[LIVE] Funeral Mass of Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation

Birmingham, Ala., Apr 1, 2016 / 09:40 am (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput presides over the Solemn Funeral Mass of Christian Burial for EWTN Foundress, Mother Angelica, live from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Al. Read more

Mother Angelica: A female powerhouse in a supposedly sexist Church

Birmingham, Ala., Mar 27, 2017 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- It was September 1987, and Pope John Paul II had just arrived in Los Angeles after traveling around the United States. The Pope was greeted in the City of Angels by a closed-door meeting with a group of progressive bishops who had a bone to pick with several Church traditions. One of four chosen representatives, Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, spoke to the pope about female ordination: “Women seek…(a church) that teaches and shows by example the co-discipleship of the sexes as instruments of God’s kingdom. They seek a church where the gifts of women are equally accepted and appreciated…where the feminine is no longer subordinate but seen in a holistic mutuality with the masculine as forming the full image of the Divine,” he said. Meanwhile in Alabama, a woman of the Church named Mother Angelica had just thrown her cable network, which reached more than 2 million homes at the time, into 24-hour coverage territory. During the 1987 papal trip, the EWTN Network took on the then-unprecedented task of live, unedited, constant coverage of the Holy Father’s visit. And when word reached the spunky nun of the Milwaukee bishop’s remarks to the Pope during the trip, she couldn’t help but chime in with her opinion. “Women in the priesthood, that’s just a power play, that’s ridiculous,” Mother Angelica said the next day.   “As it is women have more power in the Church than anybody. They built and run the schools. God has designed that men be priests, and we can’t afford to deny God his sovereign rights,” she said, as recalled in her biography by Raymond Arroyo. If anyone has any doubts as to whether ordination is necessary for leadership and influence in the Church, they need look no further than the media mogul nun herself to be proven wrong, said Catholic talk show host and media consultant Teresa Tomeo.   “Not only was she a prominent international media personality, because of her work on air and her great shows, but she was a foundress of a major religious network and she was a CEO of that network while being on the air, which is something that few women in the secular world accomplish,” Tomeo told CNA. “And here she is accomplishing this in the Catholic Church, which is supposedly so sexist and backward according to the world. She’s breaking barriers that these powerful women in secular media can’t even touch.” In 1981, at a time when women were still struggling for places of prominence in the world of broadcasting, Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation launched Eternal Word Television Network, which today transmits 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries. What began with approximately 20 employees has now grown to nearly 400. The religious network broadcasts terrestrial and shortwave radio around the world, operates a religious goods catalog and publishes the National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency, among other publishing ventures. She’s breaking barriers that these powerful women in secular media can’t even touch. Besides founding EWTN, Mother Angelica is also credited with building a monastery, a shrine, and establishing two religious orders. Mother Angelica passed away on March 27, 2016 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old. After her passing, the praises of Mother Angelica were sung from both the secular and Church media, with many recognizing her as a strong example of female leadership. In his tribute, John Allen of Crux wrote:   “Today there’s a great deal of ferment about how to promote leadership by women in the Church in ways that don’t involve ordination, a conversation Pope Francis himself has promoted. In a way, however, debating that question in the abstract seems silly, because we already have a classic, for-all-time example of female empowerment in Mother Angelica.” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, remembered her as a “devout believer and media pioneer” in a statement following her death. “Mother Angelica reflected the Gospel commission to go forth and make disciples of all nations, and like the best evangelists, she used the communications tools of her time to make this happen. She displayed a unique capacity for mission and showed the world once again the vital contribution of women religious,” he said. Her vigorous leadership and vision in a Church with all-male clergy came from her security in knowing her identity before God, Tomeo added. “Bottom line is that she knew who she was in Christ, she knew that she was designed in the image and likeness of God, that we’re male and female, we’re equal but we’re different,” she said. “And she knew that God has a special role for her, and that he chose her for a specific reason, and that you can do all things through Christ as St. Paul tells us.” Mother Angelica doesn’t stand alone in the line of formidable female figures in the Church, either, Tomeo noted. She succeeded other spiritual giants like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Catherine of Siena, and is joined by other women in the contemporary world, who are working to make a difference in the Church. For years to come, Mother Angelica will be remembered for her authenticity and punchy humor, and her ability to preach the Gospel with love, Tomeo added. “She was funny, she always gave me hope that no matter how many mistakes any of us make, God is always going to allow us to come home,” she said. “I think that we have just begun to unpack her wisdom. I think…for decades and centuries, she’s going to be seen as one of the greatest evangelists in America.”  This article was originally published April 1, 2016. Read more

The ‘boast’ of Mother Angelica was in Christ, not herself

Hanceville, Alabama, Mar 31, 2016 / 07:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The life of EWTN foundress Mother Angelica was a testament to St. Paul’s teaching that “God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,” preached the celebrant of ves… Read more

We asked and you answered: How Mother Angelica touched your lives

Irondale, Ala., Mar 31, 2016 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, founder of EWTN, passed away Easter Sunday after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old.Mother Angelica founded EWTN out of a garage in Alabama in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. Her work touched the lives of many people across the world. We asked our readers to share their stories of how Mother Angelica influenced them, and we were overwhelmed by the flood of responses. Here are just a few of the stories from our readers, edited for clarity:“I remember about seven years ago, I was suicidally depressed. I did not want to live, I could not even think of a reason to go on. Just utter blackness all around. I came across one of Mother Angelica’s books. She helped bring me out of the darkness with her firm faith, wisdom and love. It made all the difference and with the Virgin Mary’s help, I have a whole new life in Christ today. A solid joyful life! Thank you Mother Angelica!” “I was going through a difficult time physically (I became disabled with a chronic med problem), emotionally, and spiritually – I had lost my way and was floundering. Mostly in bed for many months, I began channel surfing and found EWTN. Mother Angelica began leading me back to the Church. EWTN is one of the main reasons I returned to the Church, and my faith has never been stronger. I went to Confession in 2009 for the first time in decades. I sponsored my son-in-law when he converted and my daughter finally made her confirmation – they were married in the Church after being married civilly for 10 years. My husband also returned after decades and my grandson made his Communion at the age of 10. I am so grateful to Mother and EWTN, and she has provided much inspiration via her books also. RIP Mother.” “My mom first saw Mother Angelica on TV in 1989 as she was flipping through the channels to find her soap operas. My mother would tell you that she felt compelled to watch because she hadn’t seen a nun in a habit in so long, and it rekindled in her the spark that helped our entire family become more faithfully practicing Catholics. I can honestly say that I don’t know who or where I would be today if it wasn’t for Mother Angelica, EWTN, and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration who prayed for me at my mother’s behest through many challenging years.” “I met her at EWTN, attending her show. After the show, my wife told her it was my birthday. She held my hands with such tenderness and said: ‘Oh it’s your birthday – Happy Birthday.’ She looked at me as if I was the only person in the room. I’ve never forgotten that experience.” “The Praying the Rosary devotion, it was either a Tuesday or a Friday and I turned on EWTN to watch the Sorrowful mysteries. That was a day that changed my life and that’s the day where I began a greater devotion to Our Lady.” “In the Spring of 2014, I was in a confused state of my life. My husband left our matrimonial home and without my knowing, he began another relationship in our country home, Nigeria. I was plunged into despair. But before my discovering this, I had the opportunity of hearing The Word, The Eternal Word from Mother and all of EWTN. Mother did not just teach me to forgive, trust and love until it hurts, she made me grow deeply in my faith every day. Today, though my husband is still in the wilderness, I have not stopped believing, and this is because of my love and dedication to our Catholic devotion preserved by Mother Angelica through this cable television network. I love Mother and everyone else God is using through this channel. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, Amen.” “When I was born again, I came back to the Church and got sober. I would often watch her on EWTN when I was anxious or depressed. I remember reciting the rosary along with her one night and gaining a great deal of strength and comfort. I also read a book of hers during that time. God rest her soul.” “My daughter wrote a letter to her when I had cancer, and drew a few yellow roses to her, and she answered back. It was a lovely surprise!” “In 2008, my twin daughters at 5 years old were taken by the state due to false allegations…. I was misrepresented. I couldn’t even function for a year. Everything was a blur as I had no control over my life or my children’s anymore. My mother had always prayed the rosary with Mother Angelica. I started praying again, two sometimes three times a day. Mother Angelica became my stronghold. I had no idea how important a role Christ and His Mother would play in my life. She brought me there. She helped me put my armour back on…My story is not over yet, but thank you Mother Angelica for your spirit, your determination, your insight. For bringing me back to the church. To Christ and His Mother. It’s been eight years and I am on the cusp to one child coming home permanently (she has cerebral palsy) and so far joint custody with the other. I just sent an email to Mother Angelica two weeks ago telling her how much my disabled daughter loves her. I hope she got it. She has been absolutely infatuated with her for a year now. She laughs with her and just listens with a big smile. We watch her together. God Bless you Mother Angelica. We love you so much. You are so loved and missed. You are Home.” “Ten years ago, I moved to Texas. It was a very hard move. As I was settling down, I turned on our T.V. and to my surprise I saw a Catholic channel! It was EWTN, and seeing this nun talking about Jesus’ love just took my heart and gave me so much understanding, and I fell in love with her cute personally. Mother Angelica pray for us.” “She was the coolest nun. When I was little, we would watch her on EWTN and I was so amazed that there was a nun with her own television show, an incredible sense of humor, and a true understanding of the Faith. An inspiration.”  Read more

Pope Francis sends vestments, financial aid to Iraqi Christians

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2016 / 01:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As a sign of affection and closeness, Pope Francis has decided to send vestments used in the liturgy and a financial donation to Christian refugees in Erbil through the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need. “Mercy invites us to bend over these brothers of ours in order to dry their tears, to heal their moral and physical wounds, and to console their afflicted and perhaps lost hearts,” the Pope said in a letter addressed to Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi. To do this, the Pope said, is not just “an act of proper charity, but a relief to your own body, because all Christians, by virtue of their shared baptism, are ‘one’ in Christ.” Bishop Cavina will be part of a delegation traveling to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, April 1-4 with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Other members of the delegation will include Bishop Antonio Suetta of Ventimiglia-San Remo, Fr. Massimo Fabbri in representation of the Archdiocese of Bologna, and Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN in Italy, who will serve as the group’s guide. In a March 23 article published on ACN’s website, Bishop Cavina said that as soon as Pope Francis heard about the delegation’s visit, he called expressing his desire “to send a gift to our brothers in the faith in Iraq.” This gift includes vestments and a personal financial donation, which the Pope will entrust to Bishop Cavina, who will then give it to the local Church when the delegation arrives. In his letter to the bishop, Francis said the trip is “an initiative which expresses friendship, ecclesial communion and closeness to many brothers and sisters, whose situation of affliction and tribulation pains me deeply and invites us to defend the inalienable right of every person to freely profess their faith.” The Pope invited delegation members not to forget “the drama of the persecution,” and added that the “courageous and patient witness” of Christians in Iraq “represents for the entire Church a call to rediscover the fruitful source of the Paschal Mystery from which energy, strength and light for a new humanism are drawn.” As part of their visit, the group will meet with Archbishop Youhanna Boutros Moshe of the Syriac Archeparchy of Mosul, who left the city when it was overrun by the Islamic State in June, 2014. They will also meet with the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, who will take them to refugee centers in a mainly Christian suburb of Erbil called Ankawa. Additionally, the group will stop by the village of Fr. Werenfried, named after the founder of ACN, where 175 Christian families are currently living. The trip will also include visits to ACN schools, which allow nearly 7,000 Iraqi refugee children to continue their education. Since 2014 ACN has donated more than 15.1 million euros ($17.2 million) to support Christian refugees and displaced persons in Iraq. The organization stepped up their efforts to offer support during Lent, when the Italian branch promoted six projects aimed at offering aid to the 250,000 Christians still in Iraq. The dioceses of Carpi and Ventimiglia-San Remo have also joined the effort, offering their own donations. Read more

FDA’s abortion pill expansion targets babies up to 10 weeks into pregnancy

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2016 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday expanded its recommended use of the abortion drug mifepristone, drawing criticism from pro-life advocates who say it is harmful for women and their unborn babies, who may now be chemically aborted up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. Mifepristone is combined with the drug misoprostol to induce an abortion. The FDA’s March 30 policy change will allow the drug to be used up to 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven. “The FDA has bowed to pressure from drug companies and abortion advocates, but the ones who will feel the deplorable effects of this change will be the women sent home to endure a painful and shocking process by themselves and of course their babies,” Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a physician and advisory board member with The Catholic Association, said March 31. Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor at The Catholic Association, also criticized the determination. “Anyone who approves of the FDA’s decision to extend at-home medical abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy should consult WebMD’s description of the 10 week old baby a woman will encounter as the abortion proceeds,” she said. That description reads: “Your baby is still small but looks and acts like a baby. Arms and legs are longer and can bend at the elbows and knees.” Abortion providers and pro-abortion rights advocates welcomed the FDA decision. Opponents of the drug cited the FDA’s summary of its reported adverse effects. Between September 2000 and April 2011, 14 women died from the drug, more than 600 were hospitalized, and 58 women had ectopic pregnancies because of it. The Guttmacher Institute, a research center with historical connections to abortion provider Planned Parenthood, has estimated that medication-induced abortions made up as much as 25 percent of all abortions in 2011. The new instructions also allow lower dosages (200mg rather than 600mg) and fewer doctor visits (two rather than three) for women who use the drug, the New York Times reports. It has been suggested that the lower dose may have fewer side effects. In recent years, doctors who prescribed the abortion drug often did not follow the FDA’s instructions for it, saying new evidence justified “off-label” use. Some states have passed laws requiring doctors to prescribe the drug according to the FDA label instructions. U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) strongly criticized the decision. “Not only is mifepristone used to kill babies, it is a poison that has harmed and even killed women,” he said. He charged that the decision would put the health and lives of women and children at risk. “At the behest of the abortion industry, the Obama Administration has extended the use of the drug to 10 weeks of pregnancy,” he said March 30. “Abortion advocates today are celebrating FDA’s expansion of ‘medication abortion,’ but women who have suffered the trauma of a mifepristone abortion know that it is not ‘medication’– this chemical poison is not designed to heal, or cure, or mitigate pain.” Smith said mifepristone has controversial origins. President Bill Clinton, in his first years in office, ordered the FDA to re-evaluate the drug’s status. When drug manufacturers refused to bring the drug to the United States, the influential NGO the Population Council licensed the drug. According to Smith, abortion proponents created the company Danco for the sole purpose of distributing the drug in the U.S. He charged that the drug’s approval was pushed through in 2000 at the close of the Clinton administration under strong political pressure.   Read more

Padre Pio inspires help for homeless veterans in Maryland

Baltimore, Md., Mar 31, 2016 / 11:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- St. Padre Pio’s spiritual life inspired many veterans of the Second World War – and now, his example has helped inspire support for homeless veterans in Maryland. “Wherever th… Read more

Pope Francis’ post-synod doc to be released April 8

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2016 / 04:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis’ highly anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the gifts and challenges of family life will be published April 8. Titled “A… Read more

The story of a loving father who was killed for resisting the Nazis

Denver, Colo., Mar 31, 2016 / 03:04 am (Denver Catholic).- One theme unifies the stories of all the saints: Christians are never alone. Even in the most isolated circumstances, saints have a profound union with God. This principle is demonstrated by the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter, a father and martyr during the Nazi occupation of Austria.A peasant background Franz was no St. Therese. He was the illegitimate child of a maidservant in a tiny village in Upper Austria. His mother married when Franz was 10. Franz was a wild child. He was a womanizer, and even had a daughter born out of wedlock. Gordan Zahn, whose book In Solitary Witness is the definitive work on Jagerstatter’s life, discovered that Jagerstatter was exiled from his community for several years, during which time he stopped attending Mass. However, Jagerstatter received a passable education in the village’s one-room school schoolhouse before becoming a farmer. Then he met his wife.Marriage transformed him He married Franziska Schwaninger on Holy Thursday 1936. On their honeymoon, they received a blessing from Pope Pius XI. Franziska’s effect on her husband was subtle but persistent. Jagerstatter became the sexton of the village church, meaning he assisted at all the liturgies and maintained the building. This led to him becoming a daily communicant. He began to memorize the Bible and learn the lives of the saints. In fact, he once told his wife, “I could have never imagined that being married could be so wonderful.”Road to martyrdom Jagerstatter and Franziska had three girls together, and remained close to his other daughter. In 1938, around the time their eldest daughter was born, Germans invaded Austria. The Catholic Church in Austria had warned against Nazi socialism for years. Catholics in Germany were facing severe restrictions, including the prohibition of Mass outside of Sundays, even for the holiest solemnities and feast days. Jagerstatter’s own pastor had been jailed for delivering an anti-Nazi sermon. His bishop had dictated an anti-Nazi letter to be read in all the parishes several years earlier. That same bishop would declare, “It is impossible to be both a good Catholic and a true Nazi.” He was later replaced with a bishop who spoke more cautiously. The same pope who had blessed Jagerstatter’s marriage, Pius XI, in 1937 published the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, on the strained relations between the Church and Nazi Germany. Buoyed by these witnesses, Jagerstatter was still the only person in his whole town to disavow Anschluss, or the German annexation of Austria. He was dismayed to see many Catholics support the Nazis. One cardinal even demanded that all parishes fly the Nazi flag from their churches on Hitler’s birthday. “I believe there could scarcely be a sadder hour for the true Christian faith in our country,” he wrote. The prevailing idea at the time was that a peasant layman should do what his country told him to do. By this obedience, the people who made the decisions, and not the peasant, would hold moral responsibility for the actions. But Franz couldn’t reconcile that worldview with the fact that he had free will, and that he could not call himself a disciple if he bowed that will to a movement he viewed as satanic. He would not fight for the Nazis. At first it seemed that being a farmer would keep him from fighting–Germany’s massive army required equally massive amounts of food. Unfortunately, in 1943 the need for fighters grew, and Jagerstatter was called to active duty. He went to the induction center, where he announced that he would not fight. He was summarily carted to the military prison at Linz to learn his fate. “I am convinced it is best that I speak the truth, even if it costs me my life,” he wrote.Saints have saints for friends Friends, family and even the local bishop visited Jagerstatter in prison, trying to convince him to fight. None of these visitors gave him a convincing argument against his moral convictions about conscientious objection. Instead, they all tried to convince him that God would not hold him accountable for doing what his state ordered. Jagerstatter was unconvinced. “Since the death of Christ, almost every century has seen the persecution of Christians; there have always been heroes and martyrs who gave their lives — often in horrible ways — for Christ and their faith. If we hope to reach our goal someday, then we, too, must become heroes of the faith,” he said. His wife accepted his need to follow his conscience. He was also part of a movement of Catholic martyrs who gave their life to fight the Nazis. St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) had died the previous August in Auschwitz, almost a year to the day after St. Maximillian Kolbe. Blessed Marcel Callo was just beginning the undercover Catholic activities in his forced labor camp that would eventually lead to his 1945 martyrdom for being “too Catholic.” Most impressively, Jagerstatter spent May to August of 1943 in the same prison as the renowned Lutheran pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There is not evidence that the two men ever met, or even realized they shared a prison with someone so similar in conviction. Jagerstatter was able to learn, though, of a priest who had been martyred in the same prison for the exact reasons he and so many others shared. That conviction ultimately cost him his life. He was taken to Berlin, where he was sentenced to death for sedition. His last recorded words before he met the guillotine are, “I am completely bound in inner union with the Lord.” The Church agreed. During Vatican II, Jagerstatter’s life helped shape the section of Gaudium et spes that talks about conscientious objectors to war. He was beatified 50 years after his death. His daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren attended the ceremony.  This article first appeared in the Denver Catholic. Read more

Women are drivers of peace and development, Vatican rep tells UN

New York City, N.Y., Mar 31, 2016 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See paid homage to all women and girls who have selflessly served others in education, healthcare, and forming the youth and upheld the four Missionaries of Charity murdered in Yem… Read more