Pope: Jesus is the only door to eternal life

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2016 / 10:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking at morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis on Monday urged the faithful to seek salvation through anyone but Jesus alone, because he is the only way into heaven.   “The Lord thus clearly says: you cannot enter eternal life by any entryway that is not the door – that is not Jesus,” the Pope said during his April 18 homily, according to Vatican Radio’s translation. “He is the door of our life – and not only of eternal life, but also of our daily lives.” If we do not make decisions “in the name of Jesus” – who is the door – we attempt to do so through a “smuggler’s hatch,” he said. Pope Francis drew his reflection from the day’s readings, and referenced Sunday’s Gospel on the good shepherd. “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door,” but who tries to enter another way, “is a thief and a robber,” he said. “There is no other” door than Christ. Jesus used “simple images” that people at the time could relate to, such as the shepherd, he said. They therefore understood when Jesus said the only entrance was through the “gate of the sheep pen.” On the “path of life, the life of every day,” we need only follow Jesus, the shepherd, and we will never be misled, the Pope said. “Those who follow Jesus do nor err!” Pope Francis said those who seek guidance from the likes of fortune tellers, for instance, are not following Jesus. In such an instance, “you follow another, who shows you another way, a different way.” Rather: “Jesus shows the way forward: there is no other who can show the way.” The Pope cited Jesus’ warnings against following those who claim to have the way of the Messiah. “Do not listen. Do not hear them. I am the way.” “Jesus is the door and also the path: if we follow Him we shall not go astray.” The sheep “follow Him because they know his voice,” Pope Francis said. Moreover, the way to distinguish the voice of Jesus from “bandits, who [seek to] destroy and deceive you,” is to find look to the Beatitudes. “Should someone make to teach you a way contrary to the Beatitudes, [know] that such a one is one who has entered through the window: it is not Jesus!” Another clue as to whether the voice is from Jesus is whether it “speaks of the works of mercy,” he said. The third indication that the voice is Jesus is that it “teaches you to pray the Our Father.” Pope Francis concluded: “May the Lord make us understand that this is Jesus, this is the icon of Him: the pastor who leads, who shows the way, and teaches us to listen to His voice.”   Read more

Pope meets Central African Republic’s new president

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2016 / 07:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Monday met with the Central African Republic’s newly-installed president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who was elected to office a few months after the pontiff’s visit to the country late last year. The “warm welcome” offered to the Pope during his visit to the CAR in November was among the topics discussed during the meeting, according to a statement released by the Holy See press office. Touadéra, who assumed office March 30, was voted as president after two rounds of elections, the first on Dec. 27, and the second on Feb. 14. Over the course of the fifteen minute meeting which took place with an interpreter, Touadéra discussed with the Pope the recent elections, and other institutional renovations in the war-torn nation. “With the contribution of dialogue between religious confessions,” the statement said, “hope was expressed that this may mark the beginning of a time of peace and prosperity for the entire nation.” “At the same time, it emerged that the consequences of the conflicts of recent years continue to weigh upon the population, and the important role of the international Community in supporting the development of the country was emphasized.” Francis and Touadéra also touched on the “good bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Central African Republic,” and expressed “their mutual understanding that these may be further consolidated in the framework of international law.” The meeting also discussed  the “contribution that the work of the Church and her Pastors brings to society, especially in the fields of education and healthcare, and also with a view to reconciliation and national reconstruction.” Pope Francis visited the CAR from Nov. 29-30 at the end of his tri-nation tour to Africa, which included stops in Kenya and Uganda. One of the highlights of the Pope’s visit was his opening the Jubilee Holy Door in the capital city Bangui, ahead of the official Dec. 8 start of the Year of Mercy. Francis’ trip to the CAR marked his first time as Pope in an active war zone. At the time of the visit, the CAR was ruled by interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza. The nation’s presidential and parliamentary elections had been postponed from October to December due to instability. The CAR became embroiled in violence in December 2012 when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka. They left their strongholds in the north of the country and made their way south, seizing power from then-president Francois Bozize. In reaction, some Central Africans formed self-defense groups called the anti-balaka. Some of these groups, mainly composed of Christians, began attacking Muslims out of revenge, and the conflict took on a sectarian character. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting, with many more displaced. Before Francis, St. John Paul II was the last pontiff to visit CAR when he stopped there briefly in 1985 as part of a larger trip to Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zaire and Kenya. Read more

Pray and act to help refugees–what Pope Francis and Orthodox leaders said at Lesbos

Lesbos, Greece, Apr 17, 2016 / 05:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Forced migration affects millions of people and is “a crisis of humanity.” That is what Pope Francis and two leading Greek Orthodox churchmen have said in a joint declaration signed … Read more

Pope Francis sends his greetings to Benedict XVI on his 89th birthday

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2016 / 02:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope emeritus Benedict XVI celebrated his 89th birthday on Saturday, and received special greetings from Pope Francis. “I would like to remind you that today is the 89th birthday of Pope Be… Read more

Trans rights over women’s rights? What’s at stake in the bathroom bills

Denver, Colo., Apr 17, 2016 / 02:02 pm (CNA).- Few can forget the media furor over Caitlyn Jenner’s cover story in Vanity Fair last year. Formerly known as Bruce, Jenner’s public transformation from a decorated male athlete into a glam female persona dominated headlines left and right. Amid scores of adulation for Jenner’s bravery – including a coveted ESPN award – one opinion piece in the New York Times broke rank and drew a decent amount of ire. Rather than laud Jenner, writer Elinor Burkett slammed the reduction of female identity into a caricature of pretty dresses and long red nails. As one who lived through the struggles and triumphs of second wave feminism, Burkett witnessed a seismic movement to de-relegate women from the confines of stereotype. Her overall point? You, Bruce, have no idea what it really means to be a woman. And what’s more, the transgendered movement runs a dangerous and ironic risk of perpetuating a cultural chauvinism that we’d long hoped to be rid of. Burkett’s evidence of this ranged from the disconcerting to the absurd, citing an example of the controversial “Vagina Monologues” being canceled on a school campus last year. Was the show too risque for the taste of Mount Holyoke College? No. It was axed because the play was too “narrow” in its perspective on what constitutes a woman. “Let me get this right,” Burkett wrote, “The word ‘vagina’ is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: ‘front hole’ or ‘internal genitalia’?” Fast forward to the current uproar over North Carolina’s bathroom bill, which would make explicit the requirement that individuals must use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond with their biological sex, rather than their self-perceived “gender identity.” Amid the cries of bigotry that ensued, sponsors and celebrities appear to be in a self-conscious race to see who can boycott the state first. There have even been calls to remove gendered bathrooms altogether. Let’s be clear: the concern is real. The transgender community can be victims of brutal violence, often at the hands of heterosexual males. A biological male walking into a men’s bathroom dressed as a woman can cause serious, unmerited backlash. But let’s talk about what happens when we, in response to that, say that gendered bathrooms shouldn’t exist. The question then becomes: are we fine, then, with violence against women? The reality is, de-genderizing bathrooms in general poses a tremendous risk to women in the form of sexual assault by men. A simple thought exercise should suffice here. Picture any public venue – a concert stadium, an airport – where a group of men, say, slightly intoxicated, find themselves in a gender neutral bathroom with a lone female. That which was a relative rarity could now be a frequent occurrence, simply by virtue of the opportunity presenting itself. And what about gym showers? Women carry pepper spray. Women look over their shoulders when walking into a parking lot at night. Women think twice before going on a run after the sun sets. Women take self-defense classes. Women go out in groups. Women understand that assault, rape and even murder are ever-hovering threats. While a skirted stick figure on a door won’t necessarily protect a women from a truly predatory man, it’s still a cultural deterrent: someone might see him enter, someone might say something. It’s a safe space where women can change their babies’ diapers, reapply their lipstick, buy an emergency tampon, and feel relatively protected. Even if bathrooms by and large aren’t de-genderized, the push for for inclusivity would also end up defending predatory men. Men who could justify, by law, their presence in a woman’s bathroom by simply stating that they “identify as female.” As quick as we are to take up arms against what we might perceive to be discrimination against the LGBT community, let’s pause for a minute and think practically of what this means for, as Burkett put it, “the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas.” Read more

Pope: ‘I saw much suffering’ at Lesbos refugee camp

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2016 / 06:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Sunday reflected on the great suffering he had witnessed at the refugee camp in Lesbos, remembering especially the children he encountered, as well as the husband of a Christian woman who was martyred by terrorists. “I saw much suffering,” the Pope said during his April 17 Regina Caeli address from the Apostolic palace, one day after his visit to the Greek island. “To the refugees and the Greek people, I brought the solidarity of the Church,” he said. The Pope added that he was joined by Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, to signify “unity in the charity of all the disciples of the Lord.” Lesbos, along with its neighboring island Kos, is one of the major entry points for African and Middle Eastern refugees attempting to enter Europe. Many of the refugees, including those coming from Syria, have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to the island in order to escape violent conflict and persecution in their homelands. The International Organization for Migration that over 1 million migrants arrived to Europe by sea in 2015 alone, according too the BBC.   In his address, Pope Francis thanked “all who have supported us in prayer” for his April 16 visit to Lesbos. Speaking about his journey to the Greek island, the Pope recounted his visit to one center housing refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the African continent. “We greeted around 300 of these refugees, one at a time, all three (of us): Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Ieronymos, and myself.” “Many of them were children. Some of them, these children, have witnessed the deaths of parents and companions,” while many others drowned at sea. The Pope also cited an encounter with a Muslim man and father of two children, who “wept a lot.” “He told me he was married to a Christian girl. He loved her,” he said. “But, sadly, this girl was slaughtered by terrorists because she did not wish to deny Christ and abandon her faith. She is a martyr.” Continuing his address, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the people of Ecuador, who have been affected by Saturday’s deadly earthquake, the country’s largest since 1979. At least 77 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the 7.8 earthquake outside northern town of Muisne, the BBC reports. “We pray for those inhabitants, as well as for those of Japan, where there have been some earthquakes in recent days,” the Pope said. “May the help of God and their neighbors give them strength and support.”   Before leading the crowds in the Regina Caeli prayer, Pope Francis gave his reflection on the day’s Gospel reading, centering his address on what it means to listen to God’s voice. The Pope cited the day’s Gospel account in which Jesus refers to his “sheep” who hear his voice and follow him. “No one can be said to be a follower of Jesus, if he is not ready to listen to his voice,” he said. What is being referred to here is not a “superficial” listening, the Pope explained: Rather, it is a listening which comes not only comes from the ear, but also from “the heart.” “The image of the shepherd and the sheep shows the close relationship that Jesus wants to establish with each of us,” the Pope said. “He is our guide, our teacher, our friend, our model, but above all he is our Savior.” “Our life is completely safe in the hands of Jesus and the Father, who are one: one love, one mercy, revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the cross,” he said In order to save all of us, “the shepherd became a lamb and let himself be sacrificed in order to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world,” he said. “This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table.” “For this reason, we no longer fear: our lives are now saved from perdition.” After the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis recalled that this Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, during which the faithful are invited to “pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.” In his address, the Pope greeted in particular the eleven newly-ordained priests – nine of whom are from the diocese of Rome – along with their families and friends. Pope Francis had presided over the priestly ordinations of the eleven men that morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. During the ordination Mass, he delivered the standard homily from the Italian edition of the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, but digressed from the text several times to offer advice to the men about to be ordained. “Carry the death of Christ in yourselves, and walk with Christ in newness of life,” he said during the homily in unscripted remarks before the rite of ordination. “Without the cross, you will never find the true Jesus. A cross without Christ makes no sense.” Pope Francis went on to remind the men to be aware that they have been “chosen among men.” “Chosen, do not forget this. Chosen! And the Lord who has called you, one by one.” Read more

Pope: ‘I saw much suffering’ at Lesbos refugee camp

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2016 / 06:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Sunday reflected on the great suffering he had witnessed at the refugee camp in Lesbos, remembering especially the children he encountered, as well as the husband of a Christian woman who was martyred by terrorists. “I saw much suffering,” the Pope said during his April 17 Regina Caeli address from the Apostolic palace, one day after his visit to the Greek island. “To the refugees and the Greek people, I brought the solidarity of the Church,” he said. The Pope added that he was joined by Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, to signify “unity in the charity of all the disciples of the Lord.” Lesbos, along with its neighboring island Kos, is one of the major entry points for African and Middle Eastern refugees attempting to enter Europe. Many of the refugees, including those coming from Syria, have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to the island in order to escape violent conflict and persecution in their homelands. The International Organization for Migration that over 1 million migrants arrived to Europe by sea in 2015 alone, according too the BBC.   In his address, Pope Francis thanked “all who have supported us in prayer” for his April 16 visit to Lesbos. Speaking about his journey to the Greek island, the Pope recounted his visit to one center housing refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the African continent. “We greeted around 300 of these refugees, one at a time, all three (of us): Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Ieronymos, and myself.” “Many of them were children. Some of them, these children, have witnessed the deaths of parents and companions,” while many others drowned at sea. The Pope also cited an encounter with a Muslim man and father of two children, who “wept a lot.” “He told me he was married to a Christian girl. He loved her,” he said. “But, sadly, this girl was slaughtered by terrorists because she did not wish to deny Christ and abandon her faith. She is a martyr.” Continuing his address, Pope Francis offered his prayers for the people of Ecuador, who have been affected by Saturday’s deadly earthquake, the country’s largest since 1979. At least 77 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the 7.8 earthquake outside northern town of Muisne, the BBC reports. “We pray for those inhabitants, as well as for those of Japan, where there have been some earthquakes in recent days,” the Pope said. “May the help of God and their neighbors give them strength and support.”   Before leading the crowds in the Regina Caeli prayer, Pope Francis gave his reflection on the day’s Gospel reading, centering his address on what it means to listen to God’s voice. The Pope cited the day’s Gospel account in which Jesus refers to his “sheep” who hear his voice and follow him. “No one can be said to be a follower of Jesus, if he is not ready to listen to his voice,” he said. What is being referred to here is not a “superficial” listening, the Pope explained: Rather, it is a listening which comes not only comes from the ear, but also from “the heart.” “The image of the shepherd and the sheep shows the close relationship that Jesus wants to establish with each of us,” the Pope said. “He is our guide, our teacher, our friend, our model, but above all he is our Savior.” “Our life is completely safe in the hands of Jesus and the Father, who are one: one love, one mercy, revealed once and for all in the sacrifice of the cross,” he said In order to save all of us, “the shepherd became a lamb and let himself be sacrificed in order to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world,” he said. “This mystery is renewed, in an always surprising humility, on the Eucharistic table.” “For this reason, we no longer fear: our lives are now saved from perdition.” After the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis recalled that this Sunday is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, during which the faithful are invited to “pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.” In his address, the Pope greeted in particular the eleven newly-ordained priests – nine of whom are from the diocese of Rome – along with their families and friends. Pope Francis had presided over the priestly ordinations of the eleven men that morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. During the ordination Mass, he delivered the standard homily from the Italian edition of the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, but digressed from the text several times to offer advice to the men about to be ordained. “Carry the death of Christ in yourselves, and walk with Christ in newness of life,” he said during the homily in unscripted remarks before the rite of ordination. “Without the cross, you will never find the true Jesus. A cross without Christ makes no sense.” Pope Francis went on to remind the men to be aware that they have been “chosen among men.” “Chosen, do not forget this. Chosen! And the Lord who has called you, one by one.” Read more

Canadians will regret legal assisted suicide, Cardinal Collins predicts

Toronto, Canada, Apr 17, 2016 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The coming legalization of assisted suicide in Canada will threaten the vulnerable, hide killing with euphemisms, and threaten the consciences of those who oppose it, Cardinal Timothy Collins of Toronto has said. On Thursday the Canadian government introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia under the federal criminal code. “We’re all deeply concerned that this is a sad day for Canada,” the cardinal told CNA April 14. While people see assisted suicide as a “simple solution,” he said, once people begin to consider what the practices really means to society, and its threats to the vulnerable, “they begin to realize that this is not the way to go.” Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Jews, Muslims and the Salvation Army, all opponents of legalization, will hold an April 19 press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Canadian capital. “The very people who are most involved in helping people by the bedside while they are dying or while they are suffering are the ones most opposed to killing those entrusted in their care,” Cardinal Collins said. The gathering would say to Parliament: “thus far and no further. This is just not right. It’s not right.” He characterized the effort as “the ecumenism of practical love.” The new legislation was required by a February 2015 Canadian Supreme Court decision. The ruling said that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable suffering to kill themselves, and ordered Parliament to create a legislative response. “That is the root of the problem,” Cardinal Collins said. He described that court decision as “sadly unanimous.” “The fundamental move towards implementing euthanasia or assisted suicide is itself troubling,” he added. Previously, under Canadian law those who counseled, aided, or abetted a suicide faced up to 14 years in prison. The cardinal said the law previously barred the provision of “noxious substances” to people. “Now, it’s possible that giving a substance like that is now going to be considered a form of health care. What have we come to?” He criticized using the phrase “medical assistance in dying” to describe “taking a substance and injecting it into a person, and that makes them die.” “That’s not called dying. The word for that is ‘killing’. To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing.” He warned against euphemisms that are “comfortable and pleasant and sweet, but which do not describe what is happening.” “When we are ashamed, troubled, by what we are doing, I think we always leave the light of clear language. We don’t want the light to shine upon what we are doing.” The cardinal said Catholics should strongly encourage palliative care for those in severe pain and for the terminally ill. This, not suicide, is true medical assistance, he maintained. He said the government also has an obligation to support palliative care if it is going to set up a legal euthanasia regime. “That’s the positive way to deal with this very real issue,” he said. He also stressed the need for conscience safeguards to protect individuals who are “committed to healing, and not to killing.” “They say that there’s nothing in the law that somebody must do this. Well, there’s nothing in the law. Yet. But this has to be taken care of.” He said individuals and institutions will certainly face pressure to take part in assisted suicide or euthanasia. “What protections are being offered? There are no protections offered in this bill at all,” he said.   Backers of the bill say that Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories will provide these protections. The cardinal questioned this. “For all of Canada, they’re making it acceptable to provide a noxious substance to somebody. But they’re not providing the same nationwide protections for people’s consciences and for ‘havens of refuge’.” He said that in this “cold world of euthanasia,” there must be “places where you know where you will be safe.” He worried of the pressures on the elderly to “hurry up” and die. “At a time when our priority should be fostering a culture of love, and enhancing resources for those suffering and facing death, assisted suicide leads us down a dark path,” he said in an April 14 statement. He noted that the Hail Mary prayer focuses on “now, and at the hour of our death.” “In these days ahead, may that reflection guide us as in a spirit of love, mercy and compassion, we journey with all those who are suffering.” Read more

Canadians will regret legal assisted suicide, Cardinal Collins predicts

Toronto, Canada, Apr 17, 2016 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The coming legalization of assisted suicide in Canada will threaten the vulnerable, hide killing with euphemisms, and threaten the consciences of those who oppose it, Cardinal Timothy Collins of Toronto has said. On Thursday the Canadian government introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia under the federal criminal code. “We’re all deeply concerned that this is a sad day for Canada,” the cardinal told CNA April 14. While people see assisted suicide as a “simple solution,” he said, once people begin to consider what the practices really means to society, and its threats to the vulnerable, “they begin to realize that this is not the way to go.” Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, Jews, Muslims and the Salvation Army, all opponents of legalization, will hold an April 19 press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Canadian capital. “The very people who are most involved in helping people by the bedside while they are dying or while they are suffering are the ones most opposed to killing those entrusted in their care,” Cardinal Collins said. The gathering would say to Parliament: “thus far and no further. This is just not right. It’s not right.” He characterized the effort as “the ecumenism of practical love.” The new legislation was required by a February 2015 Canadian Supreme Court decision. The ruling said that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable suffering to kill themselves, and ordered Parliament to create a legislative response. “That is the root of the problem,” Cardinal Collins said. He described that court decision as “sadly unanimous.” “The fundamental move towards implementing euthanasia or assisted suicide is itself troubling,” he added. Previously, under Canadian law those who counseled, aided, or abetted a suicide faced up to 14 years in prison. The cardinal said the law previously barred the provision of “noxious substances” to people. “Now, it’s possible that giving a substance like that is now going to be considered a form of health care. What have we come to?” He criticized using the phrase “medical assistance in dying” to describe “taking a substance and injecting it into a person, and that makes them die.” “That’s not called dying. The word for that is ‘killing’. To not know the difference between dying and killing is astonishing.” He warned against euphemisms that are “comfortable and pleasant and sweet, but which do not describe what is happening.” “When we are ashamed, troubled, by what we are doing, I think we always leave the light of clear language. We don’t want the light to shine upon what we are doing.” The cardinal said Catholics should strongly encourage palliative care for those in severe pain and for the terminally ill. This, not suicide, is true medical assistance, he maintained. He said the government also has an obligation to support palliative care if it is going to set up a legal euthanasia regime. “That’s the positive way to deal with this very real issue,” he said. He also stressed the need for conscience safeguards to protect individuals who are “committed to healing, and not to killing.” “They say that there’s nothing in the law that somebody must do this. Well, there’s nothing in the law. Yet. But this has to be taken care of.” He said individuals and institutions will certainly face pressure to take part in assisted suicide or euthanasia. “What protections are being offered? There are no protections offered in this bill at all,” he said.   Backers of the bill say that Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories will provide these protections. The cardinal questioned this. “For all of Canada, they’re making it acceptable to provide a noxious substance to somebody. But they’re not providing the same nationwide protections for people’s consciences and for ‘havens of refuge’.” He said that in this “cold world of euthanasia,” there must be “places where you know where you will be safe.” He worried of the pressures on the elderly to “hurry up” and die. “At a time when our priority should be fostering a culture of love, and enhancing resources for those suffering and facing death, assisted suicide leads us down a dark path,” he said in an April 14 statement. He noted that the Hail Mary prayer focuses on “now, and at the hour of our death.” “In these days ahead, may that reflection guide us as in a spirit of love, mercy and compassion, we journey with all those who are suffering.” Read more

Report: Baby girls are being targeted for abortion in the West

Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2016 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The problem of sex-selective abortion is not limited to China and India, but is increasing in communities within Western countries, a new report by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute says…. Read more




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