Pakistan Attack and Growing Wave of Anti-Christian Violence
Condemning deadly terrorist attacks against a Catholic and an Anglican church in Pakistan, Pope Francis said today that “the world is trying to hide” a wave of anti-Christian persecution in various parts of the globe.
“With sadness, with much sadness, I learned of the terrorist attacks today against two churches in Lahore,” the Pope said after reciting the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.
Suicide bombers this morning detonated themselves outside the churches, both of which were in the same predominantly Christian neighborhood, killing 15 and injuring dozens.
Pope Francis has frequently denounced the growing wave of anti-Christian violence, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Nigeria, including the martyrdom of Christians.
God Loves Us, Has Dreams for Us, Pope Says
God’s dreams for his people are the dreams of a lover for his beloved; they are dreams of building a future together that is filled with joy, Pope Francis said during his morning Mass in the Domus Santa Marta.
“Have you ever thought this? ‘The Lord dreams about me. He thinks of me. I am in the mind and heart of the Lord,’” the Pope said.
“He makes plans: ‘We’ll build homes, plant vineyards, eat together,’” plans that “only someone in love would make,” he said.
The fact that God “is in love with us,” he said, is something that “I don’t think any theologian could explain. It cannot be explained. One only can think about it, hear it and weep for joy.”
The Church “is the House of Jesus” and Must Always Be Open
The church “is the house of Jesus,” and Christians must welcome everyone, even bringing those who are unable to make their way on their own, said Pope Francis at morning Mass.
People who are sad or “sick in their soul” or who have “made many mistakes in their lives” may feel the Holy Spirit inspire them to go to church, the Pope said.
But, after mustering up the courage to go, they will often find unwelcoming and judgmental Christian communities with their “doors closed” to them.
“Who are you to close the door of your heart to a man, to a woman who has the will to improve, to re-enter the people of God because the Holy Spirit stirred their heart?” he said.
Welcome Children, Learn from Them, Pope Says at Audience
Children are a blessing for humanity and for the Church, bringing new life and energy to families and society, Pope Francis said.
Unfortunately, he said, too often children are society’s “great rejected ones, because they aren’t even allowed to be born!”
Pope Francis said it was troubling that so many European countries have a birthrate so low that their populations are declining, or would without immigration.
“Children bring life, happiness, hope — and even troubles, but that’s life,” he said. “Obviously they cause worries and sometimes problems, but a society with those worries and problems is always better than a society that is sad and gray because it has no children.”
Pope Recognizes Miracle Needed to Declare French Couple Saints
Pope Francis has approved a miracle so that, for the first time, a married couple can be canonized together.
The canonization ceremony for Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, is likely to take place during the world Synod of Bishops on the family in
The miracle being studied involves a little girl in the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain. Born prematurely and with multiple life-threatening complications, Carmen suffered a major brain hemorrhage, which could have caused irreversible damage. Her parents prayed for the Martins’ intercession. The little girl survived and is healthy.
British Traditionalist Bishop Excommunicated for Illicit Ordination
A traditionalist bishop has been automatically excommunicated along with the priest he illicitly ordained a bishop.
British Bishop Richard Williamson violated Church law when he ordained Father Jean-Michel Faure, 73, a bishop without papal approval during a ceremony in Nova Friburgo, Brazil.
While the Vatican did not comment immediately, canon law provides automatic excommunication for the newly-ordained bishop and for the bishop ordaining him in cases where the ordination goes against the will of the Pope.
Pope Accepts Cardinal’s Resignation
Pope Francis accepted Scotland Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s decision to renounce all “duties and privileges” associated with being a cardinal. The former archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, who resigned in 2013 after admitting to sexual misconduct, will no longer exercise the role of a cardinal, whether by serving as a papal adviser, or as a member of Vatican Congregations and Councils, or as an elector of a new Pope, the Vatican press office said.
Blood of Naples’ Patron Liquefies During Pope’s Visit to Cathedral
At the end of Pope Francis’ spontaneity-filled meeting with priests, seminarians and religious in the cathedral of Naples, the vial of dried blood of the city’s patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy.
After Pope Francis blessed the congregation with the vial, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples announced, “As a sign that St. Januarius loves the Pope, who is Neapolitan like us, the blood is already half liquefied.”
“The bishop said the blood is half liquefied,” said the Pope. “It means the saint loves us halfway; we must all convert a bit more, so that he would love us more.”
Entering the cathedral, Pope Francis’ white cassock and his arms were yanked repeatedly by priests, seminarians and nuns wanting to touch him or attract his attention.
“Sisters, sisters, not now, later!” the cardinal shouted over the microphone to no avail. “Look what I have done,” he said, exasperated. “And these are the cloistered ones, imagine what the non-cloistered ones are like! Ay. They’re going to eat him alive.”
Pope Says Prayers, Not “Gossip,” Needed for Successful Synod on Family
The Pope called on everyone to pray each day for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family and for the Church so that it could be even more “dedicated and united in the witness of the truth of God’s love and mercy for the families of the world, (with) no one excluded either inside or outside the flock.”
Prayers, “not gossip,” are needed for the Synod, and “I invite even those who feel distanced or those who aren’t used to it to pray,” he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Papal Ecology: Protecting All God’s Creatures
Pope Francis, like his predecessors, does not pretend to have a technical solution to the problem of climate change and degradation of the environment. However, he reminds Christians of their religious obligation to safeguard creation, beginning with human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God.
Clearing his calendar for a week in late March, Pope Francis rolled up his sleeves to put the final touches on an encyclical letter about the environment.
Building on what he and his predecessors have said, the document — planned for publication in June — is expected to present ecology as the ultimate pro-life, pro-poor, pro-family issue.
“We need to see — with the eyes of faith — the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person,” Pope Francis wrote in a speech prepared for young people in the Philippines in January.
For Easter, Pope Sends Assistance to Displaced in Iraq, Nigeria
Although not specifying the amount, the Vatican press office said that Pope Francis was sending aid money to people seeking shelter in Iraq’s Kurdistan region and to the Nigerian bishops’ conference to assist families in the northern part of the country where the terrorist group Boko Haram has been on a rampage.
In addition, the Vatican said, the people of the Diocese of Rome, “united with their bishop,” Pope Francis, held a special collection and will send colomba Easter cakes to the displaced in Iraq.
“In Holy Week,” the Vatican statement said, “these families share with Christ the experience of being unjustly subjected to violence, and they participate in the suffering of Christ himself.”
Church Directives Seek to Keep Mafia Out of Easter Processions
The bishop of a southern Italian diocese issued new directives aimed at keeping the Mafia out of this year’s Easter processions.
Last year, Bishop Luigi Renzo of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea stood behind parishioners in the town of Sant’Onofrio, who cancelled their Easter procession rather than allow the infiltration of the Mafia or let civil authorities determine how they would celebrate.
The bishop decided to celebrate a Mass instead.
In July 2014, he banned a procession outright when authorities said men with suspected Mafia ties were to carry a statue of Mary. Earlier that month, people carrying a statue of Mary stopped in front of the house of a presumed mob boss and tilted the statue forward, as if bowing in homage.
Ten Years After His Death, St. John Paul’s Example Lives On, Pope Says
Noting that April 2 marked the tenth anniversary of St. John Paul’s death, Pope Francis asked that people pray that the Polish saint “intercede for us, for families, for the Church so that the light of the Resurrection shines through all of the darkness in our life and fills us with joy and peace.”
Speaking to pilgrims at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope highlighted the spiritual legacy of his predecessor, whom he canonized together with St. John XXIII in April 2014.
“Dear young people, learn to face life with his passion and enthusiasm; dear people who are sick, carry with joy the cross of suffering like he taught us; and you newly married couples, always put God at the heart (of everything) so that your conjugal relationship may be more loving and happy,” he said.
Pope to Priests: Exhaustion is Part of Ministry; Find Renewal in Christ
Priestly ministry is hard, sometimes lonely or dangerous work serving the neediest with an open, vulnerable heart, Pope Francis told the world’s priests.
Priests can find renewal when they do not try to be “supermen,” but instead put their trust in God to embrace them and carry them through, he said.
As Holy Thursday was the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the apostles, Pope Francis led the more than 1,500 priests, bishops and cardinals in a renewal of their priestly vows and dedicated his lengthy homily to the priesthood, focusing on “the tiredness of priests.”
“Do you know how often I think about this weariness all of you experience? I think about it a lot and I pray about it often, especially when I am tired myself,” he told those assembled.
Pope asks prisoners to pray that Christ make him a better servant
In a moving ceremony that recalled how Jesus loved the world so deeply that he lowered himself to serve and died for everyone’s sins, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prison inmates, plus a small toddler who lives with his incarcerated mother, at Holy Thursday Mass.
“He does not tire of loving anyone, he loves all of us” so much that he gave his life in order “to give life to us, for each one of us… for you, for you, for me, for them,” he said, pointing to the men and women inmates gathered in the “Our Father” chapel in Rome’s Rebibbia prison complex.
He greeted, hugged, clasped hands with and kissed the scores of inmates outside lining the barricade.
The Pope then asked that everyone pray that “the Lord also wash away my filth so that I become more of your servant, more of a servant in the service of the people, like Jesus was.”
Do More to Help the Poor, Pope Tells Leaders at Summit of the Americas
Government officials cannot be content “to hope that the poor collect the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich,” Pope Francis said in a message to 35 heads of state at the Summit of the Americas April 10-11.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, read a message from Pope Francis to the participants, who included U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro.
The Pope said he hoped the leaders would find ways not only to promote economic growth, but also to guarantee the rights of the poor to the “basic needs” of land, jobs, shelter, health care, education, security and a healthy environment — things “no human being should be excluded from.”
Sex Abuse Commission Members Meet With Cardinal Over Chilean Bishop
Four lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met with one of Pope Francis’ top cardinal advisers at the Vatican April 12 to voice their concerns about the appointment of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up for an abusive priest.
The four said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the commission’s president, “agreed to present their concerns to the Holy Father” about the nomination of Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno, Chile.
The bishop had been accused of covering up for a priest who was a known abuser. Bishop Barros, however, denied having had prior knowledge of Father Fernando Karadima’s criminal behavior.
Vatican Restorers Find Art Treasures Under Plaster
The Vatican Museums have been overseeing a 15-year-long restoration of the sanctuary housing stairs that, according to tradition, Jesus climbed when Pontius Pilate brought him before the crowd.
Pope Sixtus V ordered the building of the sanctuary at the end of the 16th century, employing more than 40 painters who covered 18,300 square feet of walls and ceilings with paintings and frescoes.
With the latest cleansing, restorers are discovering stunning, hard-to-see details and uncovering hidden frescoes.
When masons recently drilled through a gray wall to run an electric cable, they noticed different colors of dust spilling from the drill hole — a sign that a painting, not just plain wall, was underneath.
The restorers did a quick scrub of two random sections, and to everyone’s surprise, they found a frescoed hand and a face. “Nobody thought this would be here,” restorer Laura Ugolini said.
Gender Theory is the Problem, Not the Solution, Pope Says
Eradicating male and female identities does nothing to solve the problem of unfair or disrespectful treatment based on people’s gender, Pope Francis said.
“Getting rid of the difference is the problem, not the solution,” he said during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
The right way to solve the problems and conflicts in male-female relations is to have men and women “talk to each other more, listen to each other more, know each other better, care more for each other,” he said.
Sexual differentiation exists not for creating conflict or a situation of subordination, but for reciprocity and fruitfulness — “for communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God,” the Pope said.
Vatican, NUNS Announce Successful Conclusion of Process to Reform Group
The Vatican approved new statutes and bylaws for the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, ending a seven-year process of investigation and dialogue with its officers to ensure greater harmony with Church teaching.
LCWR has more than 1,500 members, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. LCWR promised that materials it publishes will first be reviewed to “ensure theological accuracy and help avoid statements that are ambiguous with regard to church doctrine or could be read as contrary to it.” In addition, programs sponsored by the conference and speakers chosen for its events will be expected to reflect Church teaching, the statement said.
Pope Considers Possibility of Visiting Cuba During Same Trip as U.S.
Pope Francis has considered the possibility of visiting Cuba in September — before or after his trip to the United States — but discussions with Cuban authorities are still preliminary, the Vatican said. Simply considering visiting the United States and Cuba on the same trip abroad signals Pope Francis’ continuing interest in encouraging the normalization of relations between them. In December, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that their nations were working toward re-establishing official diplomatic relations. Both leaders credited Pope Francis with helping to secure the deal.
Shroud of Turin Unveiled; Pope to Visit
A thin white cloth draped over the glass-covered Shroud of Turin was pulled down and billowed to the floor, marking the official opening of the venerated linen’s exposition to the public. “We have put ourselves in the wake of generations of pilgrims” who come to contemplate the Shroud, and “it will do us good to feel like we are drops in the river… of a humanity in need of God, of his affectionate mercy,” Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, papal custodian of the shroud, said.
Pope Francis authorized the public display of the shroud to help commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco, a 19th-century priest from the Turin region who pioneered vocational education and founded the Salesian Order. The Pope is scheduled to visit Turin June 21-22.
Pope to Visit Cuba Before Heading to United States in September
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that Pope Francis has “received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba” and will visit the island before going to the United States.
The Pope is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Washington late September 22 and will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia September 23-27.
In December, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced their nations were working toward re-establishing official diplomatic relations.
Both leaders credited Pope Francis with helping to secure the deal.
Italians Arrest Suspected Terrorists; Vatican Says No Current Threat
Italian police arrested at least nine people in what officials described as a terrorist cell that had planned, in 2010, to strike at the Vatican with a suicide bomber.
A few hours after the police in Cagliari announced the arrests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the planned attack on the Vatican was “a hypothesis going back to 2010, one which did not take place.”
The threat did not appear to be ongoing, he said, therefore it was not “a reason for particular concern.”n