Browsing News Entries
Posted on 10/1/2023 08:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Paris, France, Oct 1, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
For more than 30 years, the Community of the Beatitudes has been hosting “rose petals” evenings dedicated to the French saint Thérèse de Lisieux (1873–1897).
The concept is simple: Devotees write a letter to the “Little Flower” (a common term of endearment for the saint) asking for graces through her intercession, and a year later their letters are returned to them. Many testify that they were granted graces even though they had asked God for “the impossible.”
The story of these vigils, now held on five continents, began in 1992 in Lisieux, in Normandy, France, where Thérèse spent her youth and years as a Carmelite. A member of the Beatitudes community, Jean-François Callens, who was then the head of a house near Grenoble, was also in charge of the spiritual program for a vigil held in the basilica on the theme of intercessory prayer.
That evening, he invited everyone to write a letter to Thérèse, and envelopes were handed out, with the promise of returning them a year later. “Thérèse had the nerve to promise that she would spend her eternity doing good on earth.” Callens recalled saying to those gathered, “Do you think, my friends, that she will keep her word and rain roses down on us?”
And to everyone’s astonishment, real rose petals fell down upon the group.
Was it a miracle? No, it was more of a sign.
Prior to the event, Callens had invited members of the community to visit local florist shops and collect all the rose petals they could find. Then they made a plan to drop them from the top of the catwalk in the nave of the basilica in order to “persuade the discouraged that their prayers are not isolated or lost.”
Encouraged by this first shower of blessings, the community continued the tradition in all its houses. Sister Marie-Liesse Bigot, who was present from the outset, helped to spread the initiative throughout the world — particularly in New Zealand and the United States, where she has lived. Even today, she hosts seven or eight evenings a year around Oct. 1, St. Thérèse’s feast day. And she has collected the letter from these evenings into a book, published in French, called “Je passerai mon ciel à faire du bien sur la terre; fioretti des Soirées Pétales de roses.”
‘Thérèse attracts whoever she wants’
Once again this year, Bigot is hoping to increase the number of rose petals vigils especially because 2023 marks a double jubilee for Thérèse of Lisieux: the 150th anniversary of her birth (Jan. 2, 1873) and the 100th anniversary of her beatification (April 29, 1923).
The aim of this initiative is to “restore hope,” Bigot explained to CNA. She wants people to “rediscover this popular faith that we have lost, which is often taken for granted,” Bigot said, adding that “the Lord works for the little ones.”
“The focus of the evening is not on Thérèse, it’s Jesus,” she said. During the vigil, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for a time of adoration. In country churches, this is an opportunity to bring out the monstrance, sometimes long locked away in the sacristy.
It’s also an opportunity to offer the sacrament of reconciliation to people far removed from the Church.
“Once I was in the Jura [a region in France],” Bigot recalled, “and the parish priest made himself available for confessions. At the end of the evening, he was incredibly happy, having heard the confession of someone who hadn’t confessed for 30 years.” Still overwhelmed by the story, Bigot reckoned that “for that person alone, it was worth the 800-kilometer round trip.”
“Thérèse attracts whoever she wants,” Bigot said. “Once I was in Poitiers, in a very dechristianized region — there was no monstrance, the microphone didn’t work, nor did the lighting, and we thought there would be no one, that it wasn’t the style of the people here... and the church was full!"
‘We don’t see many miracles because we forget’
Bigot spoke about the graces she has witnessed. Writing a letter, she said, allows us to see God at work in the little things. “We don’t see many miracles in our lives because we forget what we’re asking the Lord for,” she said. “I myself forget what I’ve written in my letter, and every year I’m surprised.”
Bigot likes to tell a story that spanned three years.
“In 1998, I was on my way back from New Zealand, passing through France and going through a difficult time for my faith. I had to host a rose petals evening, and I was feeling very bad inside. I saw a couple of friends in the congregation, members of the community, who couldn’t have children. I prayed: ‘Listen Lord, I ask you for one thing, and that is to give a child to this family, to this couple.’ I returned to the United States and received my letter a year later. I hadn’t heard from this couple, I didn’t know what had become of them. A fortnight later, I received an announcement saying ‘Jeanne was born.’ I cried. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, ‘I’m taking care of you, too.’”
But the story didn’t end there.
“At a rose petals evening in the United States, I testified about this in my poor English, and a woman heard me. A mother herself, she was touched and decided to pray for her dentist, who had been married for 14 years and had no children. Three months later, she went to his office for a cleaning, and the dentist told her, ‘We are pregnant.’ The following year, they had twins. On hearing this testimony, a woman asked for the grace that her daughter, who kept having miscarriages, could have a child. The next month... she was pregnant.”
Holding back tears, Bigot marveled at this “contagion of witness.”
“People have found jobs and homes, and experienced reconciliation, healing, and other crazy things,” she told CNA. “These evenings have successfully spread to France, Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan, the USA, Alaska, Mali, China... Thérèse is loved everywhere. She has succeeded in reaching intellectuals, children, and all generations.”
Not a list to Santa Claus
So, what’s the difference between this letter to the Little Flower and a letter to Santa Claus?
“In the letter to Thérèse, I commit my faith, my hope, in a surge of trust, because Thérèse’s message is that God is Father and that he takes care of me,” Bigot explained. “It’s not magic; you don’t press the dispenser… You put yourself in God’s presence and ask him for ‘the impossible through the intercession of Thérèse.’ What seems impossible in my life today? It’s all the places where we beg: Lord, I need you. I entrust to him the important things, with all their weight. It’s not easy. You see people crying as they write their letters.”
Bigot also said we should never make “an idol” of Thérèse, because “it’s not her who hears, it’s Jesus,” she pointed out, saying that “the rose petal evenings always have a taste of heaven,” and we should all “take the graces when they come.”
Posted on 09/30/2023 18:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 30, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis told those gathered at an ecumenical prayer vigil days before the opening of the Synod on Synodality that silence is essential for Christians.
“In a world full of noise, we are no longer accustomed to silence; indeed sometimes we struggle with it, because silence forces us to face God and ourselves. Yet it lies at the foundation of the Word and of life,” the pope said in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 30.
Before thousands of young people and Christian leaders from around the world, Francis emphasized the importance of silent prayer.
“Silence is essential in the life of the believer,” he said. “Indeed, it lies at the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly existence. The Word, the Word of the Father, became ‘silence’ in the manger and on the cross, on the night of the Nativity and on the night of his Passion.”
Pope Francis spoke near the end of a two-hour prayer vigil held on the eve of the Oct. 4 opening of the 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The first of two sessions of the synod is taking place at the Vatican throughout October.
The prayer service, called “Together,” which was organized by the ecumenical community Taizé, included eight minutes of silence for personal prayer.
“Like the great crowd in the Book of Revelation, we prayed in silence, listening to a ‘great silence,’” Francis said. “Indeed, silence is important and powerful: It can express unspeakable sorrow in the face of misfortune, but also, in moments of joy, a gladness that goes beyond words.”
Three other heads of churches attended the prayer vigil together with other Catholic and Christian leaders: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, primate of the Anglican Church Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II. The three leaders also had individual private meetings with Pope Francis the morning of Sept. 30.
The two-hour service featured the singing of Taizé hymns and other songs, Scripture readings, testimonies by young Christians from around the world, a reenactment of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and a prayer called “The Way of God the Creator,” which reflected on the gift of God’s creation as spoken about in the Bible.
There were also intercessory prayers introduced by Christian church leaders and read by fraternal delegates to the synod. Fraternal delegates are synod participants from other Christian traditions. Unlike most delegates, they do not have the right to vote.
After the prayer vigil on the evening of Sept. 30 through the evening of Oct. 3, the synod’s participants will take part in a spiritual retreat in Sacrofano, Italy, about 15 miles north of Rome.
In his reflection, Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of silence for the Synod on Synodality.
“Silence, in the ecclesial community, makes fraternal communication possible, where the Holy Spirit draws together points of view,” he said. “What is more, silence enables true discernment, through attentive listening to the Spirit’s ‘sighs too deep for words’ (Rom 8:26) that echo, often hidden, within the people of God.”
He added that silence is also essential for the journey of Christian unity.
“Indeed, [silence] is fundamental to prayer, and ecumenism begins with prayer and is sterile without it. Jesus himself prayed that his disciples ‘may all be one’ (Jn 17:21),” he said.
Pope Francis emphasized that silence is also an important aspect of evangelization, because “truth does not need loud cries to reach people’s hearts.”
“God does not like declarations and shouting, gossiping and noise: rather, he prefers, as he did with Elijah, to speak in the ‘still small voice’ (1 Kgs 19:12), in a ‘thread of resounding silence,’” he said.
“We too, then, like Abraham, like Elijah, like Mary, need to free ourselves from so much noise in order to hear his voice. For only in our silence does his word resound,” the pope said.
During the prayer vigil, copies of the Marian icon “Salus Populi Romani” and the San Damiano Cross — before which St. Francis of Assisi received the Lord’s commission to rebuild the Church — were present on the terrace in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
After the formal end of the service, people were invited to approach the cross and icon for a moment of personal prayer and meditation while the song “Jesus, Remember Me” was played.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of Christian young adults from around Europe participated in workshops and a praise and worship service organized by the Diocese of Rome at the Basilica of St. John Lateran before walking about three miles to St. Peter’s Basilica for the ecumenical prayer vigil.
Posted on 09/30/2023 16:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 30, 2023 / 12:45 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals for the Catholic Church on Saturday. The men, whose ages range from 49 to 96, come from 15 different countries and five continents.
And while some of the cardinals pastor churches in the countries they are from, others have lived in places other than their home while serving the Church as diplomats.
From digital communication to hope to listening to the Gospel, here is what 12 of the cardinals told CNA they think is needed to evangelize the modern world:
Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś, 59, archbishop of Łódź, Poland: Listening
Ryś said there are two keys to evangelizing the modern world: “The first one is to listen to the Gospel as the living Word. So that means that we listen to Christ and the Holy Spirit. And the second thing is to listen to the people, otherwise there is no evangelization. Because evangelization, in the end, is the meeting of a person with a person: the person of the fellow living with us and the person of Christ coming to him. So you need to listen to both sides, otherwise there is no meeting.”
Cardinal Américo Aguiar, 49, bishop of Setúbal, Portugal: Digital communication
“We have to find the balance in this digital world … and the way of living, the mode of relating, of young people, is different than us,” Aguiar said, noting that the digital revolution has changed the culture almost on the scale of the Industrial Revolution.
“It’s a new world: It’s not better or worse, it’s different,” he said. “Communication is diverse. … We, at Mass, in conferences, speak, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, too much, blah, blah, blah. And we have quoted the Vatican documents, the pope’s documents, and everything … We, as pastors, have to convert to this new culture, because Christ and the Gospel are always the same. As John Paul II said ... the new evangelization had to be new in ardor, methods, and expressions. And I think we are still there, in discovering, adapting, converting to new methods and expressions, because Christ and the Gospel are always the same.”
Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, 59, archbishop of South Sudan: Dialogue
“In our time, I think the most important thing for us to have is dialogue,” Mulla said. “Without dialogue among ourselves it will not be easy to live together. But where there is dialogue there is always the possibility of bringing our ideas together and sharing them and taking a common step. But without dialogue then our lives get complicated in society and even in the family.”
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, 77, apostolic nuncio to the United States: Kerygma
It’s very difficult to transmit Christian values today, Pierre said. “The challenge for the Church [in evangelization] is to reach out to the people — this is what Pope Francis tells us all the time — we are to reach out to people where they are, to understand them, to dialogue with them, and to propose to them the Good News, but in a new context. … We have to find ways to announce the Good News, the kerygma, in a new context.”
Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, 58, patriarch of Jerusalem: Jesus
“What I see that we need as a Church today, at least what I say to myself, is to tell the people that, to me, Jesus is the most wonderful thing that can happen in my life.”
Cardinal Agostino Marchetto, 83, retired apostolic nuncio and curial official: Love
Marchetto said to evangelize today, the thing most needed is “love, true love, love that keeps in mind what man is. Love that is not just a feeling, but has respect for the person, knows what it means to give of one’s self, what it means to not be self-centered. … Let’s not forget that God is love, and we discover, as he says, ‘to love one another, as I have loved you.’”
Cardinal Ángel Sixto Rossi, SJ, 65, archbishop of Córdoba, Argentina: Closeness
“What the pope insists on a lot is closeness. You cannot serve if you are not close and listen: Listening to the joys, the sorrows, the anguish of our people in order to be able to give an answer, not one that is up in the air, but one that responds to the concrete need. So I believe that the pope insists on this, on closeness. Not only physical closeness but existential closeness, spiritual closeness. It means knowing how to listen so that the language is from heart to heart.”
Cardinal José Cobo Cano, 58, archbishop of Madrid, Spain: Hope
Cobo said to evangelize the modern world, the Church needs “to listen to the word of God” and evangelize together, “not each one with his own idea, but together and in the diversity that we have in today’s world.”
“Our call is to transmit the hope of God, that which we live communally in the midst of our world, which is a little bit the exercise that the synod wants us to do ... Learn to walk together to listen to what God wants at this moment. That is the message. And I believe that our world right now needs a lot of hope, good news, to give meaning and soul to the things we do, I think sometimes we have lost the soul of things.”
Cardinal Stephen Brislin, 67, archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa: Reaching out
Brislin said he thinks the Church’s biggest challenge today is how to evangelize, how to bring Christ to people. “That in trying to discern together, and to listen to each other, we need to develop ways of trying to reach out to others, particularly young people, who face so many different voices, so much noise in their lives, to be able to present the faith in a way that impacts on them and they can understand. I hope that will be a fruit of the synod, for a start, but I also believe that that is what we’ve got to work to together, saying, ‘How can we reach out to those who are dropping away from the faith, losing their faith, but most especially young people,’ because I think they really feel a need in their lives and we somehow aren’t answering that need.”
“It’s been wonderful that the present pope, and a number of the previous popes, have really tried to emphasize that we are all meant to evangelize people, and we evangelize people not only by speaking to them, but particularly by how we live our lives, and how our conduct and our ethical behavior proclaims who we are and what we are.”
Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, 67, prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches: The Gospel ‘sine glossa’
What is necessary to evangelize today, Gugerotti said, is “to let the Gospel speak. Try to avoid comments as much as possible. This is the only thing. The Gospel has been written for very simple people and its demand was to touch the heart. Whenever we start building systems of fault or politics on this we are spoiling the Gospel, and so the Gospel is diluted into a series of mental problems that have nothing to do with it. Let the Gospel speak without any comment: Evangelium ‘sine glossa.’”
Cardinal Stephen Chow Sau-yan, SJ, 64, archbishop of Hong Kong, China: Helping people know God
“I think it is important that we say Pope Francis made a distinction,” Chow said. “Evangelization is really to help people to understand the love of God — and the love of God without the agenda of turning them into Catholics — because that shouldn’t be the focus, as that focus would be very restrictive. So for them to come to understand [that] our God means love, means goodwill and a better life. And that’s important. Without that, you cannot help them to understand us. So evangelization should be really coming to know God who is love.”
Cardinal Luis José Rueda Aparicio, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia: Striving for peace
Rueda said the Church “was born to evangelize and to serve humanity,” adding that in Colombia specifically, evangelization “has a very strong and deep commitment to the search for reconciliation, justice, peace, and respect for life.”
“Because we have suffered the wounds of a seven-decade conflict, aggravated by the whole issue of drug trafficking in Latin America ... Therefore, the great challenge is to continue what other bishops, priests, laypeople, and catechists have done, which is to opt for the poor, for civil society, for life, and for peace.”
Courtney Mares, Jonathan Liedl, and Almudena Martínez-Bordiú contributed to this report.
Posted on 09/30/2023 12:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Detroit, Mich., Sep 30, 2023 / 08:00 am (CNA).
Five Catholic families seeking to live out their Catholic faith together in rural Michigan received news this past week that could jeopardize their future at the historic farm where they live.
Judge Anna Frushour of the 14th Washtenaw County District Court ruled on Sept. 17 that Cottonwood Farm does not meet the local five-acre threshold to be considered a farm, allowing livestock. The judge said that her court cannot circumvent the zoning board’s decision.
Inshal Chenet of Cottonwood Farm attended the hearing to address what his attorney, Jason Negri, has characterized as “persecution” on the part of local township authorities. In interviews with CNA, Chenet and Negri said the judge’s ruling may have implications not only for the Cottonwood Farm faith community but also for all farmers in Michigan.
“It’s disappointing to see that a judge sees that a local township board of appeals has jurisdiction over whether a farm is actually farming under the Michigan Right to Farm Act. What happened is precisely the sort of outcome that the state Legislature did not intend to have to give that level of jurisdiction to a local governing body over ordinances,” Negri said.
Further aspects of the case will come up for another hearing in November.
Cottonwood Farm is 10 miles from Ann Arbor and has five historic structures. The main house dates to before 1833, when the surrounding Webster Township was incorporated by settlers from New York nearly 200 years ago. Next door is the Webster Historical Society property, which maintains historic buildings dating to more than a century ago.
Chenet, 29, a Catholic father and educator, joined several Catholic friends to form Morning Star LLC in 2019 to purchase Cottonwood Farm, where his family now shares the property with members and renters who share a vision of close cooperation, Catholic faith, and friendship.
Families have their own homes and there is a separate house for unmarried women and another for unmarried men. All of the residents, according to a court filing, qualify as low-income. Several of the men are engaged in construction. The community raises livestock and tends gardens. Members hold down jobs but share aspects of their lives with one another to emulate the earliest Christian communities. Curious outsiders, not all of whom are Catholic or Christian, frequently stop by Cottonwood’s gatherings, such as lectures, potlucks, and game nights.
The approximately 20 residents of Cottonwood, including children, are Catholics who attend various parish churches in the area.
During a morning visit, young giggling children run through the grass, swing from a rope hanging from a tree, and feed sheep. “This is the natural type of thing you don’t see if you live like most others,” Chenet told CNA. There are regular, unplanned social events where kids and parents gather. “If you go back throughout the vast majority of human history, this is what’s natural. This is what just happens,” he said.
Chenet and his wife, Monica, who have four young children, met at Wyoming Catholic College, where other Cottonwood residents also graduated. Parents at Cottonwood share in home schooling, which offers them opportunities for prayer and socializing that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
“That kind of organic community is what’s lacking for many people,” Chenet said, adding that he and his friends wanted a place where Catholics could live in close proximity.
Monica Chenet said most of her best friends live in Cottonwood. “And I have plenty of friends off Cottonwood, but it’s really amazing to have people I can go to and pour out my heart and tell my troubles and receive their troubles in return … But this is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything else.”
Monica also said that because so many curious outsiders stop by at Cottonwood potlucks, it affords opportunities for sharing their faith and evangelization. Characterizing Cottonwood as a village, she said, “It’s part of a vocation. I’m raising the next generation of Catholics. I don’t think enough people appreciate what that is and how important it is.”
The contention between Cottonwood and township authorities started in September 2021, when the township issued a zoning violation notice about the animals. The farm has weathered a yearslong appeal process, with the appeal rejected in August 2022, and another violation that called on the farm to either expand from its current size or send the livestock away. The township claims that the right-of-way alongside the road bordering the farm diminishes the total acreage that can be claimed for farming.
“Trouble with the authorities started pretty early on,” Chenet told CNA, adding that it was not initially over animals. “This is why I’m sure the animals are a pretext.” He said there are other farms in the area that typically have single-family homes. Cottonwood’s pastures and fields were in disrepair when it was purchased, but residents have gradually improved it.
When asked whether the dispute had anything to do with the neighboring historic village, Chenet answered: “I think that had a big part in it. Webster Historical Society wanted to buy this property, but they didn’t have the funds. The other problem is that the town hall is right there — its property abuts ours — so people on the township board can see what we are doing, a lot.” An online search revealed that Zoning Board of Appeals member Rick Kleinschmidt is also a director of the Webster Historical Society.
In an Aug. 17 court filing for Cottonwood, Negri wrote that while a zoning administrator told Chenet in 2019 that the township board did not like the looks of Cottonwood’s dumpster, an official said it “did not violate any specific zoning ordinance,” but “if it wasn’t moved, he would find an applicable public nuisance ordinance to apply to it.” Township Treasurer John Scharf lives close to Cottonwood and in sight of the dumpster, according to Negri.
Other objections emerged about Cottonwood’s milk cow, Prudence, and whether she was getting adequate care. The Humane Society determined that the cow was treated appropriately, while Michigan’s Department of Agriculture found that the farm conformed with accepted agricultural and management practices and guidelines. However, a March citation from the township, later affirmed by the Zoning Board of Appeals, claimed that Cottonwood was violating a local ordinance prohibiting farm animals.
Cottonwood then filed a legal answer claiming that the zoning ordinance is ambiguously worded and that Michigan’s Right to Farm Act allowing agriculture supersedes the local ordinance.
Negri wrote: “It is patently frustrating that, in an age when farming practices have diminished and food prices are rising, and more and more people are turning to home farming options for sustenance, Webster Township feels compelled to cite its own residents in an AG-zoned district who are relearning farming techniques and seeking to be more eco-friendly, healthy, and self-sustaining by trying to shut down their small farming operation on specious grounds.”
In an interview, Negri told CNA: “This case has precedential effect for anyone who farms in Michigan under the Right to Farm Act if local jurisdictions can be the judge, jury, and executioner all the time. It’s a big problem.” He added that he expects the case will gain the attention of farmers and landowners across the state.
As for Chenet, he told CNA that he will pursue his legal options and warned that “If someone has a farm and a township doesn’t like it, then that farmer will face officials prosecuting him who are also the jury. It would be like putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.”
Posted on 09/30/2023 11:53 AM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 30, 2023 / 07:53 am (CNA).
Pope Francis created 21 new cardinals from across the world at a Saturday morning consistory in St. Peter’s Square, reflecting on how the geographic expansion of the Church’s leadership represents a fulfillment of the promise of Pentecost.
“You new cardinals have come from different parts of the world, and the same Spirit that made the evangelization of your peoples fruitful now renews in you your vocation and mission in and for the Church,” the pope in his homily for the event told the new cardinals, 18 of whom are under age 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
The Sept. 30 consistory, which saw cardinals created from 15 different countries, was in continuity with Francis’ steady geographic diversification of the College of Cardinals, carried out over the nine consistories he has held during his 10-year pontificate.
The new red hats include Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba, the first-ever cardinal from South Sudan. Two other African prelates — Cardinal Stephen Brislin from Cape Town, South Africa and Cardinal Protase Rugambwa of Tabora, Tanzania — were also elevated. The total percentage of cardinal electors from Africa is now 14%, a rise of 5% since 2013.
The pope also created cardinals representing Catholic communities in non-majority Christian countries: Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; Cardinal Stephen Chow of Hong Kong; and Cardinal Sebastian Francis of Penang, Malaysia. In total, 16% of all cardinal-electors are now from Asia, compared with 9% before Francis’ pontificate.
Five new cardinals from Latin America — including three from Francis’ native Argentina — were also created on Saturday, and the total percentage of electors from that part of the world now stands at 18%, a modest 2% higher than before the Argentinian pope began his reign.
“Mother Church, who speaks all languages, is one and is Catholic,” said Pope Francis at the consistory. The pope has now created cardinals from 66 different countries, including several from countries that have never had a red hat, such as Mongolia and Singapore.
In contrast to the increase in cardinals from the global South and East, the percentage of cardinals from Europe has fallen from 53% in 2013 to 39% today — though this seems to be part of a larger trend; all but one elector in the 1903 conclave, for instance, were European, with more than half from Italy.
Geographic diversity, though, was not the only priority represented in the pope’s new cardinals, as key ecclesial collaborators were also included. Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, the pope’s longtime theological ghostwriter who was recently tapped to head the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, received a red hat, as did Cardinal Christophe Pierre, a Frenchman and the pope’s representative to the United States.
Cardinal Robert Prevost, a native of Chicago who leads the Dicastery for Bishops; and Cardinal Americo Aguiar, the Portuguese prelate who led the organization and implementation of World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, were also elevated during the consistory.
With the 18 new electors, the current number of cardinals eligible to pick the next pope stands at 136 — 99, or 72%, of whom were picked by Pope Francis. The expansion of the College of Cardinals was symbolically expressed at the consistory, as, after receiving his red biretta, each new cardinal went to sit with the veteran cardinals who had gathered for the event.
During his homily, the pope shared a guiding image for the College of Cardinals: that of “a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony and synodality of the Church.”
“Diversity is necessary; it is indispensable. However, each sound must contribute to the common design.”
The pope compared his role in the symphony to that of the conductor, who “has to listen more than anyone else.” But the true protagonist of the Church, Pope Francis said, is the Holy Spirit, who “creates variety and unity” and “is harmony itself.”
Posted on 09/30/2023 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 30, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).
Americans are increasingly of the view that families should be having more children. Yet most seem unwilling to do the job themselves.
That’s the takeaway after polling this month from Gallup, which found that “Americans’ belief that the ideal family size includes three or more children has been rising steadily in recent years.”
A total of 45% of recent respondents to Gallup’s decadeslong survey claim that the ideal family size is at least three children, with 12% preferring four children and smaller percentages choosing five or six. The 45% figure is ”currently up four percentage points from the previous reading in 2018 to its highest point since 1971.”
Preference for larger families began plummeting in the late 1960s, per Gallup’s polling, but it has been on a slight but steady incline since 2011.
Yet federal data show that the U.S. fertility rate continued its equally steady decline over that time period, including sharp drops among American women in their 20s; overall the rate declined from about 70 births per 1,000 women in 1990 to 58 per 1,000 in 2019.
Patrick Brown, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., told CNA the data were ”a tad puzzling to figure out.”
”People are increasingly telling Gallup [that] ‘the ideal number of children for a family to have’ is three or more, while as we all know birth rates continue to fall both in the U.S. and around the globe,” he said.
”It could be that people are thinking about a hypothetical family in the abstract when answering this question while believing their own family would do better with two, one, or zero kids,” Brown said.
”It could also be people are concerned about declining fertility and think it would be ideal if other families (but not their own) had more kids.”
Difficulties in polling methodology might also muddle the results, he said.
Large families used to be considerably more common in the United States. Pew polling shows that in 1976, 40% of mothers in their early 40s had four or more children. By 2014 that number was 14%, while similarly aged mothers with just one or two children jumped considerably over that time period.
The polling service affirmed that the overall decline in family size has been ”driven largely by declines in families with four or more children.”
Brad Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, told CNA that Gallup’s data are reason for optimism.
”Given falling fertility rates, it is a surprise and welcome development to see a growing share of Americans would actually like to have two or more children,” he said.
”The key here is marriage,” he noted. “Young adults who marry in their 20s or early 30s have a much better shot at realizing their dreams of having two or more children. So we need to make marriage more attractive and attainable for young men and women today.”
Wilcox and other sociologists have been sounding alarm bells on declining marriage rates for years. Demographers and statisticians have further noted that sharply declining fertility rates could pose significant risks to the financial and social stability of the U.S.
Brown said polling elsewhere raises additional questions about the responses to the Gallup survey.
”Pew just found that only 26% of respondents said having children was extremely or very important for people to live a fulfilling life (compared to 71% for having a job they enjoy),” he said. ”So I am skeptical that this apparent shift in thinking towards the ‘ideal number’ tells us a great deal about people’s individual preferences. But it is a trend worth keeping an eye on.”
Gallup itself acknowledged as much, noting that in spite of the more favorable responses to large families, ”the U.S. birth rate remains low compared with the 1970s, suggesting that Americans’ views of the ideal may not be their personal reality.”
The polling service noted that young American adults — those under 30, who historically have had higher fertility rates relative to older groups — tend to express a desire for large families roughly equal to that of their older counterparts.
The fertility decline ”may stem from young adults waiting much longer than prior generations to start having children rather than from a decreased desire to have children altogether,” Gallup pointed out.
U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Welcomes Administration’s Continued Commitment to Refugee Resettlement, Urges Congress to Maintain Bipartisan Support
Posted on 09/30/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – On September 29, 2023, President Biden signed a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions that allows for welcoming up to 125,000 refugees during Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, beginning October 1, 2023. The Presidential Determination serves as an annual goal for the number of refugees resettled through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The number for FY 2024 is level with the goals for FY 2022 and FY 2023, though it includes a substantial increase in the regional allocation for refugees resettled from Latin America/the Caribbean, paired with a decreased allocation for refugees from Europe/Central Asia.
Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:
“We commend the Biden Administration for its ongoing efforts to ensure the United States is a global leader in refugee resettlement and international humanitarian protection. Resettlement is a lifeline for the world’s most vulnerable refugees, and those same refugees have proven time and time again their ability to enrich the communities that welcome them. Many American Catholics can attest to these facts as resettled refugees, the descendants of refugees, or those at the forefront of our Church’s longstanding resettlement efforts.
“This year’s Presidential Determination remains an ambitious and meaningful goal as we reflect not only on the global need but also the challenges facing American communities, including labor shortages, a lack of affordable housing, and high inflation. We welcome the Administration’s efforts to increase resettlement from the Western Hemisphere, while reiterating that this should not come at the expense of other populations. To those ends, we call on Congress to continue its unbroken history of bipartisan support for USRAP, namely through resources for processing and domestic integration efforts.
“Finally, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world, especially those in the Middle East and Asia, who face increased barriers to accessing permanent protection. We implore the Administration to provide equitable access to refugee resettlement for these populations and to engage with host countries to promote their humane treatment.”
Through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), the USCCB is one of ten national resettlement agencies partnering with the federal government on USRAP. This is one of the ways in which the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and upholding the dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.
Earlier this year, William Canny, executive director of MRS, testified during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, entitled “Living Up to America’s Promise: The Need to Bolster the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”
Posted on 09/30/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Coming from different parts of the world and having different experiences and talents, members of the College of Cardinals are called to create a "symphony," listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis said.
Creating 21 new cardinals from 16 nations Sept. 30, the pope used the biblical story of Pentecost to remind the prelates of the roots of their faith, and he invoked the image of a symphony to emphasize their call to be both faithful and creative.
On a warm autumn morning, with shrubs and flowers decorating the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis held his ninth consistory to create new cardinals. The Vatican said 12,000 people attended the ceremony.
Cardinal Robert F. Prevost, the 68-year-old Chicago-born prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, was the only U.S. prelate to receive his red hat at the consistory. He was joined by French Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the 77-year-old nuncio to the United States.
Cardinal Luis Pascual Dri, a 96-year-old Capuchin friar from Argentina, was made a cardinal when the pope proclaimed his name at the consistory, but he did not travel to Rome to receive his red hat because of his health.
With the consistory, the College of Cardinals has 242 members from 91 nations, according to Vatican statistics; 137 of the cardinals are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. The so-called "cardinal electors" come from 71 countries.
Italy -- with 49 cardinals, of whom 14 are electors -- continues to dominate the cardinal counts. The United States is second; according to the Vatican, there are 17 U.S. cardinals, including 11 electors. The total would be 18 when counting Italian-born Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, a former Vatican official, who is a U.S. citizen.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Cardinal Prevost thanked Pope Francis on behalf of the new cardinals, noting how the consistory was taking place just before the opening of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops on synodality.
"The church is fully such only when it truly listens, when it walks as the new people of God in its wonderful diversity, rediscovering continually her own baptismal call to contribute to the spread of the Gospel and the kingdom of God," he said. "The beauty of the universality of the church that will be manifested in the unfolding of the synod will be a very important sign, which will be able to speak of the mission that all of us baptized have received, in communion with the successor of Peter and in the profession of the same faith."
Before receiving their red hats, their cardinal’s rings and the names of their titular churches in Rome -- an assignment that makes them formally members of the clergy of the Diocese of Rome -- the new cardinals made a profession of faith, reciting the Creed in Latin, and made an oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors.
Cardinal Prevost, a former superior general of the Augustinian religious order, was given the Church of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine.
In his homily at the consistory, a prayer service that lasted just over an hour, Pope Francis drew the prelates' attention to the Pentecost story in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and particularly to its listing of those who heard the apostles, each in their own language although they were "Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia."
"Normally we pastors, when we read the account of Pentecost, identify ourselves with the apostles," the pope said. But if the cardinals recognize themselves as members of the crowd, he added, they would "rediscover with amazement the gift of having received the Gospel" in their own languages and would give thanks for having been evangelized among their own people, often by their mothers or grandmothers.
"Indeed, we are evangelizers to the extent we cherish in our hearts the wonder and gratitude of having been evangelized, even of (still) being evangelized, because this is really a gift always present, that must be continually renewed in our memories and in faith," the pope told them.
In humility, and with that diversity, he said, "the College of Cardinals is called to resemble a symphony orchestra, representing the harmony and synodality of the church."
Pope Francis said he referred to "synodality" not only because the synod assembly was set to open Oct. 4, "but also because it seems to me that the metaphor of the orchestra can well illuminate the synodal character of the church," which relies on each member making a contribution, occasionally as a soloist, but usually in harmony with others.
"Mutual listening is essential," he said. "Each musician must listen to the others. If one listens only to himself, however sublime his sound may be, it will not benefit the symphony; and the same would be the case if one section of the orchestra did not listen to the others, but played as if it were alone, as if it were the whole."
"In addition," the pope said, "the conductor of the orchestra is at the service of this kind of miracle that is each performance of a symphony. He has to listen more than anyone else, and at the same time his job is to help each person and the whole orchestra develop the greatest creative fidelity: fidelity to the work being performed, but also creative, able to give a soul to the score, to make it resonate in the here and now in a unique way."
"We have the Holy Spirit as our master: the interior master of each one of us and the master of walking together," Pope Francis said. "He creates variety and unity; he is harmony itself."
Posted on 09/29/2023 22:25 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 29, 2023 / 18:25 pm (CNA).
Less than a month after former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was ruled incompetent to stand trial on child sexual abuse charges in Massachusetts, he has again been ordered to undergo a mental health exam to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on similar charges in Wisconsin.
The misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault charges in Wisconsin relate to an incident that allegedly occurred in April 1977, in which McCarrick is accused of “fondling of the victim’s genitals” at a “Geneva Lake residence,” an April press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice said.
Geneva Lake, which is located in Walworth County, is in southern Wisconsin, about an hour-and-20-minute drive south of Madison.
James Grein, 65, told CNA on Thursday that he brought the allegations in the Wisconsin case, saying that the abuse occurred when he was 18 years old. Grein, of Sterling, Virginia, was also the victim named in the Massachusetts complaint.
In the Massachusetts case, McCarrick underwent two separate psychological evaluations, one done in December 2022 for McCarrick’s defense team and the other in June by an expert hired by prosecutors. Both assessments concluded that the disgraced former archbishop of Washington, D.C., is too cognitively impaired to actively participate in his defense.
“Only they and Mr. McCarrick know the extent of the coaching to prepare him for his two interviews. If McCarrick is found incompetent, they will have won and justice will have lost,” he wrote.
Grein first went public with allegations against McCarrick in 2018 in an interview with the New York Times, which referred to him only by his first name. He told the newspaper that McCarrick had serially sexually abused him beginning when he was 11.
“He had chosen me to be his special boy,” Grein told the paper at the time. “If I go back to my family, they tell me that it’s good for you to be with him. And if you go to try to tell somebody, they say ‘I think you are mistaken.’ So what you do is you clam up, and you stay inside your own little shoe box, and you don’t come out for 40 years.”
Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld told CNA on Thursday that McCarrick’s defense team raised the issue of competency in court proceedings, citing the two psychological evaluations from the Massachusetts case.
The psychologist obtained by the Wisconsin court to examine McCarrick is Kerry Nelligan, the same psychologist whom the Massachusetts court appointed to evaluate the former prelate at his residence in Missouri, the Vianney Renewal Center, in June.
In that report, she found that McCarrick “is suffering from an organic process of cognitive decline” that will not improve.
McCarrick’s defense asked the court to appoint Nelligan as the examiner because they said it would be “more efficient,” Wiedenfeld said.
The state objected to Nelligan’s appointment because “the more normal practice” would be to allow Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services to choose the evaluator, he added.
The court can choose its own examiner and that sometimes happens in cases where a psychologist “has a history in evaluating a person,” he said.
“So it definitely happens. But it’s not the normal procedure,” he added.
Asked if he had concerns about the choice of Nelligan, Wiedenfeld declined comment. He said that after the first evaluation is finished, the prosecution can request its own evaluation, but it’s up to the court to approve the request.
The report is due to be filed in court by Nov. 22, he said.
Posted on 09/29/2023 22:05 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 29, 2023 / 18:05 pm (CNA).
A new study shows that almost two-thirds of adult Catholics in the United States believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, a significantly different result from the often-cited 2019 Pew Research study that suggested only one-third of adult Catholics in the U.S. believe in the Church’s teaching on the Blessed Sacrament.
The CARA study, which also points to a high correlation between weekly and monthly Mass attendance and belief in the Real Presence, comes amid the second year of the U.S. bishops’ Eucharistic revival, which was launched in part because of the Pew Research poll.
The new report — published by Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and commissioned by the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life — challenges the methodology and results of the Pew survey but still demonstrates that a large number of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence, which the Catechism calls the “source and summit” of the faith.
Zachary Keith, assistant director on the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, told CNA Thursday that it is important to look at how questions relating to belief in the Eucharist are phrased, citing the difference in wording of both studies as a “large part of the reason for the discrepancy.”
Additionally, Keith said that the CARA study shows that those who believe in the Real Presence “do not know how to articulate it as well as I think the Pew study might have implied.”
The revival culminates at its National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held next July and is expected to draw 80,000 Catholics to worship the Blessed Sacrament at Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts.
Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA Thursday: “What the recent study shows is the deep need for a true Eucharistic revival, one that pushes past mere notional assent and awareness of the Church’s teaching but is about providing an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, leading to a lived relationship of discipleship.”
‘A different approach’
CARA’s report takes issue with the phraseology of the questioning in the Pew Research study, calling it problematic. The methodology in CARA’s study “used a different approach to try to be as clear as possible,” the report said.
In order to determine the percentage of U.S. adult Catholics who believe in the Real Presence, respondents in CARA’s study were asked a variety of different questions.
The report stated that after an examination of “each respondent’s answers collectively,” 64% of those surveyed “provided responses that indicate they believe in the Real Presence.”
The question answered by respondents in CARA’s study “more accurately reflects the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist” as opposed to the question answered in the Pew Research survey, the report said.
The report said there was a “problem” with the question used in the Pew survey, which asked:
“Regardless of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, what do you personally believe about the bread and wine used for Communion?”
A few options shown below were given for answers.
“During Catholic Mass, the bread and wine...
1. Actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ
2. Are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ
3. No answer”
The problem with the question, the report said, is that respondents could choose both 1 and 2 and still be correct, citing the U.S. bishops’ conference, which said: “The transformed bread and wine are truly the Body and Blood of Christ and are not merely symbols.”
The Eucharist is “substance and symbol,” the CARA report said.
Mass attendance and education
Respondents in the CARA study were also surveyed on a host of other questions, including Mass attendance and where they learned about the Eucharist.
The study said that 95% of weekly Mass attendees and 80% who attend at least once a month believe in the Real Presence.
Seventeen percent of adult Catholics attend Mass at least once a week, the report said. Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, 24% of Catholics attended Mass weekly, it said.
Almost 20% of adult Catholics attend Mass at least once a month and 26% attend a few times a year, the report said. Thirty-five percent rarely or never attend.
Those who entered the Church as adults or served in parish ministry polled at higher levels for belief in the Real Presence. Those who attended Catholic schools at any level were more likely than those who never attended to believe in the Real Presence.
The survey also asked respondents where they learned about the Eucharist, leading to their belief or unbelief in the Real Presence.
Fifty-three percent said they learned from their parents, while 44% said they learned through sacramental preparation or religious education. Just over 40% said they learned at Mass, and 37% said they learned at Catholic school.
For those who said they learned from their parents, 67% believe in the Real Presence. Seventy-three percent of those who learned from parish programs believe, while 75% who learned their information in Catholic schools believe.
Sixty percent of those who learned information about the Eucharist from the internet believe in the Real Presence.
“With these methods we hope that we have come to a better understanding of what Catholics believe the Church teaches and what they personally believe about the Eucharist themselves,” the report said.