on the path to canonization, including an Italian surgeon and father of eight who suffered from several painful diseases throughout his life.

The Pope met Feb. 27 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the causes to move forward.

Among them is Italian Victor Trancanelli. Born in 1944, he studied and became a talented surgeon before marrying his wife Lia. Together they had one natural son and adopted seven more children over the course of their marriage.

One month before the birth of their son, Diego, Victor developed ulcerative colitis and widespread peritonitis, which created the need for a permanent ileostomy. Only his wife and a few medical colleagues were aware of the ileostomy, which he bore with patience and without complaining.

Always thinking of the sick, after a year he was healthy enough to return to his work as a surgeon.

In the 1980s, he fell in love with Holy Scripture and with the Jewish roots of the Faith, working at the St. Martin Ecumenical Center. During that time, Victor, his wife, and a few friends started the association which is still running, “Alle Querce di Mamre,” to help women and children in difficult situations.

After another serious illness, he died June 24, 1998, at the age of 54. It is said that shortly before his death he gathered his wife and children around him, and said: “For this it is worth living.”

“Even if I had become, who knows who, if I had money in the bank, owned many houses, what would I bring with me now? What have I brought before God? Now I bring the love that we have given.”

Another cause moving forward is that of Fr. Titus Zeman, a priest of the Salesian order who was born in 1915 in Bratislava, Slovakia. He moved to Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University for a period before being ordained in 1940.

He returned to his home country, but in 1950 the Communist regime in then-Czechoslovakia prohibited religious orders, deporting religious men and women to concentration camps. Fr. Zeman organized for young men in the Salesians to travel secretly to Turin, Italy to complete their studies for the priesthood.

He was eventually captured and endured a severe trial, where they called him a traitor and a spy of the Vatican. Narrowly missing the death penalty, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was released in 1964 after 12 years, enduring torture and other deprivation.

Severely weakened by the treatment during his imprisonment, he died only five years later on Jan. 8, 1969. He is considered to have died a martyr for the faith.

Fr. Zeman is known to have said: “Even if I lost my life, I would not consider it wasted, knowing that at least one of those that I helped has become a priest in my place.”

Following an increasing number of canonizations of laypeople in the last few years, another lay person whose cause has moved forward is Pietro Herrero Rubio, who lived 1904-1978.

The other causes are of the Bishop Ottavio Ortiz Arrieta of Chachapoyas (1878-1958); Jesuit priest Antonio Repiso Martínez de Orbe, founder of the Congregation of Sisters of the Divine Pastor (1856-1929); Antonio Provolo, a diocesan priest and founder of both the Society and the Congregation of Mary for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (1801-1842); Maria of Mercy Cabezas Terrero, foundress of the Religious Institute of the Missionary Workers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1911-1993); and Sr. Lucia of the Immaculate (Maria Ripamonti), a member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Charity (1909-1954).  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Vatican City, Feb 26, 2017 / 11:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his Sunday visit to Rome’s Anglican parish of All Saints, Pope Francis voiced gratitude for the good relations Catholics and Anglicans now enjoy, and said that on the path toward full communion, humility has to be the point of departure.

“(Humility) is not only a beautiful virtue, but a question of identity,” the Pope said in his Feb. 26 visit to the Anglican parish of All Saints.

He noted that in evangelizing the Christians in Corinth, St. Paul had to “grapple” with the fact that relations with the community weren’t always good. But when faced the question of how to carry out the task despite ongoing tensions, “where does he begin? With humility.”

“Paul sees himself as a servant, proclaiming not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord. And he carries out this service, this ministry according to the mercy shown him,” he said, adding that this ministry is done “not on the basis of his ability, nor by relying on his own strength, but by trusting that God is watching over him and sustaining his weakness with mercy.”

To become humble, he said, “means drawing attention away from oneself, recognizing one’s dependence on God as a beggar of mercy: this is the starting point so that God may work in us.”

Francis then quoted a former president of the World Council of Churches, who described Christian evangelization as “a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread.”

“I believe Saint Paul would approve,” he said, because “he grasped the fact that he was fed by mercy and that his priority was to share his bread with others: the joy of being loved by the Lord, and of loving him.”

Pope Francis spoke to a crowd of both Catholic and Anglican faithful during his Feb. 26 visit to the Anglican church of All Saints, which marked the first time a Roman Pontiff has set foot in an Anglican parish inside his own diocese of Rome.

This visit coincided with the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Anglican parish community in the heart of the Eternal City, and consisted of a short choral Evensong service, during which the Pope blessed and dedicated an icon of “St. Savior” commissioned for the occasion.

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During the ceremony, the symbolic “twinning” of All Saints Anglican Church with the Catholic parish of “Ognissanti” – the only Catholic parish in Rome dedicated to All Saints – also took place, forming strong ecumenical ties between the two.

Ognissanti is the parish where Bl. Paul VI, on March 7, 1965, celebrated the first Mass in Italian following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

After his arrival, Pope Francis was greeted by the church's pastor, Rev. Johnathan Boardman, and Rev. Robert Innes, Bishop of the Church of England Diocese in Europe.

In his greeting, Innes thanked Pope Francis for his “global leadership, and for the particular inspiration you have been to those of us in the Anglican Communion,” particularly when it comes to the issues of the poor, migrants, refugees, and human trafficking.

“Within Europe and our diocese, you have challenged members of the European Union to rediscover their Christian heritage and values. Your published work speaks far beyond Rome in addressing difficult ethical issues that face us all,” he said.

Innes voiced his hope and prayer that the Pope’s visit would be “one more small step in further strengthening the unity between our churches and in celebrating the deep bonds of Anglican Roman Catholic friendship that we already enjoy.”

After singing Evensong, Pope Francis gave a homily, during which he noted that “a great deal has changed” both in Rome and in the world since the parish’s founding 200 years ago.

“In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics,” he said, noting that while in the past the Churches viewed each other “with suspicion and hostility,” today we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.”

Francis pointed to the icon he blessed, noting that when looking at it, Jesus “to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: ‘Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me? Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?’”

“His gaze of divine mercy is the source of the whole Christian ministry,” the Pope said, and turned to the ministry of St. Paul, particularly in the community of Corinth.

As the Apostle’s letters show, he “did not always have an easy relationship” with the community in Corinth, the Pope said, noting that at one point there was even “a painful visit” during which “heated words” were exchanged in writing.

But by living his ministry in light of the mercy that he’s received, St. Paul “does not give up in the face of divisions, but devotes himself to reconciliation,” Francis observed, explaining that Christians of different confessions must have the same attitude.

“When we, the community of baptized Christians, find ourselves confronted with disagreements and turn towards the merciful face of Christ to overcome it, it is reassuring to know that we are doing as Saint Paul did in one of the very first Christian communities,” he said.

The Pope then noted how at perhaps the most difficult moment St. Paul had with the community in Corinth, the Apostle cancelled a trip he was planning to make, and renounced the gifts he would have received.

However, while there were certainly tensions in their relationship, “these did not have the final word,” Francis said, explaining that the two communities eventually reconciled and the Christians in Corinth eventually helped St. Paul in his ministry to the poor and needy.

“Solid communion grows and is built up when people work together for those in need,” he said, adding that “through a united witness to charity, the merciful face of Jesus is made visible in our city.”

Pope Francis then voiced his gratitude that after “centuries of mutual mistrust,” Catholics and Anglicans can now “recognize that the fruitful grace of Christ is at work also in others.”

“We thank the Lord that among Christians the desire has grown for greater closeness, which is manifested in our praying together and in our common witness to the Gospel, above all in our various forms of service,” he said.

Although the path to full communion can at times seem “slow and uncertain,” the Pope said the two communities ought to be encouraged by his visit to the Anglican parish and the joint prayer.

The visit, he said, “is a grace and also a responsibility: the responsibility of strengthening our ties, to the praise of Christ, in service of the Gospel and of this city.”

Francis closed his homily encouraging both Catholics and Anglicans to work together “to become ever more faithful disciples of Jesus, always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past and ever more desirous to pray for and with others.”

After his homily, Pope Francis took three questions from the congregation on the state of Catholic-Anglican relations today, his approach to relations versus that of his direct predecessor Benedict XVI and what Catholics and Anglicans can learn from the “creativity” of Churches in the global south, specifically Africa and Asia.

In his answer to the first question, the Pope noted that despite a turbulent past, relations between Catholics and Anglicans today “are good. We see each other as brothers.” He added that monasteries and the communion of Saints are two particular “strengths” the Churches have in common.

He also stressed the importance of not taking certain moments of history out of context and using them as ammo to damage current relations, saying “a historic fact must be read in the hermeneutic of that moment, not in another hermeneutic.”

In the second question it was asked if Pope Francis, by emphasizing a strategy of “walking and working” together toward unity was perhaps the opposite of Benedict XVI, who at one point warned that collaboration in social action shouldn’t take priority over theological matters.

Francis responded to the question with a joke told to him by Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, that while the different Churches work together on other things, the theologians “can go to an island” and have their discussions there.

Theological questions are important, he said, noting that there are “many things in which we still don’t agree.”

But having this discussion “can’t be done in a laboratory, it has to be done walking,” he said, explaining that “we are on a journey.”

It’s important to have these theological discussions, “but in the meantime we help each other” though acts of charity such as serving the poor, migrants and refugees, he said, adding that “you can’t have ecumenical dialogue that is stopped...you have to do it walking.”

When responding to the third question, Pope Francis noted that “young Churches” in Africa and Asia do have “a different vitality because they are different and they look for ways to express themselves differently.”

However, the “older Churches” in European countries, also have their own benefits, he said, noting that they have had time to “mature” and deepen in many things, including theological and ecumenical questions.

The Pope acknowledged that young Churches “have more creativity,” just as the European Church did when it began, and said there is “a strong need” for the two – old and young – to collaborate together.

As an example, he revealed that he is considering a trip to South Sudan sometime this year, and explained that the idea came from a recent visit the heads of three major Christian churches in the country to Rome.

In October Archbishop Paulino Luduku Loro of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba traveled to Rome alongside ev. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, to explain the dire situation of their country, and their joint collaboration in working to quell the effects of the crisis.

Pope Francis noted that during his Oct. 27, 2016,  meeting with the three, they invited him to come, but told him “don’t do it alone,” and requested that he make the trip alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Primate of the Anglican Communion.

He said the trip hasn’t been confirmed since situation on the ground is so risky, but assured that it’s “being studied,” because each of the Churches there “have the will to work for peace” together.

The Pope ended his answer to the question with the suggestion that, given the benefits of both the “old” and “young” Churches throughout the world, there be an exchange set up where priests from Europe travel to the “younger Churches” for a pastoral experience, rather than it always being the other way around.

“It would do us well,” he said, “You learn a lot.”

Monday, February 27, 2017

Vatican City, Feb 26, 2017 / 05:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While earthly pleasures such as power and money bring temporary satisfaction, they are ultimately fleeting and deceptive, Pope Francis said Sunday, explaining that God alone is faithful and in trusting him, we have nothing to worry about.

“God is not a distant an anonymous being: he is our refuge, the source of our serenity and our peace,” the Pope said Feb. 26. “He is the rock of our salvation, to whom we can cling with the certainty of not falling; he is our defense against the evil that is always lurking.”

For each of us God is a “great friend, allay and father,” he said, but noted that sadly, “we don’t always realize it.”

“We don’t realize that we have a friend, a father, who loves us. We prefer to cling to immediate and contingent goods, forgetting, and at times refuting, the supreme good, which is the paternal love of God,” he said.

To know and feel that God is our Father is especially important “in this age of orphan-hood,” he said, noting that often times we distance ourselves from God’s love “when we go in obsessive pursuit of earthly goods and riches, thus showing an exaggerated love of these realities.”

Many friends or those whom “we think are friends” delude us with false illusions, he said, but stressed that “God never deludes.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing his speech on the day’s Gospel passage from Matthew in which God tells his disciples that “no one can serve two masters,” and that they don’t need to worry about necessities in life such as food, shelter or clothing, because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

The passage serves as “a strong call to trust in God,” Francis said, explaining that God’s “benevolent and responsive gaze” watches over each of us on a daily basis.

This gaze often “flows beneath the worry of many concerns, which risk taking away serenity and balance,” he said, but noted that “this anxiety is often useless, because it isn’t able to change the course of events.”

Rather, Jesus tells us “not to worry about tomorrow” because “there is a loving Father who never forgets his children,” the Pope said. While trusting in him “doesn’t magically resolve our problems,” it allows us “to confront them with the right spirit.”

He said the “frantic search” for earthly goods and riches is ultimately “illusory and a reason for unhappiness,” but that Jesus gives both his disciples and us “a fundamental gift of life” when he tells them to seek the Kingdom of God before all else.

Part of this search means “trusting in God who does not delude,” he said, and told pilgrims to “get busy as faithful administrators of the goods that he has given us, even the earthly ones, but without ‘overdoing it’ as if everything, even our salvation, depended only on us.”

Turning to the Gospel verse where Jesus says “you cannot serve both God and mammon,” the Pope said it has to be “either the Lord, or fascinating but illusory idols.”

This is a choice that we are called to make not just once, but “in all of our actions, programs and commitments,” he said. “It’s a choice to make in a clear way and to be continuously renewed, because the temptations of reducing everything to money, power and pleasure are relentless.”

While pursuing and honoring these “false idols” brings “fleeting” yet tangible results, choosing the Kingdom of God doesn’t always bear immediate fruits, Pope Francis said, adding that “it’s a decision taken in hope and which leaves the full realization to God.”

“Christian hope is stretched to the future fulfillment of God’s promise and it does not cease before difficulties, because it is founded on fidelity to God, which never fails,” he said.

Francis closed his address praying that Mary would help each person to entrust themselves to the “love and goodness of the heavenly Father,” and to live both with and in him.

“This is the prerequisite for overcoming the torments and adversities of life, and even persecutions, as the witness of many of our brothers and sisters shows us,” he said, and led faithful in praying the traditional Marian prayer.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2017 / 05:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis told a group of parish priests training on the new marriage annulment process to place strong emphasis on good preparation that isn’t limited to just a few courses, but extends even to the first few years after marriage.

“I ask myself how many of these youth who come to marriage preparation courses understand what ‘marriage,’ the sign of the union of Christ and the Church, means,” the Pope said Feb. 25.

“They say yes, but do they understand this? Do they have faith in this?” he asked, and voiced his conviction that “a true catechumenate is needed for the sacrament of marriage.”

Part of this formation process he said, means being thorough, not “to make preparation with two or three meetings and then go forward.”

During marriage prep, couples must be helped to understand “the profound meaning of the step that they are about to take.” This support must also continue through the celebration of marriage itself and even through the first years after, he said.

Marriage, he said, “is the icon of God, created for us by him, who is the perfect communion of the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The love of the Trinity and Christ’s love for his bride, the Church, must therefore be “the center of marriage catechesis and evangelization.”

Whether it’s through personal or communitarian encounters, and whether they are planned or spontaneous, “never tire of showing to all, especially to spouses, (the) great mystery” of God’s love, he said.

The Pope spoke to priests participating a formation course for the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, the Holy’s See’s main court, dedicated to the new marriage annulment process, which went into effect Dec. 10, 2016. Held in Rome, the course ran from Feb. 22-25, and was closed by an audience with the Pope.

The course follows a similar one held in March 2016, but which was directed specifically toward bishops.

In his speech, Francis said priests have a twofold responsibility when it comes to marital ministry: to always bear witness to the beauty of marriage, and to be a consistent support to couples, regardless of their marital status.

He noted that priests are often “the first interlocutors” of young couples who want to get married, and are also the first ones these couples go to when problems or crisis come up, including the request for an annulment of their marriage.

Faced with so many “complex situations” affecting families today, “no one knows better than you and is in contact with the reality of the social fabric in the area,” experiencing firsthand the complexity of various situations they encounter, including valid sacramental marriages; domestic partnerships; civil unions; failed marriages and families and youth, both happy and unhappy.

“For each person and each situation,” he said, “you are called to be travel companions in order to bear witness and to support.”

The Pope stressed that a priest’s first concern is that of “bearing witness to the grace of the sacrament of marriage and the primordial good of the family” by proclaiming that “marriage between a man and a woman is a sign of the spousal union between Christ and the Church.”

This witness is also shown when accompanying young couples on their journey “with care,” showing them how to live in times of “light and darkness, in moments of joy and those in fatigue,” always showing the beauty of marriage.

Francis told the priests that while bearing witness to the beauty of marriage, they must also care for and support “those who realize the fact that their marriage is not a true sacramental marriage and want to leave this situation.”

Because of the “delicate” nature of this type work, the Pope said priests must do it “in such a way that your faithful recognize you not so much as experts in bureaucratic actions or judicial norms, but as brothers who place themselves in an attitude of listening and understanding.”

He told them to imitate “the style” of the Gospel by meeting with and listening not only to engaged or married couples, but also youth who prefer to cohabitate rather than getting married.

People in these situations “are among the poor and little ones toward whom the Church, in the footsteps of her master and Lord, wants to be a mother who never abandons but who draws near and cares for them,” Francis said.

“Even these people are loved by the heart of Christ,” he said, telling priests to “have a gaze of tenderness and compassion toward them.”

This type of care and attention “is an essential part of your work in promoting and defending the sacrament of marriage,” the Pope said, adding that the parish is the place “par excellence” for the “salus animarum (salvation of souls).”

Pope Francis then pointed to a recent speech he gave to the Rota in which he told them to implement “a true catechumenate” of future spouses which covers all stages of the sacramental path, from the time of marriage preparation, the celebration of the sacrament and the first years immediately after.

“To you pastors, indispensable collaborators of the bishops, is primarily entrusted this catechumenate,” he said, and encouraged them to implement it “regardless of the difficulties you could encounter.”

Francis closed his speech by thanking the priests for their commitment to announcing “the Gospel of the family.”

He prayed that the Holy Spirit would help them “to be ministers of peace and consolation in the midst of the holy faithful people of God, especially the most fragile and those in need of your pastoral support.”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2017 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Vatican seminar on water held this week highlighted the complex challenges faced around the world in making the basic human right to water a reality for all people.

Reliable access to safe and clean water for everyone is an issue close to the heart of the Church, Cardinal Peter Turkson told CNA Feb. 23, because it has to do with the fundamental dignity possessed by every human person.

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson wasn’t a formal participant himself, but sat in on a few of the sessions. He said that “on the level of the Church” the point of departure for the issue of water access is “certainly dignity.”

“Because we affirm the dignity of people, we also affirm anything that is needed to make this dignity realized,” he said.

Hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Argentine organization Catedra del dialogo y la cultura encuentro, the workshop brought together scientists, scholars, business and non-profit leaders, clergy, and educators for an “interdisciplinary discussion.”

During the seminar, participants agreed that there is a fundamental human right to water, but differed on the exact approach to take to combat the issue. Overall, the major problem isn’t the resource, several noted, but its distribution.

Participants highlighted the issue's interconnectedness to other worldwide problems, such as poverty and gender equality. Difficult or limited access to water, especially clean water, contributes strongly to poverty and increased susceptibility to disease.

It also becomes an issue of gender equality in some countries, when women are forced to give up education because of the many hours a day they spend retrieving clean water for their families. In older cities, the problem is often a lack of infrastructure, which old roads and buildings make difficult to rectify.

Because each country and even each community has its own challenges regarding the distribution of safe water, many proposals at the seminar focused on working with people and organizations in the communities themselves to solve problems on as local a level as possible.

Fr. Peter Hughes, a priest of the missionary society of St. Columban, who has worked in inner-city slums in South America, said the seminar “has to do with the crisis of the world today, and the increasing possibility of conflict.”

“We're talking about something that is very much an issue, and a deep concern for the world, for the future, and particularly for the poor.”

This is why, Fr. Hughes said, he was quite pleased by the exchange in the morning session the first day, because it focused on the “relationship between theology and religion” as the basis for a discussion on the crisis of water.

“The right to water that's now in crisis, the basic human right, has to do with the common good. So therefore, the ethical question is absolutely central,” he emphasized.

“The ethical common good approach precludes any attempt to privatize water,” which would be, he said, “to the detriment of people” and their need for water to stay alive.

In his opinion, water is not just a social and ecological problem, but also an economic one.

“And now, as Pope Francis says, we have to understand that the economic crisis and the victims, which are the poor, is also very much linked to the ecological crisis. We can no longer speak of two separate crises,” he said.

“That is where we can better understand how water has become a mercantile object, subject to market forces, to the detriment of people and to the detriment of the environment.”

The seminar consisted of different panels as well as discussion time. The panels covered the issue from the perspectives of science, education, ecology, sustainable development, and policy, as well as the ethical and theological views of water.

A resource often taken for granted, Fr. Hughes pointed out that in many religious traditions, but especially the Jewish and Christian traditions, water as a symbol is synonymous with life itself.

From a theological perspective, “when we're talking about water, we're talking about life,” he said.

This is why the ethical responsibility humanity has toward water comes “from the heart of the Christian message.”

“We have been entrusted by the God of life,” he explained, “to care for water, which means to care for life, to care for people, to care for all of creation, not just for human beings, but human beings as part of creation.”

“The Church has a moral responsibility to care for water and to ensure that people have water,” he said, and “this particularly has to do with the Church’s responsibility to the poor.”

Pope Francis addressed participants in the seminar Feb. 24, reaffirming that water is indeed a basic human right.

“Our right to water is also a duty to water,” he said. “Our right to water gives rise to an inseparable duty. We are obliged to proclaim this essential human right and to defend it – as we have done – but we also need to work concretely to bring about political and juridical commitments in this regard.”

“The questions that you are discussing are not marginal, but basic and pressing,” he told participants. “Basic, because where there is water there is life, making it possible for societies to arise and advance. Pressing, because our common home needs to be protected.”

“God the Creator does not abandon us in our efforts to provide access to clean drinking water to each and to all,” he continued.

“With the ‘little’ we have, we will be helping to make our common home a more livable and fraternal place, where none are rejected or excluded, but all enjoy the goods needed to live and to grow in dignity.”

Saturday, February 25, 2017





 

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