Santiago, Chile, May 28, 2016 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of 61 cloistered nuns from six monasteries in Santiago, Chile made an historic visit to the local Women’s Prison Center to spend time with the inmates and attend Mass with them. “I don’t know if in the 400 years of the history of Santiago, there has been another occasion when contemplative sisters from several monasteries joined together to celebrate the Eucharist with a group of women who are incarcerated, but who are sisters in the faith,” said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who celebrated the Mass. The nuns made the trip to the facility on May 23 to mark the Jubilee of Consecrated Life as part of Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy. Cardinal Ezzati said that the nuns made the request to visit with the inmates “so the sisters who contemplate the face of God every day in prayer could contemplate him in the face of people who are suffering, going through a hard time in their lives.” “The dear cloistered nuns are the city’s uplifted arms to intercede before God for all of us, especially those who are suffering the most,” he said. After the Mass, the religious sang a traditional Chilean song to honor the Virgin Mary, and to everyone’s surprise, four of them got up to dance. They then went to the prison courtyard where they continued visiting with the inmates. For Sister Maria Rosa of the Discalced Carmelites from the San José monastery, the day was “a grace to share with them, to really feel like a sister with them, to feel their sorrow, their joy and to become one with them.” “It strikes me that this encounter would be on the feast of the Holy Trinity. That means that God dwells in every soul,” she told the archdiocesan communications office. Railín, one of the inmates, said that “it was good that they came and prayed for us. The sisters and bishops coming helped support us, we need a lot of people to come and see us.” Ana Chacón, another inmate, said that the religious “ give us the spirit of the Lord,  it’s a blessing to have them here. Seeing the dear cloistered nuns doing the traditional dance and swinging the kerchiefs was something new.” Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy runs from December 2015 to November of 2016, with the aim of encouraging Catholics to experience God’s mercy – both in the Sacrament of Confession and being concrete signs of this mercy in charitable work.   Monjas de clausura visitan cárcel en Chile. Fotos @Iglesiastgo — ACI Prensa (@aciprensa) May 23, 2016 Read more

Vatican City, May 28, 2016 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The story of a young migrant girl who drowned at sea was at the heart of Pope Francis’ address to some 400 children who on Saturday had traveled to the Vatican from the southern Italian region of Calabria. Speaking off the cuff to the children who had arrived by the “Treno per Bambini” – “Children’s Train” – and who represented various religions, cultures, and ethnicities, the Pope asked them to come up with a name for the unknown girl. “Let us think of this little girl: what was her name? I do not know: a little girl with no name,” the pontiff said, according to Vatican Radio’s translation. “Each of you give her the name you would like, each in his heart. She is in heaven, she is looking on us.” Pope Francis told the story of the little girl as it was recounted to him by a rescue worker who had attempted to save the child, only to succeed in saving her lifejacket. “He brought me this jacket,” the pontiff said, showing the life jacket to the children, “and with tears in his eyes he said to me, ‘Father, I couldn’t do it – there was a little girl on the waves, and I did all I could, but I couldn’t save her: only her life vest was left.’” “I do not (tell you this because I) want you to be sad, but (because) you are brave and you (should) know the truth: they are in danger –  many boys and girls, small children, men, women – they are in danger,” he said. The annual “Treno per Bambini,” which brings a group of young boys and girls, is an initiative of the Pontifical Council of Culture. The theme of this year’s event is “Carried by waves,” which is meant to evoke the image of both danger and hope experienced by migrants, reports Vatican Radio. Among the initiatives involved in the event are the John XXIII Association, and the “Quattrocanti” Children’s Orchestra of Palermo, which brings together boys and girls of eight different ethnicities. The principal of a school in Vibo Marina, Mary Salvia, brought with her to the At the May 28 event Vatican money which had been collected by the school for the children of Lesbos, along with a letter signed by her students. “We children promise that we will welcome anyone who arrives in our country,” said the letter, which was read to Pope Francis by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture: “we shall never consider anyone who has a different skin color, or who speaks a different language, or who professes a different religion from ours, a dangerous enemy.” During the Saturday afternoon encounter with the pontiff, one of the children asked what it means “to be Pope.” He responded: ( do) the good that I can do.” “I feel that Jesus called me to this: Jesus wanted me to be a Christian, and a Christian must do (the good he can),” he said; “and Jesus also wanted me to be a priest, and a bishop – and a priest and a bishop must do (the good they can); I feel that Jesus is calling me to do this – that’s what I feel.” Read more

Vatican City, May 28, 2016 / 06:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, Pope Francis met with the president of the Republic of Singapore, marking 35 years of diplomatic relations between the Southeast Asian country and the Holy See, and the first ever state visit by a Singaporean president to a Pope. During the visit, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and the pontiff addressed topics relating to “the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue for the promotion of human rights, stability, justice and peace in south-east Asia,” according to a statement by the Holy See press office. The “cordial discussion” also addressed the “good relations between the Holy See and Singapore,” and the “collaboration between the Church and the State, especially in the educational and social fields,” the statement continues. After the meeting, Pope Francis gave President Tan a medal of peace, explaining how government is about bringing people together. The Pope then presented a copy of his encyclical Laudato, Si’ to the president, who in turn thanked the pontiff for speaking out about climate change, saying: “it is a big problem.” The president for his part gave the pontiff an etching of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay nature park, and a book of about the country’s exotic flowers. President Tan also met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, along with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States. The May 28 meeting at the Vatican comes at the final leg of the president’s week-long State Visit, during which he stopped in Rome and Venice. Diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Holy See officially began June 24, 1981 under the pontificate of St. John Paul II. Since 1965, Singapore has also had relations with Italy, one of the first countries to recognize its status of independence. Read more

Erbil, Iraq, May 28, 2016 / 05:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, the first of three rounds of displaced Iraqi children made their First Communion in a refugee camp in Erbil, providing a silver lining to an otherwise bleak situation. Out of the 5,500 … Read more

Bergamo, Italy, May 27, 2016 / 03:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Loris Capovilla, St. John XXIII’s personal secretary, died May 26 at the age of 100. He had been the closest collaborator of the sainted “Good Pope John” for ten years.   Pope Francis sent his condolences in a telegram to Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo. He said that Cardinal Capovilla “witnessed the Gospel with joy and served the Gospel with docility, first in the Diocese of Venice, and later with careful affection at the end of John XXIII’s life.” He called the cardinal “a zealous guardian and sound interpreter” of St. John XXIII’s memory. Capovilla’s long-term service turned into a lifelong commitment when John XXIII left all of his papers to his faithful secretary. Pope Francis named Archbishop Capovilla a cardinal during the Feb. 22, 2014 consistory on the eve of John XXIII’s canonization. The cardinal lived in the Diocese of Bergamo. Cardinal Capovilla recently became sick due to age and had to be transferred to the Beato Palazzolo Clinic of Bergamo. When Pope Francis heard this, he made a May 16 phone call to the hospital to speak with the secretary of his predecessor.   Senator Marco Beato, an Italian MP who was a very good friend of the cardinal, was present with the ailing man. “Fr. Loris could not talk anymore, but when he recognized the voice of the Pope, his face brightened. He had just enough strength to thank the Pope,” Beato told L’Eco di Bergamo, the Bergamo diocese’s newspaper.   Cardinal Capovilla’s story at the side of John XXIII starts in 1953.   Since 1940 he had been a priest of the Patriarchate of Venice and editor-in-chief of its magazine La Voce di San Marco. When he was appointed Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli chose the priest as his personal secretary.   Cardinal Capovilla recounted how he was chosen for the position in a conversation with Fr. Ezio Bolis, director of the John XXIII Foundation, published in the book Loris F. Capovilla: I miei anni con Papa Giovanni XXIII. Roncalli’s choice of personal secretary drew concern from Msgr. Erminio Macacek, the vicar of Venice. He told the future Pope: “Your eminence, he is a good priest, he is good, but he is not very healthy. He will not live for long.” And Roncalli immediately replied: “Well, if he is not healthy, he will come with me and will die with me.”   These concerns for his health proved unfounded. Cardinal Capovilla died five months shy of his 101st birthday. He was born Oct. 14, 1915 in Pontelongo in the province of Padua. After the death of his father, Capovilla moved to the Mestre municipality of Venice in 1929. He was ordained a priest in Venice on May 23, 1940, which fell on the Feast of Corpus Christi. By coincidence, the cardinal passed away on the same feast.   After his ordination, the cardinal worked in various positions in the diocese: in parishes, in the Curia, at schools, and in hospitals. He worked with Catholic Action was an assistant for minor inmates in prison. During the Second World War, he saved the lives of 10 Italian pilots who were chased by the Germans. For this reason was awarded with the Italian War Merit Cross.   He would spend ten years as Cardinal Roncalli’s personal secretary. Cardinal Capovilla is considered to be behind some of the most groundbreaking episodes of St. John XXIII’s life. He encouraged the Pope’s meeting with Jules Isaac, a French historian and Jew whose family was taken to Auschwitz. The meeting provided an example of Catholic-Jewish friendship. The encounter between Isaac and John XXIII is the seed which blossomed into the Second Vatican Council declaration Nostra aetate on the relations of the Church with non-Christian religions.   Then a Nov. 23, 1962 letter to then-Msgr. Capovilla from Cardinal Pietro Pavan suggested that an encyclical be drafted. This encyclical would be published in April 1963 as Pacem In Terris.   After St. John XXIII’s death on June 3, 1963, Msgr. Capovilla stayed in the Vatican for four more years in the service of Bl. Paul VI. He was then appointed Archbishop of Chieti in 1967, and in 1971 prelate of the Pontifical Shrine of Loreto.   In 1989, he retired in Sotto il Monte, John XXIII’s hometown, where he kept the late Pope’s memory alive. Cardinal Capovilla curated many of St. John XXIII’s writings. These include his memoir and diaries titled: “The heart and mind of John XXIII.” Read more

Vatican City, May 27, 2016 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When Pope Francis met with the Sons of Divine Providence – also known as the Orionine Fathers – on Friday, he urged them to be faithful to the charism of their founder, St. Luigi Orione. So what is this charism? “Don Orione recommended that you ‘seek out and treat the wounds of the people, cure their infirmities, and reach out to them morally and materially: in this way your action would be not only effective, but profoundly Christian and saving,’” Pope Francis reminded the Orionines May 27 at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall. The Orionines are gathered in rome for their 14th General Chapter, at which they elected a new superior general, Father Tarcisio Vieira. The Sons of Divine Providence were founded by St. Luigi Orione in 1893, while he was still a seminarian. St. Orione was born in Italy in 1872, and he was a student at the Valdocco Oratory in Turin, which was operated by St. John Bosco. His motto was “do good to all; harm no one.” When he entered the seminary, St. Orione was inspired by the work of the Salesians, and decided to found his own oratory to educated the poor boys of Tortona. The next year, 1893, he began a boarding school for orphans, from which his religious congregation grew. He was ordained a priest in 1895, and seminarians and priests were gathering around him to form what would become the Sons of Divine Providence. The order was given canonical approval by Bishop Igino Bandi of Tortona in 1903. Their work expanded to operating schools, boarding houses, agricultural schools, and charitable and welfare works across Italy, with several associated congregations being founded, as well. The order expanded to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Palestine, Poland, Rhodes, the United States, England, and Albania, before St. Orione’s death in 1940. He was canonized in 2004. There are now approximately 1,000 Orionine priests and brothers serving the poor in 32 countries around the world. “We are all on our way in following Jesus,” Pope Francis told the members of the congregation who were present at the general chapter. “The whole Church is called to follow with Jesus the paths of the world to encounter today’s humanity which is in need, as Don Orione wrote, of ‘the bread of the body and the divine balsam of faith’. He recalled that St. Orione called them to be “servants of Christ and of the poor,” and that their path in doing this must “always unite the two dimension of your life: the personal and the apostolic.” “You have been called and consecrated by God to remain with Jesus and to serve him in the poor and the excluded of society. In them, you touch and serve the body of Christ and grow in union with him,  always keeping watch to ensure faith does not become ideology, charity is not reduced to philanthropy, and the Church does not end up as an NGO.” The Pope told the Sons of Divine Providence that their being servants of Christ “qualifies all you are and all you do, guaranteeing your apostolic effectiveness and rendering fruitful your service.” He brought up St. Orione’s commendation that his community treat the wounds of the people, saying that “I encourage you to follow these directions, which are very true!” “In this way, you will not only imitate Jesus the Good Samaritan, but you will also offer to the people the joy of encountering Jesus and the salvation he brings to all.” Pope Francis reminded the Orionines that “the proclamation of the Gospel, especially in our times, requires great love for the Lord, together with particular initiative. I have heard that while the Founder was still alive, in some places they called you ‘the running priests’, because they always saw you on the move, amid the people, with the rapid pace of those who care.” “With Don Orione, I too exhort you not to remain enclosed within your particular environment, but to ‘go out’. There is a great need for priests and religious who do not stay only in their institutions of charity – necessary though they may be – but who also know how to take to all places, even the most distant, the perfume of Christ’s charity.” He urged them, “Never lose sight of the Church, or of your religious community; rather, your heart must be there in your ‘cenacle’, but then you must go out to bring God’s mercy to all, without distinction.” The Pope told the Orionines that “your service to the Church will be more effective the more you apply yourselves to care for your personal closeness to Christ and to your spiritual formation. Bearing witness to the beauty of consecration, the good life of religious ‘servants of Christ and of the poor’, you will set an example to the young. Life generates life, and the holy and content religious inspires new vocations.” Read more

Washington D.C., May 27, 2016 / 06:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious liberty was among the primary concerns that ultimately defeated controversial legislation aimed at enforcing a 2014 LGBT executive order twice this week. If passed, the amendments co… Read more

Washington D.C., May 27, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Earlier this month, a report from Gizmodo dropped the equivalent of a social media bomb – several former Facebook employees said the company routinely suppressed conservative news in the social media giant’s “trending news” section. These former Facebook news curators said they were sometimes instructed to insert stories into the “trending” section that had not earned enough attention to be a trending topic, or that they had the freedom to “blacklist” topics that they didn’t want to appear in the section, meaning that the section was not organically curated by the interests of other Facebook users, contrary to popular thought. And since the majority of news curators at Facebook are 20 and 30-something Ivy League graduates who skew left-of-center politically: “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” one former curator told Gizmodo. Although the former curators did not say whether or not the social media network also suppressed news from religious outlets and or with religious topics, some Catholic leaders think that faith groups could have been inadvertently targeted in the news selection process. Ashley McGuire, a Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association, said the news is troubling because people’s religious beliefs often inform their political views. “Seeing as faith certainly informs the political views of many, Facebook’s censorship will have religious implications for sure,” she told CNA. And because the alleged censorship targeted conservative news, it may have also targeted religious news. The Republican party skews not just right of center, but more religious: a recent Gallup study of more than 17,000 Republicans found that overall, 50 percent of the GOP identify themselves as highly religious, which is above the national average of 40 percent. While a 2015 study from Pew Research Center shows that among the left-leaning Democratic party, more party members than ever describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, representing a larger share of Democratic voters than any other religious denomination. “Imagine all the Christians whose faith informs their pro-life views, for example, and their passion for the issue,” McQuire said. “Have those voices been deleted or pushed out of sight?” It’s possible. When it comes to abortion, a pro-life view is more widely held by Republicans and conservatives than by their left-leaning counterparts: 59 percent of Republicans say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 70 percent of Democrats say abortion should be legal in at least most cases. “Pope Francis reminds us that, ‘Politics according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good,’” McQuire said. “Religion plays an important role in politics, and in censoring half of Americans, Facebook is also in a sense, censoring out the religious beliefs that inform their politics.”   When the news broke of the biased trending topics, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other leadership in the company scrambled to deal with the fallout, which included the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee (which has jurisdiction over media and consumer protection issues, and internet communication) sending a letter to Zuckerberg, demanding answers to their questions about the site’s news selection process. Zuckerburg announced that he would be meeting with conservative politicians and leaders to listen to their questions and concerns. The company also announced on Monday of this week, after meeting with Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee John Thune, that although an internal probe of the website’s news selection process could not prove the alleged liberal bias, it was nevertheless making changes to the way trending topics are selected. In a blog post, the social media network explained that these changes would include the elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures. “…suppressing political content or preventing people from seeing what matters most to them is directly contrary to our mission and our business objectives and the allegations troubled us deeply,” Colin Stretch, Facebook general counsel, wrote in the post. “We are proud of the platform and community we have created, and it is important to us that Facebook continues to be a platform for all ideas.” Christopher White is the Director of CatholicVoices in the U.S., an organization that provides media training for Catholics through workshops, trainings, and media consulting. White said the he had not personally experienced or noticed a liberal or political bias on Facebook, and said that he would remind Catholics that social media is still one of the best ways to engage in the New Evangelization. “Just think about Pope Francis, who is the most popular figure on Twitter and Instagram,” White said. “Those aren’t just press plays, they’re actual message-sharing devices, and I think that’s something that we can celebrate. As Catholics we can use these platforms as a means to witness and to share what is and should be the joy that we have as Catholics,” he said. The media can also play an important role by holding the Church accountable, White noted, such as in the case of the sex abuse scandal uncovered by reporters from The Boston Globe. “One of the things that many commentators were quick to say (after the sex abuse scandal) is that the media did the Church a great service, and so there are times in which the media is really an ally for us, and they have a right to keep us accountable,” White said. However, White added, Catholics also have a duty to speak up when the Church is inaccurately or falsely misrepresented, and the media has a duty to remain an open marketplace of ideas. “These (social networks) are, in a sense, marketplaces in a sense for an exchange of ideas,” he said. “And no one should be targeted – conservative, progressive, Christian or secular – no individual group should be targeted.”Photo credit: Read more

Geneva, Switzerland, May 27, 2016 / 12:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has voiced support for global health care goals and has said that Catholic institutions are committed to combating problems like communicable diseases. “The Holy See dele… Read more

Manila, Philippines, May 26, 2016 / 04:25 pm (CNA).- The president-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, recently described the country’s bishops as corrupt and “sons of whores” for allegedly resorting to seeking favors from politicians. During a May 20 press conference, the president-elect described the Catholic Church as “the most hypocritical institution” and insulted the Filipino bishops: “You sons of whores, aren’t you ashamed? You ask for so many favors, even from me.” It is estimated that more than 80% of Filipinos are part of the Catholic Church. Duterte won 38.5 percent of the vote for president of the Philippines, which was held May 9. While the nation’s congress has not yet declared the result official, his lead is unassailable. Currently mayor of Davao City, Duterte has built his political image as a tough leader. Nicknamed  “the Punisher” by Time Magazine, Duterte brought law and order to Davao – known in the ’70s and ’80s as the murder capital of the country – with drastic measures which included, according to various human rights organizations, allowing death squads to operate. He has served as mayor of Davao since 1988, except a three-year period when he was term-limited, and another three-year period when he served as vice mayor, while his daughter Sara was mayor. During the election campaign, the Church in the Philippines expressed its opposition to several of Duterte’s proposals, such as re-instituting the death penalty. Duterte admitted to cursing Pope Francis during his January 2015 visit to the Philippines, because he was upset by the traffic jams caused by the Roman Pontiff. According to the president-elect himself, he said at that time, “Pope, you son of a whore, go home, don’t visit us again.” Duterte said he met with the Archbishop of Davao in December 2015, where he was admonished for his habit of cursing, and lectured on Christian values. He claimed he would curse less, and donate 1,000 Philippine pesos ($21) to Caritas Davao each time he did. Within hours of his attacks on the Filipino bishops, Duterte announced a call for a three-child policy across the Philippines. “I only want three children for every family,” Duterte said May 21. “I’m a Christian, but I’m a realist so we have to do something about our overpopulation. I will defy the opinion or belief of the Church.” He was a supporter of the Reproductive Health Law passed in 2012, and has been supportive of LGBT initiatives in Davao. He has stated his opposition to abortion, however. Duterte, who was raised Catholic, says he has ceased going to Mass and that he could not be both mayor and a good Catholic: “If I obey the Ten Commandments or listen to priests, I would not be able to do anything as a mayor,” he said in January.According to the BBC, Duterte “has promised to continue his tough stance as president, but has offered few specific policies.” Duterte won the Filipino election despite his incendiary comments. He has openly admitted to being a womanizer, and vowed to execute large numbers of criminals and dump their bodies in Manila Bay. And while campaining in April he commented on the 1989 rape and murder of a Protestant missionary from Australia, which had taken place in Davao, saying: “Was I mad because she was raped? Yes, that’s one of the reasons. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first.” After Duterte’s inflammatory comments about the Church, the Archdiocese of Davao responded by saying that it “respects and listens with humility to the views and statements of our incoming President Rodrigo Roa Duterte about the Church, including those that may be difficult to accept and things that may be contrary to our teachings,” according to GMA News, a Filipino television network. Msgr. Paul Cuison, the Davo archdiocese’s spokesman, also said that the archdiocese has “always maintained a peaceful relationship with him and our doors are always open to him,” and added that “we are one with the people of Davao in acknowledging all the good things that he has done especially to the poor and the marginalized.” But Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lingayen-Dagupan, responded to Duterte’s claims of hypocrisy in the Church by asking for evidence. “He should say who did something, what was committed and where we can get evidence … He really should expose those sins because the Church will not just accept it. The Church has laws against such sins along with proper punishments,” Archbishop Cruz said, according to The Standard of Manila. Duterte will be sworn into office June 30 for a six-year term as president. Read more

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