• YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Podcast

Pope Francis Establishes New Commission to Combat Child Abuse

By Kathy Schiffer
This morning at the Vatican, it was announced that Pope Francis will set up a child protection commission to combat child abuse. 
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who is in Rome to attend the Council of Cardinals meeting at the Vatican, told reporters that the commission will survey child protection programs and work with bishops and religious. 
Among the commission’s responsibilities will be reviewing existing guidelines, priestly formation programs, codes of conduct, and procedures for screening candidates for the priesthood.  
The commission will also focus on supporting victims of abuse, will issue recommendations regarding how the Church can best cooperate with civil authorities, and will advise the Pope on prevention policies and pastoral outreach for the victims. 
The commission will include both clergy and lay people.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will retain responsibility for investigating and trying accused priests.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 4, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 4

4:00 – 2014 Catholic Almanac
It’s the absolute best source for trustworthy, accurate, up-to-date information. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Almanac remains the only annual, comprehensive guide to the Catholic Church. Published annually since 1904, this compendium of information is THE authoritative source for all your most up-to-date facts on the Catholic Church. With thousands of intriguing facts and essential details on a wide range of Catholic subjects, this almanac is completely updated every year and packed with topics relevant for researchers, homilists, writers, media professionals, students, parents, librarians, and teachers. We talk to Almanac editor Matthew Bunson.

5:00 - Contraception and Catholicism: What the Church Teaches and Why

Catholic teaching on contraception...a hard pill to swallow? Despite the Catholic Church's clear opposition to contraception, many individuals, including Catholics, consider the Church's stance misogynistic and outdated. In perspective of the prevailing ideologies of today's mainstream society-a morality dictated by feeling, the assumed inevitability of extramarital sexual activity as necessary for human fulfillment, and the unconsidered idea that contraception is a magic cure for unwanted pregnancy and disease-the Church's teaching on contraception may surely seem like a hard pill to swallow. But really, it is not. Author Angela Franks, PhD, an experienced pro-life speaker and educator, discovered this truth herself. After questioning the Church's stance as a young Catholic, she realized that the Church was not forcing an old-fashioned view on our intimate relationships. Rather, the Church was aligning to the reality already present in our biology. She is here to present a comprehensive look at the Church's view on the meaning and purpose of sex as love and life, unity and procreation. She equips you with the information that you need to understand, adopt, and/or teach the Church's position on contraception. 

Syrian Nuns Kidnapped; Pope Francis Calls for Prayer

By Kathy Schiffer

Monastery of St. Tecla
Pope Francis, at the end of his General Audience on Wednesday, December 4, called on everyone to pray for a group of Syrian nuns who were kidnapped from the Monastery of Saint Tecla, a Greek Orthodox monastery near the ancient Christian town of Ma’lula, about 35 miles north of Damascus. 

The Holy Father said,

“Now I would like to invite everyone to pray for the religious sisters of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint Tecla in Ma’lula, in Syria, who, two days ago, were taken away by force by armed men.  Let us pray for these sisters, and for all those who have been kidnapped on account of the on-going conflict. Let us continue to pray and to work for peace.”

Pope Francis then led the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square in praying the Hail Mary, encouraging them to have confidence in Mary and invoking the Blessed Mother as “Queen of Peace.”

According to media reports, the religious superior and four other sisters were kidnapped during the night by armed men who took them to nearby Yabrud.  The government’s Sana news agency speculated that the kidnapping was the work of the Al Nusra Front, which the U.S. State Department defines as a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida.

Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, said that Christians feel more threatened now because the kidnapping has brought the war “to a sacred Christian place, one where for centuries nothing like this has happened.”  
Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo
Bishop Audo told Vatican Radio,
“Maaloula is an important symbol not only for Christians, but also for Muslims in Syria and throughout the Middle East, because it is known that people there still speak the Aramaic dialect, the language of Christ.”
Bishop Audo said the church in Syria does not want to say this is a war against Christians, because they want to be a presence for reconciliation and coexistence.  He added, “That is our vocation. We don’t want to create provocations with the Muslims.”


Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 3, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 3

4:00 – ACLU lawsuit aims at Church ethical directives on hospital policies
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), claiming that the ethical directives issued by the American bishops are responsible for negligence in the care of a woman treated in a Michigan Catholic hospital. Tamesha Means, who reportedly suffered damaging infections during a troubled pregnancy that ended in miscarriage, should have been advised to abort the child, the ACLU argues. The lawsuit claims that officials at Mercy Health Muskegon, a Catholic hospital, failed to provide the woman with the best medical options because of restrictions imposed on Catholic hospitals by the USCCB’s ethical directives. The ACLU case has important implications for the American health-care system overall, since 13% of the hospitals in the US operate under the auspices of the Catholic Church.  We get analysis from Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

4:20 – Kresta Comments

5:00 – Study of 36 Chinese Abortion-Breast Cancer Studies a “Game Changer”
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 36 Chinese studies by Dr. Yubei Huang and his colleagues in the prestigious journal, Cancer Causes Control, last week reported a significant 44% increased breast cancer risk among women with at least one induced abortion, compared to women without induced abortions.  Huang's team cited and supports a 1996 review and meta-analysis, led by Joel Brind, Ph.D. and colleagues at Penn State, who found a 30% risk elevation for women with any history of induced abortions. We talk to Dr. Brind about his long-time fight to get the medical community to recognize the abortion – breast cancer link.

5:20 – More of the Holy Spirit: How to Keep the Fire Burning in Our Hearts
In the last forty years, many Catholics have experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives that resulted in a new passion for God and a zeal for spreading the gospel. In addition to a newfound love of prayer, Scripture, and the Eucharist, many have been blessed with the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues and healing. Yet as the years go by, many often experience a waning of the gifts of the Spirit as well as a luke-warmness creeping into their lives. What can we do to keep that fire for God, which may have been ignited many years ago, burning brightly in our hearts? Sr. Ann Shields is here to tell us.

Presidential Medal Should Have Gone to a Different Feminist

Radical feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who is among the most influential and controversial proponents of abortion in America, last week received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. 

On November 20, the President presented the Medal of Freedom to sixteen individuals who had, he claimed, by their work enriched the lives of their fellow Americans.  The President stated,
"The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours.  This year's honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.  It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation's gratitude."
Cathy Young, a columnist for RealClearPolitics and contributing editor at Reason magazine, noted that Steinem’s selection has gone largely unchallenged in the media, except for a few charges by far-right and pro-life blogs which focused on her advocacy and abortion rights positions.  Young pointed out that even pro-abortion supporters should have reservations about honoring Steinem.  Young wrote,
Despite her undeniable talent and charisma, Steinem is practically a poster girl for the gender-war paranoia and the ideological dogmatism that have led the women’s movement down such a destructive path.
Writing on RealClearPolitics, Young asserted that Gloria Steinem represents the worst of modern feminism.  To prove her point, Young cited seven features of Steinem’s worldview about which Christians and other conservatives should be concerned:
Dogmatic denial of sex differences.  Young acknowledges the argument that male/female differences are culturally influenced and less important than individual differences.   There is certainly widespread support for the loosening of traditional gender-based restrictions. But Steinem takes the anti-difference view to fanatical extremes of what dissident feminists Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge have dubbed “biodenial.” In 1997, interviewed for John Stossel’s ABC News special, “Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women and the Sex Difference,” Steinem derided scientific research on sex differences in brain functioning as “anti-American crazy thinking.” She also suggested that upper-body strength tests requiring firefighters to lift heavy loads were sexist. What about situations when firefighters have to carry injured or unconscious people out of burning buildings? Steinem insisted, with a straight face, that it was better to drag them, since “there’s less smoke down there.”
Fixation on male villainy. Like many in the sisterhood, Steinem does not let her belief in absolute equality interfere with a focus on men as perpetrators of violence and evil. In theory, she blames “the patriarchy,” asserting that it has robbed men as well as women of full humanity; she has even said (rightly) that we won’t have real equality until we recognize men’s capacity for care and nurture just as we have recognized women’s capacity for strength and achievement. Alas, actual, unreconstructed men usually appear in Steinem’s writings as dangerous brutes.
In her 1992 book, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, Steinem writes, “The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home.” She has also touted the long-discredited notion of a long prehistoric period of peaceful, benevolent, egalitarian “gynocentric” societies later displaced by violent, oppressive male rule.
Junk scholarship. Steinem’s talk of peace-loving prehistoric matriarchies is just one example of her penchant for peddling pseudo-scholarly nonsense -- often on college campuses, where she is a popular speaker. Thus, in a 1993 speech at Salem State College, Steinem rehashed not only the matriarchy theory but the myth that the witch-hunts in Europe were an effort to exterminate still-existing pagan religion and killed as many as nine million women. She also spun a fanciful “revisionist” history of Joan of Arc as a pagan worshipper who led French armies to victory but was executed as a witch once the war was won because she had grown too powerful. (In fact, Joan, by all available evidence a devout Catholic, was executed for heresy after being taken prisoner in the still-ongoing war.) While Steinem is not an academic, equally shoddy pseudo-scholarship is all too common in women’s studies classrooms.
Misinformation. Steinem’s dissemination of faux facts is not limited to distant history. In Revolution from Within, she asserts that 150,000 women and girls in the United States die from anorexia every year -- multiplying the actual number by about 1,000. (As Christina Hoff Sommers documented in her 1994 book, Who Stole Feminism?, the claim of a 150,000 death toll was based on a feminist professor’s mangling of a statistic referring to anorexia sufferers.) The same book discusses an alleged crisis in girls’ self-esteem based on a single shoddy study from the American Association of University Women.
The victimhood cult. In Steinem’s case, the fixation on the sexual victimization of women and girls has led the activist into some strange places, such as the active promotion of “recovered memories” of sexual abuse. E. Sue Bloom’s 1990 book, Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women, which prominent journalist Joan Acocella termed “one of the most outrageous [recovered memory] manuals,” bore a blurb from Steinem claiming that it could “set millions free” by encouraging them to explore hidden memories of molestation. She is also implicated in a particularly bizarre offshoot of the “recovered memory” movement, the panic over supposedly rampant satanic ritual abuse. In 1993, Ms., the magazine founded by and closely associated with Steinem, ran a lurid piece titled “Surviving the Unbelievable,” a supposed firsthand account by a woman who had grown up in a Satanic cult.) Left-wing critics such as Alexander Cockburn and Debbie Nathan have identified the radical feminist establishment, and Steinem in particular, as major contributors to the ritual abuse hysteria of the 1980s and ’90s.
Ironically, the sexual abuse craze not only pushed untold numbers of women into harmful quack therapies but led to the wrongful imprisonment of a number of female day care workers. Indeed, Steinem personally labored to aid one such persecution -- the notorious McMartin preschool case in Manhattan Beach, California in the 1980s. The famous feminist put up funds for an (unsuccessful) excavation effort to find tunnels underneath the school to corroborate the claims of some children -- made under the guidance of a rogue therapist -- that they had been taken to such tunnels for grotesque sexual rituals. 
Contempt for freedom of speech. Steinem was largely responsible for the women’s movement’s embrace of the divisive anti-pornography crusade; but her pro-censorship streak also extends to political expression. Last year, she joined fellow activists Robin Morgan and Jane Fonda (with whom she co-founded the Women’s Media Center) in penning a CNN.com op-ed calling on the FCC to yank the licenses of radio stations that carry Rush Limbaugh’s show, accusing Limbaugh of “toxic, hate-inciting speech” and lamenting that “for 20 years, Limbaugh has hidden behind the First Amendment.” While the trio hilarious claims that its stance “isn’t political,” UCLA constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh noted that they were urging the FCC to curb Limbaugh’s speech “based on the ideology that it expresses [which] is precisely what the Supreme Court has rightly said is impermissible.”
Knee-jerk partisanship. Steinem’s solidarity with women stops at the party line. In 1993, she flew to Texas to campaign against then-Senate candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison, a moderate pro-choice Republican, and slammed her as “a female impersonator.”
Steinem is an undeniably talented and charismatic woman; her message is often couched in appealing terms of female empowerment, freedom, and basic fairness. But in practice, her advocacy promotes far less positive values. This is a Medal of Freedom recipient who has backed attacks on free speech and colluded in the imprisonment of innocent people.
Cathy Young correctly labeled Gloria Steinem as a class war feminist.  The President, if he wanted to honor the feminist movement, should—according to Young—instead have posthumously honored Betty Friedan, author of the groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique.  While one might strongly disagree with Friedan on some issues (such as abortion), at least Betty Friedan—unlike the strident Steinem—warned against embracing anti-male, anti-family ideologies that treat relations between the sexes as class warfare. 

Read the rest of Cathy Young’s analysis here.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 2, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 2

4:00 – Poverty in Evangelii Gaudium
“If there is anyone in the world today who embodies the joy of the Christian Gospel, it is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. And the happiness offered by embracing and living true faith in Christ and His Church (rather than the vapid sentimentalism that often passes for love these days) permeates Pope Francis’s new (and rather long) apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, from beginning to end. Reading the text, one does experience a profound sense of just how life-transforming belief in Christ should be.” That’s how Sam Gregg begins his piece the Pope’s exhortation. Sam joins us to discuss poverty, the Pope and Evangelii Gaudium.

4:20 – Kresta Comments - Evangelii Gaudium

5:00 – Evangelii Gaudium: Pope Francis the Revolutionary
According to George Weigel, the first nine months of the pontificate of Pope Francis have often resembled a gigantic Rorschach test in which various commentators inside and outside the Catholic Church have “seen” their dreams and fears realized. Alas, what has been “seen” has often had little to do with the record of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as priest and bishop or with his most consequential decisions as Pope. Those projections reached fever pitch with the publication on Tuesday of Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), which was celebrated, or lamented, as if it were an Occupy Whatever position paper for a G-8 summit. Instead, the papal document should be read and appreciated for what it manifestly is: a clarion call for a decisive shift in the Catholic Church’s self-understanding, in full continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. George joins us to make his case. 

5:20 – Former Ambassadors: Obama’s call to close Vatican embassy is ‘slap in the face’ to Roman Catholics
Plans to move the U.S. embassy to the Vatican onto the grounds of the larger American embassy to Italy, though in a separate building and with a distinct entrance, are drawing fire from five former American envoys despite the tacit consent of the Vatican itself. Justified primarily on the grounds of enhanced security, the move is drawing fire from former Vatican Ambassadors James Nicholson, Francis Rooney, Mary Ann Glendon, Raymond Flynn, and Thomas Melady. Ambassador Flynn is here to explain his objections.

5:30 – U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Hobby Lobby Case
The U.S. Supreme Court last week agreed to take up two challenges to the HHS Mandate, one of which is Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions. We talk to Lori Windham, an attorney with the Beckett Fund which filed this case. 

5:40 – The Philosophy of “The Hunger Games”
With the amazing success of the film The Hunger Games: The Girl on Fire over the last week, we talk about the Philosophy of the books – and now the movies. Katniss Everdeen is "the girl who was on fire," but she is also the girl who made us think, dream, question authority, and rebel. The post-apocalyptic world of Panem's twelve districts is a divided society on the brink of war and struggling to survive, while the Capitol lives in the lap of luxury and pure contentment. At every turn in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and their many allies wrestle with harrowing choices and ethical dilemmas that push them to the brink. Co-editor of The Hunger Games and Philosophy, George Dunn, joins us.

You Could Be the Proud Owner of Sauron’s “The One” Ring


By Kathy Schiffer

If you have an extra $80,000 in your pocket, you could buy the One Ring to Rule Them All. 

The gold-plated ring was made famous on the big screen in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  The greatest of the rings of power, the One Ring was created by the Dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Orodruin (Mount Doom) during the Second Age.  Sauron intended to increase his own power, and in time rule over all of Middle-Earth. 

The One Ring was, indeed, an extension of the Dark Lord himself.  Sauron had cut through his own hand, allowing his evil to bind with the molten gold.

    *     *     *     *     *     *

If you are a “Lord of the Rings” aficionado with cash to burn, you might like to bid on this master production prototype by designer Jens Hansen.  From this prototype ring (which bears the inscription inside out), the on-screen rings used in the movie were created. 

On Thursday, December 5, Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California will auction the One Ring and other props, costumes and memorabilia from “Lord of the Rings.”  The One Ring is expected to sell for $50,000 to $80,000.  

CBS News offers a photo gallery of items available for sale—check it out here.


“One ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them.”
                --Inscription, translated


Archdiocese of Chicago Reaches Settlement in Abuse Case, Issues Corrections Following SNAP Press Conference

Cardinal Francis George
Archbishop of Chicago

The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached a settlement in a sexual abuse survivor case involving a former priest.  The Archdiocese agreed to pay $2.3 million to the victim.  The settlement also calls for the Archdiocese to release on January 15 their confidential files regarding allegations of sexual abuse against a total of 30 priests. The files will reveal how well Church officials responded to the allegations. 

The Chicago Sun-Times has the story:
A $2.3 million settlement in a sexual abuse survivor case involving a former priest and filed against the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George was announced by attorneys Tuesday.
The victim, identified only as John Doe, is now in his early 20s, and was sexually abused in his pre-teen and early teen years by Daniel McCormack between 2004 and 2006, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged “McCormack would invite the plaintiff inside the rectory of St. Agatha Catholic Church, where he would sit plaintiff on his lap, unzip his pants and fondle” the plaintiff.
It also alleged that the defendants “knew or should have known of McCormack’s dangerous and exploitative propensities as a child molester.”
Read the rest here.  

Barbara Blaine
President of SNAP
Following the announcement of the settlement, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a press conference on November 26.  Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP, made a number of charges against the Archdiocese of Chicago for its handling of the case.  

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement on November 27, correcting many of the errors which Ms. Blaine had made in talking with the press.  The Archdiocesan statement is included here in its entirety.  




Response of the Archdiocese of Chicago to statements
made during Jeff Anderson's November 26, 2013 press conference November 27, 2013
The Archdiocese of Chicago would  like to respond to several statements made during the November 26, 2013 press conference held by attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, and founder and president of SNAP Barbara Blaine.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “We believe the Archdiocese has a responsibility to disclose the whereabouts of these individuals. … We believe that they [the Archdiocese] have the resources to identify and find that out, and most of them are still receiving payments from the Archdiocese and are on the payroll, and their whereabouts should be made known.
§  Correction: No priests who have resigned from the priesthood or have been laicized are still on the payroll of the Archdiocese. Some may have pensions that have vested and therefore receive benefits from their pension. The Archdiocese has identified and listed on its website for many years the names of priests with substantiated allegations of abuse.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “We hear from survivors all the time, and I think that a question that should be asked of the Archdiocese, because they know. … I know there are victims who are hurting, and they allege that they were abused and they have told the Archdiocese officials and, are they still in ministry? I think that it’s fair to say that we should assume there are … I can’t give a number and a name, but…”
§  Correction: No priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago with even one substantiated allegation of abuse is currently in ministry.  It is immoral to keep all Catholic priests under a cloud of suspicion.  In recent years, our personnel files have been checked three times by the civil authorities. Every allegation that is brought forward is reported immediately to the civil authorities, and each priest has received mandated reporter training.  Each priest has undergone a criminal background check. All have received special VIRTUS training to recognize the signs of possible sexual abuse in minor children.  Priests are not permitted to be alone with a child, or to drive a car with a child without another adult being present.  They have received, both while in the seminary and since, extensive training on boundary violations.

If Barbara Blaine has information about abuse of which the Archdiocese is unaware, the Archdiocese requests that she inform civil authorities and the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth immediately so that an investigation can be conducted.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “No such [grand jury] investigation has happened in Illinois, the only information that has been disclosed has been voluntarily disclosed and so we don’t know the extent of the problem. I think it would be naïve to think that it’s any different here than any of those places…” [Philadelphia, Minnesota] “so I believe that if such an investigation [grand jury] were to occur here, similar results would be found.
§  Correction: There was a grand jury investigation in Illinois in 1992. The protocols that were put in place by the Archdiocese in 1992, including the formation of the Review Board which hears allegations against living priests, were the foundation of the Dallas Charter in 2002, so the Archdiocese of Chicago was a decade ahead of the rest of the country in terms of dealing with clergy sex abuse. Again, no priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago with even one substantiated allegation of abuse is currently in ministry.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. Bishops in Dallas in June, 2002. The Charter requires that no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor can serve in public ministry. The Archdiocese of Chicago refers all reports of sexual abuse immediately to civil authorities. The Archdiocese’s independent Review Board examines the findings of all investigations and ensures that all perpetrators are permanently removed from ministry or service.

As always, the Archdiocese of Chicago is concerned first and foremost with the healing of abuse victims and has maintained a victim assistance ministry for more than 25 years. In addition, the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, charged with serving victims and preventing abuse, has trained and processed background checks on more than 160,000 priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers; conducted more than 3,000 training sessions; and trained more than 200,000 children to protect themselves from sexual predators.

The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese encourages anyone who believes they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee, to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at www.archchicago.org.


Argentina Considers Pope Francis Commemorative Coin

Argentinian lawmakers, proud of the first pope to hail from their country, may soon honor Pope Francis by putting his face on a coin.
Argentina’s 480 million Catholics were thrilled by the announcement in March 2013 that then-Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, would become the new Pontiff.
The tribute coin was first proposed in April by Rep. Oscar Cachi Martinez, and quickly gained support from congressional committees.  The Argentinian congressman announced the successful vote yesterday on his Facebook page:
The bill will now go to the South American country’s Senate for consideration.
One of many commemorative coins which honor the election of Pope Francis
According to the text of the proposed law, the goal of the coins is
“…to commemorate an event of global dimensions, so our present and future generations remember this splendid act in the history of humanity, in which the principal actor is an Argentine.”
Beneath the Pope’s image would be inscribed,
“Tribute from the Argentine People to Pope Francis.”

Pope Francis Announces the Year for Consecrated Life

Pope Francis, speaking this morning to Superiors of religious orders from around the world, announced that the coming year will be dedicated to Consecrated Life. 

Auditorium in the Salesianum
The occasion was the 82nd General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General, which is meeting in the Salesianum, a hotel and conference center in Rome, on November 27-29.  The Holy Father had been expected to speak for just a few minutes; instead, he chose to meet with the Superiors for three hours, engaging in a “long, colloquial and fraternal discussion…composed of questions and answers.”

 The Vatican Information Service provided a detailed report of the meeting:

The first group of questions related to the identity and mission of consecrated life. A radical approach is required of all Christians, the Pope stated, but religious persons are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way: “They are men and woman who can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to 'domesticate' them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”.
When asked about the situation of vocations, the Pope emphasised that there are young Churches which are bearing new fruit. This naturally gives rise to a re-evaluation of the inculturation of charism. The Church must follow the example of Matteo Ricci in asking forgiveness for and looking with shame upon apostolic failures caused by misunderstandings in this field. Intercultural dialogue must press for the introduction persons of various cultures, expressing different ways of living charism, in the governance of religious institutes.
The Pope insisted upon the importance of formation, which he presented as founded upon four fundamental pillars: spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic. It is indispensable to avoid every form of hypocrisy and clericalism by means of a frank and open dialogue on all aspects of life: “formation is an artisanal craft, not a form of policing”, he commented; “its aim is to form religious persons with a tender heart, not acid, not like vinegar. We are all sinners, but not corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted, but not the corrupt”.
When asked about brotherhood, the Pope said that this has a great force of attraction, and presupposes the acceptance of differences and conflicts. At time it is difficult to live in fraternity, but without it no fruit may be borne. In any case, “we must never act like managers when faced with a brother's conflict: conflict instead must be caressed”, said the Pope. 
A number of questions were asked regarding the relationships between religious persons and the particular Churches to which they belong. The Pope confirmed that he had experience of the possible problems: “We bishops must understand that consecrated persons are not helpers, but rather charisms which enrich dioceses”.
The final questions regarded the frontiers of the mission of consecrated persons. “They must be sought on the basis of the charisms”, answered the Pope. Situations of exclusion remain the first priorities. Alongside these challenges he mentioned the cultural and educational mission in schools and universities. For the Pope, the pillars of education are “transmitting knowledge, transmitting methods, transmitting values. By these means, faith is communicated. The educator must measure up to those he educates, and must give careful thought to how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a changing generation”.
Before taking leave of the 120 Superiors General present, the Pope announced that 2015 would be a year dedicated to consecrated life. He added, “Thank you for what you do and for your spirit of faith and your service. Thank you for your witness and also for the humiliations through which you have had to pass”.

Page 20 of 59« First...10...1819202122...304050...Last »
YouTube Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Podcast