Could this save Catholic marriage prep?

Washington D.C., May 22, 2016 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With high divorce rates among Catholic couples – and marriage rates plummeting among millennials – Church leaders are scrambling to address the problem.   But long before Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation on “The Joy of Love” was written, one marriage prep ministry was already putting the Holy Father’s message into practice. The U.S.-based Witness to Love marriage prep ministry seeks to challenge engaged couples to a greater and more fulfilling life of virtue through an intensive, multi-faceted program. It’s something that’s called for distinctly in the Pope’s document when he says that “marriage preparation aimed at giving couples a genuine experience of participation in ecclesial life and a complete introduction to various aspects of family life.” However, tough conversations about an engaged couple’s spiritual situation often fail to happen in marriage prep. “In most marriage preparation, we don’t expect them (couples) to accept the challenge, and we don’t give them the challenge,” Mary Rose Verret, founder of Witness to Love, told CNA in an interview. Verret and her husband realized that many Catholic couples – even those who were receiving marriage prep – saw their marriages fall apart. “Most of us in marriage prep have lost hope,” she admitted. But couples, she said, “are capable of great things.” The Witness to Love marriage prep ministry is intensive. It involves engaged couples working with a priest or deacon who catechizes them and a “mentor couple” at the parish who befriends them. Thus, they not only receive the basic teaching on the sacrament, but they are invited into a deeper participation in the life of the Church through the friendship and witness of their married “mentors.” Pope Francis noted a need for stronger marriage preparation in “Amoris Laetitia.” He wrote that “learning to love someone does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage.” He added that catechesis must continue after a couple’s marriage, and shouldn’t stop when they make their vows. Witness to Love, founded in 2012, seeks to do just this, to invite couples to be fully involved in a parish and not simply to disappear from the church once they have said their vows, as is all too common today. Most couples don’t get married at their current parish, Verret noted, which means that priests and wedding coordinators at the parish venue might not know the couple at all. There might only be a pre-nuptial inquiry and a confirmation of the baptismal certificates of the man and woman without any significant investigation into the emotional and spiritual health of the couple. Consequently, many couples are “falling between the cracks,” Verret said, and when they encounter marital difficulties they were not prepared for, they may have no one in their parish to turn to. Through interviewing hundreds of couples before they began their ministry, Verret and her husband Ryan realized that many Catholic couples who were even receiving marriage prep saw their marriages fall apart. “Amoris Laetitia” instructs Catholics to “find the right language” and “invite” couples “to take up the challenge (of marriage) with enthusiasm and courage.” So the Verrets realized that friendship is the answer so many couples need when preparing for marriage.   A couple, at the beginning of Witness to Love marriage prep, is asked to pick a “mentor couple,” a married couple they admire and look up to, to accompany them as friends not only through the engagement but into their own marriage. The mentor couple is then trained by parish staff or volunteers to ensure they are up to the task. By friendship with this married couple, an engaged couple has both a good example and a mentor they can confide in. “The only way we’re going to be able to offer true accompaniment,” Verret said, “is if there’s someone already involved in the process before the wedding.” Someone “who’s been formed, who’s been coached, who’s been growing in virtue with (the couple), who’s been connecting them to the parish, and then prior to the wedding there’s an invitation to parish life, invitation to small groups, a follow-up after the wedding where both of those couples are invited into small groups together.” Many couples who otherwise might have faded away from active participation in the church after their wedding now have a connection to the Church through their new friends. And, Verret noted, they have someone experienced to talk to when they encounter difficulties early in their marriage. “Amoris Laetitia” affirms the very practice of mentor couples: “With the help of missionary families, the couple’s own families and a variety of pastoral resources, ways should also be found to offer a remote preparation that, by example and good advice, can help their love to grow and mature.” It is “equally beneficial” for both parties, Verret said. The engaged couples like to spend time with mentors they admire, and the mentors are awed that they would be chosen for the task, and take their responsibility seriously. Many couples who otherwise might have faded away from active participation in the Church after their wedding now have a connection. This friendship is a critical component of the marriage prep program; priests are then able to focus more on catechesis, and the program becomes more than just a conference or series of classes which provide a brief “shot in the arm” for couples that fades in time. “A gradual process where you do tell them the truth in love and within the context of a relationship is more likely to be successful,” the Verrets noted in their program training outline. “You can’t really witness without a relationship,” Verret told CNA. “Conversion happens in a relationship.” Dr. Peter Martin is a psychologist who works at Catholic Social Services in Southern Nebraska. The Verrets relied on his input for their ministry. In an interview published in the training program, he explained why a mentor couple is so important to marriage prep. Engaged couples, once they marry, undergo serious role changes from man and woman to husband and wife, and to father and mother, he noted. This can intensify existing insecurities and bring about new ones, he said. The guidance and advice of a parish and a married couple can bring significant support to a newly-married couple’s struggles, he said. Yet for a friendship to even exist, there must be “trust,” Verret said. This is hampered by a wide gulf that currently separates many engaged couples from living in accordance with Church teaching.   The mentor couple is there to bridge this gap between an engaged couple’s situation and Church teaching which can seem daunting at first glance, Verret said. The friendship and witness of the mentors makes the Christian life more livable and concrete. “That’s what we need to be doing,” she said, but “it’s not what’s happening…there’s such a disconnect between engaged couples and those preparing them.” Some parishes worry about challenging engaged couples with an intensive marriage prep program because they don’t want the couple to be overwhelmed and switch church venues. “We can’t not have the revenue,” one marriage prep coordinator told Verret of her fear of losing couples. Yet “the buck has got to stop with somebody,” Verret said. If the parish doesn’t reach try to invite the couple to full participation in the life of the Church, who will? On another occasion, a priest told her that it was “unrealistic and impossible to expect engaged couples” to return to mass after marriage prep. However, St. John Paul II’s 1981 apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” made it clear that Catholics must “integrate couples into their church, into their parish,” Verret said. From what she had seen before she and her husband started their ministry, that exhortation was largely being ignored. “How can we expect couples to come to church if they’re not invited, and if we don’t even expect them to be able to come?” she asked. “If we’re not building friendships with them, they’re not going to come.” Another big problem today, Verret noted, is that engaged couples visit the church venue and pick out a wedding date before they even begin marriage prep. “We always say the first person they meet with absolutely, absolutely always must be Father or Deacon,” she insisted. “It cannot be the wedding coordinator ever. They can’t come scope out the church and get their date first. No. That’s backwards.” Rather, couples should meet with the pastor or deacon first, complete a “pre-marital questionnaire,” choose their mentor couple, and talk with the marriage prep coordinator. “Otherwise,” Verret said, significant problems might not get discovered until months into the process and after the wedding invites have already been sent out. By then, “everybody knows this shouldn’t have happened, but what was in place to prevent it from happening?”Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com. Read more

Holy Trinity calls us to solidarity with others, Pope says

Vatican City, May 22, 2016 / 08:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The feast of the Holy Trinity is an invitation for us to commit to enriching our everyday relationships by promoting communion, consolation, and mercy, Pope Francis said during his weekly Sunday Angelus address. “Our being created in the image and likeness of God-communion calls us to understand ourselves as beings-in-relation, and to live interpersonal relationships in solidarity and reciprocal love,” the Pope told the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. “In this mission, we are sustained by the strength which the Holy Spirit gives us: this cures the flesh of humanity wounded by injustice, oppression, hate, and greed.” Pope Francis centered his May 22 Angelus address on the feast of the Holy Trinity, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Delivering his address from the papal palace to a packed square, the pontiff said the “‘Divine Family’ is not closed in on itself, but is open, communicates in creation and in history, and has entered into the world of men to call everyone to take part.” “The feast of the Most Holy Trinity invites us to commit ourselves in the everyday events in order to be the leaven of communion, of consolation, and of mercy.” Pope Francis explained how these relationships play out in ecclesial communities, families, friends, work colleagues, and the like. These “are concrete occasions offered to us to build ever more humanly rich relationships, capable of reciprocal respect and selfless love.” The day’s Gospel reading from John, he explained, is taken from a portion of Jesus’ discourse shortly before his Passion, in which Christ outlines the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Knowing that he must fulfill the Father’s plan through his own death and resurrection, Jesus assures the disciples that he will not abandon them, “because his mission will be continued by the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said. He said that Jesus explains how the “Holy Spirit guides us in understanding the many things which Jesus himself still has to say.” The Holy Spirit guides in new life situations, helping us to keep our gaze on Jesus, while being “open to events and to the future.” “He helps us walk in history, firmly rooted in the Gospel, and with dynamic fidelity to our traditions and customs.” “However, the mystery of the Trinity also speaks about us, our relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said. Through Baptism, “the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart and life of God, who is the communion of love,” the pontiff said. “God is a ‘family’ of three Persons who love each other so much as to form into one.” Finally, Pope Francis turned to Mary, “the mirror of the Trinity, to reenforce our faith in the Trinitarian Mystery, and to embody it with choices and attitudes of love and unity.” After leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer, the Pope acknowledged the beatification of Francesco Maria Greco, diocesan priest, founder of the Sisters Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts. “We give thanks to God for this exemplary priest,” he said, to rounds of applause from the crowd. “This applause is for many good priests who are here in Italy!” Pope Francis also mentioned the First World Humanitarian Summit, set to take commence in Istanbul on Monday. The aim of the gathering is to look at measures needed to address “the dramatic humanitarian situations caused by conflicts, environmental problems and extreme poverty,” the pontiff said. “We accompany with prayer the participants at that meeting, in order that they may fully commit themselves to the principle humanitarian goal: saving the life of every human being, without exception, especially the innocent and the defenseless.” Pope Francis observed that Tuesday, May 24, the Catholics of China celebrate the Mary Help of Christians, who is venerated at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. Saying that “we will unite spiritually to the Catholic faithful in China,” on that day, he asked Mary “to give to her children in China the ability to discern at all times the signs of the loving presence of God, who always welcomes always forgives.” “In this Year of Mercy, Chinese Catholics, along with those who follow other noble religious traditions, can become a concrete sign of love and reconciliation,” the pontiff said. “In this way, they may promote an authentic culture of encounter and harmony of the whole society, the harmony that so loves the Chinese spirit.” Read more

Teen girls cancel Disney World trip to see Pope Francis instead

Asunción, Paraguay, May 21, 2016 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Dozens of teen girls in Paraguay had planned to celebrate their 15th birthday – or Quinceañera – at Florida’s Disney World. But the students at the Almenas de Asunción school ultimately called the trip off and decided to visit Rome so that they could attend the Jubilee of Adolescents with Pope Francis. Quinceañera is a commemoration of the transition from childhood to adulthood, when Latin American girls reach 15 years of age. In Paraguay, many families give their daughters a special trip at this age, and these teens dreamed of visiting the amusement park. However, one of the school’s teachers read on Aci Prensa about the celebration of the Jubilee of Adolescents in Rome held last month as part of the Year of Mercy. “We saw the opportunity to change the idea for the trip from Disney and we wanted to give them the opportunity to experience a quinceañera trip in a different way to give them a new vision of themselves and their families,” said Ruth Cardozo. “We thought that participating in an event with the Pope Francis and young people from all over the world would be very formative and recreative.” The 35 students were thrilled with the idea from the very beginning. “A lot of them told their moms that it was better to take a picture in Rome with the Vatican in the background than with the Disney castle,” the teacher said. The student’s parents agreed with the proposal. Some of the students were volunteers during Pope Francis’ trip to Paraguay in July last year and wanted to see the pope one more time. “The girls were delighted and motivated” to be able to attend the Jubilee of Adolescents with the pontiff. The Jubilee of Adolescents was held in Rome this past April 23-25. More than 60,000 young people took part by going to confession, participating in pilgrimages, and a Mass presided by Pope Francis. Judith Jaquet is one of the quinceañeras who had the opportunity to participate  with Pope Francis in the encounter with young people in la Costerna riverside park area during his apostolic visit to Paraguay and who went to Rome Thanks to this experience, Judith said that she grew “a lot spiritually. We were blessed by being closer to Jesus and God. I also liked touring the Vatican to meet the pope and having a Mass with him.” She was also able to walk through the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica, one of the most emotional moments of the trip. “You’re preparing spiritually and you’re asking God to give you the plenary indulgence. You  feel free, it’s like starting all over,” she commented. For Sofia Mendoza one of the most powerful moments was when Pope Francis said in his homily that happiness “is not an app you download on your cell phone.” This was the first time she saw Pope Francis and for her “it was beautiful, I felt an amazing peace.” Read more

Vatican: recent stories about Benedict XVI and Fatima secrets are ‘absolutely untrue’

Vatican City, May 21, 2016 / 09:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced today that recent articles claiming that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI said that the Third Secret of Fatima was not released in its entirety back in 2000 are “pure inventi… Read more

Pope Francis clarifies question on diocesan religious institutes

Vatican City, May 20, 2016 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis issued a binding clarification of a question regarding Canon Law and the establishment of new diocesan Institutes of Consecrated Life on Friday. Specifically, the Holy Father confirm… Read more

US bishops find widespread compliance in abuse prevention audit

Washington D.C., May 20, 2016 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- In their annual report on nationwide measures for the protection of minors, the U.S. bishops found extensive diocesan cooperation with recommended standards. “When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, we made a pledge to heal and a promise to protect. These promises remain essential priorities for our Church,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the bishops’ conference. “We remain ever vigilant in the protection of children and the outreach to those most harmed by sexual abuse. The Church cannot become complacent with what has been accomplished. We look for new ways of addressing the issue and showing others a model of protection.” In 2002, in response to the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy dating back decades, the U.S. bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter made voluntary recommendations to bishops, including an audit to ensure compliance. The report, carried out by the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board, found that 189 dioceses and eparchies were compliant with the Charter and one diocese was partially compliant specifically with Articles 12 and 13, which require proof that training programs are in place and that background checks are conducted on employees, clergy and volunteers. The one diocese not fully compliant is the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., though according to the report, the diocese plans to fully participate in the audit next year. The Lincoln diocese participated in the first audit in 2003, but then-Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz declined to participate again. The diocese said that it had questions about the practices and methodology of the audit process of the time, and that it had internal policies ensuring background checks, abuse prevention training and reporting requirements. Lincoln’s participation next year will mean all U.S. dioceses will be taking part in the audit. Furthermore, all but one of the non-compliant eparchies have also requested to be added to the schedule for the 2016 audit. “This is a hopeful sign that we will indeed attain the goal of 100% participation in the audit, which will serve to enhance the credibility of the bishops, but more importantly, achieve the important goal of protecting our children,” the report states. “It is imperative that every diocese/eparchy participate in the audit if the faithful are to have confidence that the bishops are indeed committed to not only rectifying the terrible crime and sin of sexual abuse of children perpetrated in the past, but doing everything in their means possible to prevent such abuse from happening again.” The information in the report was gathered between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. The report on the response of the Catholic Church in the United States to clergy sexual abuse includes an annual survey conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and an annual audit to numerous dioceses and eparchies. Between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, 26 allegations against clergy received were from current minors, seven of which were substantiated, according to the report. All allegations were reported to local civil authorities. Of the 838 people who reported past abuse as minors, 386 accepted diocesan outreach and healing. Continued support was provided to 1,646 victims/survivors. All dioceses and eparchies have offices and personnel whose primary role is to assist victim/survivors, treating them with respect and offering them pastoral care.       Read more

Pope Francis offers prayers following EgyptAir plane crash

Vatican City, May 20, 2016 / 09:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has voiced his prayers and condolences to all those affected by the apparent crash of an EgyptAir plane in the Mediterranean Sea Thursday morning. “Having learned with sadness … Read more

A bizarre ruling in Colombia bans civic prayer…and hugs

Cartagena, Colombia, May 20, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA).- In what’s been labeled an “absurd” move, a judge in Colombia has banned prayer and “fraternal hugs” at the start of Cartagena city council sessions as well as local educational institutions. The ban on civic prayer – as well as the baffling prohibition against “fraternal hugs” anywhere from businesses to private family life – has generated immense controversy and protests among Christians on the country’s coast. Judge Alejandro Bonilla Aldana’s May 10 ruling suspends the first article of a 2007 accord which established prayer at “the beginning of all daily activities in local government entities as a basic approach to recovering the religious principles of the city.” The daily El Colmbiano reported that a lawsuit against the accord was filed by Miguel Ángel Garcés who is connected with the Autonomous University of the Caribbean. Garcés took up the charge against the accord after a similar effort was rejected by the court in 2015. The ruling by Judge Bonilla also eliminates “giving a fraternal hug at the beginning of activities” not just at the city council, but also in “public and private businesses, educational institutions, police command posts and stations, military battalions, assemblies, the boards of businesses, shopping centers, and taxi stations, trade organizations, associations and in the family.” According to the magistrate,“the custom of prayer cannot be taken as a widespread cultural element and the civil authorities cannot impose its obligatory exercise, disregarding freedom of belief.” Catholic and inter-denominational leaders have largely decried the ruling, with the Archdiocese of Cartagena issuing a statement saying it violates the human rights “of all the Catholics in Colombia.” The daily El Tiempo reported that “massive prayers” are taking place in Cartagena by diverse Christian groups such as the one led by pastor Lida Arias. “No one can prohibit us from praying and giving hugs,” Arias said. “This city and this country need more prayer and less absurd laws.” The Colombian coast daily El Heraldo indicated that a number of council members such as  Duvina Torres, Jorge Useche, Erick Piña and Angélica Hodeg have publicly come out against Judge Bonilla’s decision. For their part, the Association of Evangelical Ministers in Bolivar said that “prayer and a fraternal hugs break down the barriers between people and allow us to forgive one another.” They encouraged “a peaceful protest of prayer and fraternal hugs be held in every area of Cartagena.”Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com. Read more

How the hook-up culture is making women miserable

New York City, N.Y., Nov 10, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA).- Leah Fessler considers herself a feminist. And the standard feminist narrative is that women can have, and indeed enjoy, casual sex without consequences – physical, emotional, or otherwise. But when her experience with hookup culture (and that of her friends’) in college failed to live up to its empowering promises and left her emotionally empty, Fessler decided to look a little deeper. In an article written for Quartz, Fessler explains her quest to examine what it was about the prominent hookup culture, and the ill-defined, non-committal “pseudo-relationships,” at her Middlebury college campus that were making her miserable. “Far more frequent, however, were pseudo-relationships, the mutant children of meaningless sex and loving partnerships. Two students consistently hook up with one another – and typically, only each other – for weeks, months, even years,” Fessler wrote. “Yet per unspoken social code, neither party is permitted emotional involvement, commitment, or vulnerability. To call them exclusive would be ‘clingy,’ or even ‘crazy.’” These pseudo-relationships would typically follow the same cycle, she notes. She’d meet a guy she was interested in, they’d start texting, meet up in their dorms late at night to discuss their mutual interests and hobbies and families, and have sex. This would happen off and on over the course of a few months with the same guy, then the relationship of sorts would just fizzle and die. Wash, rinse repeat with the next. Fessler wrote that she experienced this with at least five men by her senior year. She felt used and desperate for emotional intimacy. At the same time, she felt bad for being unable to reconcile the fact that she couldn’t achieve the carefree, empowering feeling that her feminists beliefs told her was possible. Fessler decided to devote her senior thesis to this phenomenon that was taking its toll on herself and so many of her friends, who for all other intents and purposes were successful, involved, well-rounded students. Fessler interviewed 75 male and female students and conducted more than 300 online surveys. She found that 100 percent of female interviewees and three-quarters of female survey respondents stated a clear preference for committed relationships. Only 8 percent of about 25 female respondents, who said they were in pseudo-relationships, reported being “happy” with their situation. “The women I interviewed were eager to build connections, intimacy and trust with their sexual partners. Instead, almost all of them found themselves going along with hookups that induced overwhelming self-doubt, emotional instability and loneliness,” she wrote. The male responses were just as complex, she adds. Most men interviewed and surveyed also preferred a committed relationship, but felt pressured to have casual sex with numerous beautiful women in order to discuss these “escapades” with their friends and boost their status in a culture where hookups are the norm. Perhaps it’s time that casual sex ceases to be the progressive norm, and that women recognize the connection between their need for an emotionally fulfilling relationship and their sex lives, Fessler notes. “The truth is that, for many women, there’s nothing liberating about emotionless, non-committal sex. The young women I spoke with were taking part in hookup culture because they thought that was what guys wanted, or because they hoped a casual encounter would be a stepping stone to commitment.” “In doing this, we actually deny ourselves agency and bolster male dominance, all while convincing ourselves we’re acting like progressive feminists. But engaging in hookup culture while wholeheartedly craving love and stability was perhaps the least feminist action I, and hundreds of my peers, could take.” Fessler’s thesis, “Can She Really ‘Play That Game, Too’?” recently became available for download and is available at her website: http://hookupmiddlebury.weebly.com/about.html  This article originally ran on CNA May 20, 2016. Read more

Exploiting workers is a form of trafficking, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, May 19, 2016 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis preached a warning to the rich who oppress the poor, focusing on employers who accumulate wealth by misusing those who work for them. “We consider this drama of today: the exploitation of the people, the blood of these people who become slaves, the traffickers of people – and not just those who deal in prostitutes and children for child labour,” Pope Francis said May 19 during his Mass in the chapel of Santa Marta House in the Vatican. In addition, he said, there is a “more – so to speak – ‘civilized’” form of trafficking which happens when an employer says, “I’ll pay you this much, without vacation, without health care, … everything under the table… But I will become rich!” The Pope’s homily was based on the Epistle of James, which told of woe for the rich who oppress the poor. Calling the passage “a little strong,” he said St. James clearly “understood the danger there is when a Christian allows himself to be controlled by wealth.” Riches, Pope Francis said, “in and of themselves are good things,” and noted that there are “many righteous rich men” in the Bible, including Job and Tobias. However, he added, riches are a “relative, not absolute” good, and the Lord commended Solomon “for asking not for wealth but for wisdom of heart.” In themselves, riches “are good; but if you prefer to serve God, riches come in second place – the right place,” he said. Pope Francis recalled the rich young man in the Gospel, saying that he “was good, but attached to riches, and these riches in the end became for him the chains that took away his freedom to follow Jesus.” He criticized the “theology of prosperity,” according to which “God shows you that you are just if he give you great riches,” calling it mistaken. The Pope offered these questions as a way to examine one’s conscience with regard to wealth: “Is my heart set on riches or is it not? What is my relationship with wealth?” He said St. James’ warning to the rich was aimed especially at those whose “wealth is made by exploiting people … those rich people who exploit [others], they take advantage of the work of the people, and those poor people become slaves.” Giving a contemporary example, he pointed to those who are given only seasonal work, “with no opportunity for a pension, without health insurance.” Employers who do this “are true leeches and they live by spilling the blood of the people whom they make slaves of labour.” He also pointed to a woman who was offered a job working 11-hour days for less than $730 a month, all under the table. When she balked, he said, she was told: “Look at the line behind you. If you want it, take it, if no, leave. There are others waiting.” Such employers “fatten themselves on wealth,” Pope Francis said, adding that contemporary exploitation of workers “is truly a form of slavery.” “We used to think that slaves no longer exist: they exist. It’s true, people are not going and taking them from Africa to sell them in America, no. But it is in our cities.” Such employers are traffickers and “do not realize it,” he said. “The blood you have sucked from of all these people … is a cry to the Lord, it is a cry for justice.” The Pope also referred to Christ’s story of The Rich Man and Lazarus, saying the rich man “was in his own world; he did not notice that on the other side of the door to his house was someone who was starving. But this is worse. That rich man at least did not realize, and left the other man to die of hunger. But this is worse. This is starving the people with their work for my own profit! Living on the blood of the people. And this is a mortal sin. This is a mortal sin. It requires a great deal of penance, a great deal of restitution, in order to be converted from this sin.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by asking that that the Lord might “make us understand today the simplicity that Jesus speaks to us of in today’s Gospel: a glass of water in the name of Christ is more important than all the riches accumulated through the exploitation of the people.” Read more




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