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A look at world's 50 most anti-Christian countries

Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2018 / 01:55 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- There are more than 215 million persecuted Christians worldwide according to the 2018 World Watch List, Open Doors USA's annual ranking of the 50 worst countries for violence and persecution against Christians.

The nuns who witnessed the life and death of Martin Luther King

Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2018 / 07:17 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- This Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be the first without Sister Mary Antona Ebo, the only black Catholic nun who marched with civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Ala in 1965.

Don’t let fear keep you from welcoming the stranger, Pope says

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2018 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At a special Mass Sunday for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis said that while it is normal to be afraid of the unknown, we can’t let this direct how we respond to newcomers in our midst, who should be treated with respect and generosity.

It’s not easy to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, especially those very different from us, and this can cause us to have doubts and fears, Francis said Jan. 14.

“These fears are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view. Having doubts and fears is not a sin.”

“The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection,” he continued. “The sin is to refuse to encounter the other, to encounter the different, to encounter the neighbor, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord.”

Pope Francis gave this homily at a special Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 104th celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The theme for this year was: “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”

Present at the Mass were immigrants and refugees from around the world who are now part of the Diocese of Rome.

In his homily, Francis quoted a line from his message for the day, published Aug. 21: “Every stranger who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, who identifies himself with the foreigner who has been accepted or rejected in every age (cf. Mt 25:35-43).”

He emphasized that in welcoming the migrant or refugee, we have an opportunity to welcome Jesus.

The communities that receive migrants and refugees aren’t the only ones with fears and doubts. Migrants and refugees themselves, who have just arrived in a new place, also have fears, such as the fear “of confrontation, judgment, discrimination and failure,” the Pope said.

Francis explained how in the Gospel reading for the day, Jesus calls his disciples to “Come, and see,” and how today this invitation is addressed to all of us.

“It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives.”

Entrusting the world’s migrants and refugees to the care of Mary, Most Holy, the Pope concluded by asking her intercession, that “responding to the supreme commandment of charity and love of neighbor, may we all learn to love the other, the stranger, as ourselves.”

Following the Mass, Pope Francis led the usual Sunday Angelus from a window in the Casa Santa Marta for pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

Following the prayer, he announced that “for pastoral reasons,” the World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be moved from Jan. 14, as established by Pope St. Pius X in 1914, to the second Sunday of September. Therefore, the next celebration of the day will take place Sept. 8, 2019, he said.

In his Angelus message the Pope also spoke about the importance of not leaving our knowledge of Jesus to “hearsay,” but how we need to really encounter him “in prayer, in meditation on the Word of God and in the frequenting of the Sacraments.”

“Only a personal encounter with Jesus generates a journey of faith and discipleship,” he said.

“We could have many experiences, accomplish many things, establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at that hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our lives and make our projects and initiatives fruitful.”

Analysis: Why will Pope Francis visit the Ukrainian parish in Rome?

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- On Jan. 28, Pope Francis will visit the Basilica of Saint Sophia, the Greek Catholic Ukrainian parish in Rome. While there, he will pray in front of the tomb of Bishop Stefan Czmil, who served as a missionary to Argentina, and was a childhood mentor to the young Jorge Bergoglio.
 
The news of the visit was released today by the Holy See Press Office. Beyond the personal attachment the Pope has for Bishop Czmil, the visit is meant as a pastoral visit and a sign of closeness to the Ukrainian Catholics living in Italy, and in general abroad.
 
It will be a short visit: the Pope will meet with the Greek Catholic Ukrainian community in the Basilica, and will speak after an address delivered by the Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. After the speech, he will go down to the crypt, for a moment of prayer in front of the tomb of Bishop Czmil, as well as in front of the tomb of Cardinal Slipyi.

St. Sophia was modeled on the designs of medieval Ukrainian churches in Kiev, and is home to about 14,000 Ukrainians living in the Diocese of Rome. Its symbolic importance goes far beyond the Diocese of Rome.

The Church was built in 1963, thanks to a collection launched by the then Archeparch Josip Slipyi, who went to Rome after he had spent 18 years in Soviet prison camps in Siberia and Mordovia.  

The basilica has, for decades, been considered the “home” for Greek Catholic Ukrainians sent into diaspora during Soviet rule.
 
In 1946, the Soviet authorities convoked a false “Synod” of Lviv, revoking the Union of Brest - the Council that put the Greek Catholic Church in union with Rome – and forced Ukrainian Catholic parishes and eparchies into the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Catholic Church survived clandestinely and in exile.
 
After the “Synod,” the church built in Rome was a welcome point of unity and solidarity for the members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
 
Saint Sophia was consecrated Sep. 28, 1969 by Blessed Paul VI. The Pope wanted to concretely show his own solidarity with the persecuted Church of the Ukraine. Years earlier, in 1963, Paul VI made the decision to move the body of Saint Josaphat, the patron of the Ukrainian Church, under the Altar of Confession in St. Peter’s Basilica, to symbolize the union between Eastern and Roman rites.
 
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the biggest of the sui iuris Catholic Churches, the eastern ritual Churches in full communion with Rome.
 
Pope Francis’ presence will strengthen this union with Rome. According to Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Community, Pope Francis’ visit is “a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and a way to show closeness with Ukrainian migrants to Italy, who consider Saint Sophia’s Basilica their home, and a link to their native land.”
 
In fact, Pope Francis’ visit might be considered far more than that, considering the political situation in the Ukraine.
 
During a speech delivered Jan. 8 to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the Pope made a clear mention of the Ukrainian conflict.
 
The Pope said that “a shared commitment to rebuilding bridges is also urgent in Ukraine,” as  “the year just ended reaped new victims in the conflict that afflicts the country, continuing to bring great suffering to the population, particularly to families who live in areas affected by the war and have lost their loved ones, not infrequently the elderly and children.”
 
The “forgotten conflict” of the Ukraine has been one of the main focus of the Holy See diplomacy so far. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State, visited the country in June 2016. His reports were decisive to launch the program “The Pope for Ukraine,” which began with an extraordinary collection Apr. 24, 2016.
 
The Holy See has kept a balanced position between the Ukrainian and Russian claims over the territory of Crimea, according to Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of external relations in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. For this reason, the Pope has not yet scheduled a trip to Ukraine, although Eastern Europe is clearly at the center of the Pope’s attention – the Pope will likely travel to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Sep. 2018.
 
For all of these reasons, Pope Francis’ visit to the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome will also be a sign of pastoral concern toward the Ukrainian people during a time of national difficulty. It is not a political visit, nor it should be treated as one. However, the Pope will give strength to the Ukrainian population who endured diaspora, and to those who face a continuing conflict over eastern Ukraine.

The Pope knows the history of the Greek Catholic Ukrainians thanks to Bishop Czmil, the first Ukrainian Salesian sent on a mission to Argentina. Czmil was very important to Pope Francis, as the Pope himself explained Nov. 9, 2017 to the students of the College St. Josaphat, the Ukrainian seminary in Rome.
 
The Pope said that “it was Fr. Czmil who taught me how to participate in the Ukrainian rite of the Mass, opening me to a different liturgy.”

 

Bill to aid victims of child pornography passes US Senate committee

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2018 / 06:38 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The damaging effects of child pornography are undoubtedly incalculable, but a bipartisan bill has been introduced to bring its victims financial restitution and means for emotional healing.

'Made for Love' a new podcast focusing on marriage, family

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2018 / 05:04 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Made for Love is a new podcast that aims to convey the truth about marriage and families by helping Catholics tell stories of God's work in their lives.

Youth to be Vatican’s focus in 2018, Cardinal Parolin says

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2018 / 10:17 am (ACI Prensa).- In an interview published Thursday, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that for the Vatican, the new year will be marked by its attention to the lives of young people ahead of the 2018 Synod of Bishops.

“This year – the year 2018 – will be characterized by a special concentration of the Church’s attention at all levels on the young, then on their expectations, their aspirations, the challenges they face and also on the hopes that they bring with them, as on their weaknesses and fears.”

This approach searches “for a new relationship between the Church and young people, based on a paradigm of responsibility exempt from any paternalism,” said Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in a new interview with Vatican News (formerly called Vatican Radio).

Published Jan. 11, the interview covered the topic of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on Youth, Vocation and Discernment, which will take place in October 2018, as well as the World Meeting of Families in August, Amoris laetitia, reform of the Curia, and the Pope’s imminent trip to Chile and Peru.

About the Synod on Youth, Parolin noted the Church’s strong desire to enter into a dialogue with young people that goes both ways.

He referred to the famous line by John F. Kennedy that says, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” explaining that they want to not only help youth, but invite them to contribute to the Church and to the evangelization of the Gospel.

“I believe that at this invitation young people will be able to respond with their generosity and also with their enthusiasm,” he said.

About the Pope’s immanent trip to Chile and Peru, which begins Jan. 15, Parolin said that, as usual, Francis goes as a pastor to meet the local church, which in the two countries is particularly vibrant.

On the other hand, Chile and Peru also face many challenges, one of which is the difficulties experienced by the indigenous people of the Amazon, one of the reasons Francis has called for a Synod on the Pan-Amazon area to take place in 2019.

Another event happening this year is the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, which Parolin said he believes will be an important stage “of reflection… of deepening” in the discussions surrounding the controversial encyclical.

The document arose, according to Parolin, from a “new paradigm,” one that Pope Francis is carrying out with “wisdom, with prudence and also with patience,” and which calls for a new attitude, spirit and approach.

Amoris laetitia is the Church’s “embrace” of the family and its problems, especially those encountered in the world today. It is also “a request to help families to collaborate and contribute to the growth of the Church,” he said.

The cardinal also spoke about the Pope’s reform of the Roman Curia, which he emphasized is less about the structural reform through new laws, regulations, etc., but conversion.

“So, to ensure that the Curia – ever more and always better, taking away even those shadows that can hinder this commitment and this mission – can really become an aid to the Pope to proclaim the Gospel, to witness the Gospel, to evangelize the world of today,” he said.

Couple sues abortion clinic for malpractice

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2018 / 09:00 pm (EWTN News).- A Boulder abortion clinic is accused of malpractice, after allegedly leaving nearly two inches of a fetus' skull inside a patient's uterus during a late-term abortion, apparently forcing a patient to undergo a hysterectomy.

How Catholic Extension support migrants along the US-Mexico border

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2018 / 07:00 am (EWTN News/CNA).- A U.S. cardinal has called Catholics to support the needs of refugees and immigrants living along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico.

Cardinal: Fight racism with love to honor MLK's legacy

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2018 / 02:11 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Americans must recommit to the fight against racism through love and faith, said the head of the U.S. bishops' conference in the days leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.