Browsing News Entries

Church in Chile to sign accord with prosecutor's office for investigation of abuse

Santiago, Chile, Nov 19, 2018 / 01:34 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Chilean  bishops' conference has announced the signing of a collaboration agreement with the prosecutor's office for the investigation of sex crimes within the Catholic Church.

Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and secretary general of the bishops' conference,  made the announcement at the conclusion of the bishops' Nov. 12-16 plenary assembly in Lo Cañas, a Santiago suburb.

“We studied the draft agreement on mutual collaboration between the National Prosecutor's Office and the Church for the investigation of crimes of abuse of minors by clerics,” Bishop Ramos said, reading a declaration by the bishops.

He emphasized that “the issue has been fully discussed with the authorities from the Prosecutor's Office and their representatives” and that “in the coming weeks we hope to formalize an agreement by signing the respective document and its subsequent application.”

According to the data from the Prosecutor's Office furnished to the Efe new agency, up to Nov. 5 there were 139 ongoing investigations against 190 members of the Church in Chile, involving 245 victims, of whom 102 were minors.

Bishop Ramos explained that the plenary assembly served to address this problem and said that with the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse, they analyzed the progress and follow up of the resolutions adopted in the bishops' Aug. 3 Declaration, Decisions and Commitments statement.

The bishops also initiated the study of the essential elements of the standards of conduct necessary for all pastoral workers, especially clerics and religious, in order to have this instruction completed during 2019.

According to the press conference communiqué, the assembly approved a “roadmap  for the process of discernment to make progress on the way to becoming a Church ever more synodical, prophetic, and full of hope, which seeks to place Jesus Christ at the center.”

A milestone on this roadmap will be the Third National Ecclesial Assembly to be held in May 2020 which “will lay the foundations for new pastoral guidelines for the Church in Chile.”

The assembly elected as vice president of the bishops' conference Archbishop René Osvaldo Rebolledo Salinas of La Serena, following the resignation for health reasons presented by Bishop Cristián Contreras Villarroel of Melipilla.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Legatus will not collect 2019 tithe to Holy See

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2018 / 11:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S.-based organization of Catholic business executives has decided not to collect from its members the portion of their dues that would constitute its 2019 donation to the Holy See.

Legatus, an organization of Catholic business leaders, had announced in September that it was placing its annual donation to the Holy See in escrow until it can receive clarification on questions of financial accountability.

Thomas Monaghan, chairman of Legatus, wrote its member Nov. 16 asking them to continue to pray “for the Church and all of our leaders,” as “it is evident that it is going to take time for the current crisis in the Church to be addressed to the point where the Board believes the reinstatement of our annual tithe would be prudent.”

For that reason, he said, the board of governors has decided “to forego collecting the annual tithe represented in your 2019 dues.”

“ For those who have already submitted their dues, the National Office will refund the appropriate amount earmarked for the Holy See contribution in a timely fashion,” he said. “For those who have not yet remitted your dues, new invoices will be sent.”

Monaghan noted that the tithe to the Holy See “has been an importance part of Legatus membership” and the board therefore intends “to reinstate this practice once we have sufficient communication regarding the specific accountability related to the use of these funds.”

“The Board will revisit this topic by the fall of 2019 in order to chart a plan related to the 2020 dues,” he stated.

“Legatus continues to pledge its devotion to and solidarity with Holy Mother Church; this is a time when we need to live the mission of Legatus more than ever,” Monaghan wrote.

He concluded his letter urging members to “continue to pray for healing and courage for the Church.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Legatus' 2018 tithe to the Holy See would have been about $820,000.

When announcing the decision in September to withhold the tithe, Monaghan said that members had raised questions “specifically pertaining to how it is being used, and what financial accountability exists within the Vatican for such charitable contributions.”

“The Board has begun a dialogue along these lines, and in the meantime has decided to place the Holy See annual tithe in escrow, pending further determination,” he said.

Questions of Vatican financial accountability had been raised earlier this year by the Papal Foundation, a U.S.–based organization that offers grants to support the global work of the Holy Father.

In February, some members of the organization sharply criticized a request from the Holy See for $25 million for a Church-owned hospital that has been plagued by fraud and embezzlement scandals. Grants from the Papal Foundation are normally no more than $200,000 and generally go toward initiatives to help the poor in developing nations.

Scalia, Staubach among seven who receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach, both devout Catholics, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in a White House ceremony.

President Donald Trump presented the awards to five others as well Nov. 16.

Calling Scalia "one of the greatest jurists ever to serve our country," Trump said the one-time U.S. Supreme Court justice was admired for "his towering intellect, brilliant wit and fierce devotion" to the country's founding principles.

Scalia's widow, Maureen, received the award for her husband. The president also named the couple's nine children, and joked to her, saying, "Wow. I always knew I liked him."

"Justice Scalia transformed the American legal landscape, igniting a national movement to apply the original meaning of the Constitution as written," said the president, who has often invoked the jurist as a model justice. "Few have done more to uphold this nation's founding charter."

"Through nearly 900 written opinions and more than 30 years on the bench, Justice Scalia defended the American system of government and preserved the foundations of American freedom. Our whole nation is indeed indebted to Justice Scalia for his lifetime of noble and truly incredible service," Trump added.

Scalia died Feb. 13, 2016, at 79 of natural causes while on a hunting trip in Texas. The Senate confirmed him as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in September 1986. He had been the longest serving member of the current court when he died.

He repeatedly maintained in interviews that he always took his Catholic faith seriously but never allowed it to influence his work on the high court.

Staubach, a native of Cincinnati, won the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player in 1963 and became two-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys. Retiring from football after an 11-year career, Staubach went on to have a success in commercial real estate. He regularly is invited to speak to various audiences, including Catholic school students, about success in life and the importance of faith in his life.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy Staubach volunteered for duty in Vietnam for a year and served in the Navy for a total of four years. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Others receiving the Medal of Freed were retiring Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, who was first elected to his seat in 1976 and is the longest serving Republican senator; Miriam Adelson, physician and philanthropist, whose husband is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; Alan Page, a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL who went on to become a Minnesota Supreme Court associate justice; baseball legend Babe Ruth, who also was Catholic; and rock 'n' roll star and heartthrob Elvis Presley.

The award recognizes people who have made an especially commendable contribution to the national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other endeavor.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Update: Pope offers prayers for victims of wildfires; death toll climbs

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Cal Fire officials reported that the death toll had reached 77 in the Camp Fire north of Sacramento, one of the deadliest blazes in the state. The number of people who are missing has reached almost 1,000.

At the Vatican Nov. 18, Pope Francis said, "A special prayer goes to those affected by the fires that are plaguing California. ... May the Lord welcome the deceased in his peace, comfort their families and support those who are involved in relief efforts.

As of Nov. 19, 150,000 acres had been scorched and 12,794 structures destroyed by the Camp Fire. Containment of the fire was 65 percent to date and full containment was expected Nov. 30.

"The tremendous loss from the Camp Fire ravaging parts of the diocese is devastating," said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento. "The families in Paradise and the surrounding communities affected by the fire can rely on the support of our prayers."

The entire population of Paradise of about 30,000, was forced to evacuate Nov. 9; the town was destroyed.

"We also pray for the brave men and women responding to this disaster and battling the fires," the bishop added in a statement posted on the diocesan website, www.scd.org. "May all those who have died in this catastrophic inferno be granted eternal repose in the merciful hands of the Lord Jesus."

Bishop Soto celebrated Mass Nov. 18 at St. John the Baptist Church in downtown Chico for all those affected by the Camp Fire. He especially invited the community of St. Thomas More Parish in Paradise; their church was in the direct line of fire.

Many of St. Thomas' parishioners have lost their homes. The Sacramento Diocese confirmed that the church and school buildings survived the fire. The new rectory, old rectory and parish hall were destroyed.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Northern Valley Catholic Social Service were working with partner organizations on local relief and recovery efforts. Donations can be made through the Sacramento Diocese by visiting www.scd.org/donate (choose the Fire Assistance Fund).

Residents of Southern California have been coping with the Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles, which started Nov. 8, the same day as the Camp Fire. Both fires were fueled by low humidity and strong winds.

As of Nov. 16, residents displaced by the Woolsey Fire were being allowed to return home. Full containment of the fire was expected by Nov. 22. It burned close to 97,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, destroyed 1,452 structures and damaged another 337. Three fatalities were confirmed.

In a Nov. 14 statement, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez asked all people of faith and goodwill to join him in offering prayers and support for everyone affected by the fires in Southern California.

"The devastation of the wildfires continues throughout our state. We need to keep praying for those who have lost their lives and their homes and livelihoods, and for all the men and women fighting the fires," said Archbishop Gomez.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has started a fund to help the victims of these fires. Donations can be made at www.archla.org/fires.

"These funds will assist families within our parish communities in their recovery efforts," he said.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been providing support to the communities affected by the fires through Catholic Charities of Los Angeles and local parishes and schools.

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

To help fight sex abuse, Catholic group offers guide to the news

Lansing, Mich., Nov 18, 2018 / 04:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic bishops must act to counter sex abuse of adults as well as minors, says a lay group that has compiled a reader of news stories, analysis and commentary to help renewal and reform.

“We believe clergy sexual misconduct with adults is at the core of so many of the problems of the Church in the last many decades,” the group No More Victims told the bishops.

“As you deal with the scandal of [Archbishop Theodore] McCarrick and abuse committed by bishops, we urge you to include in your concerns efforts to rid seminaries, dioceses and all Church institutions and structures of those who are involved in sexual misconduct with adults.”

Lay people of Michigan’s Diocese of Lansing formed the group No More Victims. They have produced the reader “What We Laity Are Reading that has Shaken Us to the Core,” compiling news stories and analysis about sexual abuse and misconduct by Catholic clergy.

The group sent copies of the reader to the media and to the U.S. bishops. It also sent the bishops a letter signed by executive director Jason Negri, a Michigan attorney, as well as board member broadcaster and author Al Kresta and moral theologian Janet E. Smith, who is an adviser to the group.

“We know the tasks before you are truly of epic proportions and will affect the faith and salvation of many for decades to come,” their letter continued. “We are praying that what needs to be done to rebuild and purify the Church will be done.”

The group asked the bishops to consider its members “loyal partners in the work of the Church,” adding “we would like to stand with you through this crisis in your commitment to the Gospel which brings healing and calls us all to true holiness.”

A copy of the reader is provided at the No More Victims website, www.nomorevictimsmi.org.

The reader’s material, dating back to the 1990s, is generally from a U.S. perspective. No More Victims said it shows “what the crisis looks like from the standpoint of the average lay Catholic with access to the internet.”

The collection includes news stories about abuse victims, including abused seminarians, as well as news, opinion and commentary from abuse victims, priests, Catholic lay leaders and other observers such as Sandro Magister, Matthew Schmitz, Kenneth L. Woodward, Mary Eberstadt and Daniel Mattson.

In its introduction, the No More Victims group hoped that the reader would help the bishops find methods that will assure laity that seminarians will not be sexually harassed but rather “taught the fullness of the faith.” Actions are needed to ensure that there is no “network of priests who engage in sexual misconduct” in a diocese, and to ensure that priests who violate chastity “in serious ways” will be given an opportunity to repent and change. Bishops’ actions must ensure that “unchaste priests who refuse to repent and change their ways” will be asked to leave the priesthood.

The reader aimed to help find ways “to correct fellow bishops whose response to sex abuse cases is poor, confuses the faithful, and reflects badly upon all bishops,” No More Victims said.

Included in the collection is a Time Magazine essay from a Catholic priest who wrote that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a 15-year-old altar boy in New Jersey by a visiting priest of the New York archdiocese; an Irish-born California priest who was groomed and abused in Ireland by a priest who waited until he was 18 so it would not appear to be abuse; a priest who, according to the Pennsylvania grand jury report, arranged for an abortion for a young girl he had allegedly raped from 1980-1985; a Crux News report on Chilean seminarians who suffered sex abuse; a National Catholic Register report on seminarians sexually abused in Honduras; a 2011 Gawker report on sex abuse and, in the report’s own words, a “secret gay cabal” in Florida allegedly under former Archbishop of Miami John Favalora.

A December 2013 Vanity Fair story on an alleged “gay lobby” at the Vatican between cardinals, priests and monks that “survives on secrecy” is included, as is a 2018 CNA report on priest-sociologist Father D. Paul Sullins’ consideration of sex abuse trends, including apparently strong statistical correlations between sex abuse, a priesthood that is disproportionately homosexual, and a seminary life with a reported “gay subculture.”

The reader has several pages listing “troubling headlines” and it recommends the documentary “Sex Abuse in the Church: Code of Silence,” made in France about how priests have been reassigned to escape prosecution. It ends with “a disturbing account of how Cardinal Bergoglio handled the case of Fr. Grassi in Buenos Aires.”

The reader’s appendix lists key documents, online resources, coordinated responses, and books.

“We believe the extent of this problem is tremendous and the time to purify the Church is now,” No More Victims said in the reader introduction. “The focus here is on another huge problem: the continuing presence of priests who engage in sexual misconduct with adults, especially males, and the effect they have on the Church ― the harm they have done to victims, their pernicious influence in seminaries, the extent of their influence in dioceses, and the way they impede zealous promotion of the gospel.”

“Some of the articles are from a perspective hostile to the Church but that does not negate their veracity,” it added. “While many of these articles may seem sensationalist, it is in fact the reality of abuse that is truly responsible for the shocking nature of what is reported.”

The introduction said it is difficult to believe all the stories of abuse, but claimed “the sheer volume of them gives credence to them,” in addition to the abuse reported in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report about six Catholic dioceses in the state.

“If you know any of these articles to report false information, please provide your reasons because we have come to believe the material they contain,” No More Victims said, predicting “Once the presence of predator priests and unchaste priests is eliminated, we expect that there will be an influx of devout, chaste men into the priesthood.”

“We are lay people who love Jesus, our Church, our bishops, our priests. We know there are holy and exemplary bishops, and bishops who serve us heroically, and we want them to have a Church that fully supports their invaluable work,” said the group.

“We know that many bishops have inherited messes of various kinds and it seems that often the default way of dealing with priests who live immoral lives is to look the other way. But we think that is the wrong answer–the Church deserves priests fully committed to being faithful to their vows, and those who are not ought to reform or resign.”

The group said it does not aim to force bishops to resign or to embarrass or harass them. Rather, it wants bishops to take strong action to restore trust in the episcopacy.

“We don’t intend to stop praying, fasting, and advocating for change until that happens,” No More Victims said.

Archbishop Vigano ordered to pay 2m euro to brother in inheritance dispute

Milan, Italy, Nov 18, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An Italian court has ordered Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò to pay back nearly 2 million euro of inheritance, plus interest and legal fees to his brother, Father Lorenzo Vigano.

Archbishop Vigano had been managing the brothers’ inheritance since their father’s death in 1961. According to Italian paper La Stampa, the brothers hold about 20 million euro in real estate, and about six million euro in cash.

The archbishop, who had been collecting money from the estate, was ordered to pay his brother back half of what he had collected - which amounted to 1.8 million euro, or more than 2 million U.S. dollars, plus fees.

The inheritance has reportedly been a cause of contention in their relationship for years - Fr. Lorenzo Vigano, a Jesuit biblical scholar who has lived in Chicago for years, has tried to sue over the inheritance numerous times. This is the first time he has succeeded in being rewarded any money.

The inheritance has also reportedly caused friction between Archbishop Vigano and his sister Rosanna, whom he paid 8,600 euro in 2014 to settle a lawsuit, according to The Catholic Universe.

Archbishop Vigano is the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, a position he held from 2011-2016. His public letter of Aug. 26, accusing Pope Francis of knowing about the allegations of sexual misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and failing to act, thrust him into the center of the debate about the Church sex abuse scandal this summer.

Vigano had previously made headlines in the 2011-2012 “Vatileaks” scandal, during which some documents from the office of Benedict XVI were leaked to Italian journalists. The documents revealed that Vigano had told the Pope that he couldn’t take up his assignment in the U.S. because he had to take care of his ailing brother, Lorenzo.

Lorenzo said in an interview at the time that while he had suffered a stroke, he had not been close to his brother in years due to conflicts over their inheritance, and that his illness was no reason for Vigano to reject his new position, according to La Stampa.

While Archbishop Vigano went into hiding in August, fearing for his safety after the publication of his letter on Francis and McCarrick, he has not remained silent. He has written two additional letters on the sex abuse scandal, and sent a message to the U.S. bishops ahead of their meeting this week, urging them to be “courageous shepherds” in the face of the sex abuse crisis.

Invite Jesus into the storms of life, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Nov 18, 2018 / 05:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a difficult time, it can be easy to see only the immediate problem; but asking Jesus to be the guide is the key to weathering the storm, Pope Francis said Sunday at a Mass with 6,000 poor and volunteers.

“The boat of our life is often storm-tossed and buffeted by winds. Even when the waters are calm, they quickly grow agitated. When we are caught up in those storms, they seem to be our only problem,” the pope said Nov. 18.

“But the issue is not the momentary storm, but how we are navigating through life. The secret of navigating well is to invite Jesus on board. The rudder of life must be surrendered to him, so that he can steer the route.”

“Today,” he continued, “let us invite Jesus into the boat of our life. Like the disciples, we will realize that once he is on board, the winds die down and there can be no shipwreck.”

Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the World Day of the Poor, which he established in 2016 at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. The theme for 2018 is taken from Psalm 34: “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard.”

After Mass, he ate a lunch of lasagna, chicken nuggets, mashed potato and tiramisu with poor in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

Before the meal, Francis offered a blessing, saying "we thank everyone and pray to God to bless us all. A blessing from God for all, all [of us] who are here. May God bless each one of us, bless our hearts, bless our intentions, and help us to go forward."

In his homily at Mass, the pope reflected on Matt. 14:22-33, which gives the account of Jesus walking across the water to meet his disciples in the boat, which was being tossed about by waves.

As St. Matthew writes, after the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus left the crowd of people and his disciples and went up on a mountain to pray.

His disciples set off in a boat for the other side of the Sea of Galilee, “meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward them, walking on the sea.”

There are several lessons that can be taken from this Gospel passage, the pope said; one being to have the courage to leave behind comfort and an easy life. “To go where? To God by praying, and to those in need by loving. These are the true treasures in life: God and our neighbor,” he said.

He explained that Jesus’ disciples were not meant to have a carefree life, “traveling light, ready to leave passing glories behind, careful not to cling to fleeting goods.”

“Christians know that their homeland is elsewhere,” he underlined. “We do not live to accumulate; our glory lies in leaving behind the things that pass away in order to hold on to those that last.”

“Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life,” he said: The unborn, starving children, young people in places of conflict, the elderly, those forced to leave their home and native country.

Taking care of those in need is not a “sociological option, it is not the fad of a pontificate; it is a theological requirement,” he emphasized.  “It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. Before the prayer, he reflected on the day’s Gospel passage from Mark. In the passage, the pope explained, Jesus is saying that the story of people and of individuals all have a goal: “permanent encounter with the Lord.”

“We do not know the time nor the ways in which [the end of the world] will happen,” Francis said. “We know, however, a fundamental principle which we must confront: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,’ Jesus says.”

At the end he offered a special prayer for everyone affected by the fires that are “scourging California” and for the victims of the winter storm on the east coast.

“May the Lord welcome the deceased into his peace, comfort the family members and support those who commit themselves to help,” he prayed.

The pope also prayed for those who died in a Nov. 15 attack on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Alindao, in the Central African Republic. At least 42 people died in the attack, including at least one priest, according to local reports. Some unofficial estimates have said the death toll could reach as high as 100. Many of the people killed were refugees sheltering at the church.

Pope Francis said, “we pray for the dead and the wounded and for an end to all violence in that beloved country, which is in great need of peace.”

Helping the poor is not a papal fad, but a duty, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the rich get richer, the increasing misery and cries of the poor are ignored every day, Pope Francis said.

"We Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference" or thrown up in the air in helpless resignation, the pope said in his homily Nov. 18, the World Day of the Poor.

"As believers, we must stretch out our hands as Jesus does with us," freely and lovingly offering help to the poor and all those in need, the pope said at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. About 6,000 poor people attended the Mass as special guests; they were joined by volunteers and others who assist disadvantaged communities.

After the Mass and Angelus, the pope joined some 1,500 poor people in the Vatican's audience hall for a multi-course lunch. Many parishes, schools and volunteer groups across Rome also offered a number of services and meals for the poor that day.

God always hears the cries of those in need, the pope said in his homily at the Mass, but what about "us? Do we have eyes to see, ears to hear, hands outstretched to offer help?"

Pope Francis urged everyone to pray for the grace to hear the cries of all the poor: "the stifled cry of the unborn, of starving children, of young people more used to the explosion of bombs than happy shouts of the playground."

May people hear the cry of the abandoned elderly, those who lack any support, refugees and "entire peoples deprived even of the great natural resources at their disposal," he said.

Referring to the Gospel story of the poor man begging for scraps, Pope Francis many people today are just like Lazarus and "weep while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty."

Every day, he said, the cry of the poor becomes louder, but it is increasingly ignored. Their cries are "drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich," he said.

The pope reflected on St. Matthew's account of what Jesus did after he fed thousands with just five loaves and two fish. The passage (Mt 14: 22-32) explains that instead of gloating or basking in the glory of successfully feeding so many people, Jesus goes up to the mountain to pray.

"He teaches us the courage to leave, to leave behind the success that swells the heart and the tranquillity that deadens the soul," the pope said.

But then Jesus goes back down the mountain to the people who still need him, he said.

"This is the road Jesus tells us to take -- to go up to God and to come down to our brothers and sisters," to tear oneself away from a life of ease and comfort and leave behind fleeting pleasures, glories and superfluous possessions, the pope said.

Jesus sets people free from the things that do not matter so they will be able to embrace the true treasures in life: God and one's neighbor, he added.

The other event in the passage according to St. Matthew, the pope said, is how the storm and the winds died down after Jesus got into the boat carrying his frightened disciples.

The secret to navigating life and its momentary storms, the pope said, "is to invite Jesus on board. The rudder of life must be surrendered to him" because it is he who gives life, hope, healing and freedom from fear.

The third thing Jesus does is stretch out his hand to Peter, who, in his fear and doubt, is sinking in the water.

Everyone wants true life and needs the hand of the Lord to save them from evil, the pope said.

"This is the beginning of faith -- to cast off the pride that makes us feel self-sufficient and to realize that we are in need of salvation," he said. "Faith grows in this climate" of being not on a pedestal aloof from the world but with those crying for help.

"This is why it is important for all of us to live our faith in contact with those in need," the pope said. "This is not a sociological option or a pontifical fad. It is a theological requirement" to acknowledge one's own spiritual poverty and that everyone, especially the poor, is pleading for salvation.

"Rouse us, Lord, from our idle calm, from the quiet lull of our safe harbors. Set us free from the moorings of self-absorption that weigh life down; free us from constantly seeking success. Teach us to know how to 'leave' in order to set out on the road you have shown us: to God and our neighbor," he said.

The pope established the World Day of the Poor to encourage the whole church to reach out to those in need and let the poor know their cries have not gone unheard, the pope said in his message this year.

U.N. groups estimate there are some 700 million people in the world who are unable to meet their basic needs and that 10 percent of the world's population lives in extreme poverty.

 

- - -

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Artists begin work on Vatican Christmas nativity – out of sand

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 04:25 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s nativity scene will be a little bit different this year. In a departure from the traditional Neapolitan or Maltese figures of recent years, the scene of Christ’s birth will be entirely sculpted from sand.

Beginning Nov. 17, four artists are beginning their work in St. Peter’s Square, crafting nearly 46,000 cubic feet of sand, equal to around 700 tons, into a grand “Sand Nativity.”

The creators, who have been sculpting sand nativities in the Italian town of Jesolo for years, say on their website that the goal is “to build the largest sand nativity in Christendom in the center of Rome in order to provide moments of authentic and joyful contemplation to all those who love Christmas.”



Sand Nativity scene in the Italian town of Jesolo. Credit: Town of Jesolo.

A partnership between the mayor of Jesolo and Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice is what brought the famous sand sculptures to the Vatican for Christmas 2018.

The Jesolo sand, as it is called, was brought to the square from the Dolomites, a mountain range in northeastern Italy near Jesolo. The four sculptors who will transform the shapeless mounds into the traditional figures of Jesus’ birth hail from Holland, Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States.

Phase one of construction will begin with a large pyramid of sand; spaces will then be dug into the sides and the sand compacted. A few days later, a protective structure will be built around the sand. The true sculpting phase will begin Nov. 21 and go until the first week of December.

In the final 48 hours, which will be Dec. 5-6, the final touches will be placed, before the big reveal Dec. 7, the same day as the annual lighting ceremony of the St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree.

The tradition to have a tree in St. Peter’s Square was begun by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982. This year’s tree comes from the Forest of Cansiglio in northern Italy, which is near the Dolomites.

Pope Francis: Include the Holy Spirit in art, theology

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2018 / 05:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the face of the difficulties of the modern-age, artists and theologians need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – the source of joy and hope, Pope Francis said Saturday, during the awarding of the 2018 Ratzinger Prize.

“Against the backdrop and in the context of the great problems of our time, theology and art must therefore continue to be animated and elevated by the power of the Spirit, which is the source of strength, joy and hope,” he said Nov. 17.

“I thank the theologians and the architects who help us to lift our heads and turn our thoughts to God,” he added. “Let [their work] always be addressed to this end.”

Pope Francis spoke with members of the Joseph-Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation, which is headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. During the audience in the Clementine hall, the pope bestowed the 8th annual Ratzinger Prize on Swiss architect Mario Botta and Bavarian theologian Marianne Schlosser.

The Ratzinger Prize was started in 2011 to recognize scholars whose work demonstrates a meaningful contribution to theology in the spirit of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Bavarian theologian who became Pope Benedict XVI.

It is not the first time a woman has been awarded the prize, he noted, but stressed the importance of greater recognition of the contribution of women to the sciences, to theological research and to the teaching of theology, which were “for so long considered almost exclusive territories of the clergy.”

This contribution should be encouraged, and “find a wider space, in keeping with the growing presence of women in the various fields of responsibility for the life of the Church,” he said, pointing to the example set by St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisiuex and St. Hildegard of Bingen, who are all considered Doctors of the Church.

Francis also praised the contribution of the other prize winner, architect Mario Botta. He noted the importance of sacred buildings throughout the history of the Church, as places which show “a concrete call to God” and express “the faith of the believing community.”

“The commitment of the architect, creator of sacred space in the city of men, is therefore of highest value, and must be recognized and encouraged by the Church, especially when we risk the oblivion of the spiritual dimension and the dehumanization of urban spaces,” he stated.

Pope Francis also encouraged members of the foundation to continue to study the writings of Benedict XVI, both those from his time as pope and before, “but also to face the new themes on which faith is called to dialogue,” like care of creation and defense of human dignity.

For admirers of Benedict’s spiritual legacy, there is a “mission to cultivate it and to continue to make it bear fruit,” he said. “His is a spirit that views the problems of our time with awareness and courage, and knows how to draw, from attention to Scripture in the living tradition of the Church, the wisdom necessary for a constructive dialogue with today’s culture.”

Schlosser, 59, has been a professor of the theology of spirituality at the University of Vienna since 2004. Pope Francis appointed her a member of the International Theological Commission in 2014.

She has translated a large part of the body of work of St. Bonaventure into German and was the researcher for the second volume of the total works of Joseph Ratzinger, which was on "the Idea of Revelation and the Theology of the History of Bonaventure." Her expertise is in Patristics and the theology and spirituality of the late Middle Ages.

Botta, 75, is an internationally-acclaimed architect, who has designed many different buildings, including homes, schools, libraries, museums, and banks. He has also designed several significant religious buildings, among them the Church of St. John the Baptist in Mogno, the Cathedral of Evry near Paris, and the Co-cathedral of Santo Volto in Turin.

He is also the designer of one of the chapels on display in the Holy See's pavilion at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.