Cardinals Müller, Sarah urge unity, charity in liturgical matters

Rome, Italy, Sep 15, 2017 / 04:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Robert Sarah encouraged unity over partisanship at a conference held in Rome Thursday to mark the 10th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s motu proprio on the “extraordinary form” of the Roman liturgy. “We must also overcome the tensions and polarizations,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told CNA Sept. 14 . He noted that some in the Church say “we belong to this party,” while others say “we belong to that party.” “That is not Catholic,” he said, and stressed the need to understand the liturgy “in the context (of) and with a deep understanding of the fundamentals; what is the essence, what is the substance of the liturgy?” Cardinal Müller was a keynote speaker at the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum, which was held in thanksgiving for the 10th anniversary of the motu proprio. Other keynote speakers at the event included Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.Summorum Pontificum widened access to use of the older form, or “Tridentine” liturgy. It established that the post-Vatican II Roman Missal, first issued by Blessed Paul VI, is the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, and that the prior version, last issued by St. John XXIII in 1962, the “Tridentine Mass,” is the Roman Rite’s “extraordinary form.” In the motu proprio, Benedict noted that the “extraordinary form” of the Mass was never abrogated. He acknowledged the right of all priests of the Roman Rite to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, and established that parish priests should be willing say the extraordinary form for groups of the faithful who request it. By publishing the motu proprio, Benedict XVI “wanted to overcome the tensions which came out of the reform of the liturgy” following the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Müller said. The main objective of the reform, he said, was “not a change of the fundamentals of the liturgy as an objective praise of God.” “The liturgy we have now is the same substance, the same liturgy, as in the older form, the extraordinary form,” he said, reiterating that “the substance, the constitutive elements, are the same.” Cardinal Müller said the Church must look to the new rite “altogether, in this new synthesis,” rather than falling into division. Liturgy, he said, “is a participation in the work of salvation, it is a participation of the life of…Jesus Christ …  and in the Holy Spirit, who is present in all life and all the sacramental actions of the Catholic Church.” During his address, Cardinal Sarah also emphasized the importance of avoiding division in the Church and focusing on unity, and opened by saying, “God wants the unity of His Church, for which we pray in every Eucharistic celebration.” With Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI “wanted to establish a sign of reconciliation in the Church, one that has brought much fruit,” he said. “We are called to continue to pursue this path of reconciliation and unity, as an ever-living witness of Christ in today’s world.”Cardinal Sarah’s address focused on silence and the primacy of God in the liturgy. He stated that “silence of heart, mind and soul” are the key to achieving “full, conscious and actual participation” in the liturgy, which was the very goal of the liturgical movement. Pointing to the “scandal of the divisions” in the Church following the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Sarah said Summorum Pontificum has done a lot to mend these divisions, but noted that there is also “more to do to achieve the reconciliation Pope Benedict XVI so desired, and which work Pope Francis has continued.” “We must pray and work so to achieve that reconciliation for the good of souls, for the good of the Church and so that our Christian witness and mission to the world may be ever stronger.” The extraordinary form ought to be seen as “a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century,” he said. And while statistically the number of people who attend the older form might, as predicted by Benedict XVI, stay a minority, “there should be no competition between the more recent rites and the older ones of the one Roman rite.” “Both should be a natural element of the life of the Church in our times,” he said, adding that “Christ calls us to unity, not division! We are brothers and sisters in the same faith no matter which form of the Roman rite we celebrate!” Offering a “paternal word” to all those attached to the traditional rite, Cardinal Sarah noted that many people refer to them as “traditionalists,” and that even those who attend Masses in the old rite refer to themselves as such, “or hyphenate yourselves in a similar way.” “Please do this no longer,” he said. “You do not belong in a box on the shelf or in a museum of curiosities. You are not traditionalists: you are Catholics of the Roman Rite as am I and as is the Holy Father.” As members of the Catholic Church, those who are drawn to the extraordinary form of the Mass “are called by God, as is every baptized person, to take your full place in the life and mission of the Church in the world of today, not to be shut up in – or worse, to retreat into – a ghetto in which defensiveness and introspection reign and stifle the Christian witness and mission to the world you too are called to give.” If experiencing 10 years of Summorum Pontificum has meant anything, “it means this,” he said, and told his audience that “if you have not yet left behind the shackles of the ‘traditionalist ghetto,’ please do so today. Almighty God calls you to do this.” Read more

Faith helped couple choose baby over chemotherapy treatment

Detroit, Mich., Sep 15, 2017 / 11:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Michigan mother with a lethal form of brain cancer who declined treatment in order to save her unborn child has died, a few days after her sixth child was born. Carrie DeKlyen, 37, was a mother of five in April when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive, malignant cancer that typically affects the spine and brain, and is usually lethal. While she had surgery to remove the tumor, DeKlyen was about to begin a clinical trial treatment when she discovered she was pregnant. She decided to decline chemotherapy in order to save her unborn daughter, who was born last week and was fittingly named Life Lynn DeKlyen. Carrie’s husband Nick DeKlyen said the couple’s Christian faith carried them through the difficult decision. “Me and my wife, we are people of faith,” Nick told the Detroit Free Press. “We love the Lord with everything in us. We talked about it, prayed about it.” “I asked her, ‘What are you thinking?’ She said, ‘All the treatments, I’m not doing any of them.’ We went back to the surgeon. He said ‘If you choose to do this, you will not live another 10 months. I promise, you will die.’ Nick said that ultimately, it was Carrie’s decision, and she was at peace choosing to save her baby instead of prolonging her own life. “We’re pro-life,” Nick said. “Under no circumstance do we believe you should take a child’s life. She sacrificed her life for the child.” Carrie’s choice to give up her own life for that of her baby has garnered worldwide attention. While Carrie underwent four brain surgeries to try to treat her tumor, she slipped into a coma in July from which she never regained complete consciousness, though family reported that she would sometimes respond to a hand squeeze or other attempts to communicate. By September, Carrie had stopped responding to pain. Baby Life was delivered by caesarean section Sept. 6, at 24 weeks and 5 days. The following day, Carrie’s feeding and breathing tubes were removed, and she died Sept. 9. Nick told the Associated Press that some of his last words to his wife were, “I’ll see you in Heaven.” During a celebration of her life, held Sept. 12 at Resurrection Life Church in her hometown of Wyoming, Michigan, Carrie was remembered as someone who left behind “a legacy of love,” Michigan Live reported. She was a kind and selfless wife, mother, daughter and neighbor, who sang in the church choir and volunteered in her community, according to numerous friends. “Carrie, a mom, a soul mate, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Heaven’s gain,” Pat Binish, the community’s pastor, said at the celebration. Binish added that many had asked on social media why Carrie had to suffer and die. “Are you ready for the answer? I don’t know. Our job as humans is to pray. God’s job is to heal, end of story. We don’t understand the bigger plan. We don’t have the understanding. One day, we will.” The Cure 4 Carrie Facebook page, which the family once used to post updates about Carrie’s health, is now being used to update family and friends on Life Lynn, who struggled at first but is now in stable condition in the neonatal intensive care unit at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Life Lynn is defying all odds,” said a Sept. 15 post. “Heart rate is green oxygen is blue. Good job baby girl!” Read more

Cardinal Nichols decries London terror attack, offers prayers

London, England, Sep 15, 2017 / 10:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After a terrorist attack on a commuter train left more than 20 people injured in London on Friday, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster decried the act as cowardly and offered his prayers for peace. “I am dismayed at yet another cowardly attack on innocent people, including young children, as they were commuting to work and school this morning,” he said in a Sept. 15 statement. “I pray for all who were injured in the blast and in the ensuing stampede, and for all who were affected by the incident. May God grant them and all Londoners peace and strengthen our resolve to stand against such evil acts.” <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I pray for all the injured and those affected by the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ParsonsGreenExplosion?src=hash”>#ParsonsGreenExplosion</a>. May God grant them and all Londoners peace.</p>&mdash; Cardinal Nichols (@CardinalNichols) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CardinalNichols/status/908695429994418177″>September 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script> During morning rush hour an impoverished explosive device was detonated on a commuter train at Parsons Green station in southwest London. At least 22 people were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries, which were primarily burns, local authorities reported. Authorities have reported that a timer was found on the device, indicating it likely was meant for much greater destruction than what it achieved. The incident is being treated by officials as a terror attack, and a manhunt is underway for the perpetrators. This is the fourth terror attack in London this year. In addition to offering his prayers for the victims, Cardinal Nichols also thanked the emergency responders as well as those living and working near the station where the incident occurred who also offered their assistance. “The generous actions of those who rushed to tend to the wounded and those who were in shock demonstrate all that is good in humanity as a small number seek to divide our society. We should all be alert, but remain calm.” Thus far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Read more

Vatican recalls priest as child porn investigation opens

Vatican City, Sep 15, 2017 / 06:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Friday that after being informed by U.S. officials of a possible breach of child pornography laws on the part of a Holy See diplomat, it has recalled the priest in question and an investigation has been opened. According to a Sept. 15 Vatican communique, “the Department of State of the United States of America notified the Secretariat of State, through diplomatic channels, of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington.” The priest was recalled and is currently in Vatican City. Information regarding the findings of the U.S. State Department was passed along to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, who opened an investigation “and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case.” The Vatican declined to identify the diplomat, or his nationality. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. State Department had asked the Vatican to lift the priest’s diplomatic immunity, but the request was denied. The possession of child pornography is considered a “canonical crime” in the Church, and in 2010 Benedict XVI added it to the list of “most grave delicts,” meaning crimes which are dealt with directly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and can result in dismissal from the clerical state.  This is a developing story. Updates will be made as details become available. Read more

Why this bishop thinks memes may just be the tool for evangelization today

Sydney, Australia, Sep 15, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Between the Harambe memes and quick explanations of Catholic doctrine on his Twitter page, Richard Umbers, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, says that online humor is about more than just the laughs. In fact, he says, Christian humor online can help to reach out to parts of our modern world that are in the process of secularization. This kind of online engagement – with a wink- plays into a larger need for Christians to engage in society and to promote a vision of Christian life. Bishop Umbers is quick to note in his Twitter bio that he is indeed an “actual person and a realbishop”, adopting the description given him by Tommy Tighe, the “Catholic Hipster”. <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”und” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://t.co/Dh88ZEjeuy”>pic.twitter.com/Dh88ZEjeuy</a></p>&mdash; Bishop Down Umber (@BishopUmbers) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BishopUmbers/status/906526961983356928″>September 9, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script> Whether in art, online culture, or political discussion, Christians should be giving an example of how to evangelize and to speak to the challenges society faces today. “You need the contemporary expression of Christian faith,” Bishop Umbers said of what the Church needs from its faithful today. The writings of Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis’ Laudato si’, can provide such a template for living an “alternative” lifestyle as a Christian, while also speaking to contemporary culture, he indicated. “You can promote a coherent alternative lifestyle, which is what Catholicism really is in our society.” Bishop Umbers was born and raised in New Zealand, joining the personal prelature of Opus Dei before moving to Sydney to finish his degrees in economics. After guidance from a mentor, he discerned a call to the priesthood, upon which he travelled to Rome and then to Spain to continue his studies. He was ordained a priest of the prelature in Spain in 2002. Fourteen years later, Umbers was consecrated a bishop, becoming in 2016 the youngest bishop in Australia, at the age of 45. Five or six years ago, he told CNA, he got his first Twitter account and started to use it regularly. In the past several years, he has used his twitter account to reach out on issues affecting Australian society – as well as to joke about a variety of topics: “You can have fun with memes.” Part of the reason he’s drawn to memes, Bishop Umbers said, is not only because they match his sense of humor, but because of his own limitations. “I have an artistic vision with zero talent,” he joked. More seriously, memes do indeed convey a message. Like political cartoons, which have spread powerful ideas and opinions for centuries, memes can also convey earnest information. The creation of a meme culture in online Catholic spaces, or use of other kinds of social media outreach can help reach out and participate in conversations. In fact, he said, people tend to take notice when a conversation is constructive, rather than a “flame war.” Also, he warned, any conversation can sometimes face the threat of miscommunication, or being “overly ironic.” Honesty and consideration can add balance to online evangelization. “I tell people all the time: be yourself,” Bishop Umbers said. He also advocated that Catholics online display their convictions, and even make “strong comments” – but also advised them consider what they say before they type. The bishop also urged that Catholics online have faith and conviction in their beliefs – especially if they dabble in memes or in online discussions. “[It] takes a certain confidence in your own faith,” he said of online participation and discussion. This confidence can even help bring out the humor of the whole situation. While throughout history “believers have always had a go” during important disagreements, poking fun at topics and laughing about the misunderstandings is “a lasting human tradition.” It’s this sense of conviction that Bishop Umbers hopes believers can bring to conversations happening not only online, but in the Archdiocese of Sydney. Australian society is currently experiencing “rapid secularization” and increasing “sectarianism”, he said, as issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia come to the center of Australian political debates. While more Catholics continue to identify as Catholic, as opposed to the shift to “non-religious” among other Christian groups, some Catholic institutions have remained quiet or even supported positions that fly in the face of Church teaching. “To stand up for Catholic teaching puts you, once again, on the margins”: Bishop Umbers explained that taking a counter-cultural position is likely to impact funding of Church programs as time goes on. The marginalization of traditional Christian beliefs, however, does not mean that people do not listen or that people do not take interest in the Church’s arguments. “You’re definitely not irrelevant,” he said of the Christian voice in the public square. Rather, he said, effective communication and coordination seem to be the major stumbling-block facing the Church in the Sydney area. “That’s where social media can play a big role,” Bishop Umbers offered. For example, he pointed to a successful social media campaign started by three young women which protested the expansion of abortion in the Australian state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital. The young pro-life advocates started a twitter hashtag that started to change the conversation surrounding abortion, and inspired local communities to get involved. “Because of them, there was a huge campaign across all the parishes to have people sign a petition.” More than 80,000 signed the petition, which eventually contributed to the bill’s defeat in parliament, the bishop said. The center of a successful online campaign like the one in New South Wales, or of a meme, or of any mode of evangelization, lies, at its core, in the truth, Bishop Umbers said. “Really it’s an expression of who you are, and I think that’s where evangelization comes from,” he said of online engagement. “It’s not a campaign. It is truly a sharing of your own convictions and your own thoughtfulness.” Read more

Pro-life groups to Senate Dems: Don’t eliminate Hyde Amendment

Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2017 / 04:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a Democratic senator boasted on Wednesday that his party’s Medicare bill would repeal the Hyde Amendment, pro-life groups are pushing back, stressing that the longstanding policy has saved lives. “This month marks the 41st anniversary of the Hyde Amendment and in that time it has been found that over 2 million lives have been saved,” said Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. “The senator might think we’d be better off without those people,” McClusky said, “however I know 2 million lives who would disagree and are thankful they aren’t targeted by Sen. Blumenthal.” On Wednesday, senators from both parties released dueling health care bills. Senate Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), introduced their proposal which would, among other things, repeal the Affordable Care Act and feature block grants to states to pay for health care coverage. Senate Democrats, led by 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2017, a single-payer proposal which would expand eligibility for Medicare to all Americans. During the press conference introducing the act, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the bill would protect women’s “reproductive rights” and would do away with the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing federal policy prohibiting tax dollars from paying for elective abortions. “I want to single out two groups of people. Number one, the women of America. They have been denied health care for too long because of restrictions like the Hyde Amendment,” Blumenthal said. “Consider the Hyde Amendment history if we pass Medicare for All, and all those other restrictions on reproductive rights,” he said. The Hyde Amendment was introduced in 1976 by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). It is not a law, but rather has been passed as a rider to budget legislation every year. As a policy that has been supported by members of both parties, it prohibits federal tax dollars from paying for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, reported on the Hyde Amendment on its 40th anniversary in 2016, and estimated that it had saved over 2 million lives by reducing the overall number of abortions. Using data from 20 different studies, the institute concluded that the policy resulted in at least 2 million more pregnancies carried to term – 60,000 per year – than there would have been if Medicaid dollars had subsidized abortions. However, during the 2016 election, Democrats called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment in their party’s platform. “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” the platform stated. “We will continue to oppose – and seek to overturn – federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.” Meanwhile, the Republican senators introducing their health care proposal on Wednesday claimed that it contains pro-life provisions, like stripping the leading abortion provider Planned Parenthood of any Medicaid reimbursements and ensuring that federal subsidies or tax credits don’t pay for abortion coverage in the insurance market. The Susan B. Anthony List, meanwhile, reserved its official judgment on the bill until it had reviewed the language. “SBA List will need time to review the language carefully to ensure that it will roll back taxpayer funding of abortion under Obamacare and re-direct abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s tax funding to community health centers,” the group said in a written statement.   Read more

Bishop urges prayer for victims of Washington school shooting

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2017 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane has urged Christians to pray for the victims of a Sept. 13 high school shooting, in which one student was killed and three others were hospitalized. “I would… Read more

US bishops urge care of refugees as Supreme Court allows Trump travel ban

Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2017 / 02:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to stand temporarily, the U.S. bishops’ conference sympathized with the refugees affected by the ban. “We were disappointed that those who were already assured and really all cleared and ready to come as refugees were not allowed to come during this period,” Matt Wilch of the Office of Migration and Refugee Services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told CNA. The application of the travel ban that was upheld by the court Sept. 12 would affect refugees who had received a “formal assurance” of resettlement from an agency in the U.S., probably numbering more than 20,000, Wilch said. These refugees would be currently unable to travel to the U.S. on that condition. That application of the travel restrictions in Trump’s executive order on immigration had been halted from going into effect in a recent decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In his March executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”, Trump had restricted travel to the U.S. from six countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria. Foreign nationals from those countries could not enter the U.S. for 90 days unless they had a special visa. In Hawaii’s challenge to the travel ban, the Hawaii district court issued a temporary injunction against enforcing the ban on refugees and immigrants with family members living in the U.S., including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, and brothers and sisters-in-law. The district court also issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of the travel ban on refugees who already had a “formal assurance” of placement in the U.S. from a resettlement agency. The Ninth Circuit court upheld that decision recently, saying that the travel ban could not be applied to refugees and immigrants in those cases. On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit on the latter application of the travel ban, to refugees who have a formal assurance from a resettlement agency that they could enter the U.S. Thus, that application of the ban is essentially allowed to stand as the court will consider Hawaii’s challenge to the travel ban, with oral arguments in the case scheduled for Oct. 10. Wilch said Tuesday’s ruling is “an interim kind of decision about who would be allowed in while the larger case was pending, so it’s not a final say on the issue.” However, the court did not touch the Ninth Circuit’s prohibition on the travel ban applying to those with family members in the U.S. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was pleased to hear that news, Wilch said. And the conference will be paying close attention to the overall case of the travel ban at the Supreme Court, he said. “As Catholics, as Christians, as Americans, welcoming refugees is in our DNA, and so we’re deeply concerned and watching it [the case] very closely,” Wilch said. “And we’re hopeful that the Supreme Court will come down with the decision that is consistent with American values, in terms of welcoming refugees.” Iraq was originally on Trump’s list of six countries from which travel was restricted. It was later reported that, as a condition of Iraq’s removal from the list, the U.S. would deport Iraqi nationals who had previous criminal records and had been given a final order of removal from a federal immigration judge. Many of the Iraqis, detained by ICE this summer, had resided in the U.S. for decades and were Chaldean Christians. In the March executive order, Trump also ordered a four-month shut-down of the U.S. refugee resettlement program and a review of the program’s security. He capped refugee admissions at 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, well short of the planned number of 110,000. Reports are circulating that Trump will further reduce the planned number of refugee admissions for the 2018 fiscal year. The U.S. bishops’ conference responded in a statement that they were “deeply concerned” by the news, and that they proposed an increase to 75,000 admissions for that year. “We think it’s really time to get back to the serious business of saving lives, and we urge the administration to have the total this coming year be 75,000,” Wilch told CNA on Thursday. Read more

Pope Francis: When it comes to evangelization, don’t be stuck in your ways

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2017 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with new bishops at the end of their training course at the Vatican, reminding them to be both humble in their work and open to better ways of evangelizing other than just “the way it’s always been.” “Discernment is a remedy for the immobility of ‘it has always been so’ or ‘we take time,’” the Pope said Sept. 14. “It’s a creative process that is not limited to the application of methods. It is an antidote against rigidity, because the same solutions are not good everywhere. Do not be imprisoned by the nostalgia of having only one answer to apply in all cases.” He continued, warning that to have an easy, one-size-fits-all answer might soothe our performance anxiety, but it threatens to make our lives “dried up.” Pope Francis spoke in an audience with participants in the annual training course for new bishops held in Rome and organized by the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation of Eastern Churches. He reminded them how important it is that they have humility, especially for the work of the Holy Spirit. “Remember that God was already present in your dioceses when you arrived and will still be there when you are gone,” he said. “And, in the end, we will all be measured not on the accounting of our works but on the growth of God’s work in the heart of the flock that we keep in the name of the ‘Shepherd and keeper of our souls’ (cf. 1 Pt. 2:25).” Discernment, the Pope continued, requires humility and obedience. “Humility with regard to your own projects.” “Obedience with regard to the Gospel, the ultimate standard; to the Magisterium, who guards it; to the norms of the universal Church, which serve it; and to the concrete situation of people,” who are looking to draw from the Church what will be most fruitful to their salvation,” he said. In achieving this, Francis encouraged the bishops to “cultivate an attitude of listening, growing in the freedom to give up your point of view (when it is partial and inadequate), to assume that of God.” Listening is necessary, because the bishop’s discernment is always a community action, he said, it does not disregard “the richness of the opinion of his priests and deacons, of the People of God, and of all those who can offer him a useful contribution” – even those which are more concrete than formal. Discernment is a gift of the Spirit to our Church, the Pope noted. So although bishops may have many personal responsibilities in their job, they are also called to live their own discernment “of Pastor as a member of the People of God, or in ever-ecclesial dynamics, at the service of the koinonìa,” the Christian community. “The bishop is not the self-sufficient ‘father’ and not even the frightened and isolated ‘Lone shepherd.’” This is why the bishop must be aware of the great gift, the “Spiritus Principalis” entrusted to him at his ordination, the Pope said. It is perhaps for this reason that the Church, in the episcopal consecration prayer, derived an expression from the Miserere in which the person praying, after exposing his failure, implores the Spirit to grant him immediate and spontaneous generosity in obedience to God, “so fundamental to those who lead a community.” “Discernment, therefore, is born in the heart and mind of the bishop through his prayer when he meets people and situations entrusted to him with the Divine Word pronounced by the Spirit,” he said. It is in the intimacy of prayer that a bishop grows his inner freedom to make good decisions, both in ecclesial and personal matters. “Only in the silence of prayer can one learn the voice of God, perceive the traces of his language, access his truth.” He explained that bishops and leaders in the church must strive to grow in the kind of discernment which dialogues with the faithful “in a patient and courageous accompanying process.” Then it can “mature the capacity of each – faithful, families, priests, communities, and societies – all called to advance in the freedom to choose and accomplish the good that God wants.” Because discernment isn’t just for the wise, clear-sighted, or perfect, he said. God often shows himself to the most humble, in fact. So true discernment, he continued, is an open and necessary process. It’s not about set formulas or repetition. “The Shepherd is called to make available to the flock the grace of the Spirit, who knows how to penetrate the folds of the real and to take account of its nuances to reveal what God wants to achieve at all times.” Read more

Australian bishops call for month of prayer ahead of same-sex marriage vote

Sydney, Australia, Sep 14, 2017 / 10:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At the start of a voter survey being conducted on same-sex marriage in Australia, the country’s bishops have called for a month of prayer and fasting for the strengthening of marriage a… Read more