Mary’s ‘yes’ to God changed history, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2016 / 01:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis marked the Feast of the Annunciation on Monday by reflecting on the power of Mary’s “yes” to God. “Mary’s ‘yes’ opens the door to Jesus&rsquo… Read more

Pope Francis meets with SSPX superior general

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2016 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Both the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X have confirmed that this weekend Pope Francis met with the priestly society’s superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, at the Vatican. The Holy See press office issued a statement April 4 indicating that Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay had met April 2 at the Vatican.An April 4 statement issued by the SSPX, meanwhile, said that Pope Francis received Bishop Fellay at his Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican on April 1. The statement said Bishop Fellay was accompanied by Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, second assistant general of the priestly society. “Pope Francis had wanted a private and informal meeting, without the formality of an official audience. It lasted 40 minutes and took place under a cordial atmosphere,” the SSPX stated. “After the meeting, it was decided that the current exchanges would continue. The canonical status of the Society was not directly addressed, Pope Francis and Bishop Fellay having determined that these exchanges ought to continue without haste.” The statement from the priestly society added that on April 2, Bishop Fellay met with Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei – the Vatican office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responsible for doctrinal discussions with the SSPX. The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church following the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Holy See became strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops without the permission of Pope John Paul II. The illicit consecration resulted in the excommunication of the five bishops; the excommunications were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then, negotiations between the Society and the Vatican have continued, “to rediscover full communion with the Church.” In remitting the excommunications, Benedict also noted that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.” The biggest obstacle for the society’s reconciliation has been the statements on religious liberty in Vatican II’s declaration Dignitatis humanae, which it claims contradicts previous Catholic teaching. Doctrinal discussions between the SSPX and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith broke down in the summer of 2012, when the society’s superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, would not sign a doctrinal preamble presented by Rome. Talks between the CDF and the society resumed, however, in 2014. Since then several moves have suggested a warming in relations between the Vatican and the SSPX. In 2015 the Holy See delegated a cardinal and three bishops to visit the seminaries of the SSPX. They were sent to become better acquainted with the society, and to discuss doctrinal and theological topics in a less formal context. And Pope Francis announced in a September 2015 letter on the Jubilee Year of Mercy that during the jubilee year the faithful can validly and licitly receive absolution of their sins from priests of the SSPX. “I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity,” he wrote. Read more

Mother Teresa was heroic – but maybe not for the reasons you think

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There are many things about Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta that could be called heroic – her tireless service to the world’s most rejected and her courageous witness to millions of what it is to live the Gospel, just to name a couple. But the priest who oversaw her path to sainthood said that for him, one thing stands out above all the rest: her experience of spiritual darkness and what she described as feeling totally abandoned by God for the majority of her life. “The single most heroic thing is exactly her darkness. That pure living, that pure, naked faith,” Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postulator for Mother Teresa’s canonization cause, told CNA in an interview. Fr. Kolodiejchuk is a priest of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, founded by Mother Teresa in 1989. By undergoing the depth and duration of the desolation she experienced and doing everything that she did for others in spite of it, “that’s really very heroic,” he said. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loretto at the age of 17, but later left after she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and to live among the poor. She went on to found several communities of both active and contemplative Missionaries of Charity, which include religious sisters, brothers, and priests. The first community of active sisters was founded in 1950. An order of active brothers was founded nearly 20 years later in 1968. Then two contemplative orders came, one of women (in 1976) and one of men (in 1979). In 1989 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was established, and is a clerical religious institute of diocesan right whose members make promises of poverty, chastity, obedience, and wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. Additionally, an order of lay missionaries was also founded in 1984, and several movements who organize various works of charity have also been born as part of the Missionaries of Charity spiritual family. One of the first steps in declaring someone a saint is to determine their heroic virtue. Fr. Kolodiejchuk said that Mother Teresa’s entire life was lived heroically, which was clear from what he had seen firsthand and heard from the testimonies of others, even though he himself has only been a part of the Missionaries of Charity family for 20 years. He said the most heroic aspect of Mother Teresa’s life and vocation is the more than 50 years of darkness and abandonment she felt after receiving what she termed “a call within a call” to leave the Sisters of Loretto and found the Missionaries of Charity. Although the Albanian nun is always seen beaming and smiling brightly in photos, she experienced a profound internal desolation during which she felt silence and rejection from God, who seemed distant. In a letter to her spiritual director in 1957, Mother Teresa wrote that “I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer. Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.” “Love – the word – it brings nothing. I am told God lives in me – and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she said. Mother Teresa had prayed fervently to share in Jesus’ suffering, and many, including her spiritual director, believed her feelings of rejection and abandonment to be a mirror of Christ’s own experience of loneliness and desolation during his Passion and death. Because of the depth and duration of Mother Teresa’s spiritual desert, many have hailed her as a great mystic when it comes to topic of spiritual darkness. Fr. Kolodiejchuk himself said Mother Teresa was “a great mystic, but also very concrete, very down to earth.” The priest had met Mother Teresa in his early 20s while attending the vows of his sister, who had joined the active branch of the Missionaries of Charity sisters. He joined the order of priests a year later. A lot of people “think that saints are somewhere in the mystical clouds,” he said, but cautioned that this wasn’t true of Mother Teresa, who was spiritual, but also observant and active in the lives of others. From the first moment he met her, of Mother Teresa’s most distinguishing qualities was “this sense that she really was Mother,” he said, explaining that being a mother was something important to her, and was the only thing she was ever called. When Mother Teresa was first elected superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, her immediate response after receiving congratulations, he noted, was to say “Oh that means nothing, the title. No, I want to be a mother.” The nun also placed a heavy emphasis on God’s tenderness, Fr. Kolodiejchuk said, recalling that “tender” was one of her favorite words – even more so than mercy. “She would talk more about Jesus’ tender love and mercy; his thoughtfulness, his presence, his compassion…So mercy was a word in her vocabulary, but with this quality especially of tenderness.” “Even in the darkness she still had an intimate sense of God’s tender love for us,” he said, and recited a prayer that Mother Teresa would often teach and have others repeat: “Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you.” The priest said that her canonization during the Jubilee of Mercy was providential since the core mission of the Missionaries of Charity is to respond to Chapter 25 in the Gospel of Matthew, which lists the works of mercy. He noted how the day of Mother Teresa’s canonization also marked a special jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy. Given the work the Missionaries of Charity do, “it’s appropriate” that the nun would become a patroness for all who carry out the same type of activities, he said. Part of the reason Mother Teresa is such a strong example for the world today, Fr. Kolodiejchuk believes, is because “people like to see,” and the work the Missionaries do is something visible that others can easily touch and participate in, no matter what religion they profess. “Mother was a great believer in that we receive in giving. So there’s something attractive about the work. And then you receive by sharing in it,” he said.  This article was originally published on CNA April 4, 2016. Read more

Centuries of religious freedom at risk with Virginia veto, Catholic bishops warn

Richmond, Va., Apr 3, 2016 / 04:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The veto of a religious freedom bill means faith-based groups that support marriage as a union of a man and a woman won’t have needed protections, the state’s Catholic bishops said. “The Virginia Catholic Conference is deeply dismayed by the governor’s action,” the conference said March 30. “This veto risks the destruction of Virginia’s long tradition of upholding the religious freedom of faith communities which dates back to Thomas Jefferson.” The bill would have forbidden the state of Virginia from punishing religious groups that follow their sincerely held beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. The bill passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 59-38 and the Senate by 21-19. Virginia’s Catholic conference said the bill would ensure “that clergy and religious organizations are not penalized by the government.” The bill would also protect these individuals and organizations from civil liability. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, vetoed the bill on live radio Wednesday. He claimed that signing the bill would be “making Virginia unwelcome to same-sex couples, while artificially engendering a sense of fear and persecution among our religious communities.” He also cited corporation leaders’ opposition to the bill, charging that it was “bad for business.” “They don’t want headaches coming from the state,” he said. LGBT activist groups also opposed the bill. The Catholic conference said that the bill does not apply to businesses, but “simply affirms the right of religious organizations to follow their religious beliefs.” The conference charged that Gov. McAuliffe’s veto “marginalizes religious believers who hold to the timeless truth about marriage.” The legislation would have preserved “fair access to state resources” for clergy and religious organizations, including charities and schools, the conference said. “Marriage is the first institution, written in natural law and existing before any government or religion, and is between one man and one woman,” the conference added. “Recognizing and honoring this institution is not discrimination, but counting people’s faith against them most certainly is.” Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson) sponsored the bill. He told the Washington Post he believes there will be lawsuits against churches. “I think you see a trend around the country right now to promote homosexual beliefs, and I think you see that trend happening on a wide-scale basis,” he said. The Virginia legislature could override the veto, but that is considered very unlikely, the Associated Press reports. Other bills to protect religious freedom have drawn significant opposition in recent years. In Georgia on Monday, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed another proposed religious freedom protection bill. In some states and the District of Columbia, new laws and funding decisions have shut down Catholic adoption agencies on the grounds they do not place children with same-sex couples. Some Catholic schools have also become the targets of lawsuits from employees fired for violating morals standards on sexual morality. Wealthy funders like the Ford Foundation, the Arcus Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund have poured millions of dollars into legal groups, law school projects and activist groups to counter religious freedom protections. Photo credit: Joseph Sohm via www.shutterstock.com Read more

Francis announces special collection for victims of Ukraine conflict

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2016 / 05:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday Pope Francis announced that a special collection will be taken up in all Catholic churches in Europe April 24, the funds of which will go toward relief for all suffering due to ongoing violence in Ukraine. After celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the Regina Caeli, telling them beforehand that “on this day, which is like the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, my thoughts go to all peoples who are thirsty for peace and reconciliation.” “I think, in particular here in Europe, of the plight of those who suffer the consequences of violence in Ukraine,” he said, and pointed to the thousands who have either died, or continue to suffer due to a serious humanitarian crisis in the conflict areas. Additionally, the Pope noted that so far “more than a million” people have been forced to leave their homes due to the severity of the situation, the majority of whom “are elderly and children.” Francis assured his closeness and prayer to those suffering, and announced his decision “to promote a humanitarian support in their favor.” “To this end, a special collection will take place in all of the Catholic Churches in Europe April 24,” he said, and invited faithful to participate with a “generous contribution.” In addition to alleviating the material suffering of those effected by the conflict, the act serves as an expression of the Pope’s closeness and solidarity, as well as that of the entire Greek Catholic Church, Francis said. “I fervently hope that this will, without further delay, help to promote peace and respect of rights in that land which is so tried.” Conflict erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the former government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union, leading to months of violent protests. Tensions deepened in February 2014, when the country’s former president was ousted following the protests, and a new government appointed. In March of that year, Ukraine’s eastern peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia and pro-Russian separatist rebels have since taken control of eastern portions of Ukraine, around Donetsk and Luhansk. More than 6,500 people, including civilians, have died in the fighting between Ukraine’s military and pro-Russian separatists. Roughly a million others have been forced to flee due to violence and a lack of basic humanitarian necessities. Rebels have been supported by both Russian arms and troops, according to both Ukraine and Western nations. A ceasefire was brokered and officially began at midnight Feb. 15, 2015, however there have been constant and ongoing violations. The announcement of Pope Francis’ special collection was made nearly a month after his March 7 meeting with leaders of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), who were gathered in Rome for their annual synod of bishops. In his appeal, the Pope also noted how April 4 marks the World Day against Landmines, and prayed that a renewed commitment would be made to free the world from “these terrible weapons.” Read more

Mercy is an open book – and it’s our task to write it, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2016 / 04:08 am (Aid to the Church in Need).- On Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said the “Gospel of Mercy” begun by Jesus and the apostles is still unfinished, and is an open book that each person is called to write t… Read more

You can’t receive mercy without sharing it, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2016 / 12:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Receiving God’s mercy ignites in us the drive to become “instruments of mercy,” especially to the weakest and the marginalized, Pope Francis said Saturday at a vigil for the feast of Divine Mercy. “The more we receive, the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves,” he said, addressing those gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica.  “It is something which burns within our hearts, driving us to love, thus recognizing the face of Jesus Christ, above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalized.” Falling each year on the first Sunday after Easter, the feast of Divine Mercy was instituted by St. John Paul II in 2000 during the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish mystic whose apparitions of Jesus inspired devotion to the Divine Mercy. This year’s feast falls within the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis publicly proclaimed during the 2014 vigil for the feast of Divine Mercy. The Jubilee began Dec. 8, 2014, and will conclude Nov. 20. “Mercy seeks out the lost sheep, and when one is found, a contagious joy overflows.  Mercy knows how to look into the eyes of every person; each one is precious, for each one is unique,” the Pope said during his addess.  Francis delivered his vigil address following a series of testimonies and readings from Scripture, all on the theme of mercy. The expressions of God’s mercy in His encounters with us are “numerous,” he said; “it is impossible to describe them all, for the mercy of God continually increases.”   “God never tires of showing us mercy and we should never take for granted the opportunity to receive, seek and desire this mercy,” he said.   “It is something always new, which inspires awe and wonder as we see God’s immense creativity in the ways he comes to meet us.” Throughout Scripture, God has frequently revealed himself as mercy, the Pope observed. “How great and infinite is the nature of God, so great and infinite his mercy, to the point that it is greatly challenging to describe it in all its entirety.”   Francis cited a passage from the prophet Isaiah, and its “extremely evocative” image of God holding each of us to his cheek.  He had this passage in mind for the image of the Jubilee, he said: “I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Isaiah 11:4).   “How much tenderness and love is expressed here!” the Pope said. “Jesus not only carries humanity on his shoulders, but his face is so closely joined to Adam’s face that it gives the impression they are one.” Francis reflected on God’s capability of “understanding and sharing our weaknesses” through Christ’s Incarnation. “Precisely because of his mercy God became one of us,” he said.  By being touched by God’s mercy in Jesus, moreover, we are in turn “inspired to become instruments of his mercy,” the Pope continued.   “It is easy to speak of mercy, yet more difficult to become its witness.”  He spoke of the many ways in which mercy comes to us: “closeness and tenderness,” “compassion and solidarity,” “consolation and forgiveness” – and this in turn compels us to share mercy with others, he said.  Francis also reflected on how Christ’s love “makes us restless” and “impels us to embrace, welcome and include those who need mercy, so that all may be reconciled with the Father.”   “We ought not to fear for it is a love which comes to us and involves us to such an extent that we go beyond ourselves, enabling us to see his face in our brothers and sisters,” he said.   “Let us allow ourselves to be humbly guided by this love; then we will become merciful as the Father is merciful.” In off-the-cuff remarks, Francis referenced the Gospel reading which recounts the Apostle Thomas’ initial disbelief, and his need to place his fingers into Jesus’ wounded side in order to be convinced of his resurrection.  A faith that does not allow us to put our fingers into the wounds of Jesus’ side “is not faith,” the Pope said. “It is not a faith that is capable of being merciful.” “It is not faith. It is an idea. It is ideology. Our faith is incarnate, in a God who was made flesh,” he said, “who was wounded for us.”  If we want to believe “with seriousness,” the Pope said, “we must come close to and touch the wounds, caress the wounds,” while bowing our heads to allow others to “caress our wounds.” The Pope concluded by urging faithful to remain open to being transformed by the Holy Spirit, who is the love and “mercy that is poured into our hearts.”   “May we not place obstacles to his life-giving work but with docility follow the path he shows us,” he said.   “Let us open our hearts so that the Spirit can transform us; thus forgiven and reconciled, we will become witnesses to the joy that brims over on finding the risen Lord, alive among us.”   Read more

You can’t receive mercy without sharing it, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2016 / 12:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Receiving God’s mercy ignites in us the drive to become “instruments of mercy,” especially to the weakest and the marginalized, Pope Francis said Saturday at a vigil for the feast of Divine Mercy. “The more we receive, the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves,” he said, addressing those gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica.  “It is something which burns within our hearts, driving us to love, thus recognizing the face of Jesus Christ, above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalized.” Falling each year on the first Sunday after Easter, the feast of Divine Mercy was instituted by St. John Paul II in 2000 during the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish mystic whose apparitions of Jesus inspired devotion to the Divine Mercy. This year’s feast falls within the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis publicly proclaimed during the 2014 vigil for the feast of Divine Mercy. The Jubilee began Dec. 8, 2014, and will conclude Nov. 20. “Mercy seeks out the lost sheep, and when one is found, a contagious joy overflows.  Mercy knows how to look into the eyes of every person; each one is precious, for each one is unique,” the Pope said during his addess.  Francis delivered his vigil address following a series of testimonies and readings from Scripture, all on the theme of mercy. The expressions of God’s mercy in His encounters with us are “numerous,” he said; “it is impossible to describe them all, for the mercy of God continually increases.”   “God never tires of showing us mercy and we should never take for granted the opportunity to receive, seek and desire this mercy,” he said.   “It is something always new, which inspires awe and wonder as we see God’s immense creativity in the ways he comes to meet us.” Throughout Scripture, God has frequently revealed himself as mercy, the Pope observed. “How great and infinite is the nature of God, so great and infinite his mercy, to the point that it is greatly challenging to describe it in all its entirety.”   Francis cited a passage from the prophet Isaiah, and its “extremely evocative” image of God holding each of us to his cheek.  He had this passage in mind for the image of the Jubilee, he said: “I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Isaiah 11:4).   “How much tenderness and love is expressed here!” the Pope said. “Jesus not only carries humanity on his shoulders, but his face is so closely joined to Adam’s face that it gives the impression they are one.” Francis reflected on God’s capability of “understanding and sharing our weaknesses” through Christ’s Incarnation. “Precisely because of his mercy God became one of us,” he said.  By being touched by God’s mercy in Jesus, moreover, we are in turn “inspired to become instruments of his mercy,” the Pope continued.   “It is easy to speak of mercy, yet more difficult to become its witness.”  He spoke of the many ways in which mercy comes to us: “closeness and tenderness,” “compassion and solidarity,” “consolation and forgiveness” – and this in turn compels us to share mercy with others, he said.  Francis also reflected on how Christ’s love “makes us restless” and “impels us to embrace, welcome and include those who need mercy, so that all may be reconciled with the Father.”   “We ought not to fear for it is a love which comes to us and involves us to such an extent that we go beyond ourselves, enabling us to see his face in our brothers and sisters,” he said.   “Let us allow ourselves to be humbly guided by this love; then we will become merciful as the Father is merciful.” In off-the-cuff remarks, Francis referenced the Gospel reading which recounts the Apostle Thomas’ initial disbelief, and his need to place his fingers into Jesus’ wounded side in order to be convinced of his resurrection.  A faith that does not allow us to put our fingers into the wounds of Jesus’ side “is not faith,” the Pope said. “It is not a faith that is capable of being merciful.” “It is not faith. It is an idea. It is ideology. Our faith is incarnate, in a God who was made flesh,” he said, “who was wounded for us.”  If we want to believe “with seriousness,” the Pope said, “we must come close to and touch the wounds, caress the wounds,” while bowing our heads to allow others to “caress our wounds.” The Pope concluded by urging faithful to remain open to being transformed by the Holy Spirit, who is the love and “mercy that is poured into our hearts.”   “May we not place obstacles to his life-giving work but with docility follow the path he shows us,” he said.   “Let us open our hearts so that the Spirit can transform us; thus forgiven and reconciled, we will become witnesses to the joy that brims over on finding the risen Lord, alive among us.”   Read more

The Vatican remembers the “unconventionally angelic” Mother Angelica

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2016 / 10:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After the death of Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, on Easter Sunday, many in and around the Vatican praised the bold nun’s courageous witness at a time of crisis in the Church, and expressed their appreciation for the work EWTN continues to do.  In an April 1 Memorial Mass for Mother Angelica in Rome, Cardinal George Pell praised the nun’s effectiveness in spreading the Good News, and thanked God for “her message, her courage and her faith.” He prayed that the Church in the United States would “throw up other giants equally unexpectedly to help strengthen our faith and lead us to Christ.” Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, a Poor Clare, has been widely credited for having changed both Catholic media and the face of Catholicism in the United States. She passed away on March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old. Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, offered Mass April 1 for the repose of Mother Angelica’s soul at the parish of St. Anne’s in Vatican City. The 6 p.m. celebration coincided with her 11 a.m. funeral in Hanceville, Ala.  In his homily, Cardinal Pell compared Mother Angelica’s life and work at EWTN to the day’s Gospel from John, saying that “the spread and effectiveness” of EWTN, founded with an investment of just $200, “was as unexpected as the apostles’ huge catch of fish.” He also jested about Mother Angelica’s “boisterous” TV personality in spite of being a contemplative Franciscan nun, provoking laughter when he said that her religious name, Mary Angelica, was perhaps a bit “incongruous,” since “she was not angelic in any conventional sense.” Mother came from a broken home, the Cardinal noted, with a father who abandoned her at the age of five and a mother who struggled with depression. Additionally, she did poorly in school, aside from becoming the drum majorette in her high school marching band. The Poor Clare’s life, then, “brings a message of encouragement for all those who were or are children from broken homes,” he said, noting that many children from such backgrounds “are tempted to be resentful, short of self-confidence, uncertain of their ability to contribute or build a good family.” “Mother Angelica is one more example of what can be achieved from difficult beginnings…She truly cast fire upon the earth.” Mother Angelica launched Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in 1981. Today it 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. It is the largest religious network in the world. In addition to EWTN, Mother also founded the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the Knights of the Holy Eucharist. Her decision to open Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Ala. in 1962, a largely Protestant region, was “an unlikely launching pad for an international television network, although probably not quite as unpromising a spot as Bethlehem and Nazareth,” the cardinal said. Cardinal Pell noted that in a short time EWTN “pioneered the digital revolution in broadcasting, and many experts visited to examine just what they were doing. There was an enormous development and progression.” Part of this is due to Mother’s blunt, conservative and effective way communicating, he said, noting that she could at times be divisive and even “over-the-top” in some ways, but “thank God she spoke that way.” Concelebrants at the Mass in Rome were Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, Vatican spokesman and Director of the Holy See Press Office, and Fr. Jeff Kirby. In attendance at the Mass were the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See Ken Hackett, and Paraguay’s ambassador to the Holy See Esteban Kriskovich, as well as representatives from numerous religious, Vatican and secular organizations.  In addition to Cardinal Pell, many other voices in the Vatican have expressed their appreciation for Mother Angelica and for the work and apostolate of EWTN. In a March 29 letter to EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Warsaw, Vatican spokesman and Director of the Holy See Press Office Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ and Vice-director of the Holy See Press Office Greg Burke voiced their appreciation for Mother’s work. They praised not only Mother Angelica’s personal commitment to evangelization, but also the rapid growth of EWTN and the dedication of the network’s employees. “We would like to send our condolences to the entire EWTN family on the death of Mother Angelica,” Lombardi and Burke wrote. “She was certainly a powerful witness in her television apostolate, and a great source of good for Catholic media.” The two said they have “watched with awe the growth of the network over the years,” and have been first-hand witnesses not only of Mother Angelica’s great dedication to the Lord, “but also those who have shared her vision and come to work with EWTN.” They offered prayers for both Mothers’ eternal happiness, and for “the continued success of EWTN.” Similarly, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow also voiced his sorrow for Mother Angelica’s passing in a March 31 letter to both Warsaw and Reverend Mother Dolores Marie, who currently oversees Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, which Mother Angelica founded. In addition to being the Archbishop of Krakow, the cardinal was the longtime secretary to St. John Paul II both before and during his 27 year pontificate, and as such had met Mother Angelica when she visited the Polish Pope in Rome. Mother Angelica, he said, “was a wonderful woman dedicated to Jesus and to the Church. She devoted her life to ministry, converting untold numbers of people to the Church.” The Poor Clare left “an indelible mark on the Catholic Church and the world as a whole,” he said. Cardinal Dziwisz praised her as someone will always be remembered for her “personal sermons,” and said she “will live on forever in the hearts of all those that her sermons have touched through her gift to the world, the Eternal Word Television Network.” In a letter from Pope Francis that was read aloud at Mother Angelica’s April 1 funeral, the Pope said that he was “saddened” to learn of her death, and extended his “heartfelt condolences to the Poor Clares of the Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, and to the EWTN community.” Francis expressed his gratitude “for Mother Angelica’s service to the Gospel through social communications and through a life of prayer,” and commended her soul “to the merciful love of Almighty God.” Read more

US Bishops back legal protection for doctors who won’t provide abortions

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2016 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A proposed conscience protection act for health care professionals who oppose abortion would benefit both medical providers and their patients, U.S. Catholic bishops said Thursday as they urged support among the House of Representatives. “The Conscience Protection Act will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement. Cardinal Dolan is chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee on pro-life activities, and Archbishop Lori chairs the committee on religious liberty. Their March 31 statement urged support in the House of Representatives for the proposed Conscience Protection Act, HR 4828. This bill would protect healthcare providers who oppose abortion, giving them legal rights to defend themselves if discriminated against for their beliefs. Though “modest” in its scope, the bishops said this bill would “respond to past mistaken objections.” Federal law already protects conscientious objection against abortion in theory, but not in practice, they maintained, since these laws can only be enforced after a complaint has been filed to the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. However, the HHS office has “allowed valid complaints to languish, sometimes for years, without resolution.” Furthermore, they charged, the HHS has already shown favor for grant-seeking health care providers who are open to providing human trafficking victims with abortions. “When government instead mandates involvement in abortion as a condition for being allowed to perform life-affirming health care services, it not only undermines the widely acknowledged civil rights of health care providers but also limits access to good healthcare for American women and men,” they said. This bill would not only serve to protect Catholic and other religious health care providers, but all those dedicated to “an ethical vocation dedicated to the life and well-being of one’s patients,” noting that the “great majority” of ob/gyns are still “unwilling to perform abortions.” “In short, whether you approach this issue out of respect for defenseless human life, for religious liberty, for ‘freedom of choice’ on abortion, of the well-being of our health care system, we urge you to support and co-sponsor the Conscience Protection Act and help ensure its approval by the House of Representatives this year,” they said. Read more




Browse Our Archives