Vatican News Feed

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. Pope: Without the Eucharist, everything the Church does is vain

    Vatican City, Apr 20, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During a brief day-trip to two small Italian cities, Pope Francis stressed the centrality of the Eucharist to the life and actions of the Church, saying without Christ's love and self-sacrifice, everything would be done in vanity, since everything Jesus did was for others.

    “The Eucharist is not a beautiful rite, but it is the most intimate, the most concrete, the most surprising communion that one can imagine with God: a communion of love so real that it takes on the form of eating,” the pope said April 20.

    The Christian life begins again at each Mass, “where God satiates us with love. Without him, the bread of life, every effort of the Church is vain,” he said, and, quoting deceased local Bishop Antonio Bello, said “works of charity are not enough, unless those works are done with charity.”

    “If love is lacking in those who do the works, if the source is lacking, if the point of departure is lacking, which is the Eucharist, then every pastoral commitment is merely a whirlwind of things,” rather than an act of service.

    Pope Francis spoke during Mass in the Italian town of Molfetta. He traveled to the city after making a brief visit to Alessano as part of a half-day trip to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Antonio Bello, known as “Don Tonino,” an Italian bishop whose cause for beatification opened in 2007.

    In his homily, Francis said whoever receives the Eucharist takes on the face and mentality of the Lord, who is the bread that was broken for us. And this bread, he said, does not “rise with pride,” but is given to others.

    The person who receives the Eucharist, he said, “ceases to live for themselves, for their own success, to have something or to become someone, but they live for Jesus, as Jesus, which is for others.”

    Quoting Bishop Bello, Francis said the Eucharist “does not support a sedentary life,” and that without rising from the table, one remains an “unfulfilled sacrament.” He asked those present to question themselves as to how they leave every Mass, and whether or not they go out as “people of communion.”

    He then emphasized the importance of the Word, which he said is a second element that can be taken from the day's Gospel reading from John, in which the disciples asked themselves “how can this man give us his flesh to eat?” after Jesus spoke about the need to eat his flesh in order to obtain salvation.

    “Many of our words are similar to this,” the pope said, noting that some people might ask: “how can the Gospel solve the problems of the world? What use is it to do good in the midst of so much evil?”

    By doing this, “we fall into the error of that people, who were paralyzed by discussion about the words of Jesus, rather than ready to welcome the change of life asked by him,” Francis said, adding that these people did not understand that the words of Jesus were the path to life.

    Jesus, he said, “does not respond according to our calculations and the conveniences of the moment, but with the 'yes' of his whole life. He does not look for our reflections, but our conversion.”

    Pointing to the conversion of Saul, who later became St. Paul, Pope Francis noted how when Saul was thrown from his horse he was told to rise, go into the city and do what he would be asked.

    “The first thing to avoid is staying on the ground” or staying “gripped by fear,” he said, stressing that a true apostle of Jesus “cannot simply get along on small satisfactions,” but must always get up and look forward.

    And, just as Saul was told to go into the city, each Christian is also told to go, rather than staying “closed in your reassured spaces. Risk!” he said.

    Christian life “must be invested in Jesus and spent for others,” he said, adding that an apostle cannot remain stationary after the resurrection, but must “go out, regardless of the problems and uncertainties.”

    “We are all called, in whatever situation we find ourselves, to be bearers of paschal hope” and to be “servants of the world, but resurrected, not employed. Without ever complaining, without ever resigning ourselves.”

    “It's beautiful to be couriers of hope, simple and joyful distributors of the Easter alleluia,” Francis said, and closed his homily praying that the Word of God would free Christians and help them to rise and go forward with courage and humility.

  2. There's no 'maybe' when answering the Lord's call, pope says

    Vatican City, Apr 20, 2018 / 03:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking in the southern Italian town of Alessano on Friday, Pope Francis said that we should be on fire for our faith, combining prayer and action after the example of the Italian bishop Tonino Bello.

    “Here, this is the vocation according to Don Tonino: a call to become not only faithful devotees, but real lovers of the Lord… When the Lord sets the heart on fire, hope cannot be extinguished. When the Lord asks for a ‘yes,’ we cannot answer with ‘maybe,’” the pope said April 20.

    Pope Francis visited the town of Alessano as part of a quick day-trip there and to Molfetta, to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Antonio Bello, known as “Don Tonino,” an Italian bishop whose cause for beatification was opened in 2007.

    Before speaking to around 20,000 Catholic, the pope stopped at the tomb of Don Tonino for a moment of silent prayer.

    In his speech, he pointed to the bishop’s warning that Catholics not immerse themselves “in the whirlwind of affairs” without first planting themselves in front of the tabernacle – lest they work in vain for the Kingdom.

    “We can ask ourselves if we start from the tabernacle or ourselves. You could also ask if, once we leave, we walk; if, like Mary, the Woman of the journey, we get up to reach and serve man, every man,” he stated.

    Francis recalled a word coined by Tonino, “which gives each of us a great mission.”

    Tonino, the pope noted, would say often that Christians should be “contempl-attivi,” meaning, “contemplative-actives,” people who never separate prayer and action.

    Don Tonino had “his feet on the ground and his eyes on Heaven, and above all with a heart that connected Heaven and earth,” he said.

    Antonio Bello was born in Alessano in 1935. He was ordained a priest in 1957, and afterward studied theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

    He was always close to the young and the poor, working at a seminary, as a parish priest, and as an assistant for the Italian lay Catholic association, “Azione Cattolica.”

    He was appointed bishop of Molfetta, Giovinazzo, Terlizzi, and Ruvo by Pope John Paul II in 1982.

    As bishop, Don Tonino supported the poor and people in difficulty, opening a Caritas soup kitchen in every diocesan parish and founding a community for drug addicts.

    In 1985 he became president of Pax Christi. In this role he worked against the First Gulf War and the war in former Yugoslavia. He died in Molfetta on April 20, 1993.

    Pope Francis reflected on Don Tonino’s attention to the poor, saying that “understanding the poor was for him true wealth.”

    “Don Tonino reminds us not to theorize the closeness to the poor, but to be close to them, as Jesus was; that for us, as rich as he was, he became poor,” he said.

    Following his message, the pope led those present in praying the ‘Hail Mary,’ and gave his benediction before departing for Molfetta by helicopter.

  3. Catholic communicators urge greater respect in public discourse

    Vatican City, Apr 19, 2018 / 12:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This week, Catholic communicators gathered in Rome to discuss the need for more respectful dialogue in the public sphere, saying that fake news and polemics must be overcome with truth, mercy and openness.

    When it comes to modern day public discourse, Irish Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “we have to be aware of our language, because nowadays people switch off, they don't hear, and we cannot get the Gospel message out simply condemning everyone who lives their lives contrary to what we believe in.”

    Now more than ever when emotions are high, polemics are strong, and digital communication is increasingly more impersonal, mutual respect is needed in order to effectively communicate with those we don't agree with, both within the Church, and outside of it, he said.

    This is also true “in the kind of culture wars which we are engaging in sometimes even within the Church; they simply drown out any opportunity for people to make that personal commitment to Christ, which is really what the Gospel is about.”

    “This is a challenge for us within the Church, and it's exemplified by blogs countering blogs, Twitter countering Twitter, where everyone is shouting and absolutely no one is hearing anything.”

    The remedy, Martin said, is to focus, in every exchange, on communicating the fact that “God loves you, he loves you personally, he's calling you to conversion in your own personal life story.”

    Archbishop Martin spoke on the first day of an April 17-19 conference for Catholic communicators in Rome. Co-organized by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and EWTN, the three-day seminar was dedicated to the theme of “Dialogue, Respect and Freedom of Expression in the Public Arena.”

    Speakers and panelists included media representatives and experts from around the world who touched on issues such as polarization, fake news, defamation and how to promote values through the media.

    Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EWTN Global Catholic Network, gave a keynote speech on fake news and the responsibility of journalists on the final day of the conference.

    Warsaw pointed to a recent example of a fake story that gained a lot of steam during the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

    During the campaign season, a fake news site published an article titled “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” which gained more than 100,000 comments, shares, and reactions on Facebook alone, and nearly 1 million Facebook engagements, making it “the single biggest fake news hit of the U.S. Election.”

    Shortly after, another fake news article appeared saying Pope Francis had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, he said, noting that it is thanks to articles like this that modern society has come to be known as the “post-truth” or “post-fact” world.

    Warsaw cited various studies showing that consumers of fake news are no small minority, and, quoting the pope, said that because of this, journalists in particular are called to be “the protectors of news.”

    “Pope Francis, in his 2018 message, rightly condemns that 'spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests,'...But, the challenges facing journalism and the public at large today go deeper than the 'fake news' phenomenon,” he said.

    Rather, the real crux of the matter is growing general distrust of media, as well as a loss of trust in data, analysis, and objective facts, he said.

    Because of this, those who work in social communications must be offered ongoing formation, both spiritual and professional, so that both individual journalists and media outlets “become more trusted by the public, and are seen as objective and reliable.”

    Quoting Pope Francis' message for the World Day of Social Communications, Warsaw said the most “radical antidote” to the phenomenon of fake news is “purification by the truth.”

    “As Catholic communicators and media, we are called to do our part to be truth tellers,” he said, and “we must take heart in knowing that we are not the first Catholics to live in a 'post truth' era.”

    In his comments to CNA, Archbishop Martin stressed the importance of fostering an environment where true and honest dialogue can take place, and where media can help “engage in a culture of encounter.”

    “We meet people where they are at, some of whom are completely against what we stand for, others who are open to conversation,” he said, explaining that when things get heated, “pacifying” one's tone is a good place to start in terms of having a fruitful exchange.

    “I think this conference has courageously opened up a sort of middle-ground where we can engage in a type of court of the gentiles, where we enter that space in which there are some people who are diametrically opposed to what we stand for.”

    And this, the archbishop said, can only happen “out of respect, and it can only happen when there is a culture of freedom to speak.”

    For those involved in communication, “we can only hope that with the help of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God, that we can invite people, that we can win them for Christ, by our witness, by our example, and by the strength and courage of our message.”
     

     

     

  4. Benedictines provide an 'oasis' of silence, Pope Francis says

    Vatican City, Apr 19, 2018 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to members of Benedictine communities in Rome Thursday, Pope Francis said the religious order provides a space for quiet and prayer in an otherwise rushed world, helping people to put God at the center of their lives.

    “In this age, when people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to God’s voice, your monasteries and convents become like oases, where men and women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and religions can discover the beauty of silence,” the pope said April 19.

    At monasteries people can rediscover themselves, “in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore a proper order in their lives.”

    Pope Francis met with around 400 members of the Benedictine Confederation, a union of monastic congregations and the international governing body of the Order of Saint Benedict, for the 125th anniversary of its establishment by Leo XIII in 1893.

    Francis said the reason St. Benedict is called “a luminous star,” in the words of St. Gregory the Great, is that in his time, “marked by a profound crisis of values and institutions,” he was able to discern “between the essential and the secondary in the spiritual life, placing the Lord firmly at the center.”

    In the midst of Easter, he pointed out that there are some aspects of the liturgical season that are part of the everyday life of Benedictines, such as “the announcement and the surprise, the prompt response, and the heart willing to receive the gifts of God.”

    “Saint Benedict asks you in his Rule to ‘put absolutely nothing before Christ’, so that you will always be vigilant, today, ready to listen to him and follow him meekly,” he stated, noting that one of the ways they do this is through their attention to liturgy.

    “Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for yourselves, allowing you to be in the living presence of the Lord; and it is precious for the whole Church,” he said.

    The pope also referred to the Benedictine motto of “Ora et labora et lege,” which is realized, first, in their prayer and their meditation on the Word of God through lectio divina, he said. By first listening to God’s voice in prayer, they can also live out constant and joyful obedience.

    “Prayer generates in our hearts, willing to receive the amazing gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervor that leads us, through our daily work, to seek the sharing of the gifts of God’s wisdom with others,” he continued.

    He praised, in particular, the work Benedictines do within their communities, for people who visit their monasteries or convents searching for God, and for those who study in Benedictine-run schools and universities.

    “The Benedictines are known to be ‘a school of the service of the Lord,’” he said. “I urge you to give the students, together with the necessary concepts and knowledge, the tools so that they can grow in the wisdom that drives them to continually seek God in their lives.”

  5. Vatican reportedly rejects German bishops' proposal for intercommunion of spouses

    Vatican City, Apr 18, 2018 / 10:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has reportedly rejected a planned proposal by the German bishops' conference to publish guidelines permitting non-Catholic spouses of Catholics to receive the Eucharist in some limited circumstances.

    Austrian news site kath.net has reported that Vatican sources say the CDF, with papal approval, has suspended the German bishops' proposal, and sources close to the congregation have confirmed this to CNA.

    It is not clear whether the Vatican has asked the bishops' conference to modify the contents of the draft guidelines, whether they have suspended the development of a draft while the matter is considered further, or whether it has been entirely rejected.

    In February, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising announced that the German bishops' conference would publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics "in individual cases" and "under certain conditions" to receive Holy Communion, provided they "affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist”.

    The announcement was made "after intensive debate" at the conclusion of the general assembly of the German bishops' conference, which was held Feb. 19 - 22 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, and attended by 62 members of the bishops' conference under the leadership of conference chairman Cardinal Marx.

    Last month, seven German bishops sent a letter to the CDF and to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity asking for clarification on the matter. The signatories did not consult beforehand with Cardinal Marx.

    The seven bishops asked whether the question of Holy Communion for Protestant spouses in interdenominational marriages can be decided on the level of a national bishops' conference, or if rather, "a decision of the Universal Church" is required in the matter.

    The letter was signed by Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne, Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstätt, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, and Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz.

    “From the view of the signatories, the goal in a question of such centrality to the Faith and the unity of the Church must be to avoid separate national paths and arrive at a globally unified, workable solution by way of an ecumenical dialogue,” the Archdiocese of Cologne told CNA Deutsch April 4.

    The Code of Canon Law already provides that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”